SCARF ‘ROUND THE NECK

At the first college I attended, nearly all of the writers wore scarves. I don’t think it was a conscious decision to create a group identity, but the school, small as it was, had an excellent writing program. As a commuter campus, we wound up hanging out in what was called a cafeteria, not that I recall a real food line. But the round table (as a roundtable, at that) was open, and maybe the scarves were initially just a way of finding a circle of kindred spirits.

In a way, the strip of cloth may have served like those reminders of guilds and monastic orders of ancient times and their echo in modern clerical and academic vestments. We weren’t yet hippies, with all of their expressive sartorial flair, but it was on the horizon. Think of it as a badge of self-identity and distinction.

In the years since, as I’ve come to appreciate the way scarves can add a layer of comfort through a northern winter, I keep recalling that circle and our aspirations. A few went on to earn literary recognition, but some of the others were also immensely talented and yet have vanished from sight.

Come to think of it, so have many of my own favorite scarves – especially the ones my new stepdaughters latched onto when they came into the picture.

Any way I look at it, a scarf still beats a necktie as an item of apparel. Remind me to wear one next time I pose for the back-of-the-book jacket portrait.

Oh, here we are, back to those aspirations, aren’t we?

7 thoughts on “SCARF ‘ROUND THE NECK

  1. Longtime scarf-wearer here. I love this idea, “In a way, the strip of cloth may have served like those reminders of guilds and monastic orders of ancient times and their echo in modern clerical and academic vestments…Think of it as a badge of self-identity and distinction.”

  2. I can never tie the darn things right, but I remember them being indispensable in winter on my walk from Boston’s South Station to the financial district where I worked. You were pre-hippy but not a beatnick I guess? Interesting that the writers wore scarves, how do we identify them today?

    1. This was around the time of the Summer of Love but a year or so before Woodstock. The hippie stuff was still out in the Bay Area, about to burst forth across the rest of the country. And beatniks were largely a generation older, or so it seems.
      I have no idea how we identify writers today. Everybody has a laptop and looks distracted.
      Maybe someone will have a suggestion.

  3. When I was a kid growing up in Minnesota, a scarf was just one of those things that lived in the closet until Winter arrived. But then, when I was 12 or 13, I saw scarves on the back of Parsley, Sage…Simon & Garfunkle made scarves part of a mythos.

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