Monday, 31 December 2018

Wearing a hat

was essential in the past.
I have just seen a picture of a "Christian Women's Temperance Meeting" in 1906 and they are all wearing hats. They are quite large hats too.
It looks odd now - but I still remember hats.
My paternal grandfather had two. He had a felt one in winter and a straw one in summer. When he was home the hats lived on the hat and umbrella stand next to the old black bakelite telephone in the passage from the side door of the house. When he went out it seemed it was an automatic response. He would pick up the appropriate hat and leave the house.
My paternal grandmother had three - a summer hat and a winter hat for church and a sun hat which she wore on very hot days if she needed to walk to the shops or be out in the garden. All of them were rather plain affairs although she might add a small bunch of flowers for a wedding or Easter. 
My maternal grandfather had a winter cap and a summer straw. My maternal grandmother seemed to have many hats.I remember the one with the feathers and the maroon wool with the strange fold in it and the squishy hat of dark purple velvet. 
My mother had hats too. She made some of them herself. I remember her knitting one which looked rather like a turban and there was mouse brown hat she wore to church.
The Senior Cat has a disgraceful "garden" hat made from heavy cotton fabric and another sun hat that rarely gets worn. He does not like hats.
Hats. Yes, I am old enough that a certain type of hat was a compulsory part of the school uniform. I went through a succession of felt berets in winter and straw hats in summer. The straw hats always had elastic that cut under your chin.  We had to wear them to and from school - with gloves and 60 denier stockings or long socks. 
Schools have hat policies now too - but for sun protection.
I remember one of my teachers had a purple hat with red cherries on the side. The cherries bobbled around frantically as she walked along. We all thought they would fall off some day. She wore it summer and winter.  
But hats aren't fashionable in quite the same way any more. My mother stopped wearing one to church. She stopped wearing gloves too, especially in the summer. I went past a church congregation yesterday and none of the women were wearing hats when once not covering their heads would have been unthinkable.
I have hats - summer hats to keep the sun off and a "hat" which covers my bicycle helmet. It has a peak and a flap and it is not in the least bit beautiful but it keeps the sun off my nose and my neck. I have beanies, one particularly nice one made by a friend of mine. I don't really need them in this climate but I treasure that one in particular.
I have knitted hats, real hats not just beanies. I have made lace hats from cotton - hats with wide brims which have been stiffened to within an inch of their lives. Sometimes I wish I had kept one of the dozen or so I made.
Not so long ago someone I know came to pick up some things from me before she went on to a meeting. I can still remember the slight  shock I had when I saw her wearing - a hat.  It was the sort of hat my mother might have worn forty or even fifty years ago. In all likelihood the hat was that old. It looked strange but I could see that it would once have been considered very smart.  
I thought of this person when I saw the photograph of the group of women at that "Meeting". 
Perhaps there is something about hats.

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