16 March 2012

Hat Fashion and Etiquette

Warren’s son wearing a baseball
 cap backwards. (Note hat hanging
on wall for white-hat days.)
Welcome back. I’ve been thinking about hats. Not because I’m growing bald. Not because I can’t figure why young men and boys wear baseball caps backwards. And not because I saw clips from a Country Music Award show and wondered why men in the audience didn’t remove their Stetsons.
 
Nope, my thoughts are more akin to the TV news(?) reports of hats worn to the royal wedding.

My Grandmother’s Hat 

It all started when I was searching for old photographs to be shown to my aunt at her 98th birthday celebration. Although I was after photos of my aunt, who was and still is a knock out (i.e., beautiful), I came across a photo of my aunt’s mother, my grandmother.

Warren’s grandmother (R) and 
her sister-in-law, in hats in
fashion, early 1900s.
The photo was taken in Germany, I believe, and my grandmother was posing with her sister-in-law. Both were wearing incredibly large hats--much bigger than royal wedding or cowboy hats or most of Lady Gaga’s hats. (OK, the last is a guess. I’ve only seen two.)

Hat Etiquette
 
I alluded to hat etiquette, so I’d better say more. In this election year, I vote No to men, including my son, wearing hats indoors, public spaces excepted. 
 
I realize etiquette has gotten saggy in recent decades, but after a quick and biased online survey, I learned that the propriety of wearing hats indoors hasn’t changed since I was young. Most encouraging, I’m not alone in my vote, and the voters don’t all seem to be nursing home residents.
 
I won’t touch women’s hat etiquette. On one hand, can you imagine sitting behind my grandmother at a concert, even a country music concert? On the other hand, can you imagine the difficulty of her removing and re-donning that hat? That ain’t your mama’s cowboy hat.
 
My Hats in Puerto Rico
 
Warren in the same hat on a field 
 project in the U.S. and on 
vacation in Puerto Rico,  
awaiting a bus.
Don’t get me wrong; I like hats. Take the hats I wore in Puerto Rico.

On our family vacation, which wasn’t that long ago, I wore the hat I’d worn during government field projects.

Working at the Arecibo Observatory, which was long ago, I wore a hardhat if I was on or below the antenna platform.
 
Warren and co-worker in hardhats 
under the Arecibo Observatory
 reflector, below the platform, 1965.
Mapping soils on the south side of the island, I wore a straw cowboy hat in the field. I stayed in the City of Ponce that summer, and in those long-ago days, Ponce struck me as a bit different from the rest of the island.

What do I mean “different”? How about being refused entry to a movie theater? The young woman in the box office just pointed to a sign: “No Mahones,” which translates to “No Jeans.” “You’re kidding!” I protested. “It’s dark in there, my jeans are clean and who cares?”

Worse, I was almost refused entry to the hotel apartment I was renting. Returning from the field wearing cowboy hat and mahones, I encountered the building owner, whom I’d never met nor seen or vice versa.

As I approached the elevator, he motioned for me to leave the building. When I ignored him, sure that he was waving at someone else, he shouted angrily in Spanish, which I didn’t yet understand—not that I would have ever learned those words anyways. The fellow managing the front desk finally interceded. 

Wrap Up

Let that be a lesson to you. My building-owner incident would probably not have occurred if I'd removed my hat. Still, I wish I'd been that when his grandchildren started wearing their baseball caps backwards and indoors.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll try to find more hats for Tuesday’s photo addendum, and I’ll write again next Friday.

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