Love means a pair of Ray-Bans!!

At least that’s what love meant for a splendid moment back in 1943. This is a picture of of Mom and Dad, standing on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, in’43…he was waiting to be shipped overseas, as New Orleans was a POE, port of embarkation. Here’s what inspired my Mom to tell me a story I had never heard before…..
I sent her a Plexiglas magnifier, made by Bausch and Lomb, for Mother’s Day….hoping it might be just the thing to help her read….she’s an avid reader and pores over the Birmingham News every night before she goes to bed, but her vision ain’t what it used to be.
She called me, saying that seeing the name Bausch and Lomb reminded her of my Dad….
She and my father, Bobby, were both in New Orleans, and they both worked at the airport there….she as a secretary for Chapman Air Services, he for the U.S. Army as an M.P.. They rode to work every day together, and met each night for dinner at an open air restaurant that is no doubt long gone, right on Lake Pontchartrain, for an open face roast beef sandwich with gravy, cole slaw and mashed potatoes….for 75 cents each. So romantic, yes?
Bausch and Lomb, the companythat at that time, owned Ray-Ban(now owned by the Milan based Luxottica Group),  had developed anti-glare sunglasses specifically for pilots in 1937….My Mom desperately wanted a pair for my Dad before he shipped overseas, which was to happen any day but while they were free for pilots, for everyone else, like a foot soldier such as my Dad, they cost the astounding sum of  $7.50… in 1943, that was a handsome chunk of change, especially for a soldier and his secretary wife. But she scrimped and saved, finally enough to buy the coveted aviators!
That night at dinner, she wordlessly pushed the famous leather case across the table to my Father, who opened it,  and said in an almost whisper, “Did you steal them?”
Mom, (the upright daughter of a Methodist minister), was a little indignant, and assured him that they were legally purchased. And they were his. 
Dad was shipped to India shortly after, and while he was there, broke a lens. Heartbreak. So he wrote Bausch and Lomb a letter, asking for a replacement lens, explaining that he would pay whatever it. They sent him the replacement, with a note saying that they would never charge a serviceman. Alas, it was the wrong size lens.
So Dad boxed his precious aviators and sent them to B & L. They broke in transit. But the company sent him a new pair of Ray-Bans, again explaining that it was their pleasure to help out a serviceman….no charge.
I don’t know what happened to those Ray-Ban aviators, except that they are still the epitome of classic style and one of the most imitated around the world. My daughter has a white pair of aviators that she adores, but she doesn’t know her Papaw wore them first,  long before they became a fashion statement. And my husband and son also wear Ray-Bans, now that I think of it. Must be a family thing.

One Response

  1. […] was given aviators my Mom, just before he went overseas in WWII. I wrote about it in a post on  Hamilton’s Habitat from a couple of years ago….such a sweet story. And as usual, my Mom called the day before my […]

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