Like Father, like Son: Dressing By the Numbers

The Coryells at Thanksgiving, 1948. NSHS RG2183-1948-112-6-1


The Coryells were a prominent Lincoln family with roots in Nemaha County. Perhaps some of you have visited Coryell Park near Brock, which the family created and opened to the public. Levi Leland Coryell Sr. and his son, Levi Leland Jr., became successful in the real estate and oil business. But that’s not why they qualify for the list of Nebraska’s strange stories and amazing facts. As the story goes, when Junior was an infant, Leland Senior built a playpen in his office and started taking Junior to work with him. When Junior began school, the elder Coryell moved his office to be near the school. Junior dropped in on his way to school and at recess. He and his father lunched together. When Junior graduated, he was made a full business partner. Either he or his father could make business decisions and spend money from the common account without approval from each other. This close relationship soon extended to the way the father and son dressed. One day Junior went to get a new suit and took his father along. Junior picked out a suit, and Senior said he’d take one just like it. The next time Junior wanted a tie, he bought two alike and gave one to his father. Gradually their entire wardrobes became duplicates. Whichever one got up first in the morning would call the other and say, “I’m wearing the 33 suit, the 7 tie, and the 37 shoes.” The numbers were arranged for convenience so they wouldn’t have to describe anything. In the 1930s and 1940s, father and son lived across the street from one another, Senior at 2850 Sheridan Boulevard and Junior at 2901 Stratford Ave. It is said that one staff of servants served both houses. One week the families dined at Senior’s and the next week at Junior’s. I can’t be sure that claim is true, but there is evidence of their sartorial duplication in a photograph from the Macdonald Collection at the Nebraska State Historical Society. It shows a Coryell Thanksgiving with father and son attired in the uniform of the day. After their deaths, both father and son were laid to rest in the family mausoleum at Coryell Park. — James E. Potter, Senior Research Historian

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