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Friday, February 25, 2011


“Been There, Worn That—Hat!”

While watching an old movie the other day, something jogged my mind about the many hats I’ve worn up to this point in my lifetime. A lot of them were forced upon me to wear, whereas others were worn out of pride or pure fashion.

As a baby, I had the typical baby hats put on me: I don’t remember them but have seen the pictures. As a young dancing student at the age of three, I wore a “blue bird hat” and more strange hats connected to dancing for a long while. But around the age of five and onward, I definitely remember having to wear a beret and at Easter, the proverbial “girl” hat that every girl despised.

In grade school, I wore a Girl Scout hat with pride: back then, every girl in scouts got to wear the entire uniform, hat and all once a month to school. When I was in the sixth grade, I was a patrol and when we went to Washington, D.C. for the patrol parade, all girls and boys wore white sailor hats. I thought I was something marching down Pennsylvania Avenue---even if I was scared to death with thousands of kids all around me.

Back home that year, I remember getting my own “Davy Crockett” coonskin hat: I didn’t wear it to school but after school when all the kids in my St. Albans neighborhood wore them. Cool? Of course!

Junior high seems to have been hatless for me except for the dreaded Easter hat which was forced upon me yearly.

But ah, in high school, I definitely remember getting to choose my own hat: It was one of those feather creations that was like a big headband. The only difference was that the feathers curved right into your eyes. Didn’t matter if I could see well or not, I knew it was pure fashion and my girlfriends and I would wear them downtown knowing full-well that we caught attention. On my part, it was probably the stumbling around but no matter, I felt so fashionable.

Easters became much more pleasurable, as I got to choose my own hat and trust me, they were never small or pitiful: They were big and usually had a ton of flowers on them. It was the “thing” to wear at that time.

Forward to my first year at Marshall and I had to wear a hat which I despised probably more than the foisted-upon child Easter hat: It was a green beanie. The purpose of having freshmen, male or female, wear one was to stick out in the crowd and also to be picked upon by upper classmen. Luck was with me for I never got picked upon and was so thankful when my freshman year was over.

In my sophomore year and later, I wore a madras scarf tied around my head: It had to match my madras skirt. All girls were snared into this fashion trap but at that time, it seemed cool.

Jackie Kennedy’s pill box hat changed my mind drastically as it did every woman—young or old. And of course, I had my own pill box hat which made me feel glamourous. After all, Jackie was just that.

When the movie, “Love Story,” came out, I just had to have a crocheted toboggan like Ali McGraw who played the lead in that movie. All I can say about that hat was that it was warm but mashed my hair flatter than flat.

Although I became a teacher, I was still influenced by hats.

When I saw Debra Winger wearing a cowboy hat in “Urban Cowboy,” I just had to have one. And I remember wearing it while driving my sons around: luckily, my sons were young at that time or they would have been moritified. There was something about wearing that cowboy hat that seemed to make me feel more alive than anything I had worn in the past.

Maybe it was a break from the norm. Whatever it was, it was “Yahoo!!”

And yet during this period of motherhood and being a teacher, I wore a blue bandana tied around my head: It was knotted in the back. Why did I wear that? Because everyone else did; it wasn’t comfortable and like the “Ali McGraw Hat,” it mashed my hair flat. Course it did have its good points: If you had a bad hair day, the bandana worked wonders.

When I became a model first for the Diamond and later for Peck’s, I got to wear many different types of hats. Some were so special that I bought them and carried them along with me to my teaching job.

During the course of being a mother, I have worn many unseen hats, as all mothers have: A nurse hat, an arbitrator hat, a chef hat and on and on.

As a teacher, I wore basically the same unseen hats except for the chef hat: The cooks took care of that one for me.

I still love to wear hats and usually keep a stack in my car for summer or winter. But I have found that my eleven- year old granddaughter has worn my hats far more than I have, for she either looks for them in my house or my car. And as I used to do, she wears them with that flash of glamour. If you’re asking if one of them is a cowboy hat, yes it is.

Who doesn’t like to feel like “Yahoo!!”

The hat torch has been passed to yet another generation.

Luckily, she doesn’t have a horrid Easter hat foisted upon her as I did. And she has a choice of what type hat to wear---whenever.

But for a cowboy hat? Well, you never know because I still have mine. And when I put it on, I can scream and yet look semi-sane. Long live hats!!!!

This article was published in the Charleston Gazette [WV]