Two of the drawers that hold some of my dozens of T-shirts.
I suspect that most people acquire T-shirts at a special events, rarely wear them, and eventually donate or discard them. Not me. I was blessed with a job where dress didn’t matter much, so was even able to wear T-shirts throughout most of my professional career. Because of that, I actually wore out most of the shirts I got. However, it does seem that I can afford to thin my collection, now.
Like most mundane objects in life, there is a story attached to each one of these. This is likely to get long as more pictures are added over time; feel free to skip this entry.
This is a shirt from Park City, UT. My girlfriend at the time, Merrianne, went there with her family, and got me this shirt. (We have been happily married since 1989.) This is one of only two shirts that a woman ever sent me – the other a long gone shirt that said “Bun-Zai,” from a friend named RoAnn in 1980.
This shirt was designed for the People’s Teahouse at Stanford by (I think) Vae Sun, circa 1979. The Teahouse was a converted supply room that sold Ramen, Dim Sum, Tea, and Soda each evening, to raise money for Asian American causes. A cha siu bao cost 25¢, as did a 12-ounce can of soda, or small pot of tea. It was staffed by volunteers, of which I was one. On the top of the circular logo are the last names of the managers – Chin, Morton, Toy, Wong, and Wong. On the bottom are the coming year’s managers – Hoi, Jang, Jeong, Kasumi, and Matsumoto.
At Stanford, the computer center called the Low Overhead Timesharing System was a big part of my life. It was a DecSystem 2060, with an incredible 512k of memory, shared by over 4000 users. It had less computing power than a cell phone you could buy today. I volunteered there for many years, and in my final year was Student Coordinator, a paid position. I designed this as the first LOTS T-shirt in 1979. It was an entirely manual process, involving rub-on letters for the words, and drawing the picture by hand on a sheet of paper. I then took the drawings to a T-shirt shop (by bus – I had no car), where they made silkscreens of the design, and printed up shirts. These sold for $5 a piece. The second printing of this shirt was orange, with black letters. The computer science department later leveraged my drawing to make a shirt of their own, I was told. On the back is a depiction of an ADM-3 terminal, with the infamous error message that the computer gave when it crashed: “%DECSYSTEM-20 NOT RUNNING”
This shirt from around 1983 was adapted from an animated graphic drawn by Carol Bassett. The HP2700 High Performance Graphics Terminal (code-named Orion) only sold about 50 units over its lifetime, due to its price tag of about $25,000. I never actually worked on the 2700, but worked on its follow-on called Pulsar, which would have expanded the display dimensions to 1024 x 768 pixels. That product never saw the light of day.
Univega shirt, purchased around 1985 or so. My first bike at college was a Columbia 3-speed. I sold that for $20 in my junior year, and got a Univega Viva Sport for almost $200. It was colored Scarlet Pearl, and thus I named it “Pearl.” It was the only bike I owned that ever had a name. I rode that bike all over town, never locking it for decades, until it was finally stolen off the HP Cupertino campus in 2010. The shirt above was once the closest thing I had to a plain white T-shirt, so I used it under dress shirts on occasion.
The first organized ride I ever did was Century ’84, the Ride to the Pinnacles. It was 200 miles, 100 down, camping overnight, and 200 back. This was a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, one of my causes since I had childhood asthma. The staff on that ride was amazing. I still remember Paige.
Every year, a group of Hawaii students and their friends put on a luau with food and entertainment at Stanford. It was a huge deal, attended by hundreds. This shirt, drawn by Moon Ki Chai, says “Stanford Luau Hui” on the front, and “Work, Study, Get Rich, Go Beach” on the back (the first 3 terms were a tongue-in-cheek Stanford chant). The back also featured a map of the Hawaiian Islands, with the continental US relegated to the little inset where Hawaii often is on a map.
On our first trip to Disneyland with the kids, we stayed at the Lamplighter Motel. Near there, was a Malaysian restaurant. “Got Milk?” was a contemporary advertising jingle, and I couldn’t resist the take on it.
I used to volunteer as a judge for various school activities such as science fairs, even before we had children. This shirt was from Odyssey of the Mind, a hybrid between an engineering fair and drama event. It used to be called Olympics of the Mind, but the Olympic people got upset at that. The name was later changed to Destination Imagination. In the competition, we would see things like 20-gram Balsa wood structures that could support a thousand pounds.
This is a shirt from when the competition was renamed Destination Imagination. I suspect many people never again wore the Flat Cat shirt after the competition, but it became part of my regular wardrobe, as did most T-shirts.
Technically, this Kalani High Band Jacket is not a T-shirt. I played Alto Sax from 7th grade through the final year of my Master’s. In my 3 years of High School, I was always in the marching band. We had an opportunity at one point to order jackets, and there was an option to add a lining to what would otherwise just be a plastic windbreaker. I remember in my freshman year of college, some of us went down to a the house of a classmate (Cathy Shimizu, now Haas) for Thanksgiving. When we were headed out to Disneyland, I was going to wear this jacket, but her father offered a heavier coat. Good thing I took it – it was cold and windy at Disneyland. In the pocket of this jacket, I found a stack of napkins. Possibly some of those were from Stanford food service, many decades ago. I would take one napkin at each meal, but generally save it in my pocket rather than use it. That way, I didn’t have to buy Kleenex. I don’t think I used this jacket much after Freshman year, because it was too light.
I got this from the Doe Fang store in Aina Haina Shopping Center in Honolulu. Clay Chang was not the original owner of Doe Fang, but had always dreamed of owning the store. When he finally bought it, the venture barely scraped by for years. Clay was, and is, a Peter Bailey type from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Just before the place went under, his nephew stepped in and re-invented the place into House of Pure Aloha (HOPA) shave ice. I bought is shirt perhaps 2 years before the changeover.
This is a shirt that my daughter got me for Christmas years ago. The caption is ∞ MPG, touching two fields that are close to my heart – cycling, and the environment.
I wasn’t planning on buying a T-shirt, but when I saw this one mentioning Kalaupapa on Molokai, I had to get it. It was obviously a local shirt, not one designed for tourists. I don’t have too many purple shirts, so that was a feature, too. The sleeve tore under the armpit, creating an automatic vent feature. Kalaupapa has a special place in my memory, as the site of an after-Christmas retreat in 1979. There were several 18-year-old girls there, but only one 18-year-old woman.
I rarely buy T-shirts, as I tend to get enough in the course of normal events. But this one stood out at a thrift store. It has local Hawaiian content, and says “Na Aikane Kokua” which means Our Friends that Help. Or, as it says on the back, Our Peer Helpers. Helping is important to me. I’m putting this shirt in the rag bin because it developed an underarm vent.
From July 7, 2020 through February 4, 2022, I volunteered for Santa Clara County at a COVID test center. They later did vaccinations as those became available. Unlike most people, I actually had more social contact during the pandemic. Great crew of people at the test and vaccine centers, especially the Emmanuel Baptist one. I made so many friends. I wore the light blue shirt on top virtually every day I volunteered, and thought is would last through the end of the pandemic. Like the clothes of the tribes of Israel, the blue shirt miraculously lasted until my last volunteer day. It’s now falling apart, having served its purpose.
I got this T-shirt from the Itasca hostel while on bike tour with Elliot in 2010. It was a thin shirt, and ripped at the underarm.
This is the back of the Tour de Pines shirt above. I had brought along iron-on urls specifically in anticipation of picking up souvenir T’s along the way. The link, roderick.hostcell.net/bike2010, was from a free hosting service, which ended. The blog was moved to pididu.com .
Most years, I volunteered at refreshment stations for Bike to Work day. It’s finally time to retire this honey shirt.
Palm was once the leader in PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants, like cell phones that couldn’t make calls). I became a Palm developer at some time in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. By 2010, the company was in serious decline, having been killed by smart phones. HP, where I worked, decided to buy Palm for a billion dollars. Most of the press thought we were fools, but I thought that we might take a loss for a while like Google did with Android, then come to dominate the market. But no, we abandoned our pricey acquisition rapidly. Palm swag like T-shirts were piled on tables at one of our company events, and we could take as many as we liked, so I took this T-shirt.
I picked this up on the 2017 tour of the Southern Tier. It’s exactly the kind of souvenir that I look for: not a tourist shirt, but something with local content. In this case, it was Gautier Middle School. I found it interesting that the shirt seems to have been sponsored by the local pawn shop.
Bike to Work Day, 2002. The shirt would still be okay were it not for the split in the back under the blue logo. I had been volunteering for Bike to Work for many years, starting at a time when Hewlett-Packard was a sponsor. That year, though, was post 9-22, and post Compaq Merger, so HP did very little in the way of sponsorships. I kept up volunteering at every opportunity to keep busy, as formal work was tailing off, and I was being kept on for support of legacy Netservers.
Got this on the 2010 bike tour with Elliot in Vermont, after climbing Bread Loaf, the only significant mountain on the whole trip, which started in Fargo, ND. The shirt is tearing at the edges of the paint, in the picture of the hills.
I got this on the same 2010 bike trip, at a Thrift Store. This is the perfect souvenir; it’s local content, not designed for tourists, and as a bonus, was a high-visibility green when new. It’s now faded by sun, and some small holes are appearing in it. Once, someone saw me wearing it and asked me about bear hunting, which I know nothing about.