Al Batt: Mom turned tie-tying into a team-roping event – Albert Lea Tribune


Al Batt: Mom turned tie-tying into a team-roping event

Published Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 8:45 p.m

Tales of Exit 22 by Al Batt

I took a sales course early in my life.

Al Batt

One thing the course emphasized was that the way a man dresses can say something about his character. Since then, clothing has become much more casual around the world.

I recently gave a eulogy. I have given many, each one has been a great honor and a humbling experience. As the inscription on the sundial reads: “I wait for no one.”

When I was a pup, people got up and died. I heard something like, “He was going to take a cruise to Alaska, then he got up and died.” Jerry Jeff Walker wrote, “Mr. Bojangles,” which included the lyrics, “The dog got up and died, he got up and died. After twenty years he is still mourning.”

I put on a tie. It was the right thing. When I was growing up, one of my favorite books was The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and that beautiful novel had this sentence: “You look right peart.” I looked up “peart” in my Webster’s Dictionary. It meant lively, perky, perky, or smart. My tie looked really pearly.

Crocheted crickets! When I was both Aries and Cocky, wearing a tie made me as nervous as a polecat in a perfumery or a cat in the rocking chair department. I had seen too many horse thieves invited to tie parties in cowboy movies. Wearing a tie was like being tied to a post. Little boys sometimes wore pre-tied ties or bow ties held in place by elastic ties at the neck. This allowed older boys to torment her by pulling on her tie and snapping her back.

Seeing a tie isn’t as uncommon as a pound of pennies in a collector’s plate, but it’s become rarer. My father polished his wingtips and wore a suit and tie whenever he went to church. I saw an old photo from a Chicago Cubs game. The fans in the stands at Wrigley Field were mostly men in ties. In the stands were men who could live for a week on the food stains on their ties.

My cousin Pam told me she didn’t think Uncle Vern liked her. Vern was a Watkins man. As stated in “The Open Door to Success,” a promotional brochure from the JR Watkins Company, “Your possibilities are limited only by your personal ambition, your willingness to work, and your ability to follow our practical directions!” The direct selling model used by the Watkins Company gave birth to the doorstep seller known as “the Watkins man”. The Watkins man was a traveling salesman of good standing who sold Petro-Carbo First Aid Ointment (a dark ointment in an exotically colored jar), vanilla, liniment, spices, nectar syrup and many other items sold by a roller were brought to the door store. One day Pam was visiting when Vern’s wife, Aunt Helen, took a break from ironing socks and brought out a bottle of Watkins Nectar Syrup and Pam said, “Vern thought you’d like that.”

Pam really liked the nectar and she had learned that Uncle Vern liked her. We show our love in small ways.

My mother was an active member of TSC, the Tie Straighteners Club. She would inspect me when I was in my best bib and tucker. She had to look up to me because she was over 30 cm shorter. A wise and small man told me that we grow until we reach perfection and then stop growing. With that he explained my height and my mother’s short stature. Mom reached up and grabbed my tie and twisted it slightly before pulling it so tight I was turning blue. She said, “Well, that’s better.” She really liked the color blue. My tie had reached perfection and I never will. My mother had shown her love in a little blue way.

I’ve become adept at abseiling and tying myself up with scarves.

I burst into tears delivering the eulogy but I didn’t have to wipe my eyes with my tie because I had more smiles than tears because the loved one who died is a part of my life.

In that old sales class, I had learned that my expression is the most important thing of anything I wear.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.

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