I almost titled this column "Ever smelt a smelt? Just close your eyes and chew," but I couldn't muster 600-some words about fried fish bait you eat whole including their bones and faces, so I went in a slightly different direction.
I was strolling about the St. Demetrios Greek Festival on Friday, on the hunt for a pre-work gyro (say "yeee-ro" or face scorn and judgement, as well you should), trying to resist carnival game barkers. Normally I enjoy showing off my balloon dart skills, but a plush banana is not worth being late for work, or $40 worth of darts.
After finding said yee-ros, I sat down with my ("boyfriend" is kinda mushy, "sigoth" is too Facebook, I'll go with "dudemate") dudemate at a table to eat, but mostly to just drip tzatziki sauce all over the place.
He asked if a smelt might be worth trying. He later decided he was not a sea lion and declined.
Anyway, being at the Greek fest made me remember way, way back in the day when I somehow ended up with a St. Demetrios Greek Festival T-shirt. It belonged to my best friends / neighbors in Jamestown Village, whose mom always over-washed their laundry with too much bleach, so the shirt reeked for several washes after it came to my house.
The shirt was white with blue print, and had a little cartoon Greek guy in traditional dress on the front, saying "Opa!"
I love this shirt. It doesn't go down as far as it used to, granted, but it can still be worn. I should wear it today.
I've written about my T-shirt hoard before. It is sprinkled with delightful local shirts such as Mr. Opa. A few other favorites include:
The classic, all-time great New York Music T-shirt. Everyone had this shirt, and it came in a rainbow of colors. I?remember my uncle had a purple one. I don't know if they were dropped from the sky or what, but since the musical instrument store is now closed, we will never know.
Page One Rock Off shirt from 1997. Won in a raffle or something at Aulizio's. Has a Stonehenge-looking design on the front. A reminder of the importance of angsty teenage rock bands.
Vote Traficant shirt. A reminder that anyone can be voted into office.
Priceless Warren G. Harding Raider Marching Band shirt. Represent.
I Support Cedar's Lounge shirt. I supported, and the legendary Youngstown music club is still open in a new location. If I ever get a free night, maybe I can visit them.
I Support Al Alli shirt. Another shirt they seemingly dropped from the sky in mass quantities. Though I was too young to take sides in auto worker union dealings, I still remember everyone having this shirt backing the local UAW chairman, and snagged one at a thrift store as a teen.
Team Mayor Sferra shirt. I was a terrible catcher in the Burbank Park Little League, but I totally worked my uniform. Still have this shirt from when I was 7.
Youngstown Steelhounds shirt. The 'Hounds were some good hockey.
Little Steel Derby Girls "Eddie Loves Derby" shirt. If you don't know the legend of Eddie Loves Debbie, I suggest you start looking at stop signs and phone poles next time you drive through Youngstown. The famous graffiti inspired the clever pun for the local roller derby's apparel.
There are dozens more, all local and loved. Next time you do laundry, take a T-shirt walk down memory lane, and represent your town proud in poly-cotton blend. Now who dealt the smelt?