The copyrighted story appearing in the Morning Sentinel 07/11/99 is reprinted here by permission of Central Maine Newspapers. Regrettably, they misspelled my name.


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Sunday, July 11, 1999

We found it! Oakland man has ugliest necktie

By ALAN CROWELL, Staff Writer
Copyright © 1999 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

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Photo illustration by JOE PHELAN
Mike Gosseline, a teacher at Waterville High School, will receive two new neckties as the winner of the Ugliest Tie Contest. Gosseline collects unusual ties and has about 200 of them in his closet.
AUGUSTA — Mike Gosseline of Oakland says he has about 200 ugly ties in his closet.

He has ties bearing foul language, ties with pictures of naked women and one with colors so putrescent Gosseline named it for a very private kind of disease.

But it was a silk number with frayed edges and a dizzying geometric melange of 1970's colors that won Gosseline, a Waterville High School physics teacher, the Central Maine Newspaper's ugliest tie contest.

"They did that to silk?" one judge commented. A " 'Brady Bunch' nightmare," another called it.

Gosseline's entry beat out tough competition that included a plastic clip-on shark tie submitted by Roger Smith, of Winslow, and a tie featuring what appeared to be brown and black coffee stains on a white polyester background, from Gary Sawyer, of East Winthrop.

Every ugly tie has a story, according to their owners.

And to those who love them, ugly ties make a statement that their tasteful counterparts just can't match.

"A plain brown or plain blue tie doesn't say anything. If you can find something with a splash of color on what is otherwise a very dreary day — that to me at least makes a little bit of a difference," said Gosseline.

They also serve another purpose — allowing the wearer to simultaneously attract attention and thumb a nose at convention.

"My general motto in life is to take nothing and nobody seriously, especially not yourself," he said.

The particular tie that won Central Maine Newspaper's contest came from a student, he said.

"Some kid brought it in and said his father wouldn't dare wear that thing," he said.

Because Gosseline never pays more than three or four bucks for neckwear and never turns down a free tie, he wore it until the ends frayed.

But that is not to say he doesn't have others.

"I have any number of students who will find ugly ties at a Goodwill store or something and buy it for 50 cents and stuff it in an envelope and send it to me," said Gosseline.

Once when his wife told him about an ugly tie contest at her workplace, he sent in a batch of 25.

When the men in his wife's office did not immediately surrender, he sent another 25 the next week and then 25 more for good measure.

Finally his wife told him he had overwhelmed the competition.

"Never mind. They don't want you to play any more — you win," she told him.

Gosseline has accumulated so many ties the only challenge is finding something suitable to wear on those occasions when Day-Glo hues or anatomically correct diagrams on silk just won't do.

"The only negative aspect of this whole thing is trying to find a suitable tie for a funeral. I think I have a standard black that I wear for those occasions," he said.

As the winner of Central Maine's Ugly Tie Contest, Gosseline will receive two new ties from a reputable haberdashery. He promised to accept them with good grace. He might even wear them.

"They may be my new funeral ties. I have never turned a tie down. One has to be gracious in this," he said.

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Tie guy: A taste for the tacky

Staff Writer
Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.


 Mike Gosselin of Oakland models a sample of his ugly-tie collection at his home on Thursday. Gosselin, a Waterville Senior High School physics teacher, has between 400 and 500 ugly ties.

Staff photo by Jeff Pouland

OAKLAND -- Michael E. Gosselin plays many roles in the community, including a 36-year physics teacher at Waterville Senior High School and Oakland's school board chairman. But he also has a lesser-known title: Six years ago, Gosselin was the champion of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal's Ugliest Tie Contest. Back then, he had about 200 ugly ties. Now, he said, he has between 400 and 500. Gosselin doesn't know exactly how many.
"I start counting, then I go, 'I have better things to do,'" he said.

Stashed all over his Fairfield Street home, the ties are some spectacularly awful specimens. Gosselin said his prime consideration in selecting ties for hideousness is color. On Thursday, he sported a tie with different shades of white, pink, blue and green, which looked like something designed by a hallucinating child. That was one of the more attractive ties in his collection.

He has another that features animals from "The 12 Days of Christmas," including turtle doves and partridges. Another shows a naked lady, which made a bride and groom blush when Gosselin wore it to a wedding reception. Other ties have expletives -- and Gosselin has threatened to wear to school board meetings. Asked what makes an ugly tie, Gosselin pulled out one with multicolored frogs painted on it and said, "There is no way to describe that."

Since winning the 1999 Ugliest Tie title, Gosselin appears to now be resting on his laurels. "Once you've won that one, you don't need to win any others," he said. "What else is there?"

Apart from disastrous colors, Gosselin also prefers cheap ties. He has many that cost less than the $2 it would take to dry-clean them.
But there are exceptions. He once spent $40 on a buy-five-get-one-free offer at Quincy Market in Boston. This, he said, was because he wanted to help stimulate the economy there. Others cost as little as 58 cents, from Burlington Coat Factory in South Portland; or 88 cents, from Marden's Surplus and Salvage, one of his favorite haunts for tieshopping. Friends and family have chipped in. One of the ugly ties Gosselin seems very proud of was a gift from part-time Colby College professor Thomas R. W. Longstaff, who is now a Waterville city councilor-elect.
The tie features sequins, beads and a three-dimensional face. "The only one I will not wear is this one given to me by Tom Longstaff," Gosselin said as he showed off the tie. "This is really ugly. I've met my master. I only took it because you have to be gracious about this whole thing, you know." Gosselin believes that Longstaff will meet his political downfall once news leaks that Longstaff trafficks in such hideous ties.

But Gosselin draws the line at some ties -- he will not have clip-ons, or ties with commercial names on them, such as Coca Cola, for example. And he won't wear a silly tie to a funeral. Now, Gosselin said, his two sons fight over the ties -- fight over who gets to not keep the ties, that is.
Gosselin remembers the story behind each tie in great detail, down to which exit off which highway the store was located. "These are friends of mine," he said of the ties. His penchant for ugly ties is common knowledge in his physics classes, where his students have been known to conspire with his wife and babysitter to spirit the ties away and wear them to his classes.
"Kids who don't know me say, 'You're the guy with the neckties,' " he said.

Gosselin used to wear a tie every day, but has cut down in the last year because he suffers from Parkinson's disease, and his fingers sometimes tremble too much, he said. But that's done nothing to his sense of humor.
"Take nothing and nobody in life too seriously, especially yourself," he said. "I just do it for the attention. Just thumbing my nose at convention."
Chuin-Wei Yap -- 861-9253