A Coat of One Color … But of Many Miles.

The Honolulu Advertiser was the major morning newspaper in Hawaii for many years. In fact, the paper went all the way back into the mid-1800’s. It has since gone the way of many of the better papers in this country, finally merging with the afternoon paper, the Star-Bulletin, morphing into the Star-Advertiser, and settling into a slow decline, then leveling off into mediocrity.
Back in the 1960s and 70s, however, and when it was locally owned, the Advertiser turned out a pretty good product: aggressive coverage of local news, occasional in-depth exposés, and some exceptional and gifted columnists.
Bob Krauss was one of those. He had a knack for finding the unusual and interesting angles on the events and the people he wrote about. Or the things.
I remember one typically entertaining Bob Krauss story was about an overcoat.
It’s not so much true these days, but back 40 or 50 years ago, it could be a problem if you had to make a trip to the mainland during the winter months. Most people living in Hawaii simply didn’t own anything that was really warm. So, confronted with the prospect of heading someplace where — as we say in Hawaii — it was going to be “freeze-ass cold”, most people would get on the phone and start calling friends more-or-less their size to see if they had an overcoat and if so, would they loan it out for a week or two.
Anyway, Krauss wrote a wonderful column about an overcoat … more specifically, he wrote about all of the places around the world where this particular coat had been, and who had been wearing it at the time. It was an impressive list of destinations and it included the names of a number of Honolulu’s leading citizens. Some were not pleased. (“Sheesh! The guy is the president of a damn bank and he has to borrow an overcoat?”)
The owner of that particular overcoat — I’ve long since forgotten his name — gave Krauss a list of people who had borrowed it and where each person had gone while wearing it. Bob wrote that he figured the overcoat had more than 175,000 miles on it.
And that, he said, was a conservative estimate.
Bob died a number of years ago and he is missed. But, for all I know, that overcoat is still racking up the miles.