Putting The Fresh In Freshman: St. Johns Bay Rum & The University Shops

Ivy Style recently welcomed St. Johns Bay Rum as a sponsor. Turns out owner Jerry Woodhouse has a long history of dressing college men. Read on for Freshman Dressing 101, with an outfit that looks as cool today as it did 50 years ago.

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I got started in the “Ivy” retail business in 1958 when I joined a company that had one store on the campus at Ohio State called The University Shop. That same year we opened our second store at Ohio University, where I became manager. From ’58 to ’71 we would open 23 University Shops at other major campuses, including Purdue, Bowling Green, University of Kentucky, University of Cincinnati, University of Georgia, Auburn, University of Alabama, Tulane, University of Florida, and Clemson.

The clothing formula for our customers was to put them in a Baracuta jacket, Gant shirt, Canterbury belt, Corbin khakis, Adler socks, Bass Weejuns, and St. Johns Bay Rum. Unbeknowst to me, I would one day come to be the owner of the latter.

I the late ’60s and early ’70s dress on campuses changed drastically from blazers and tweed jackets to peace beads, tie-die shirts, and bell-bottom pants. I knew the Ivy League Look’s heyday was over when in one of our stores at Ohio State we offered Gant oxford blue button down shirts for 50 cents and had no takers!

In 1972 I left the University Shops and opened Woodhouse Lynch Clothiers in downtown Columbus, Ohio. We carried holdover brands from the campus days, such as Corbin, Southwick and Norman Hilton.

Woodhouse Lynch grew to three stores by 1978, when I left to purchase the West Indies Bay Company in St. Thomas, makers of St. Johns Bay Rum.

In the 1980s St. Johns became the scent of Madison Avenue. The FR Tripler store on Madison Avenue was St. Johns Bay Rum’s biggest account. In 1986 Brooks Brothers began to carry St. Johns Bay Rum. It immediately outsold Royall Lyme Bermuda Ltd., which had been established in Brooks many years before. St. Johns Bay Rum was represented in the menswear industry by Myron McIntire Associates, and then by John Mendez British Apparel, both located on Madison Avenue.

I’ve continued to combine the classic scent of bay rum with classic American menswear. In March 2011 The West Indies Bay Company opened its flagship store in St. Thomas on the waterfront in downtown Charlotte Amalie. Along with St. Johns Bay Rum and its companion fragrances, we offer clothing and accessories from Berle, Southwick and Alden.

Whether from California or New England, visiting tourists are drawn in because of fond memories from the past, while for others it’s their first time seeing classic merchandise with its timeless fit, quality and patterns. — JERRY WOODHOUSE

From 1958-1972 Jerry Woodhouse worked for The University Shops, ultimately serving as vice president. He has been president of the West Indies Bay Company since 1978.

32 Comments on "Putting The Fresh In Freshman: St. Johns Bay Rum & The University Shops"

  1. Canterbury wool surcingle belts, they were the best, talk about a walk down memory lane. I never thought the Trafalgar or Doonie Burks had the same perfect look. Gee, I miss high school, well the shopping.

  2. Thanks so much for this Christian. It was great to learn more about Mr. Woodhouse. I have a shirt from the Woodhouse Lynch Clothiers store in Columbus, OH that I love. It is one of my best thrift finds ever. I put a link to a picture/post about it if anyone is interested in seeing it, just click on my name.

  3. Great article! Those socks look like nothing you’d find today. Correct me if I’m wrong. 😛

  4. oxford cloth button down

    When I first saw the top picture, I thought that was a Creighton or Gittman chambray BD with pat and flap, then I saw the Retford, then knew KG. The three bands are equivalent and in some ways better than Gant.

  5. Mr. Woodhouse, you knew a good thing when you saw it back in the day! My best to you for continued success!

    Christian, a very nice piece!

  6. Now that I work in Columbus, it’s wonderful to hear about the sartorial history of the town. This has certainly inspired me to do a little bit more research on the subject!

  7. Bill Stephenson | July 12, 2012 at 1:37 am |

    Well done. Thanks.

    Makes the point so well, that the look of “ivy” was widespread throughout the campus scene from @’58 to ’71.

    Look at the mid America locations. Style @ the same as Mr Press was offering in New Haven. Habits were formed in these years, and carry over for the few that are left today. Nothing aspirational about the clothes. Just the definition of being well dressed during a formative time in life.

    From JP to Cable Car, just the understated elegance of what came to be called “Ivy”.

  8. Bill, how much does the understatement have to do with the shape of the jacket?

  9. Somethings cannot be improved upon and SJBR is one of them. I was recently in St. Thomas for the first time and was pleased to pick up a couple of bottles straight from the source.

  10. Great article here Christian. Looks like a great place Jerry, wished I could do a visit.
    Does anyone remember another great mens store from Columbus’ past, “Huntington Clothiers”. They had great clothing at very reasonable prices.
    Huntington Clothiers went out of business approxomately 15 to 20 years ago. If I remember correctly, the new owner tried to copy BB’s philosophy of re-creating that good old oxymoron of “upated classics” and updateded some traditional things.
    Apparently it didn’t go over too well with their faithful customers and unfortunately they too were gone. I had shopped via their catalogue for years. I still have some of their old ties, still in perfect condition. The rest of their items, I unfortunately out grew.

  11. OldSchool | July 12, 2012 at 7:13 am |


    Wouldn’t it be great if someone who still had one of the old Huntington catalogs would scan it and share it with the rest of us? I still remember the hand-drawn illustrations of jackets and Shirts.

  12. Gentleman Mac | July 12, 2012 at 8:16 am |

    I’m thinking Heavy Tweed Jacket posted about Huntington not too long ago.

  13. Hey OldSchool:
    I think that I still might have one of those great old illustrated, HC catalogues up in my attic. However, being the techno idiot that I am, someone would need to provide me with the exact step-by-step instructions on how to scan and post it. Any suggestions and I’ll be happty to try and do it.

  14. OldSchool | July 12, 2012 at 9:29 am |


    Perhaps Christian could offer some technical advice.

  15. Christian | July 12, 2012 at 9:39 am |

    Jim, you could mail it to me and I’ll take care of the scans and send it back. Email me if you’re up for it.

  16. Christian:
    I’d be happy to send it along, in order to share it with everyone like us who truly appreciate the style. I really preferred when they used illustrations back in the day.
    Please let me know where to send it to. I’ll check to see if I still have it within the next day or two and get it out to you.

  17. For fear of appearing gauche, I feel that one can find the modern equivalents to the above in any Macy’s. However, today’s items are guaranteed to be imported from around the world. However, khakis are khakis, golf jackets are golf jackets, etc., if you look beyond snob appeal.

    I am as nostalgic as anybody, probably more than most. But with a little effort, prices at Macy’s can’t be beat, especially sale prices. The little shops are not around because they can’t compete with the big chains. A sad situation, true. I’d love to go back to the 50’s. But still, when I was in high school, a trip to Kaufmann’s or Horne’s in Pittsburgh, and lunch at the Tic-Toc cafe, was a treat. Even then, the small shops had fierce competition.

  18. I think the point is that most people here do not want the “modern equivalents” of these classic items. There’s nothing wrong with those items per se, other than cheap construction and outsourced labor. I don’t want to throw out tired words like “authentic,” but I do believe clothing can be approached as something akin to art, as opposed to a commodity. And, in that vein, buying such items should be an intrinsically rewarding experience. Now, the internet absolutely has cranked up the “snob appeal” of menswear, but any man who wants to be noticed for his buying habits is a first-class rube.

  19. Anonymous | July 13, 2012 at 1:39 am |

    That Gant shirt in the photo is hideous.

    Just sayin’.

  20. Actually I don’t think that is a Gant OCBD dress shirt, it’s a Gant BD chambray sports shirt. Tommy Pullmyfinger is the only designer I’m familiar with that lines a dress shirt with some hideous pattern.

  21. FYI, if you are into the classic surcingle belts, made in USA, O’Connells of Buffalo has the best selection I’v seen in decades. I have no affiliation with them, never been to Buffalo, but was a big Jack Kemp fan.

  22. Re: Huntington Clothiers…I was a customer in the 1980s and early 1990s. As I recall they were done in by two things. First, their aquisition of the Custom Shop chain (remember them?), with debt, at exactly the wrong time, which was the second thing: the rise of everyday business casual. That also wiped out almost every quality men’s shop where I live, in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

  23. I ran across this today. For those of you lucky not to be old enough to remember the 70s, don’t look on an empty stomach, for the rest it is a hoot. Note the H.I.S. ad, they actually produced some cool affordable Trad-Ivy apparel in the 60s. This will give you an what Mr. Woodhouse competed with in the 70s, not really.


  24. Great writeup and thanks to Mr. Woodhouse for the contribution. While I don’t have the original Baracuta, I do sport my LLBean Signature in the same outer blue shell and red tartan lining on my campus during the colder months. It’s one of my favorite casual jackets. I wish schools had more “University Shops”, but alas they are indeed a dying breed. There’s a traditional menswear store that is somewhat near my own campus that I try to stop in from time to time and support.

  25. Tony
    Don’t fret over the L.L.Bean knock off of the G9 jacket. The vast majority, close to 100%, of the ivy Baracuta wearers in America, didn’t wear an original Harrington G9 Baracuta made in England. They wore an American made Van Heusen Baracuta, under a licence agreement with Harrington. I believe VH production was later moved to Asia.

  26. To MAC-I disagree-we wore made in England Baracuta jackets until that imposter appeared with the “Baracuta” label so we switched to made in England “Four Climes” brand jackets which was the used in America only brand name of the original jackets. Actually I used to purchase them by mail from Huntington Clothiers in Columbus. They were the same original English made Baracuta jackets as before Phillips Van Heusen.

  27. JWK
    No doubt, in the 60s, the original made in England Harrington G9 Baracutas were available across America at many “ivy shops”, but many shops sold the VH Baracuta. If I remeber, O’Connells in Buffalo still sales Harrington G9s, there are probably others. You can also buy them directly from Harrington, on the net.

    My point is that most ivy style wearers in the 60s didn’t wear Harrington’s original, but the licensed Van Heusen model. I owned three in the 60s, navy, yellow and red.

  28. http://shop.oconnellsclothing.com/outerwear.php

    O’Connels has them for $265, makes understand why Harrington licensed VH.

  29. Chas in CA | July 5, 2013 at 3:28 am |

    Mr Woohouse-

    My mother bought me a bottle of St. John’s Bay Rum when she visited the Caribbean on a cruise in 1958 when I just began shaving as I entered Yale….I am still using STBR today along with the West Indian Lime after shave. Great stuff ….don’t stop ever making it !

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