Sunday, July 31, 2011


Ochre, Red, Black, Blue and White are this post's colors

I don't like hats and I never have.  It all goes back to New York City when I was a kid.

My parents put me in a kindergarten that operated on the ground floor of a brownstone townhouse that required all its little charges (male variety) to arrive, leave, and go out to recess in the garden/yard behind the building wearing a little Eaton Cap (roughly like the casquette, below left). I always felt claustrophobic having my head enclosed,  as well as too hot.  But the worst thing was that my parents were determined that I must not grow up with my ears sticking out, to assure this didn't happen, whenever I had the cap on they would make sure the top of my ears were tucked under the edge of the hat.

This arrangement made the claustrophobia worse and it hurt since the caps were made to fit snugly.  Worse, my ears would get irritated, fill up with blood and be very hot.  I think my dislike of hats dates without question to those damned Eton Caps.

There was, however, one important incident in my early development that included the Caps.  There was one little boy in kindergarten, Kenny, who was a bully.  Whenever we were outside on a good day, Kenny would stand around behind the slide and wait for another boy to climb up.  Kenny had his timing figured out precisely; as the boy reached the top of the ladder and began to sit down, Kenny would race up the steps and as the other boy began his descent, Kenny would grab his cap and fire it over fence that was immediately next to the slide into the neighbor's garden.

Loss of a cap to Kenny's strong right arm throw was a very serious business because the woman next door hated having a kindergarten next to her house and refused any plea for return of the caps.  I don't know whether they went into the garbage or were donated to the Salvation Army or sat on her mantelpiece with pins stuck in them, but they most certainly were never returned to the kindergarten.  The day inevitably came when I was the little boy beginning to slide; Kenny ripped the cap off my head and tossed it over the fence.

Some sort of politics I never could figure out now went into action.   I went to one of the teachers, explained what happened and was told that nothing could be done and that there would be no punishment for Kenny.  I was outraged and went home that day scared because my parents had impressed on me that my kindergarten clothes were expensive and I had to take care of them.  Well surprise, there were no consequences when I explained the situation; my mother opened a drawer in which there were at least two, maybe three, matching caps and just told me to be as careful as I could.  From then on I made sure to go down the slide with my left hand firmly holding the cap on my head.  But I was also planning revenge.

Kenny rarely went down the slide, but one day when some of the children had gone back inside a bit early, I saw him head for the ladder.  He never saw me move into position behind him and then spring up at precisely the right moment.  One of the two teachers saw what was about to happen and called out a warning, "Kenny, your hat!" --  a warning she had never given to any of the other boys in the school.  But before she could get all the words out, the cap was sailing over the fence where the woman in her garden was scowling at me.  I didn't care.

I didn't care, because Kenny was holding onto the teacher's skirt wailing at the top of his lungs, a bully in defeat, unable to take what he had given others.  The teacher was consoling him, stroking his head and talking to him softly, as if he enjoyed some special status and protection which I never understood.  But I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. 

And from that day, Kenny never sent another hat over the fence. 


This striking picture appeared on the web some while ago and I regret not being able to credit the originator.  I immediately thought it was a painting or some sort of art print.  But it's not -- it is a photograph, probably enhanced a little bit, but a photograph nevertheless.  It was taken in an African desert area by waiting for just the right sunrise or sunset light to hit sands beyond an area of shadow, silhouetting dead trees dramatically.  The golden flecks are small rocks and stones on the sand.  The photo below shows the larger scene in this beautifully stark and barren landscape.

I'm in love with hats. And have a small collection. As for tucking your ears under, couldn't they just have clipped off the tops of your ears with momma's pinking shears....
Arnie, I'm so glad you weren't there at the time to give them any ideas. As it happens, none of the women in my immediate family had the slightest skill at sewing, so there probably wasn't a pinking shear in the house. I'm the one who occasionally made his own shirt or did upholstery. Makes sense, yes? :-)
Those tree photos are amazing - quite superb! Thanks for posting.
I had a brief experience with a British schoolboy's hat but, other than that, I have never worn a hat. And, I don't like wearing a hat. In fact, it caused significant distress when the dermatologist prescribed wearing a hat with a big broad rim. So now I own a Tilley. It did come in useful in Italy where the sun was simply too strong not to wear one.

I went looking for pinking shears a couple of months ago and couldn't find them anywhere!
My favorite hat has Viking horns on it.
That's an amazing photograph. I had to keep scrolling up from your description to figure it out.

As for hats, I do not wear them, but I've always wanted a boater - thanks completely to a picture of my dandy great-grandfather who was photographed (I think) on his wedding day wearing one. :)
I was never a hat guy. Until I discovered the trilby/fedora. And then came the flat cap. While I don't wear them as often as I used to, those are the only hats I typically like.
Thanks For This Awesome Art,The Pictures Of Old Buildings Is Incredible,Thanks Buddy For Sharing This Great Info With Us.
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