UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Lake Okeechobee

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

Jimmy Houston

Every time I see Eric Jackson at an FLW Tour event I think of the old days when guys used to wear jumpsuits like Eric’s. Back in the day, jumpsuits – or coveralls, as they were also known – were popular with a lot of guys, sort of like leisure suits. I don’t know who the first fisherman was to sew a sponsor patch on his jumpsuit, but it really got to be the thing to do. The more patches you had on your jumpsuit, the bigger the pro you were.

(Eric Jackson photo by Charles Waldorf)

As time passed, vests with patches on them became very popular. I didn’t really go in for jumpsuits or vests, but I did wear a shirt that had patches all over it. In 1975, my first full year of tournament fishing, I wore that shirt with a pair of white bell-bottoms. A friend of Chris and me sewed red and blue stars up and down the outside of the legs, so my britches were very patriotic. They were lucky too, I guess, because I finished third in the AOY race that year to Roland Martin and Ricky Green and then won it the next year.

About that same time, I bought a used Lincoln Continental Mark IV that was lipstick red. A friend of mine told me that the first time he ever laid eyes on me, I came driving up to a gas station in that red Lincoln and wearing my white bell-bottoms, and towing a Ranger boat. Chris was really taken with that Lincoln. It was quite a step up for us. When I drove it home she said, “Are you kidding. Do we really own it?” It was like we had arrived.

Ranger, by the way, was one of the first sponsors – if not the first – to appear on the backs of a lot of shirts, vests and jumpsuits. Before then, nobody thought of putting anything on the back, but then it was like a light came on. Also, guys started putting their names on their boats. Then that went out of fashion for a while and came back in. Now they put their names on their boats and their tow vehicles.

These days just about everybody puts something on every square inch of their shirts. There’s even a style of jersey with elastic armpits. It’s so you can cast easier, but there’s also a place there where you can put another sponsor’s logo that shows up when you hold up a fish or a trophy. Those guys back in the day were nowhere in the same league as far as showing off sponsors.

I don’t know how to explain Eric’s retro look. I know Dickies is one of his sponsors, but he was wearing jumpsuits before he hooked up with them. I guess he likes jumpsuits because they’re easy to get in and out of when he decides to jump in the water.

Eric is bad about jumping in the water when it’s hot. One time we were getting ready to film a show on Center Hill Lake in Tennessee, and Eric, who owns Jackson Kayak, was in the back and I was running the trolling motor. I heard a big splash and looked around, and no Eric. He’d left his jumpsuit lying on the back deck and jumped overboard.

I didn’t know it then, but Eric can hold his breath for a really long time. After what seemed like a few minutes had passed, I got curious and walked back to the outboard, thinking maybe he had surfaced and was just resting before climbing back aboard. Still no Eric. I thought to myself, “What am I going to tell Christine (his wife)? Sorry, Christine, but Eric jumped in the water and never came back up.” About that time he resurfaced, climbed back in the boat, put on his jumpsuit again and acted like it was no big deal.

Maybe jumpsuits will come back into fashion.

Tags: jimmy-houston  blog 

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