Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ou sont les Hats of Yesteryear?

Been thinking about hats. Not the ones that keep the ears warm, the ones worn for religious purposes, the ones with sun visors, but the totally useless ones.  When did they disappear?
In the spring of 1947, before college graduation, I took a train to New York City for a job interview.  It never occurred to me to fly – in those days air travel was so momentous a woman would dress up for a flight in high heels, wearing a hat and gloves of course, and probably with a corsage as well.  I didn’t drive for two good reasons:  no car (those being still scarce with long waiting lists after The War) and I didn’t know how to drive anyhow (gasoline rationing started before I turned 16 and had only recently ended.)   
So there I was barreling down along the Hudson on the New York Central, crying on the shoulder of the woman sitting next to me.  Here I was about to meet a College President !!! for a job interview, and I had forgotten to bring a hat.  How could I face him?  He’d never hire a girl who was so rude as to show up hatless!  So strong was my distress that just before Grand Central Station that stranger took off her hat (of course she was wearing a hat) and settled it on my head. I was to return it to her hotel after the interview.
And I did.  And I got the job.
So when did hats disappear?  I know I was still wearing them into the ‘60s, because I have pictures of myself with a minimal pillbox (God bless Jackie Kennedy) on a huge bouffant hairdo.   I had at least one hat with a veil, and I remember one that looked somewhat Mary Poppins – did it have a single daisy perking up?  I know just where they lived -- they were up on the right hand shelf in the hall closet.  And there’s nothing there now.
What happened to them?


  1. i remember lots of your hats. i certainly remember the one with the daisy, but that was a later hat. i remember little hats with veils -- you used to wear them to temple on the high holidays. also of course i remember the orange patent leather shoes with the pointy toes. love the story of the job interview and the hat. what a different world it was. you should write up that day....

  2. I would have enjoyed seeing you wear the Mary Poppins number at the Box Hill party at my house last year, so I too deplore its absence--although you looked just fine in the self-described "old straw hat" you did wear. And I too miss hats in general--which was why I asked the Box Hill guests to wear hats!

  3. When I sang for weddings in the UK i the late 80's, I ALWAYS wore a hat. I even had a red one, with a feather, which I had found at a jumble sale.
    My organist partner and I would amuse ourselves by giving the cogregation marks for the wackiness of their hats. At most weddings, we found that at least eight per sent of the ladies were wearing hats, and about ten percent of those hats were more than a touch eccentric.

  4. Sorry for many typos in that last comment. It is not easy typing over the belly of a large happy cat.

  5. I could get very high marks for wacky hats.

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