Written by John Fante
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Dreams from Bunker Hill, 1982
I was in rags the day that check arrived. My nondescript Colorado clothes hung from me in shreds, and my first thought was a new wardrobe. I had to be frugal but in good taste, and so I descended Bunker Hill to Second and Broadway, and the Goodwill store. I made my way to the better quality section and found an excellent blue business suit with a white pinstripe. The pants were too long and so were the sleeves, and the whole thing was ten dollars. For another dollar I had the suit altered, and while this was being taken care of, I buzzed around in the shirt department. Shirts were fifty cents apiece, of excellent quality and all manner of styles. Next I purchased a pair of shoes—fine thick-soled oxfords of pure leather, shoes that would carry me over the streets of Los Angeles for months to come. I bought other things too, several pairs of shorts and T-shirts, a dozen pairs of socks, a few neckties and finally an irresistible glorious fedora. I set it jauntily at the side of my head and walked out of the dressing room and paid my bill. Twenty bucks. It was the first time in my life that I had bought clothing for myself. As I studied my reflection in a long mirror I could not help remembering that in all my Colorado years my people had been too poor to buy me a suit of clothes, even for the graduation exercises in high school. Well, I was on my way now, nothing could stop me.
© 1982 John Fante: Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press