When you put on a hat, you take on its character. Children put on a cowboy hat and pretend they are riding the range, or a helmet and pretend to be headed for space. A woman puts on a Victorian hat and feels more a lady.
My Dad always wore a hat. Before leaving the house, he’d pick up a hat and with a snap of his fingers, place it on his head. Each time a different hat appeared on his head, Dad’s personality seemed to change.
Most days he would grab an old “hunky cap” when heading for work at Cambridge Glass Company or on the farm. “Hunky” was a term used disparagingly in the early 1900s to describe the men from Hungary and Czechoslovakia who did manual labor. This flat hat with a snap on the bill was worn most often. When wearing this hat, his demeanor usually became more serious.
Going to town on Saturday or to church on Sunday, a different hat would appear. Wearing a white shirt and dress slacks, Dad always donned a gray felt hat that dipped slightly over his right eye. That gave him a debonair look in my eyes. I’m sure he felt like a handsome gentleman when tipping his hat to the ladies.
Every time we visited, this well-mannered fellow removed his hat in the house and would place it on the couch or chair nearby. Children clamored to sit by this storyteller, but he’d warn them, with a shake of his finger and a wink of his eye, “Don’t sit on my hundred dollar hat.”
When summer arrived, Dad dressed in yet another hat. This time it was a Panama hat to stay cooler in the hot summer sun. He always smiled when wearing that hat. Perhaps the warm summer days brought happiness, or maybe this time of year held delightful memories, but he always walked with a spring in his step when wearing that straw hat.
No matter what hat Dad wore, his face always wore a smile.