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Ironing Out the Wrinkles




Appendix A

National Park Service Uniforms
Ironing Out the Wrinkles 1920-1932
Number 3

Ironing Out the Wrinkles (continued)

The new uniform regulations and sketches were distributed on April 1, 1920, with a request for the parks to forward their badge and insignia requirements to the director's office. The quantity required was needed before July in order to secure bids as soon as the 1921 funding became available. Responses were not slow in coming and included inquiries about the price and availability of the new uniforms. The regulations were not to take effect until June 1, but Service personnel were anxious to begin suiting up for the season. Superintendent Washington B. Lewis of Yosemite National Park immediately set about having "a complete set of official sleeve insignia made up in San Francisco," which he received in mid-May. [2]

Uniform drawing
Uniform drawing, 1920. The drawing that was sent to the uniform manufacturers was actually the 1917 pattern drawing, altered to conform to the new Regulations. The only change was to draw a line through the embroidered N.P.S. on the collar. This created problems later for some of the manufacturers since the regulations specified a "pinch-back" coat and the drawing did not illustrate this feature. National Archives RG 79-208.30

On April 20, Assistant Director Arno Bertholt Cammerer asked suppliers about their ability to provide uniforms and accessories and requested prices and material samples. The Smith-Gray Corporation of New York City, which supplied the Forest Service with uniforms, returned a price of $62.75 for coat, breeches, and leather puttees. Sigmund Eisner of Red Bank, New Jersey, who had been furnishing some of the park rangers with uniforms, gave a price of $44.50 for the same items. The two companies priced the buckskin reinforcements for the breeches' legs an additional $8 and $5 respectively. Eisner commented that there was "very little variation from the present regulation pattern." [3] The new regulations specified a "convertible collar" and the other coat details present on the previous blueprint, codifying the uniform the rangers had recently been purchasing. In fact, the same blueprints used for the existing coats were sent out to the suppliers with a line drawn through the details denoting the stitched-in N.P.S. on the collars.

The collar devices were apparently put out for bids at the same time, for on April 27 Cammerer received a telegram from the R. F. Bartle Company of New York quoting $450 for "gold plate german silver bronze in four hundred lots sixteen gauge." The Army Supply Company of Washington D.C., won the order with a bid of $105 for four hundred pieces. [4]

William Harrison Peters
William Harrison Peters, c. 1920. Peters was acting superintendent at Grand Canyon, 1919-1922. He had worked four years on road construction prior to moving to Grand Canyon. National Archives RG 79-SM-46

The regulations left some matters in doubt. Before coming to Grand Canyon National Park, Acting Superintendent William H. Peters had worked four years on road construction at Crater Lake National Park. Did this authorize him to wear the four field service stripes? It did. Civil Engineer George E. Goodwin argued that if he always wore his uniform on official duty, as the regulations appeared to require, it would "be ruined in a day." Director Mather was sympathetic:

"It can hardly be expected that the engineer wear the uniform when on road and trail reconnaissance because of the rough character of the country to be traversed and the fact that such work will not bring them into official contact with the public. . . . Whatever clothes may be considered suitable may be worn by the engineers, but I do believe the sleeve insignia and service hat should be used for identification purposes. In all other instances while in the parks the uniform must be worn." [5]

Superintendent William P. Parks thought that Hot Springs Reservation should be excluded from the regulations. He felt that the metropolitan police uniform already adopted for its police force and train inspectors was "much better suited for the purpose and more effective in appearance." He was going to require all the attendants in the free bathhouse to wear white duck suits while on duty. Acting Director F.W. Griffith replied that for the present, Hot Springs Reservation was exempted from the regulations.

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