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Let’s Talk about Hats

Let's talk about hats.  Holy Moly!  It's come to this…hats?  I now know my old brain is running on fumes.  Okay.  Okay.  I'll take up the challenge of finding something interesting to say about hats.

The earliest depiction of a man wearing a hat was a fellow wearing a coolie straw hat.  The tomb in which it was found dated to about 3200 BC.

The earliest physical evidence of hats was found in a Danish bog and was dated to about 70 BC.

According to legend, St. Clement, patron saint of Felt Hat Makers (quite an honor), discovered felt which is used widely in hats when he filled his sandals with carded wool compressing the fibers to create felt.

The word milliner, maker of hats, originated in Milan, Italy.

Common sense tells one that hats have been around almost as long as man himself.  Hats were a lot more convenient to produce than umbrellas, and all men have needed protection from the sun and the rain and…bird droppings.

Looking around at hats today, it's quite evident that hats are used for more than protection  from the elements.   I suspect they are used as signals of status, occupations, and attitude.

Frankly, I've never been much of a wearer of hats.  I think my first hat was a pork pie straw I used when playing golf as a young fellow.  I'm sure that choice was based on Sam Snead's head gear.  I'm also sure I should have worn hats more when working in the sun.  This neglect of head gear probably accounts for my little friend, a cancerous spot on top of my head.

By checking around the internet, I discovered that we have more words for hats than Eskimos have for snow.

Let’s begin with the top hat.  It caused quite a stir when introduced in England in the late 1800's.  It's evolved into the coachman top hat, the stovepipe, the opera hat and the mad hatter.

The bowler is another English creation.  It's also called a coke, billycock, bombetta, bombin, derby.  Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy wore these on screen.

The boater, made of woven straw, is also called a
skimmer, a sennit hat, and a can-can hat.  About the only time one sees one of these worn today is when quartets harmonize.

The Pork Pie, my original choice for golf outings, has an interesting history involving New Orleans jazz and blues musicians, food sellers, and hot pies.

The open crown soft felt hat is designed to be shaped by its wearer.  Styles are endless.

The Homburg originated in England for King Edward III.   It was a choice for Churchill and Eisenhower and found new popularity in the film The Godfather.

The Fedora started life as a ladies chapeau in a Broadway play with Sarah Bernhardt.  One version is also called a trillby.

The flat cap is also known as a driver, a cabby, a golf cap, an ivy cap, a pistol cap, and a paddy cap.  One doesn't see this cap much today.  However, it's my choice when I play golf.

The newsboy is similar…but different from the flat cap.  It's also called a baker boy, a big apple, an eight panel, a Gatsby, and a Lundberg Stetson.

The Greek fisherman originated in Athens in the late 19th Century.  Because John Lennon popularized the hat, it's also called a  John Lennon hat.

The Panama, strangely, didn't originate in Panama but in Ecuador.  In Ecuador they are called sombreros de paja toquilla because of the straw from which they are made.

The Milan straw originated in China, not Italy.

The Western hat: now we're talking.  Being that I live in Texas, I see these regularly.  Because of the harsh elements the cowboys worked
in, nothing but the Western hat with its broad brim would do.  There are various creases: the Carlsbad, the Montana peak, and the most common, the Cattleman style.  The manufacturer Stetson is most closely associated with this hat.  It was my dad's choice.  Don't dare touch his damned Stetson.

The gambler, worn by Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, is a smaller version of the western dress hat.

The gaucho is worn by…well, gauchos of South America.  It's a felt hat with wide flat brim suitable to South American cowboys.

Surely I've failed to include some unexplored items fitting on top of a man's head.

If in the future, I'm once again stumped for a subject about which to write, I may take on the challenge of women's hats.

You may have also noticed that I didn't include the damned baseball cap which seems to be the “hat” of choice today.  I can envision Crocodile Dundee explaining to a villain wearing a baseball cap, “That's not a hat; this is a hat,” as he tips his fedora to the villain.

interesting enough