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A Fitting Tradition

By Elizabeth Walker

Name a fashion faux pas worse than wearing white shoes after Labor Day. How about wearing leopard slacks — ever? But then who in the world — or in the history of Holy Cross — would pay good money for a pair of slightly flared, faux leopard, hip-hugging pants?

Apparently no one would. That’s why John Quinn ’73 got such a great bargain when he bought his with a friend at a “two-for” sale during his early years at Holy Cross. Looking back, it appears that he simply may have succumbed to peer pressure or possibly was swept away by the euphoria of being young with a few bucks in his wallet on a Saturday morning. Maybe Sonny and Cher should shoulder some of the credit — or blame.

“You have to remember it was the 70s,” Quinn says in defense of his purchase. “I was with a friend from high school at a two-for-one sale at Regal’s, a men’s store in Manchester (Conn.). He bought a pair of striped pants that were unbelievably garish. I think they were really worse.”

In the nearly three decades since that mind-boggling purchase, Quinn has become a successful attorney (with brothers, Joe ’71 and Jim ’77) in the Hartford law firm, Furniss & Quinn, P.C. (sister, Mary Jo ’81, is a teacher). The corduroy leopard pants have taken on a life of their own. He still wears them — on occasion. In fact, he seems to have become the vehicle by which they make their way to Holy Cross events — including the 25th Reunion of the Class of 1973. The “leops,” as he calls them, have become something of a personal challenge for him and a Reunion tradition for his classmates.

“Metaphorically speaking, the leops have become bigger than I,” Quinn says. “I’ve become the guy in the leopard pants. The photo in our yearbook of me in the “leops” taken at Joe Miller’s Pub, a favorite haunt of ours, seemed to surface whenever we had a reunion coming up. Last year it appeared in the Reunion Weekend pamphlet. One of our class agents, Ed Meyers, started the leopard pants tradition by challenging me to wear them to Reunion about 10 years ago, so I’ve worn them to every reunion since. I’m not above moving the buttons; they’re a 34-inch waist.”

Quinn does have his limits. The “leops” stayed home in West Hartford when he and his wife, Betsy, got together with their son, John, Jr. ’02, for his first Parents Weekend. At three inches over six feet, the younger Quinn is unlikely to borrow Dad’s ‘leops’ to wear to his own campus events — not that he has ever shown the slightest interest, even if they did fit. Still, he has appeared in public with his leopard pants-clad father.

“I used to wear them at Halloween when I walked the kids (including daughter Jennie) around the neighborhood,” Quinn said. “I also wore them on a deep-sea fishing trip as a joke and on a few other occasions. The only reason I can still wear them is because Betsy watches what we eat and I run four to five miles three days a week.”

So what happens when a Reunion Weekend is looming and the leops don’t fit?

“That won’t happen,” Quinn says. “The last time I plan to wear them is in my casket.”

An open one, no doubt.


  John Quinn ’73

John Quinn ’73

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