Ancient History

Follow Me?


George Washington’s Turtleneck

I helped Archie dress in a George Washington costume this morning for Day of the Notables at school. He is wearing a layer of regular clothes, including grey sweatpants and a grey turtleneck. Over the base outfit he’s wearing a white lacy vintage shirt that once belonged to my mom in college, a black vest, and a black coat. He is wearing long white socks and has the ankle elastic pulled to his knees to complete the colonial look.

The dawn light was soft pink in his room when I tickled him awake. I told him his grey turtleneck and sweats were on his bed. The more fussy elements of the costume could wait until just before we left for school. He sat up and reached for them. Half asleep, he attempted to wrangle the turtleneck onto his legs. “What kinda pants are these?”

“That’s the shirt.”

“Can you help me? It’s weird.”

We aren’t big turtleneck people. I’m not even sure how the one in his drawer got there. I find them constricting and old-fashioned. They are a perfect example of 1980s instant coffee commercial styling: Fluffy-haired people deeply inhaling from clutched cups, smiling at a distant sunrise, ready for a hot-necked day of snowmobiling.

I told him it was a turtleneck.

“Just like George Washington wore?”

I bunched up the shirt and stretched it over his messy bedhead.


He finished dressing. He ate a bowl of chocolate Cheerios, just like George ate. He tilted a green Tupperware cereal bowl and drank the flavored milk like a Washington. He brushed his teeth with minty toothpaste spread on a neon green brush, as George would have done had he natural teeth to scrub.

When it was time to go to school, Archie was transported in a heated vehicle through the snow to the doors of a heated building, George-style. There, he will enjoy a day of kindergarten listening to the speeches of his classmates who will be Lincolns, Armstrongs, Elways, various Queens and Princesses, and Taylor Swifts. They’ll share what they learned about their chosen subject, most importantly focusing on what makes them Notable with a capital N.


It starts early with small moments doing small things. George Washington left school at age 11 because his father died. From that point, he was self-taught, wise beyond his years, and on a trajectory that would lead him to a permanent place in history’s roll call. The truth is he wore a lot of wool and it itched. His teeth were made of ivory. He ate bowls of porridge sweetened with raw honey and straight-from-a-cow milk, perhaps. George’s hair was probably a fright upon waking, though. Some threads run through years and never, ever change.

Little boys in the distance would think of him and decide he would be a pretty nice guy to be for a day, here and now, notably inspired.

1 comment to George Washington’s Turtleneck

  • Mom

    I am so glad that my vintage lacy ruffly top came in handy. I loved that thing. As far as turtlenecks go, they cover a multitude of turkey necks and extra chins so they may be 80’s but their 2015 for me.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>