Oct18WedRetrospective #33 October 18, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
As a Junior Soldier, I was invited to learn how to play a brass instrument and eventually become a member of the corps band - more about that another time. Once I was fit, I started to play, but I needed some kind of uniform. Not being old enough to become a senior soldier I couldn’t wear the standard dress like the others so what was I to do? Some of the new members who were both older and younger than me wore jackets, shirts and ties. Not me. No sirree. As an even younger Junior Soldier I had worn a hand-me-down-maroon-wool-sweater that was once owned by my cousin (A.H.). Today we would say it was “branded” which is to say it had certain markings or information on the exterior that identified the wearer as a member of the Salvation Army.
Wouldn’t you know it - my mom found me a new one - now made from polyester. No buttons this time – a simple pullover. With a pair of black pants I was ready to go! It worked like a charm! All those grey-haired senior Salvationists smiling at me and telling me how handsome I looked in my “guernsey!” No, I was not dressed like a cow and I didn’t moo though my playing may have sounded that way sometimes!
According to Wikipedia the original “…guernsey came into being as a garment for fishermen who required a warm, hard wearing, yet comfortable item of clothing that would resist the sea spray. The hard twist given to the tightly packed wool fibres in the spinning process and the tightly knitted stitches produced a finish that would "turn water" and is capable of repelling rain and spray… Two styles of guernsey exist: a plain "working" guernsey and a "finer" example that was generally saved for special occasions and Sunday-best attire…”
Methinks that my guernsey served the double purpose as metaphorically I was indeed a young “fisher of men” and for me this garment also became my “Sunday-go-to-meeting” suit!
Robert Sandall writes in THE HISTORY OF THE SALVATION ARMY, Vol. 2, page 44:
The first jerseys (women’s wear) and guernseys (men’s) seem to have been blue and of the fisherman type, with “Salvation Army” or a motto embroidered thereon. Evolution into the red guernsey, with “Salvation Army” worked in yellow (1882), seems to have been due jointly
(a) To recollection of the earlier day’s jibe that people who sang and spoke so constantly of the Blood and the Bleeding Lamb “ought to have red coats and be done with it”;
(b) To the mention made by William Booth at the 1877 conference of the methods of the Hallelujah bands, the principals of which wore red shirts (men) and red garibaldis (women);
(c) To the general fitness of such a garment for symbolic and publicity purposes. It brought uniform within the reach of poorer soldiers, and when it was worn, coats could be thrown off in meetings.”
Today’s “branding” practices have come a long way especially when it comes to uniforms. For most Officers and Soldiers it’s still the “official” black uniform for Sundays and special occasions. When more relaxed the white shirt/blouse with the Red Shield emblem is popular and of course beyond that there are now numerous articles of clothing with the embroidered Red Shield.
I recall having read somewhere in my journey a wonderful little story about a guernsey.
I Googled it!
I found it!
Allow me to finish today’s post with it:
From PREACHING TODAY, Sermon Illustrations:
It’s the story of a simple, illiterate man who was converted through the work of the Salvation Army. He went regularly to the Salvation Army citadel. One day he came home rather disconsolate.
His wife said, "What's the matter?"
He said, "I've just noticed that all the people in the Salvation Army wear red sweaters, and I don't have a red sweater."
She said, "I'll knit one." So she knitted him a red sweater.
The next Sunday after he went to the citadel, he still wasn't happy.
His wife said, "What's wrong this time?"
He said, "I just noticed all their red sweaters have yellow writing."
They were both illiterate, but she said, "Don't worry about it. I'll embroider some writing on for you."
The man's wife had no idea what the letters said, and she couldn't read anyway. So copying a sign from a store window opposite their home, she embroidered the words of that store sign onto his red sweater.
When he came back the next Sunday, she said, "Did they like your sweater?"
"They loved my sweater. Some of them said they liked my sweater better than their sweater."
What neither of them knew was that the sign on the store window she had copied read,
“UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT”