Jordan brings Gatsby to life in pink suit
Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE
Jay Gatsby was a sight to see in his finely tailored pink suit. So is Jim Jordan, yearbook adviser and English teacher at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, Calif.
Jordan owns a pink suit, thanks to former students who raised money to purchase it for him to wear when he teaches F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby.”
“It’s breathtaking, it’s amazing that former students would do that – that I’d teach something in literature that affected them,” Jordan said.
Teaching the “The Great Gatsby” since 1986, Jordan estimated it’s the novel he has taught the most often. He currently teaches it in his AP Language and Composition classes, and previously taught it in his junior Honors English classes. Through the years, many students from both classes worked on Jordan’s yearbook staff.
At one point in the novel, the character Nick Carraway is described as “dressed up in white flannels,” showing he attended Yale University. Jordan said he would tell his students, “When you get rich, you need to buy me a white flannel suit.”
In conjunction with the 2013 version of the “The Great Gatsby” movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brooks Brothers released a Gatsby clothing line. Jordan said he went to look at it out of curiosity, but with slacks at $400 and jackets at $750, it was pricey.
Jordan has a Facebook page for his former yearbook staff members. In January, Brooks Brothers had a sale on its Gatsby line, and Jordan mentioned it on that Facebook page.
“So I did it again, I threw it out there – doesn’t somebody really want to buy me this suit?” he said.
In response, two Del Campo graduates from Jordan’s 1992 yearbook staff – Dr. James Chou and Amy Diemer Abrams – set up an online fundraising site. With donations from more than 40 friends, former students and colleagues of Jordan, they purchased the Brooks Brothers pink linen suit like the one worn by Gatsby.
A former staff member who is a professional photographer took Jordan’s photo in front of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento. Donors who gave $25 received a photo, while donors who gave $100 got to eat breakfast with Jordan, who eats at Karen’s Bakery in Folsom, Calif., on most Saturday mornings.
Jordan’s AP Language and Composition classes are now reading the book. He plans to wear the suit for a few days while studying Chapters 7 and 8, which should be in early January 2015. He wore it for the first time to the Adviser Recognition Luncheon at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Diego in April, making an entrance as he was five minutes late.
Jordan, who said he likes color and fashion, wore the suit to school for the first time on the day his students were taking the Advanced Placement Language and Composition last May.
“They went wild,” he said.
“What that suit symbolizes is the love and respect of my students – that they would gift me with that means a lot to me,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”