Thinking back to what many of us wore to school as kids, blue jeans and white T-shirts were right at the top. Along with a pair of US Keds high-top tennis shoes it was practically an unofficial uniform, making the combination easily the most familiar articles of clothing in the closet and dresser of my boyhood. At the time I never paid much mind to the details of those daily trousers, never thought about the trademark rivets or the button fly, just something I pulled on in the morning and kicked off at night.
I read today in my West Virginia friend’s blog, A Reader’s Life, that she was surprised to discover a lot of people these days don’t know what a watch pocket is. Hey, I’m surprised too. Aren’t many guys out there who still carry a pocketwatch and I have to believe a lot also who didn’t or don’t wear blue jeans. In those days when jeans were a daily custom, I didn’t carry a pocketwatch but I did know that the little pocket in my Levis was made to hold one. I guess, “What’s this little pocket for?” was a question I asked the man in the department store one day. But yeah, I too am surprised that not so many people today know what that little pocket was originally for.
In the late 1800s cowboys, miners and other outdoor workers often kept a watch on a chain in the pocket of a waistcoat or vest. And then in 1873 Levi Strauss introduced a small pocket designed expressly to hold a pocketwatch. The first blue jeans had four pockets—one in back and two in front with the addition of a small pocket stitched and riveted to the top of the right front pocket. The smaller pocket was included as protection for pocketwatches and thus the name, watch pocket. Since its first appearance this extra pouch-like pocket has had many functions, evident in a few of its other names: frontier pocket, condom pocket, coin pocket, match pocket and ticket pocket. Not surprising that many people today have no real idea of what that little pocket is called or what the Levi Strauss company had in mind when they included it in their denims.
The thing is, I do have a pocketwatch, but one that hasn’t spent much time in that special little pocket on my blue jeans (Yeah, still wearing them almost every day.) but these days rests in a dish on the coffee table. Not the first time to mention the watch in these pages; it has found space a couple of times in my scribbles about this or that. I got the watch not too many years ago at a secondhand shop in my old Tokyo neighborhood, a conductor’s watch commonly used by drivers and conductors on Japanese trains. The watch has for many years been made by the Japanese watchmaker, Seiko, with upgrades every few years. Mine is one of the 7550 quartz series made in 1978—thirty-six years old and still keeping accurate time. At the time of production, Seiko advertised the watch as having an accuracy within 15 seconds per month.
Before my head got turned by watches and pockets this morning, I was stopped by the sight of my new and flourishing guacamole tree on the back porch. About a month ago, in the business of making a bowl of guacamole, I cut open an avocado and noticed that the seed was slightly split and with a tiny white root coming out of the bottom end. It was the first time to see that in years and I right away did the old trick of sticking the seed with toothpicks and resting it half in-half out of a glass of water. In two weeks another tiny three roots had grown out and down into the water. At the end of the third week I planted the seed in a pot of soil and put it in a sunny spot near the screen door. Here’s what it looks like today…
In the wild growth of summer my backyard is in some spots an explosion of green. I keep a compost heap for leaf litter, moss and the smaller branches that drop from the oak trees and from the backend of the compost has grown up a wild mix of plants. I can’t identify half the plants and have to wonder what they will grow into. As the picture below shows, the walls of the unpainted enclosure are old and weathered and though it’s hard to see, soon to collapse. The project for next week is to replace those walls.