five-dollar stetson stiff-rim?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Blackthorn, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn I'll Lock Up

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    I'm reading Jack London's The Road (written about his exploits in the 1890s), and he mentions that this hat, a "five-dollar stetson stiff-rim" was the hobo's uniform. I've googled the phrase to try and find pictures, to no avail. Have any of you ever heard of this before? I'd love to see what they looked like.
     
  2. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

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    Stiff rim? Probably referring to a flat brim Boss of the Plains, which gets its rigidity more from stiffener than from the structure provided by a flanged brim.
     
  3. fedoracentric

    fedoracentric Banned

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    Could it mean a derby?
     
  4. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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  5. fedoracentric

    fedoracentric Banned

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    Somehow I don't see American hobos running around in 4-inch wide Montana Peak hats, folks. Nor do I see hobos in western Boss of the Plaines hats. I maintain the story was talking about derbies.

    But maybe it would help to see the full Jack London quote in context.Is there more to the quote that might help figure it out?
     
  6. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn I'll Lock Up

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    'I used to wonder how the road-kids all managed to wear "five-dollar Stetson stiff-rims," and now I knew.'


    From this chapter of The Road: http://london.sonoma.edu/Writings/TheRoad/road-kids.html
     
  7. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn I'll Lock Up

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    I can't see the hobos wearing a Boss of the Plains, nor derbies either. I thought maybe his phrase was common knowledge, but maybe not.
     
  8. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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    More from the quote for more context:

    "We took our position on K Street, on the corner, I think, of Fifth. It was early in the evening and the street was crowded. Bob studied the head-gear of every Chinaman that passed. I used to wonder how the road-kids all managed to wear "five-dollar Stetson stiff-rims," and now I knew. They got them, the way I was going to get mine, from the Chinese. I was nervous — there were so many people about; but Bob was cool as an iceberg. Several times, when I started forward toward a Chinaman, all nerved and keyed up, Bob dragged me back. He wanted me to get a good hat, and one that fitted. Now a hat came by that was the right size but not new; and, after a dozen impossible hats, along would come one that was new but not the right size. And when one did come by that was new and the right size, the rim was too large or not large enough. My, Bob was finicky. 1 was so wrought up that I'd have snatched any kind of a head- covering.

    At last came the hat, the one hat in Sacramento for me. I knew it was a winner as soon as I looked at it. I glanced at Bob. He sent a sweeping look-about for police, then nodded his head. I lifted the hat from the Chinaman's head and pulled it down on my own. It was a perfect fit. Then I started. I heard Bob crying out, and I caught a glimpse of him blocking the irate Mongolian and tripping him up. I ran on. I turned up the next corner, and around the next. This street was not so crowded as K, and I walked along in quietude, catching my breath and congratulating myself upon my hat and my get-away."
     
  9. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    If it was a 1890s city setting. Most would be wearing stiff felts (Derby) or Euro soft felts with curled brims (Homburg, Fedora). Some had stiffer brims.
     
  10. fedoracentric

    fedoracentric Banned

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    I say derbies. I've seen several photos of Chinese immigrants wearing derbies in old photos when they westernized themselves to live in the US.
     
  11. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn I'll Lock Up

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    You guys are convincing me...maybe it was a derby. That might explain where Charley Chaplain got the idea for his Tramp character.
     
  12. g.durand

    g.durand One Too Many

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    Sounds like a typical Ebay hat-buying experience.
     
  13. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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    You have hit the nail on the head sir!
     
  14. Lean'n'mean

    Lean'n'mean I'll Lock Up

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    Just to confuse things :rolleyes:

    [​IMG]

    Maybe that's why he continued to wear a similar hat after he made it big to remind him of his hobo days.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    That style wouldn't match the situation. Sounds like a city setting.
     
  16. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn I'll Lock Up

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    Very interesting! Now I'm more confused than ever! I guess I'll never make a good hobo.
     
  17. Lean'n'mean

    Lean'n'mean I'll Lock Up

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    Wasn't charley's hat a bowler ? after all Charley was English & maybe he liked the contast between the bowler hat & suit which were worn by prosperous folk at the time & his 'hobo ' predicament, or maybe I'm reading too much into it..:rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  18. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    What does that photo have to do with the written passage?
     
  19. Lean'n'mean

    Lean'n'mean I'll Lock Up

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    Hobos weren't static but moved around from town to town (usually by foot) looking for work.
     

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