Confessions of a T-shirt Junky

IMG_4503_copySpring cleaning forced me to fess up. I am an addict. My vice – T-shirts. Think I am kidding? I cleared out my cupboards and counted 92 cotton shirts.  I hoard them, savoring the memories they evoke.

My collection includes styles with or without collars, long, short or no sleeve, light shirts, tight shirts, baggy shirts, depending on the era representing colors of every season. Not only the standard, red, white, blue, oh no, my stock includes magenta, turquoise, olive, plum, aquamarine, cornflower, cerise, burnt sienna, pink sherbet, electric lime, shirts in more shades than found in a giant box of Crayolas.

I lack fashion sense, yet my shirt assemblage rivals Imelda Marco’s shoe collection.

I am loath to part these treasures; T-shirts tell the story of my life.

In my closet, I found shirts labeled McKinzie-Smith Basketball Camp, dating back to the early 80’s when Phil and I started the first girls’ basketball camp in the Sauk Valley area. I also have my favorite college basketball T-shirt designed by the point guard who helped me break scoring records with her right-on-the-money passes.IMG_4505_copy

In the attic, I discovered the family heirlooms – my dad’s old gray Sterling High School Phys Ed shirt and my grandpa’s gold and maroon Eureka College Football Staff polo shirt.  I have T-shirts with photographs commemorating my son’s Swiss National Championship team and my daughter’s All-Star high school team. I’ve never worn them because I didn’t want the pictures to fade. Who could pitch those?

I uncovered decade’s worth of T-shirts from the various International Sport Schools Tournaments. Each shirt listed participating teams from Athens, Frankfurt, Brussels and Paris to other cosmopolitan cities across Europe. As a coach, I traveled to destinations most people only dream of. Every shirt reminded me not only the championship games, but of the landmarks visited: Manneken Pis Statue (Boy Peeing Statue) in Brussels, Hofbrau Haus in Munich, Acropolis in Athens, boardwalks in The Hague, canals of Venice. I still have t-shirts from the teams I played on in France and Germany.

On another shelf, I uncovered souvenir shirts from family vacations to the Badlands and the Grand Canyon and from the tag-a-long trips when we followed our kids’ teams competing at Daytona Beach, in San Diego’s Surf & Slam and up and down the mountains in the Swiss Championship.

I still faithfully wear one of the dozen UWSP basketball t-shirts on game day, even though my daughter graduated from there nearly a decade ago.

Another series of T-shirts bear the emblems of the American School of Paris and International School of Geneva where I have taught for the past decades.

No one helps me kick the habit. My two Big Kids, taller and buffer, feed my obsession by giving me their out grown, hand-me-downs to add to my stockpile.

A college teammate used to proclaim a dessert of the year; well I have a shirt of the year. The 2014 award winner is a mesh, white Nike T-shirt inscribed with the women’s basketball Redbird logo that my coach gave me when she drove UWSP to hear me speak at the NCAA Final Four banquet.

My lil’ sis once promised, “when I retire I will make you a quilt out of all your favorite T-shirts.”IMG_4502_copy

Well, Karen, could you hurry up and retire. We are running out of storage space.

Posted in education, humor, inspiration, relationships, social view, sport.

70 Comments

  1. I loved this, Pat! “They tell the story of my life” really touched me. I have shirts and other things I treasure for this reason. I hope your sister gets that quilt made; I had one made for my daughter’s engagement party….all her athletic/sports tees and jerseys representing teams and all the places we lived. A great way to preserve memories! So nice to see your blog pop up on my feed this morning…..I think our daily Midlife Boulevard posts-in-comments get lost or overwhelming at times. Yours is a joy to read! ♥

    • Joan, I bet that quilt of memories you had made for your daughter was the best gift ever. I can’t sew a stitch, but sure hope someone will nimbler fingers will find a way to make me that T-shirt quilt. I tried to respond on your previous blogs and was unable to until this week. Now that I have it figured out, I will be back.

  2. I loved this, Pat! “They tell the story of my life” really touched me. I have shirts and other things I treasure for this reason. I hope your sister gets that quilt made; I had one made for my daughter’s engagement party….all her athletic/sports tees and jerseys representing teams and all the places we lived. A great way to preserve memories! So nice to see your blog pop up on my feed this morning…..I think our daily Midlife Boulevard posts-in-comments get lost or overwhelming at times. Yours is a joy to read! ♥

  3. So happy to read your ‘confession’, my wife has accused me of the same vice for years! While I too have the running shirts, team shirts, vacation spots, etc. my favorite have changed to the ‘worlds greatest grandpa’ shirts which I wear with pride. Thanks Pat!

  4. So happy to read your ‘confession’, my wife has accused me of the same vice for years! While I too have the running shirts, team shirts, vacation spots, etc. my favorite have changed to the ‘worlds greatest grandpa’ shirts which I wear with pride. Thanks Pat!

    • Jim, if I could boast of the honor of being a grandma, I am sure those ‘world’s greatest grandma’ Ts would move right to the top of the pile, too. No team ranks higher than the “home” team.

  5. Sista, the horder……..Geez! why do you have to make a competition out of everything! YOU WIN!
    I only have 58 T-shirts, not even close!! (guess we have the same gene though!) And I better look into that retirement date! How many quilts will I be making for YOU?? Te am! Thank you for the much needed Laugh today!

    • You do remember you promised, Kar, or do I need to get it in writing. As someone suggested here, maybe you could make the quilt reversible. tee hee

  6. Sista, the horder……..Geez! why do you have to make a competition out of everything! YOU WIN!
    I only have 58 T-shirts, not even close!! (guess we have the same gene though!) And I better look into that retirement date! How many quilts will I be making for YOU?? Te am! Thank you for the much needed Laugh today!

  7. What a fun column! The T-shirts are doing just what they’re supposed to do: invoking memories. And what a pleasure to read the word “loath” used correctly; thank you!

    • Glad to know I used the word used correctly. I’ve been living over here so long, my husband accuses me of inventing words. That is what happens when you speak a lot of franglais.

  8. What story’s those T-SHIRT’S tell, what great memories…a quilt is a great idea!

  9. What story’s those T-SHIRT’S tell, what great memories…a quilt is a great idea!

  10. Loved this post, Pat. And as I have seen your dresser, closet and cabinets, I KNOW you are not exaggerating!
    Thanks for making us all smile today.

    • Now, sis, you know I NEVER embellish a story. My dressers, closets, and cabinets are anxiously awaiting your visit. I know you can sort us all out.

  11. I can definitely relate, Pat. I have t-shirts that no longer fit but I can’t bear the thought of getting rid of them. My husband is even worse. I think his t-shirt collection may rival yours.

    • Isn’t crazy how just seeing a favorite T-shirt can bring a smile to your face as if a memory has been stitched into each thread of cloth.

  12. I can definitely relate, Pat. I have t-shirts that no longer fit but I can’t bear the thought of getting rid of them. My husband is even worse. I think his t-shirt collection may rival yours.

    • Isn’t crazy how just seeing a favorite T-shirt can bring a smile to your face as if a memory has been stitched into each thread of cloth.

  13. Hi Pat, loved this one, you’re definitely not alone 😉
    .. in June of 2014, Carla, 20, is proudly wearing the blue and yellow t-shirt of your b-ball camp with Phil in the eighties – it’s a classic 🙂
    Here’s to our Stauffenberg gang – Bette

    • Bette, I still have that same T-shirt, too, as well as the VfL Marburg one. Your comment made me so happy, not only knowing that you still possess that old camp T-shirt, but that you lovingly passed it on to the next generation, your daughter, and that she understands its value. Here’s to the Stauffenberg gang, indeed!

  14. Pat, you had me laughing out loud over this one! I can sooo relate. In fact, not long ago, I was asking Domer what he wanted me to do with the T-shirts he left at home when he went off to The Land of the North. ‘Keep them,’ he begged. As if I could do anything less!! But yes, we’re overrun with them — in all colors and sizes, from everywhere we’ve been. A quilt sounds like the perfect solution — is your sister contemplating going into the quilting business, because I suspect there are LOTS of us closet T-shirt junkies!!

    • Debbie, my sister never made a quilt in her life, so I am not sure this actually going to happen. It would make a great business,though, but I have trouble sewing buttons back on. My mom; however, is a superb seamstress, so maybe I can get her to make me that dream quilt.

  15. Pat, you had me laughing out loud over this one! I can sooo relate. In fact, not long ago, I was asking Domer what he wanted me to do with the T-shirts he left at home when he went off to The Land of the North. ‘Keep them,’ he begged. As if I could do anything less!! But yes, we’re overrun with them — in all colors and sizes, from everywhere we’ve been. A quilt sounds like the perfect solution — is your sister contemplating going into the quilting business, because I suspect there are LOTS of us closet T-shirt junkies!!

  16. I loved reading this and seeing just a few of your many shirts! A quilt would be wonderful–maybe she’ll even make it reversible so she uses more shirts…

  17. A patchwork quilt of stories. I love it, Pat! I agree, how can you part with all those T-shirt moments? I hope you do get that quilt someday. 🙂

  18. A patchwork quilt of stories. I love it, Pat! I agree, how can you part with all those T-shirt moments? I hope you do get that quilt someday. 🙂

    • Kathy, I do hope I get that quilt someday, but I can’t imagine how long it would take to make it. Took me hours to line up all those shirts just right for the photo shoot. tee hee

  19. Pat, like many others, I can certainly relate to the collection of t shirts from various team, events, vacation… I thought the funniest comment was your little sister making you a quilt!! I almost had milk come out of my nose on that one!! Cant wait to see you soon.

    • She promised to make that T-shirt quilt, Dukes, and you know what promises between sisters mean. Look out, you just might roped into threading the needle and helping out. Can’t wait to see you, too.

  20. Pat, like many others, I can certainly relate to the collection of t shirts from various team, events, vacation… I thought the funniest comment was your little sister making you a quilt!! I almost had milk come out of my nose on that one!! Cant wait to see you soon.

  21. It will cost a fortune to send all those shirts to your quilt makers in the US! Maybe you should take or send a suitcase full on every trans Atlantic trip between now and Karen’s retirement.

    • Good advice, Nan, but I don’t think Karen is planning to retire anytime soon and to top it off she’s never made a quilt. In fact, she doesn’t even like to sew, so I may be dreaming here.

  22. It will cost a fortune to send all those shirts to your quilt makers in the US! Maybe you should take or send a suitcase full on every trans Atlantic trip between now and Karen’s retirement.

  23. Pat, Great article. Our daughter has two beautiful quilts with t-shirts from high school and post high school. My favoirte t-shirt is my Summit Lake t-shirt purchased at the gas station across from Dad’s house in Summit Lake. Joe

  24. I think my sister is right there in competition with you on your tshirt collection. She actually had a ton from her son that she used a Group On to get a quilt made. If your sis doesn’t retire soon enough you can check that out!!! And by the time she does retire I bet you will have a whole new collection for HER to make into a quilt!!! Fun post!

  25. My whole family is addicted to t-shirts, I am afraid. My daughter and I just cut up a bunch of hers, to make a quilt … but I must admit, I am finding the project a little daunting!! Glad I found this at the Midlife Boulevard Blog Hop!

  26. My whole family is addicted to t-shirts, I am afraid. My daughter and I just cut up a bunch of hers, to make a quilt … but I must admit, I am finding the project a little daunting!! Glad I found this at the Midlife Boulevard Blog Hop!

  27. My mother has this same collection. Everywhere I have traveled I would always bring her a tshirt and she has never worn a one of them. They are in a box still brand new and she gets them out and looks at them every so often. I even asked her why she didn’t make a quilt from them she said she couldn’t bare to cut them up. So one day hopefully many many years from now when she passes that is what I intend to do with them. Have a quilt made from those tshirts that she adores so much.

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