The recent cocktail blast celebrating the new J.Press flagship store on 44th Street, prompted a question from MC media maven, journalist, man-about-town Zach Weiss about my brief time with Robert Frost at Dartmouth.
Frost attended Dartmouth in 1892, joining Theta Delta Chi fraternity, but problematic family circumstances forced return to his home in California after one term to deliver newspapers and work in a lamp factory. During his short time in Hanover he discovered his love for poetry in the then Dartmouth library, Wilson Hall, forever changing his life and the face of American poetry. Recipient of two honorary degrees from Dartmouth, he served as a regular lecturer at the college from the 1940s until his death in 1963.
My time of day with him occurred after one of the storied lectures and poetry readings he annually delivered to Dartmouth freshman classes at 105 Dartmouth Hall. Luckily he followed ours with a more intimate session for my several gung-ho Frost classmates at a conference room in Baker Library.
I was made well aware thanks to the braggadocio of my father, Paul Press, that Frost was a longtime bespoke J.Press customer attended to religiously in the Cambridge store by fitter-tailor Frank Martin and manager Al Goro.
Young and witless, I gracelessly introduced myself to the noted poet,
“Mr. Frost, my name is Richard Press and my grandather’s name is on the label of your suit.”
Frost was indeed draped in a full bodied J.Press black/brown herringbone Cheviot tweed suit, guaranteed to itch, strewn devil-may-care, wrinkled and rumpled over his bent frame as if stopping by woods on a snowy evening.
Robert Frost frostily replied, “Mr. Press, are you here to discuss my poetry or my clothing?” — RICHARD PRESS