Snail's Postcard Post

Hat Parade

I learned from my favorite blog, Advanced Style, that yesterday (January 15), here in the States, was National Hat Day. How did I miss it? “Hat” was my first word! So here is a fashionably late tribute to headwear. IMG_7318The Hat Museum is a must for anyone in Portland, Oregon with a sense of curiosity. The proprietress, Alice, is peeking from the postcard’s corner. She’s a thoroughly Edwardian lady, and the only way to visit her establishment is by reservation. It’s a delightful adventure for a small group of friends. With a flare for performance, Alice will lead you from room to room of her purple house (coincidentally the home of a milliner at the turn of the century), educating you in the history of headwear, with 1,000 examples at hand–over 120 years of men’s hats, women’s hats, designer hats, hats from movies, and complete novelties. There’s even a gift shop where you can get a fancy headpiece for yourself.

One of the most interesting things I saw at The Hat Museum was this photograph of The Hole in the Wall gang/The Wild Bunch:2003HoleInWallGangPhotoAlice shared how she’d met a Hollywood costume designer who kept this photo in her office as a reminder that for a character to be real, it didn’t just matter what he wore, but how he wore it. In this photograph (c. 1900), they’re all wearing derby hats, but each a different way. Out of everything in the picture, the placement of their hats conveys the most about their personalities.

And here’s a tip from Alice: She says people who wear hats get better customer service. IMG_7320IMG_7321IMG_7322

Even the postcard’s stamps feature hats!IMG_7323IMG_7324IMG_7325IMG_7326IMG_7327IMG_7328IMG_7329IMG_7330IMG_7331IMG_7332IMG_7333

Korphe Village, Karakoram mountains, Northern PakistanIMG_7334IMG_7335IMG_7336IMG_7337

“Prayers performed as part of a tooth-filing ceremony in Peliatan.”

on reverse side:IMG_7344IMG_7345

IMG_7346IMG_7347IMG_7348The fabulous Charles Phoenix in a Shriners fezIMG_7349IMG_7350IMG_7351IMG_7352IMG_7353The Needle” Dramatization of a classic French story about a young prince and his tutor. I think one of the tutor’s lessons involves the metaphor of a needle. I have not been able to find a telling of this story, however, so if you know it, please share!IMG_7354IMG_7355The top hat looks like it was the hardest part to paint.IMG_7356IMG_7357IMG_7358This man in the straw boater has appeared in Snail’s Postcard Post a number of times, but if you haven’t read the amazing story of his postcard, see this post and be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to get the full scoop!IMG_7359IMG_7360IMG_7361IMG_7362IMG_7363IMG_7364Buster Keaton dons a stetson in “The General” (1926)IMG_7365IMG_7366IMG_7369This is watercolor, not an oil painting! I can’t find who the artist is. If you know, please comment! The postcard’s for a show of California artists, so I know that much. But it’s not Ernie Barnes.  

While all sorts of clothing items have been status symbols, these previous two Depression-era images remind me how hats have uniquely stood for dignity, regardless of social class.  

The most striking example I’ve seen of this is in the attack of L. Alex Wilson, one of four African-American journalists who attempted to cover the integration of Little Rock High School in 1957. You’ve probably seen pictures of Wilson being  beaten by the angry white mob, as the photographs ran on newspaper front pages across the country, ultimately convincing President Eisenhower to send in the National Guard. A meaningful detail about those photos is that even while he’s being punched and kicked, Wilson doesn’t drop his hat. I recall seeing this on film too–although footage doesn’t seem readily available online–and once or twice when the hat is knocked from his hand, Wilson makes a point of picking it up   Unknown-2  UnknownUnknown-1  images

Never fighting back or trying to flee, just keeping ahold of his fedora, the more the mob attacked him, the more dignified Wilson appeared by contrast. 

As for another fedora wearer, nonviolence was not his strong suit…IMG_7370

Al Capone aka Scarface c. 1929

Fred Astaire was known to trade in his top hat for a fedora too:IMG_7372IMG_7373IMG_7374IMG_7375This is our late friend, the brilliant novelist and teacher Les PleskoIMG_7376IMG_7377IMG_7378IMG_7379Reverse side:IMG_7380IMG_7381IMG_7382IMG_7383reverse side:IMG_7384IMG_7385IMG_7386


Hats off to you!



This entry was published on January 17, 2014 at 12:04 am. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Hat Parade

  1. Antonette DeVito on said:

    I love hats, too. Have never been to the Hat Museum in Portland — I must go next time I’m in town. Hugs, Toni

  2. Yes! The Hat Museum is right up your alley!

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