03 Jul 2017 Elmer’s Ties
By Ben Delaney
The call from Sally Barrett was unexpected. “My father,” she explained, “loves SCRAP. He used to shop there all the time but now it’s hard for him to get there. He just turned 100 and gets ties from SCRAP and decorates them.”
Sally went on to explain that her father printed designs and affixed them to neckties. She told me had 700 ties on exhibit in the residence where he lives, and hoped someone from SCRAP would take a look at them. “It would mean a lot to him.”
I had a free morning the next week and arranged to go see Elmer George at the Heritage Residence in the Marina in San Francisco. Sally’s descriptions left me unprepared for the amazing display I saw when I visited. George has lived at the Heritage for the past 17 years, since closing his business and moving there with his wife, who has since passed on.Elmer George at 100, modeling his newest creation, the SCRAP tie.George and his wife ran an upholstery and drapery shop in West Portal, where for fifty years they sold “everything for the window but the view.” George wore a tie to work every day. When he came to the Heritage, he started decorating the ties he wore. Since 2012, he has decorated close to 1,000 ties.
As she and I left the elevator, George was sitting a red wingback chair in corridor, strategically positioned at the intersection with another hallway, facing several hundred ties hung on both sides of the intersecting corridor. Forty feet down the corridor was a doorway, and the ties on both sides stretched the full distance to it.
George was wearing his newest creation, made to celebrate his connection to SCRAP.
It features images from SCRAP’s website. Like most of the decorated ties, this was a two-sided creation.
George uses pictures grabbed from the internet and many he takes himself. He manipulates them using Paintshop software, and prints them on an inkjet printer. He frequently adds baubles, lenticular 3D pictures, watches and other curiosities to add interest to his creations. Then he cuts out the images and uses double-sided tape to attach them to the ties. He makes a tie almost every day.
George told me he gets his ties from SCRAP because we made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – just 25¢ each. After years of him and his wife shopping with us, he certainly deserved a discount. He’s been using 4” ties but now that styles are changing, he’s experimenting with narrower cravats. He gets his inspirations in his dreams, and from images and ideas his neighbors share with him. Elmer is sharp as a tack, and remembers the stories behind a surprising number of his creations. One favorite, entitled “Location, Location, Location,” includes images of the Heritage and its neighborhood, taken by his friend, radio KGO’s Traffic Reporter Stan Burford, from the traffic helicopter. Another he especially likes, called “Going, Going, Gone,” displays images of the Golden Gate Bridge wrapped in fog. Elmer says he really likes playing a foghorn sound when he shows that tie to folks.
Elmer has a couple of hundred ties in his room, waiting to be adorned. His living space is largely occupied with technology: his newly upgraded computer and printer, and a full entertainment system that he has no trouble operating.
Elmer let me wear the SCRAP tie to lunch, and it certainly was an upgrade from the boring ties I occasionally wear. If you’re wondering, as I was, how one puts them on without damaging the paper prints, the answer is shear simplicity – the ties are never untied, merely loosened to remove.
Elmer gave SCRAP more than a dozen of his ties, which we will be exhibiting at the Depot. Be sure to ask if you don’t see them. We are honored to be able to show off the amazing creativity of Elmer George, San Francisco centenarian. See more pictures of Elmer’s ties HERE.