Golden Years: A J. Press Tie For Dr. King

jpmlkMy father Paul Press met Martin Luther King, Jr. at a Reform Jewish Temple in New Haven. Dad was president of the temple and Robert E. Goldberg its rabbi.

Goldberg, a jocular and very left-wing Talmud scholar, was a close friend of playwright Arthur Miller and officiated his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. He was also arrested with Dr. King in 1961 during a peaceful civil rights demonstration in Albany, Georgia.

They shared the same jail cell, and while incarcerated Goldberg invited to speak at his New Haven temple.

On the day of his visit, my father, as president of the temple, picked up King at the railroad station. After the event, on the way back to the station, both men admitted they were starved. Dad suggested they head over to Yankee Doodle, the popular Eli hangout directly behind the J. Press store on York Street.

Wolfing down cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate milk shakes at the narrow sandwich counter, King suggested, “Mr. Press, how about taking a visiting preacher on a tour of J. Press?”

King admired the hundreds of ties strewn along the open counter, picking up reps, ancient madders and wool challis, asking their derivation and how each should be worn. Breaking the interrogation, Dad picked out a midnight blue emblematic tie with crests from one of the Yale colleges. Dad folded it into a long narrow tie bag emblazoned with the J. Press circular logo. “Dr. King,” he said, “here’s a souvenir of your cheeseburger stop at Yale.”

Several years later, the men met by chance at the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico. “Dr. King, you may not remember me…” my father began.

King immediately interrupted him. “Paul Press, Bob Goldberg’s friend from New Haven. Don’t worry, Mr. Press, I still wear the tie, but I threw out the bag.” — RICHARD PRESS

15 Comments on "Golden Years: A J. Press Tie For Dr. King"

  1. Very cool. Your tales of Ivy yore are a real boon to this site. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Mr.Press. You always have the most refreshing posts.

  3. Richard Meyer | August 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

    Wonderful!!

  4. Thank you for sharing Mr. Press. A fine story.

  5. Paul Press was a prince of man. My guess it was1964, that was the year that Dr. King received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Yale.

  6. Fascinating connection. Someone should reference this story any time someone claims that Ivy style is just about elitism.

  7. rene.lebenthal@warema.fr | January 16, 2017 at 11:43 am |

    Thank you for this wonderful post Mr. Press.

  8. G. Bruce Boyer | January 16, 2017 at 12:46 pm |

    Such a wonderful story, beautifully told. Richard Press is a treasury of information, and a treasure of a person.

  9. Always a pleasure to read your reminiscences, Mr. Press.

  10. Ezra Cornell | January 18, 2017 at 12:42 am |

    Great, especially given all the huffing and puffing about the “New England elite” and “WASPS” too often found on this site. It’s refreshing to remember the contributions of Jews and African Americans to this American fashion tradition. Thank you for posting this!

  11. No preppy site has done more to remember those contributions than this one.

  12. Ezra Cornell | January 18, 2017 at 8:04 pm |

    Christian, you are absolutely right. This site has done an outstanding job of highlighting various members of this community. I was referring to the comments section, over which you don’t have control. Accept my apologies, and my appreciation for all you’ve done on this site.

  13. Ezra, thank you for that acknowledgement, as it is truly important to me. Sometime last year there was a panel discussion with Bruce Boyer and some others at the FIT, and a black woman — hardly the typical reader of Ivy Style — came up to me to thank me for what I’ve done on this site during Black History Month. Those kind of interactions with readers are not things I forget.

  14. i absolutely love this story! I love reading things like this! I have even more respect for J. Press now!

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