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Wearing hats: Then vs. now

Discussion in 'Hats' started by John the Swede, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    My father always wore a hat, except when working, when he wore a baseball cap. I never thought much about it then and I don't spend anytime thinking about it now, either. It was just so natural that you wouldn't have given it a second thought. It wasn't high fashion or anything like that. It was just what some men did. They wore hats. Others rarely did.

    One of my uncles probably spent his entire life in "work clothes," meaning the matching twill outfits in gray or khaki from the department stores. But I have a photo of him in dress clothes without a jacket and wearing what looks like a straw or Panama hat. The photo was taken in 1943, I think.

    My wife says her grandfather always wore a suit everyday, even after he had retired. He worked at a boys boarding school in Virginia. He apparently used to wear a straw boater hat in the summer and we have the hat. Unfortunately, it's on the small size and not in good shape, probably from being store in an attic for the last 40 or 50 years.
    -30- and M Hatman like this.
  2. I knew my grandfather in the latter part of his life, from the mid-1960s through his death in 1984. For most of that time he dressed in what a mature man of those times would wear - polyester or blend slacks, and a short sleeve button down, or collared pullover, and casual shoes.

    If he wore a hat, it was a cloth 'fedora' of some sort - inexpensive, as my gm and gf were of fairly modest means.

    But when they were young, this was normal going-out attire:


    This had to be late 1938 to early 1939, as my mom, in this picture, was born in July 1936, and she looks to be 2 or 3 here.

    But the point is that this was normal outing and socializing clothing for the time, at least for people in my gp's circles. And he was no millionaire. He was a hairdresser.
  3. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    The uncle I referred to above work in a railroad shop. My father was a truck driver. Yet my father, a faithful church goer, would wear his suit all day on Sunday, at least in the 1950s. Saturday was a workday for him.
  4. I'm a railroad historian and am interested in your Uncle, what railroad? Any pictures?
    -30- and M Hatman like this.
  5. Hurricane Jack

    Hurricane Jack I'll Lock Up

    Same here in the US. And if you want to be more than the occasional extra you have to have a SAG card.
    Edward and M Hatman like this.
  6. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    Alas! I can't do pictures and anyway, I don't have any of them in a railroad setting.

    Three of my uncles, my grandfather and at least one or two cousins worked for the railroad, which at the time was the Virginian Railroad. They had a large facility in my hometown of Princeton, West Virginia. Around 1,000 men (maybe a few women) worked there. Except for one uncle who worked in Mullens, West Virginia, in the next county, they all worked in Princeton. They even built rolling stock there. At one time there was also a roundhouse there, although I believe the Virginian was an electrified line, with the power plant located somewhere in Virginia. Then they merged with the Norfolk & Western. Sometime in the 1970s, the railroad operations were moved to Roanoke and my hometown went to pieces. It's still a major crossroads, though, and now it's something like Breezewood, Pennsylvania.

    My father never worked for the railroad. He worked for the 2nd largest employer in town, which was a laundry. That tells you something about how different things were before 1960. He spent his working life going through all the coal camps in that part of the state. Coal may or may not been king but it's what drove the economy. Coal camps were little shanty towns clustered around a mine entrance, usually with a company store. There was never anything romantic about coal camps.
  7. Cool interesting tidbit. Wonder where that hat is now?

    Sent directly from my mind to yours.
    M Hatman likes this.
  8. A pic of my grandfather and myself.


    Best, Eric -
  9. Great pic Eric. I can see the resemblance.
    -30-, Redfokker and Short Balding Guy like this.
  10. Now that's too cool. I enjoyed Deadwood, but LOVE Tombstone, one of my all-time favourite movies. Would love to hear more!
    -30-, Redfokker and M Hatman like this.
  11. Clear to see where your style comes from Eric. Great photo and bit of family history. Thanks for sharing!
  12. RJR

    RJR I'll Lock Up

    M Hatman likes this.
  13. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

    Back then, too, if your hat got seriously out of shape, you took it to a hat shop and had it cleaned, or reblocked and steamed back to life. There were loads of places to have that done. Now, we either have to do it at home, if we can, or send it to one of the few shops in the country (or to a custom hatter) who can do it. Knowing you can recover easily from your hat being sat on by somebody's kid gives you a certain confidence and peace of mind.
    Edward, scottyrocks, -30- and 2 others like this.
  14. I'm not sure if there are any such limits in the UK in temrs of background extras, though I think to be a featured extra you have to be unionised.

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