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October 20, 2009

Travels with Uncle Chet: Making ‘Made in America’ a lifestyle

COLUMBUS _ We’ve been slow to get in the wood this year, and fall has been quick to cool. The logs need stacking, splitting and some need culling because they’re old and punky, but everything from oilchanging to dry-walling to kid-taxiing has cut in line.

Then the field was dusted with snow the other day, and we came to our senses. If we didn’t act soon, we’d be burning propane, burning money, all winter and still not be warm.

Saturday was my appointment with the woodpile. After three coffees, I was prepared to face it alone, but not long after I started, that silver Ranger glided down the driveway. Uncle Chet got out, and as I set up logs to be split, calculating how much faster the job would go with two, he said, ``I’m not dressed for that.’’

``In your jeans and jean jacket?’’

``Not any jeans and jacket,’’ he said. ``These are Levis, and they’re American-made.’’

``Are Levis still made here?’’

``These are,’’ he said. ``They’re used, probably from the ’90s.’’

``Look pretty good,’’ I admitted.


``Where’d you get ’em?’’


``Uh huh.’’ I picked up the splitting mall, concentrating, then swung hard and cleaved one log.

``Actually, I’m a patriot from head to toe,’’ Uncle Chet said. ``I bought new American underwear and socks from Unionmade.

com, and a shirt from Bamboosa, a little factory down in South Carolina.’’

``Got any Chinese clothes you can actually work in?’’

``Sure, at home; and pretty soon, I’ll have more Levis, and I won’t care if I rip a pair,’’ he said. ``But today, I’m all- American and I’m just going to enjoy it, from my New Balance sneakers to my 10-year-old Ford. And my next conquest is going to be an American coat, because this one’s barely warm enough and it’s only October.’’

``Get a Carhartt,’’ I said.

``That’s what I was thinking,’’ Uncle Chet said, ``but Friday, I was in the hardware store and saw their Carhartts. They had a duck coat, with a hood, just what I was looking for. My size, too, and the price wasn’t bad, but guess where it was made?’’ ``Dunno,’’ I raised the mall again.

``Mexico,’’ he said, ``and I’m not going to wear a Mexican Carhartt.’’

``Mexican Carhartt?’’ I said, then struck another log. This one splintered but didn’t split.

``These days, Carhartt is as American as taco pie,’’ Uncle Chet said, ``and even though I like the jackets, I’m not sending them my money.’’

``Good for you,’’ I said as I swung again and this time had success.

`` I’ll either buy a used one, or one of the last ones from their all-American line.’’

``Where do you get those?’’ I asked.

``Online. Just search for `American- made clothes’ and you’ll find a few sellers.’’

``I’ll do that,’’ I said.

``And I’m going to make it an all- American Christmas this year,’’ Uncle Chet said. ``I’m not buying anything not made here.’’

``I’ll take a Boston Whaler,’’ I said.

``You’re getting coal from Pennsylvania,’’ he said. ``It’s the kids I’m worried about. Where are they, anyway?’’ ``Buddy’s football game.’’

``I wonder if you can buy an American- made football or basketball anymore?’’ he asked.

``I doubt it,’’ I said.

``Well, that’s my next mission,’’ he said. ``The NFL, NBA and Major Leagues should use only Americanmade equipment, and if they don’t, we should boycott their stadiums, which are usually built with American tax dollars.’’

``That’s true enough.’’

``And I know the player to lead the movement,’’ he said. ``He’s a smooth, influential southpaw, our point guard in chief. ‘’

``Barack O’Balla; I saw him on Youtube.’’

``That’s the one,’’ Uncle Chet said.

``If he insists on American balls, I bet we’ll get ’em.’’


Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace’s column appears every other week.