Ever since I was small, the month of September has always been my favorite time of the year. While it’s still warm enough on some days to go without a jacket, there’s also a pronounced change in the seasons in the air, heralded by cooler temperatures.
As a young child, September meant going to the Sears store in Rochester, New York with my parents on a Saturday morning shopping for back-to-school clothes. Not that there was anything glamorous about selecting new underwear and socks and as a Catholic school student with mandated school uniforms, my new clothes typically consisted of several blue shirts and a black clip-on tie, blue pants, and shiny new black shoes.
But as mundane as choosing that apparel was, I then got to accompany my father over to the coat department and he would let me pick out a colorful jacket of my choice for the coming winter. It also helped that the Sears aisle on the way to the jacket section had a fresh peanuts section that my father always had to stop at, and he usually bought a bag of Spanish peanuts and shared them with my brother and myself.
It was a bomber-style jacket, green in color with white sleeves and a large New York Jets emblem on the left front side. Being a football fan and especially of the start-up American Football League at the time, my father suggested that I try it on, and it was a match made in heaven, fitting perfectly. We purchased it as my next jacket, and I was thrilled.
The Jets were led that season by the much-publicized rookie quarterback named Joe Namath and my friends in school were mostly either Buffalo Bills fans or more traditional NFL fans of the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns. I took a lot of flack for wearing the Jets jacket everywhere I went and was proud to wear those colors each day.
In later years, I laughed when I watched actor Fred Savage’s character Kevin Arnold on the television program “The Wonder Years” wearing the exact same jacket on the show as I had almost three decades earlier. And I also reveled when the American Football League merged with the National Football League in 1970, but not before the Jets and Joe Namath defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969. I had the Jets bomber jacket for three years before I outgrew it and it got passed on to cousins much younger.
Besides going back to school after Labor Day every year, the month of September also had a slew of new television shows making their debut on the only three networks airing at the time, ABC, NBC and CBS. I recall one September in 1966 when our family watched classic premiere episodes of “The Monkees” and “Star Trek” on NBC along with “That Girl” on ABC and “Mission Impossible” on CBS.
Back in the old days, new TV shows and cartoons for children also made their debuts on Saturday mornings in September. CBS was my preferred Saturday morning network in the early 1960s because it included many of my favorites such as “Captain Kangaroo,” “Mighty Mouse,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” and “Rin Tin Tin.”
For our family, every five years or so the month of September also meant going to the car dealer so that my parents could purchase a new automobile. New models of cars were typically unveiled in September in the late 1950s and 1960s and sometimes the introductory sale prices for the new models would be affordable for my parents.
My father wouldn’t drive a car more than five years at a time, saying he didn’t want to pay expensive repair bills and he’d rather be behind the wheel of a new car as it was less expensive to operate. It seems like only yesterday when my father traded in his Ford Fairlane for a brand-new teal-colored 1962 Chevy Impala and our family got to ride home with him in that new car. By 1966, it was traded in for a new white Ford Galaxy 500.
September on the calendar also marks the arrival of the first official day of fall. Usually before that happens, leaves begin dropping off the trees as nights turns colder and what kid doesn’t like to jump into a pile of freshly raked leaves? It like a rite of passage for many, including me. <