On a recent trip to the Nation’s Capital, this reporter took in a visit to the Smithsonian to see the new exhibit that is on display in the “Americana” Wing (close to the exhibit with Archie Bunker’s chair): The Jonas.
Protected in a walnut and glass display case was the athletic supporter worn by Jonathan Mix from 1966 to 2001. In addition to the supporter (aka Jonas), which had never been washed in spite of its repeated use, The exhibit included several photographs and some enlightening text.
“The urban legend of Jonas took flight in September of 1966 when Jonathan Mix suited up for Hamden Hall’s football practice. To his teammates on that first day, it looked like an ordinary jock strap. There is no clear understanding what prompted Mix to withhold the supporter from the usual washing and cleaning cycle that was used for the rest of his practice and dress uniforms. But by day three his decision became obvious to all. And by week two, the simple athletic supporter morphed into Jonas.“
“By week four, Mix needed extra time to put on Jonas, as some of the original elasticity was being replaced with something that approached the texture of cartilage found in sharks. Entreaties from his teammates notwithstanding, Mix refused to wash Jonas claiming that to do so would be to diminish its great ju-ju. He claimed that submitting Jonas to a ‘bath’ would be worse than the cutting of Samson’s hair.”
“A highlight episode: in the contest against Halstead, Mix was injured in the second quarter, on the sidelines he gamely removed Jonas. After a pep talk from Coach Erdmann, Jonas hustled back on to the field and finished the game at Mix’s middleguard position and registered three solo tackles, one sack, two quarterback pressures, one tipped pass and a recovered fumble.”
“At Hamden Hall Jonathan Mix lettered in three sports, competing in Football, Basketball and Track. So did Jonas (although there were some academic eligibility issues that went unresolved).”
“After Graduating from Hamden Hall, Mix began to wear Jonas on major holidays. Soon, major holidays included Millard Fillmore’s Birthday (July 9) and the Virgin of Guadalupe Day (December 12) among others.”
“In 1978 Jonathan Mix appeared in the Berkshire Playhouse Summer Stock production of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Playing the role of Pimpernel, Mix insisted on wearing the Jonas as opposed to the customary cod piece. On a particularly steamy night during the second act, three elderly women in the front row fainted to the floor. Asked if she had been overcome by Pimpernel’s performance, Emily Ridgefield (one of the three ladies who had to be led from the Playhouse) told the reporter from The Berkshire Eagle, ‘Overcome? Well… he did have an unusual aura about him.'”
“On several occasions Mix had to be asked to leave restaurants. In 1995, when dinning at Luchow’s on Broadway, he quickly ate his veal and placed Jonas on the plate next to the potato pancake, called his waiter over and pointed to the plate and said, ‘does this wiener schnitzel look done to you?’ The house picked up the check and Mix was asked never to come back again. Luchow’s closed shortly thereafter.”
“In 1999 caught in a lengthy traffic tie-up on Interstate 95, and irritated at the incredibly loud music resonating from the car immediately in front of him, Mix put his car into park, walked ahead, knocked on the window and asked the young teenaged driver, ‘You like music, do you? See if you like this…’ and he took off Jonas and repeatedly struck the car with the supporter, cracking the windshield and leaving several mid-sized dents on the driver side fender.”
In preparing this exhibit, the staff from the Smithsonian asked the Forensic Lab of the FBI to analyze the composition of the Jonas. The FBI has declined to reveal their test results, referring any questions to the National Security Administration. But a Senior member of the Army Corp of Engineers offered that the Jonas could support the weight of a diesel locomotive over the span of a bridge.