Of Hats and Calling Cards and Stuff by Molly MacDonald

Ink Spots

Dec 02
Of Hats and Calling Cards and Stuff by Molly MacDonald via @ScottMacNotes #hats #family

When did we stop wearing hats? My grandmothers wore them whenever they stepped outside to go to church or shopping or calling on friends. They did a lot of calling on friends in my grandmothers’ time. I have a couple of their engraved calling cards, which they would leave at the callee’s home if said callee wasn’t there.

The cards are lovely – “Mrs. Daniel Kelly” is engraved on one, and “Mrs. John W. Sullivan” on the other. Married women didn’t have first names back then – they were always “Mrs. Husband’s Name.”

Which brings me back to my original question. In case you’ve forgotten, the question was, “When did we stop wearing hats?” Since I asked the question just five seconds ago, if you did forget it so quickly, you’re not paying very close attention to this essay. Please straighten up and fly right, as Sister Cornelia used to instruct us in third grade.

I get the straighten up part, but I’m not sure what she meant by fly right. She was a formidable presence to us third graders, so no one dared ask what exactly that meant.

Now about hats. When I was little, my sister and I wore new Easter hats every year. Well, Sheila wore a new hat each year – I wore her last year’s model. I don’t think I ever actually had a new hat, but I didn’t mind since I thought everything Sheila wore was splendid.

Fast forward to the four daughters Bing and I produced. Heather, Erin, Meg, and Amy all wore white straw hats, always beribboned, to Easter Sunday Mass. I suppose poor Amy’s hat was a bit tattered since she was fourth in line. I don’t think she minded any more than I did – she, too, greatly admired her older sisters. I did notice our children seemed to be in the minority as they got older and fewer and fewer children wore hats to Mass.

Like, none.

Except for the MacDonald girls. Admittedly, I’m very slow to give up any tradition that goes back to my childhood.

They finally rebelled – “Mom, NO ONE wears hats anymore.” They all managed the exasperated our-mother-is-hopeless eye-roll, practically in unison.

So I gave up and only sulked a little bit.

I, too, finally gave up wearing hats, after the Kennedy years. I had a black velvet pillbox hat just like one Jackie Kennedy was often photographed wearing. When Camelot ended, I put that hat on my closet shelf (I couldn’t bear to throw it away) and it lived there for many years.

Thus we come to the end of this fascinating exploration of the era of hats.

I know, you all are probably rolling your eyes by now. Well, stop it.

That’s very rude.

Watch for a new book, by Scott MacDonald, Think Like a Dog, due out in 2019 and now available for pre-order!

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