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
“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.