Memories of the coats we used to wear

A couple of weeks before Christmas, a big package arrived at the Kiaski household with two familiar names on it.

There was my name, which made me excited, because that meant the package was for me, and there was my sister Linda’s name on the return address.

That was exciting, too, because it’s always been my experience that when a package arrives from my sister Linda in South Carolina, that’s a package to enjoy opening.

And this case was no exception.

In it was a beautiful fun-fur, wine-colored coat, perfect for Ohio winter wearing we’re having now. The package content was a surprise to be sure since we don’t really exchange Christmas presents, and I was no more expecting a gift much less this great coat.

But Linda being Linda, the QVC watcher saw the coat advertised one day and decided to buy one not only for herself in a color she liked, but one for baby sister me in a color she hoped I would like and another one in a different color for middle sister Cathy.

One of these days while it’s still good and cold, we Hout sisters need to have an outing and wear these coats.

The arrival of the coat ultimately sparked a conversation between me and Better Half about outerwear of our past and present, jackets we loved, coats that were cool and ones still hanging in there.

In the latter category, a blue winter jacket purchased for $13.99 more than 30 years ago is still going strong these days as a barn coat for Better Half. He is proud of its longevity, and whenever I suggest a new coat purchase might be in order, he looks at me like I’m crazy. He reminds me that he’s already got a “good coat.”

We have a good laugh about that, and a jean jacket, too, one he won’t part with. It has more holes than a golf course.

During the ceremonial cleaning of the closets that January brings, I always hold this jacket up for inspection by Better Half. I ask him, “Are you ever going to wear this?”

It always survives the cut.

While some coats stick around, though, others come and go.

I remember in my youth, for instance, having a maxi coat when I was in grade school, not a warm coat by any stretch, but it wasn’t designed to be practical. It was designed to be cool, which I desperately wanted to be, of course.

I fondly remember, too, a purple suede coat I had back in my I-love-purple teen years, and there was this midi coat from the 1970s, one purchased at Denmark’s in downtown Steubenville. I thought this coat was as beautiful as it was unique, until I spotted another fellow high school classmate wearing the exact same one.

Better Half and I reminisced about varsity jackets, pea coats and as a kid, those school bus yellow raincoats with buckles — very duck-like and water repellant, but not terribly fashionable.

And so it goes with outerwear.

That’s a “wrap” for this week.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at