ORIGINAL FLITE WEAR JACKET FROM APOLLO ERA

Joe Land

Active Member
Joe
This is great stuff. I’m sure others will agree that your dad had talents and skills that have fallen by the wayside in today’s automated world. When I was a kid, I grew up in the Italian section of South Philadelphia and there were families of skilled tailors , who skills were past on from generation to generation within a mile of each other. They would make custom made Italian silk suits for those who were able to afford their services . Of course In my area these were basically mob guys who wore suits everyday and you could see them pull up to the tailors in their Coup DeVilles and Eldorado's . Such a shame that we’ve lost people like your dad who had theses talents, their trade craft passes with them . Thank you once again for sharing your stories with us.
Many are the times I kept my dad company watching him cuff a pair of pants or shorten the sleeves on a suit and he liked to talk about the old master tailors who taught him. They were mostly Germans who survived the concentration camps. They had the tattoos. But there were other immigrant tailors as well and he learned from many. He told me one time of his observations on how the tailoring traditions of the old tailors he had known varied by what country they were from. He said the English tailors, Saville Row, had the best woolens but their styling was always stodgy. Solid and functional. By contrast he said the Italian tailors always had the best designs and style. He said German tailors would always use three stitches where one would do. And then he said he admired Swedish tailors the most. He called their style "soft tailoring." Their hand stitches were supple and could move and were mostly angled so that they could give a little. "Soft tailoring" he said, "that's what I've always tried to do."
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Many are the times I kept my dad company watching him cuff a pair of pants or shorten the sleeves on a suit and he liked to talk about the old master tailors who taught him. They were mostly Germans who survived the concentration camps. They had the tattoos. But there were other immigrant tailors as well and he learned from many. He told me one time of his observations on how the tailoring traditions of the old tailors he had known varied by what country they were from. He said the English tailors, Saville Row, had the best woolens but their styling was always stodgy. Solid and functional. By contrast he said the Italian tailors always had the best designs and style. He said German tailors would always use three stitches where one would do. And then he said he admired Swedish tailors the most. He called their style "soft tailoring." Their hand stitches were supple and could move and were mostly angled so that they could give a little. "Soft tailoring" he said, "that's what I've always tried to do."
Joe
I’ll share a quick story with you and you’ll understand why I’m sharing this in a moment . My grandfather came over from Italy in 1919 . His trade craft was he was a Master Cabinet Maker. The man was a genius with wood . Look at antique furniture with intricate scroll work and bed headboard with beautiful wood carvings so complex that it can’t be duplicated today, and you’ll have just a small idea of what he could do with a hammer and chisel . As a youngster, I used to stand around in his basement ( just like you and your dad) and ask him to teach me how to do that . Instead he gave me a hammer, some nails and a 2x4 and told me to learn how to hammer the nail into the wood with out bending the nail . After about 5 minutes I would get bored and go back up stairs . One day when I asked him why he wouldn’t teach me to carve the wood, he sat me down and told me that he and my mom and my dad had better plans for me in my life and that one day I would grow up to be the first in our family to go to college and make something of myself and not be just a lowly wood carver or Master Cabinet Maker. That was the thoughts of his generation and may have been the thoughts of your dad as well, when you were little in the basement watching him work his trade craft . Ironically , if someone had the skills of your dad or my grandfather today, they would be in great demand by people seeking quality workmanship .
 

Joe Land

Active Member
Here's a photo of me when I was about 15 years old sitting on the couch in Dad's office at Land Mfg. I have on a winter flight coat dad made on a contract for the FAA. It was a 3/4 length coat with a real mouton collar. I remember a trip with dad to Boulder Colorado to meet with Gerry, the guy who founded Gerry mountain and backpacking coats and sleeping bags. Gerry taught my dad how to fill the shell with down before it was quilted. Sitting in the foreground is a man named John Friend. John was my dad's sidekick all the way from his tailoring days. John was the plant manager and he's wearing a USN winter flight jacket dad made for the Navy. That jacket was, in my opinion, about the best jacket he ever produced. Man it was cool and so was the FAA winter jacket. What I wouldn't give to still have those. Thank you all for your comments and interest. It's an emotional thing to dig back and remember and one thing's for sure . . . the generation that did all that was cool, and
FAA Coat Joe.jpeg
my dad was cooler than I'll ever be.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Joe
John looks like he’s wearing a heavy weight Winter WEP jacket . It would be cool to find one of those today with a Land Manufacturing tag.
 

ButteMT61

Well-Known Member
@Joe Land - So funny you mention "Gerry". I grew up on their gear as my dad was a field geologist, and we were always camping and doing field work in the mountains, etc. My dad was a big "buy the best" kind of fellow, and we had Gerry stoves, vests, jackets, etc. I in fact got a NOS 1980's Orange "Marty McFly" vest a couple years back and I don't want to wear it but I do :)
They made all their stuff in Colorado back in the days, and I'm loving the connection to your Pop! What a small world...I'll have to post up a pic of the vest.
 

Joe Land

Active Member
@Joe Land - So funny you mention "Gerry". I grew up on their gear as my dad was a field geologist, and we were always camping and doing field work in the mountains, etc. My dad was a big "buy the best" kind of fellow, and we had Gerry stoves, vests, jackets, etc. I in fact got a NOS 1980's Orange "Marty McFly" vest a couple years back and I don't want to wear it but I do :)
They made all their stuff in Colorado back in the days, and I'm loving the connection to your Pop! What a small world...I'll have to post up a pic of the vest.
I was maybe ten years old, not sure but I remember a store front in Boulder where we went. It had been converted to a sewing shop and we were there after hours. We had driven all the way to Boulder in a Plymouth station wagon loaded with coats and Gerry showed my dad how to fill the shells. I wore one of the FAA coats all the way through High school, but have no idea what happened to it after I went away to college. I also remember dad explaining to me what mouton was. He said it was real lambs wool that had been combed, clipped and dyed. It was beautiful stuff, soft and warm. Damn that was a good coat.
 

Jorgeenriqueaguilera

Well-Known Member
Definitely they are super collectible because of their historic value. At the same time, due to their scarcity, not everyone knows about their existance. Let’s say, it‘s not the regular L-2B that you find on ebay everyday, but collectors that really know about your dad’s products surely appreciate them.
 

SuinBruin

Well-Known Member
There is one on ebay and I hope you all leave it there. I'm saving up waiting for an opportunity to buy it. Unreal how collectible my dad's products have become.
That's the way it works. Things of everyday utility become collectible because only in retrospect do people come to appreciate their blend of form and function, and in the interim many are used up and discarded. Things made and marketed as "collectible," on the other hand, seem to rarely rise to or remain at that level since everyone hangs on to them and keeps them pristine, and there's not much interest in something that was made to sit on a shelf its whole life and did just that.
 
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Joe Land

Active Member
After starting Land Manufacturing in the mid 50's my dad continued working as a tailor and kept the day job while mom and three ladies they hired sewed flight suits in the basement of the house. Dad used to tell me how he spent his coffee breaks at the day job. He said while the other tailors and salesmen took their coffee breaks to have a cigarette, he spent his breaks in a phone booth, at the Chinese restaurant next door to the store where he worked, making phone calls and selling flying suits. He had mother answer the phone at the house as, "Land Manufacturing." She would take the messages and he would return the calls during his breaks. This went on until the business grew into a big deal. It became known at Henry's, the retail store where he worked, that dad had a business on the side. You'd have to be my age and from Wichita to know just who my dad worked for. Henry Levitt. The field house at WSU was named after they guy, Henry Levitt Arena. And the department store, Henry's, was a big deal in the 50's and 60's. More importantly, Henry's sold high end mens clothing with a very wealthy clientele. And my dad was their tailor. Bankers, Oil men, the presidents of Cessna and Beech. They all knew my dad and he was their tailor. Dad made a fortune for Henry. And Henry paid him a paltry hourly wage. I remember a story dad used to tell that he was making something like $8.75 an hour managing an alterations staff of forty, and selling over a million dollars worth of hand tailored Oxxford suits a year for Henry. Henry sent an assistant to tell my dad he was getting a raise of fifty cents an hour, and dad told the assistant to go tell Henry to "piss up a wet rope." The assistant said I can't tell Mr. Levitt that . . . and dad said you tell him exactly that, and he added, "while your at it, tell him he can keep his fifty cents an hour, I'd only waste it on food and clothes for my four kids!" That Friday, dad's pay check was boosted by two dollars and hour.

It was 1960 when Henry Levitt sent for my dad to come to his office. Henry said to my dad, its come to my attention that you and your wife are running a sewing business out of your home. Dad said yes, that's the case. Henry said well, I don't allow that and you better make up your mind what is more important, your job with me or your little side business. Dad never flinched. He said, well my wife and I made $30,000 in our little business
EHL Tailor2.jpeg
last year sewing flying suits and I'll give you two weeks notice here and now. He said Henry was apoplectic. "You can't do this to me!" And dad said to Henry Levitt . . . "well you should have thought of that long before now." Dad worked out his two weeks and never saw Henry Levitt again.
 

Jorgeenriqueaguilera

Well-Known Member
WOW! Your stories always amaze me @Joe Land ! Here are some links to some of your dad’s jackets I managed to get over the time, I will be posting the flight suits soon, too. Hope this brings you good memories.






 

SuinBruin

Well-Known Member
Jorge has really reinvigorated the forum's interest in and focus on original vintage jackets and gear. They cost so much now that most of us have to content ourselves with repros, but there's no substitute for the history and stories behind the originals and the men who made and wore them. What a great thread!
 

Jorgeenriqueaguilera

Well-Known Member
Jorge has really reinvigorated the forum's interest in and focus on original vintage jackets and gear. They cost so much now that most of us have to content ourselves with repros, but there's no substitute for the history and stories behind the originals and the men who made and wore them. What a great thread!
Honestly, this situation is without precedents. This must be the first time we get the chance to meet someone so close to the production and learn his first hand stories, and the fact that they are from this legendary manufacturer, is priceless!
 
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