Sunday, December 29, 2013

Throwback Thursday on Sunday: TJ and Sally

Kathryn made a great Sally Hemings.
This is my former favorite ex-wife (since relegated to the No. 2 spot) Kathryn Rhoads and me in about 1981 or so at a Halloween costume party in the home of former Hollins history professor Jake Wheeler and his lovely wife.

Kathryn and I thought we'd be clever and show up as Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave and mother of several of his children, who were very much in the news at the time. The theme was "famous couples." We had discussed going at Elton John and Bernie Taupin or Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle, of course), who were all being "outed" at the time. But, given that a history professor was giving the party, we settled on T.J. and Sally.

Kathryn looked great as Sally, but I struggled as TJ, though I had a red wig, woolen vest (made at Biltmore Homespun), knee breeches and black buckle shoes. I don't think I carried myself with enough dignity. Those squarish, tinted glasses didn't help, either.

The problem, however, was not so much my dignity as it was the fact that four other couples showed up as TJ and Sally. Probably should have expected that, given who was throwing the party.


  1. Not to mention that fact that despite the timing, blackface is rarely, if ever, a good choice for a Halloween costume.

  2. Rick: That's a valid point, but this was 30 years ago when sensitivities--even among the academic elite--were not what they are now. Dan