|Wool military side cap|
historical clothing. It was unceremoniously thrown into the trash.
But there were other items that were still in decent condition, such as:
- 1 trench coat with removable wool insert
- 1 leather luggage case (not quite a suitcase-more like a very large bowling bag made of stiff leather)
- 1 wool army side cap
- braids, patches, and pins salvaged from the damaged uniform
- 1 red armband saying "Port Engineer" in both English and either Korean or Japanese. I'm leaning towards Japanese.
My grandfather's intentions for joining the Army to participate in the "military action" that was the Korean War are still unclear to me, and he was not a career soldier, so he has no real special ties to the items that he left me other than as memories long gone. He's still alive, and has never inquired about them after he gave them to me. So I felt less qualms than I should when I first considered actually using the items he gave me.
I have worn the trench coat before, but it's so warm with the wool insert that it's really only necessary for the most extreme of temperatures, and I feel somewhat silly wearing it without the insert because it's so baggy on me. The leather bag, meanwhile, is sturdy but has a somewhat rusty zipper, and I don't want to risk damaging it by using it. The rest of the items did not seem to be of much use to me, so they sat in storage for the past five years only as mementos of a brief period of family history.
While looking at some military-inspired steampunk merchandise this week I realized that I already owned at least one of the items- the wool side cap. Then the other items- the braids, pins, and armband- came to mind.
I have discussed it with my boyfriend and a roommate so far, and they both seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the idea- that there is always plenty of "Army surplus" items for sale, and they could really be upcycled for my steampunk hobby, putting them to great use after years of sitting, forgotten, in a musty, unkind attic.
But meddling with "old" items- even things that are "only" 60 years old- for the purpose of fantasy costuming could be taken as being disrespectful to my grandfather. It's the same problem that some people have with steampunkers taking apart antiques to make fake "clockwork" contraptions or odd props that never were. Not that I think I would drastically change any of the items I want to use- the pins and armbands would go on top of my costume clothes and the wool cap would be given a steampunk pin.
What do you think I should do? Use the items for a military steampunk look? Or leave the historical items alone?