The Rescuers: Heritage Brand Puritan Cape Cod And The Coast Guard Heroes Of 1952

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Last month saw the DVD release of the rescue film “The Finest Hours.” Upon its theatrical release earlier this year, The New York Times movie reviewer Stephan Holden wrote, “The waterlogged disaster ‘The Finest Hours’ is a moderately gripping whoosh of nostalgia that shamelessly recycles the ’50s cliché of the squeaky-clean all-American hero.”

That tepid endorsement is enough to convince me that this film is clearly in Ivy Style’s wheelhouse. The movie, which was based on the book by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman, recounts the tale of one of the greatest small-boat rescues in United States Coast Guard history. The squeaky clean all-American hero was Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernard Webber Coxswain of the 36-foot wooden motorized lifeboat CG-36500, and the leader of a courageous crew of three volunteers. The plot summary provided by Disney, which produced the film, states, “In February of 1952, one of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast struck New England, damaging an oil tanker off the coast of Cape Cod and literally ripping it in half. On a small lifeboat, faced with frigid temperatures and 70-foot high waves, four members of the Coast Guard set out to rescue the more than 30 stranded sailors trapped aboard the rapidly sinking vessel.”

In our quest to rescue the lore of Ivy Style history, I have uncovered a link between the clothing style we love and this famous maritime rescue. The brand known as Puritan Cape Cod has had a store on the peninsula since 1925, and so I turned to Milton L. Penn, the dapper nonagenarian and Puritan’s elder statesman, to uncover the brand’s history and its relation to the Coast Guard.

measure_small__small (1)The first store on the Cape was in Chatham and served both the locals and the Coast Guard. The store had the contract to supply the station with uniform items such as chinos. The store manager Ben Shufro served for 40 years from 1925-1965. It was Shufro who got the call on February 18, 1952, to come to the Coast Guard station. He was to meet the survivors of the SS Pendleton, measure them, and provide them with dry clothes. Shufro makes an appearance in Tougias and Sherman’s book, as well as other narratives of the rescue. Bernie Weber recounted seeing Shufro measuring crew members in his memoir “Into A Raging Sea: My Life And The Pendleton Rescue.” A photograph by Richard Kelsey captures Shufro, tape measure in hand, engaging with the rescued crew members.

This one shot has immortalized the Puritan brand’s humble yet significant contribution to this heroic story.

Abe Penn founded Puritan in 1919 and arrived on the Cape in 1925. Today there are four stores on the Cape that carry the Puritan name. For many years and to many customers, Puritan private label clothes carried all the cachet of a top brand. Recently the Penn family realized that their brand’s history needed to be better articulated, and in 2011 The Chatham Chino Company was born.

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Reaching back to 1925 and its association with the Coast Guard, Puritan created a new coastal lifestyle brand built around a chino that pays homage to the past but is wholly designed to the standards of the third generation of the Penn family. When the pants arrived for the June 2012 launch, co-owner Jim Penn recounts, the excitement gave way to concern. “We tried the pants on and they were the wrong fit and silhouette,” he says, “so we sent the entire order of 1,000 pairs back.” The Penns lost their summer profits, but feel they preserved the integrity of their new brand. The pants became officially available in September 2012 and are made from salt-washed, weathered 9.8-ounce cotton twill.  They have a 
10.5-inch rise, measure 20.5 inches at the knee and have a 19-inch leg opening.

Now five years old, the Chatham Chino Company has garnered local and regional press, including a feature in Cape Cod Life. It has also been introducing new products. The Chatham Chino Company’s logo is the Coast guard double hurricane flag, so consider yourself warned that one day you may see someone wearing the flags on chinos, belts, shirts, ties and hats. Of course, if you are an early adopter others will wonder where you got your alarmingly good coastal gear.

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As for myself, I thought the double hurricane design was artfully rendered by the company in 2013 when it released a set of two Tervis Tumblers. I could see myself drinking a Dark & Stormy from them. A grim jest, perhaps, but truthfully that’s the closest I care to get to hurricane conditions. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP

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17 Comments on "The Rescuers: Heritage Brand Puritan Cape Cod And The Coast Guard Heroes Of 1952"

  1. Coincidentally the movie’s at the top of my Netflix queue.

    The line by the NY Times critic is mildly troubling….

  2. Jojoandthecats | July 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm |

    I went back to re-read that line; wha utter rot. And then people wonder why equally partisan media outlets offering the opposite perspective prosper…

  3. Since the Ivy-Style.com khaki project still has not materialized, I’ll put this query out to the community: Does anyone know where to find high-rise (12″ or more) chinos that can be had for under $100/pair?

  4. What a gem of an historical insight connecting that movie to a venerable Ivy style connection. Well done.

    BTW, Christian, for some time now nearly ANY line of commentary in the NYT is mildly (or more) troubling to anyone who is not in the “progressives'” death to America camp.

  5. Really… a “’50s cliché of the squeaky-clean all-American hero.” I wonder what motivated Yale educated http://www.nytimes.com/ref/movies/bio_holden.html to describe those Coast Guardsmen that way. What’s so wrong with being squeeky-clean and all-American? Are those characteristics now just a cliche?

    Anyway, I saw the movie recently and thought that ole Bernie Webber deserves respect for for piloting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coast_Guard_Motor_Lifeboat_CG_36500 in those conditions. Even if portrayal was a bit embellished, that rescue took some skill and courage (big ones courage). Nobody had Gore-Tex foul weather gear, pile hats, etc. then… they were manly men (very likely “clean cut” too) to do what they did with the boat and gear they had at the time.

    I looked on the Chatham Chino Company website, but did not see the Tervis tumblers included under accessories. So, wont be ordering a set to drink Dark ‘n Stormys from, but might try a pair of their shorts. As an aside, they remind me of another Mass company called F.L. Woods.

    Cheers, BC

  6. The cliché of the clean all-American hero….

    But there actually were guys like that. At least he acknowledges the Greatest Generation and WW II.

    It’s the old battle-for-history thing, where those who want to control the narrative claim that truth was fiction.

  7. What do you expect from a left-wing, communist-inspired newspaper. The NYT has been out to destroy America for many years now. Fortunately, I have a stock of Saturday Evening Posts to read. Although I’ve read all the issues before, I prefer the well-written articles in SEP to today’s tripe.

  8. @BC-When I get a chance I will ask Anne@CC/Puritan if they still have the Tumblers. I like F. L. Woods also, not sure if they still do it but I thought the Bermuda Race results were a novel touch when they were included in the design.

  9. I visited the Puritan Cape Cod website and noticed that there is no mention of the country of manufacture for their Chatham pants. At $85, I assume China. Too bad. Too bad about the ubiquitous label above the rear pocket. The pants seem alright though. They are worn rather too long by the models as well. Perhaps they should consult Ivy Style for pointers on how to dress their models.

    The Vineyard Vines American Flag shouldered jackets or shirts, which feature prominently on the site, scream trailer park, Bubba Burger, NASCAR, Foghat concert T- Shirt, et al and, to my way of thinking, should be avoided at all costs. Just my opinion.

    Will

  10. @SS/Will- country of origin Mexico

  11. I assumed they were made in Mexico when I saw the words “washed y weathered” printed on the inside in the picture above. I wonder why that one Spanish word was left in there. Nice chinos though, shame they are not made in this country.

  12. Also, I am quite certain that the original chinos were not made in Mexico, then again these are “re-created”.

  13. @RWK

    I purchased a pair of O’connell’s house brand khakis and I’m very pleased with them. They have a longer rise than Bill’s M2 and a more narrow leg without being “skinny”. They have a hook enclosure though instead of a button and the waste is structured with
    a lining. I’d prefer an unstructured waste personally but I’m very pleased with the fit and fabric. A little more than most would prefer to spend at $125 though.

  14. When the British were wearing khaki in India they too suffered from unstructured waste.

  15. Waist. I’m sorry. Been quite a morning.

    Ah yes, unstructured waste. Wasn’t spoiled beer the culprit?

  16. @marty, Thanks for the info, I’ll have to check them out.

    @CC, clever response, as expected.

  17. “Squeaky Clean” is simply code for a WASP or Anglo-Catholic who upholds “The Americab Way of Life” possibly high character, polite and earnest in their commitments. You know, basically everything the NYT has sought to vitiate from its inception.

    Regarding an affordable option for Chinos with a 11-12″ rise tapered from knee down, if you don’t care about supporting SEast Asian slave labor go with Lands End. Their traditional fit meets these specs.

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