Grandpa's graduating pants make Del Oro debut

By: Leah Rosasco, Loomis News Correspondent
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A Loomis family has a unique tradition that involves grandpa?s traveling, graduation pants. For more than sixty years every male in the Smith family has worn the same pair of navy blue pin-striped pants when they accept their high school diploma, and this year Russell Smith, a graduating senior at Del Oro, will carry on the family tradition. ?It comes from Texas and it?s my family so anything goes,? Russell Smith said of wearing the decades-old, wool pants as he walks across the graduation stage. ?I?m happy to keep the tradition going.? The pants, which originally belonged to Russell Smith?s great-grandfather, Claude Smith, have been worn by three generations of high school graduates in both Texas and California. Back in 1950 when Russell Smith?s grandfather, Jim Smith, wore the pants to his high school graduation in Lewisville, Texas, it was out of necessity rather than tradition. Living on a ranch in Texas, Jim Smith said, the family didn?t have much back then. As the first in his family to graduate from high school Jim Smith said his mother, Lenore Smith, wanted him to wear something nice, and his father?s suit pants were all they had. ?We didn?t have anything fancy at all in our lives for a long time,? said Jim Smith. ?I was just happy to have something nice to wear.? At the urging of their mother, Jim Smith?s brothers Don and Dan Smith also wore the pants when they graduated from high school in the 1950s. ?By the time I graduated we could have gotten me a pair of pants of my own, but I wanted to wear the same pants my brothers wore,? Dan Smith, of Plano, Texas, said. Jim Smith?s nephew David Smith, of North Richland Hills, Texas, said he too wore the pants at the urging of his grandmother Lenore when he graduated from high school in 1977. ?She would be very proud that this tradition has lasted as long as it has,? David Smith said. Russell Smith, who first heard about the tradition three years ago when one of his cousins graduated from high school in Texas, will be the eleventh family member to wear the pants as he receives his high school diploma. ?I think it?s really cool to have a tradition like this to pass down through the generations,? Russell Smith said. In 2014 Russell Smith?s brother Ryan Smith will also wear the pants when he graduates from Del Oro, and eventually their six-year-old brother James Smith will likely also wear the pants when he graduates from high school. ?I?m excited to wear them when I graduate,? Ryan Smith said. ?It?s been in my family for a long time.? According to Russell Smith, if he has kids of his own some day they too will wear the pants when they graduate from high school. ?I?ll make them wear them,? Russell Smith said with a laugh, ?I won?t just suggest it.? So far the ?graduation pants? have only been worn by the men in the Smith family, but Jim Smith said he is working to change that. ?I?m pushing to get the girls involved in this,? Jim Smith said. According to Jim Smith one of his granddaughters, who lives in Folsom, will be graduating from high school in two years and he?s pushing to get her involved in the family tradition. ?She?s kind of a clothes horse but I?m working on her to see if I can convince her to give it a try,? he said. ?I?m not sure a young lady wants to wear these men?s pants, but I?m working on it.? Over the next few years several family members in Texas and California will be graduating from high school and the family will have to stay in close contact to make sure the pants get to where they need to be, Jim Smith said, and he thinks that is one of the benefits of the tradition. ?I think it has helped keep our family keep in touch with each other since we have to coordinate shipping the pants between California and Texas,? he said. Both Jim and Russell Smith acknowledge that there is at least one obstacle in the family tradition. ?These boys just keep getting bigger and bigger,? Jim Smith said of his grandsons and his brother?s grandsons. At this point, Jim Smith said, the pants have been hemmed, mended, patched, and let-out about as much as they can be. ?They are a little small for me, but I can still wear them,? Russell Smith said. Once he graduates from Del Oro Russell Smith will head to the University of Nevada at Reno in the fall to study Criminal Justice and play football, and he will leave the pants behind for the next graduate to wear. ?I never realized that this would ever happen,? Jim Smith said of the family tradition that has spanned two states and three generations. ?I?m surprised how well this has gone, and everyone has been absolutely super about wanting to continue the tradition and see how long we can keep it going.?