Lost Snapshot Of Grandpa, Bow-Tied College Man

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My grandfather Ted Twardzik passed away last Thursday at the age of 89. As so often happens, his passing unearthed many previously unseen photos of him as a much younger man.

Among these, one stuck out in particular: a slightly out-of-focus snapshot of him as a student at the University of Notre Dame circa 1950, at the dawn of the Ivy League Look. In it he is wearing an argyle cardigan vest, white OCBD with rolled sleeves, an undone bow tie, a watch with its face pointing downward, his class ring, and what appear to be tickets tucked into one pocket.

It’s that carefree attitude expressed by the clothes, from the hanging bowtie to the cryptically worn watch, that I find so fascinating. It suggests a character so different from the man I knew: “Dziazde” as we called him, in typically un-spellable Polish fashion, the meticulous retired businessman who allowed himself exactly one beer each night. Here he sits, taking a break from a young life that could go in a thousand different directions.

A little bit of that scene still exists, just a few feet away from me, tucked in a drawer. It’s his Notre Dame class ring, which was passed down to me a few years ago. I’ve been keeping it with my cuff links ever since, not knowing precisely what to do with it: I didn’t attend Notre Dame myself, and it’s too big for all my fingers save the middle. But I’m holding it now and marveling at that strange ability of clothing and objects to take us back to a time or place we once knew, or maybe never did. And that seems a good enough purpose for it. — ERIC TWARDZIK

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6 Comments on "Lost Snapshot Of Grandpa, Bow-Tied College Man"

  1. “…I’m… marveling at that strange ability of clothing and objects to take us back to a time or place we once knew, or maybe never did.”

    Well put. And thank you for your thoughtful and interesting remembrance of your grandfather.

  2. So sorry for your loss Eric. From your remembrance he appears to have had a healthy, prosperous and well-lived life, and has been said before, you will have your photos, and more importantly, your memories of him.

    My favorite photo of my grandfather was taken in 1940 holding my infant mother. He is wearing a double breasted suit (he had all his suits bespoke) with a pleated, cuffed pant with a razor sharp crease and NO break in the pants-and as everyone knows a cuffed pant never has a break! Just as in your grandfather’s photo, good taste is timeless.

    May he rest well.

  3. Charlottesville | November 22, 2016 at 5:13 pm |

    Very nice post. Sorry that your grandfather won’t be with you this Thanksgiving, but thank you for sharing the photo and your family memories. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  4. Current Notre Dame student here. Thanks so much for sharing and God bless your grandfather. Happy Thanksgiving and Go Irish.

  5. Eric, a thought regarding his Notre Dame ring. Frame shops do some excellent work creating remembrances with framed photos combined with medals, rings, and such. Stroll into a local framing place and get their ideas. You may be surprised at how creative and experienced they are at such work.

    Nice touch to honor him..

  6. Eric
    Thanks for sharing

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