Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The "West Coast Stetson" the longshoremen 30's white cap

longshoremen's silent protest on market st 1934 SF,Ca

Maynard Dixon's "the scab" inspired by the 34 longshoremen strike

Anton Refregier's SF mural celebrating the strike 

The other day,i was lucky enough to get my hands on an original 30's San Francisco longshoreman's white cap and "hook" .unfortunately another guy got all the papers, badges and pictures....At least these items were saved and are not going to end up on Ebay.....

In 1934, radical labor leader Harry Bridges defied the establishment when he led a three-month strike to fight for more jobs – including those for African-Americans on the San Francisco waterfront. The strike led to a four day shut down of the entire city.It was the first and so far the only successful general strike in this country’s history.
The San Francisco general strike of 1934 was the culmination of decades of exploitation on the west coast waterfronts. One of the major demands of the workers was for an independent union with their own hiring hall. Prior to 34, dock workers were hired in the "shape up," a corrupted system where potential workers had to pay a bribe to the "gang boss" for a day's work,as depicted in the E Kazan's 1954 classic movie : "On The Waterfront" with Marlon Brando. 
The strike began with the longshoremen and maritime workers and soon included the Teamsters Union after the shipping companies employed "scabs" to move the cargo. The violence and deaths of the two strikers at the hands of the police only inflamed the situation. The funeral procession of the fallen men up Market Street on July 9th brought thousands of sympathetic blue collar workers into the strike, peacefully shutting down San Francisco and Alameda counties. 
The strike was successful and a new era was born....

Sometimes called the "West Coast Stetson," this type of white cap was worn by West Coast mariners, particularly longshoremen and sailors. Along with "can't bust 'em" black "Frisco" jeans and a hickory stripe shirt, the soft white cap was once a signature part of the usual rig that men wore in part to express their occupational identity,but also out of safety  as they could be spotted even in the dark holds of ships by men on deck who were lifting and lowering heavy loads.This changed in the early 1970s when longshoremen were required to wear hardhats when working on the docks or aboard ships.However they still wear the "West Coast Stetson,", at special union meetings and events.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

the 55J14 Korean war G1 jacket

CVG-19 patch

VA-195 patch

Charles McGraw

William Holden production shot 

Today's post,is about what is my all time favorite G1 jacket .This late 1940s 55J14 Navy flight jacket was made by L.W. Foster Sportswear. The 55J14 jackets were the first of the G-1 series and came right after the WWII M-422A. These jackets were made between 1947 and 1950 and were followed by the MIL-J-7823 series....
The jacket appears to be barely worn,with its fully functioning  blackened Conmar brass zipper. The naturally pebbled goatskin is flawless and retains the faint "USN" stencil on the reverse of the collar .
As with all Foster 55J14 jackets the right pocket has a stitch line for the pencil pocket that run vertically up the pocket. This stitch line is unique to the Foster 55J14 but can also be seen on the Gordon & Ferguson M-442A. nice scalloped pocket flaps that were used on through the 55J14 run.
I've had several USN jacket over the last 2 decades,no bragging here,but as much as i love the beautiful patina of a vintage ww2 M422A ,i've never felt it was a good fit for me .the 55J14 is what i'll go for anytime ....
This great example of Korean G1 in almost mint condition , is straight from the estate of an aviation machinist's first class mate who was onboard CV-37 carrier USS PRINCETON from 1950 to 1952  .beside its name tag it has 3 very desirable period patches .the best one being the very collectable patch from the CVG-19 : USN 19th carrier group. This patch is the one worn by William Holden and Charles McGraw in the 1954 Paramount movie : "bridges at Toko ri" but is also seen on the original G1 featured on the "top gun " movie....

Carrier Air Groups typically had four fighter squadrons with 58 planes and an attack squadron of 14 planes. The CVG-19 had 4 fighter squadrons: VA-55, VF-192, VF-193 and VA-195. on the opposite sleeve the amazing "dambusters" VA-195 patch .Acronym VA means "all-weather medium attack", and VF means "advanced twin-seat fighters".

Monday, February 11, 2013


It's unusually nice and mild here in SF and frankly, you don't need more than a nice and thick sweater to be warm ....so ,for once , i've decided to showcase and European example found by my buddy Rich.......

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Here's is a recent find : Another early 1944 first model N-1 .This fine "battle tested" example, is the link between the last blue deck [aka M43] and the first N-1 featured in one of my former posts.It's the missing link because it still retains the large US. NAVY stenciled on the back with reflective paint.This stencil disappeared mid 1944 leaving the back panel blank .My guess is, it was probably suppressed  because of it's lack of contrast and visibility during day light....

BTW to all of you USN enthusiasts that are constantly re blogging my pictures on their "monetized blog",a little plug/link/mention of the original source is greatly appreciated ,as i do this for free and it takes time ....thx for following