The other day I saw a t-shirt that said WTF on it. This was not the first time I have seen a t-shirt that said that and though somewhat silly, clearly I would not trade in my peace symbol t-shirt for it and I realized that we have used t-shirts to express ourselves throughout time and it got me thinking…
When I was a young teenager, I had a pair of burgundy hip hugger bell-bottoms with purple square pockets. I had a picture in my hand much like the one here in the picture, which was designed by Robert Crumb who was a cartoonist, and it consisted of a cartoon character that was not walking but strutting. It said “keep on truckin” on it. I told the clerk that I wanted him to take the picture and make me a t-shirt in X large so I could wear it. I remember he smiled at me and said, “Okay kid, or you can go to that rack there is a whole bunch of them.” I shoved the picture back in my pocket, ran to the rack, got my keep on truckin t-shirt, and wore it proudly. Why not? In the early 70s, it represented optimism and I was a very optimistic kid. It also represented fashion and being hip.
I loved the t-shirts with messages back in the 60s and 70s. I loved my t-shirt that said “make love not war” with a peace symbol in the middle. It spoke out what I believed in. I was a young hippy in training and I knew war was wrong, I was unsure why, I did not get the politics quite yet, I was only 12, but I would wear the “threads” in protest of the war.
I had a few Peter Max T shirts that had cool sayings on them. I was unsure of their real meaning except it made my parents angry which meant I was doing something right. I think my parents thought Peter Max was all about LSD but indeed he was about creativity and art and his T-shirts were awesome, sadly it seemed anyone over 30 just didn’t get it!
I had several t-shirts that said flower power, a few t-shirts with “magic mushrooms” on them, not that I knew what they were at the time, but I knew it meant something and it was cool. As a young teen, being cool was the hip thing to do in clothing.
I think one of my favorite t-shirts I had was a shirt was one designed by Lorraine Schneider, whose single flowered t-shirt said, “War is not for children and other living things.” All my friends had this shirt and I eventually got the poster. This t-shirt helped me gain an understanding that war was somehow wrong and that it hurt more than just people.
I can’t help but think perhaps that is what is wrong with the world today. We lost the passion, purpose and meaning. There are many things I remember about growing up in the 60s and 70s and the biggest thing was the passion. We had so much of it. We forgot that make love not war was important and tune in turn on drop out didn’t mean just zoning on your cell phone all day.
I have to admit, I still wear these t-shirts that have meaning. Most my t-shirts are tie dye, I have one that says “war the ultimate child abuse” and yes I have a peace sign t-shirt or two. What about you? Do you remember your statements in the 60s and 70s through t-shirts?