Clyde Mehder wore a pair of bib overalls when he was 2 years old. The same pair got handed down to other members of his family. And now that he’s 89, the overalls are still going strong.
Mehder of Sarasota, Fla., won $1,000 from Oshkosh B’Gosh for the oldest surviving pair of the company’s overalls.
The size-2 bib overalls were designed for him in 1901 by his uncle, Louis Mehder, who happened to be a tailor for the Oshkosh Clothing Manufacturing Co.
Seven other Mehders spanning five states and two generations have put on the faintly striped bibs since Mehder outgrew them. Two weeks ago, they were worn by 2-year-old Candace Mehder; despite the wide age gap, she’s his granddaughter.
“The value of these overalls is sentimental,” said Mehder, a Racine native who wore them as a 2-year-old in 1908.
In spite of the years of use, the garment survived without a patch, buckle replacement or sewing job, he said.
His overalls will be displayed at the Oshkosh Public Museum as part of the celebration of Oshkosh B’Gosh’s 100th anniversary.
He doesn’t want to push his luck by having another generation use them.
“I don’t want to see them turn into rags,” he said.