Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds
  • The Fedora Lounge is supported in part by commission earning affiliate links sitewide. Please support us by using them. You may learn more here.

TopHatters (San Leandro) - In Memoriam of Ted & Marie Lee

John Galt

Vendor
Messages
2,080
Location
Chico
As I've noted elsewhere, Ted & Marie Lee ran their "TopHatters" hat shop together for 65 years (1947-2012), first in Oakland and then San Leandro, California.

I found these photos in the materials I purchased from their estate. Their Trustee (nephew) told me to keep them. I thought they might interest some of you.

These were probably proofs for a newspaper article about the shop they had in Oakland before moving to San Leandro. These are not photos of the San Leandro shop.
 

Attachments

  • Shop_1.jpg
    Shop_1.jpg
    41.9 KB · Views: 397
  • Shop_2.jpg
    Shop_2.jpg
    39.4 KB · Views: 398
  • Blocker_1.jpg
    Blocker_1.jpg
    40.6 KB · Views: 639
  • Marie Lee_1.jpg
    Marie Lee_1.jpg
    30.3 KB · Views: 632
  • Marie Lee_2.jpg
    Marie Lee_2.jpg
    45.3 KB · Views: 577
  • Marie Lee_3.jpg
    Marie Lee_3.jpg
    49.7 KB · Views: 633
  • Marie Lee_4.jpg
    Marie Lee_4.jpg
    47.4 KB · Views: 536
Last edited:

John Galt

Vendor
Messages
2,080
Location
Chico
More photos.
 

Attachments

  • Ted Lee_1.jpg
    Ted Lee_1.jpg
    37.6 KB · Views: 506
  • Ted Lee_2.jpg
    Ted Lee_2.jpg
    41.5 KB · Views: 512
  • Ted Lee_3.jpg
    Ted Lee_3.jpg
    35.1 KB · Views: 527
  • Ted Lee_4.jpg
    Ted Lee_4.jpg
    36.7 KB · Views: 558
  • Ted Lee_5.jpg
    Ted Lee_5.jpg
    39.4 KB · Views: 494

John Galt

Vendor
Messages
2,080
Location
Chico
Happy to share fellows, glad you appreciated it as I did. I haven't seen many photos like this, despite my interest in the subject.

Yes, HS, a great love story on multiple levels. Wish I'd gotten to meet them. Ted Lee was something of a mechanical genius, I think...
 

Andykev

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,118
Location
The Beautiful Diablo Valley
Long ago, I drove to their shop. Was in a residential area, and I think it was their house. Had a iron gate in front, and a top hat sign outside. Met the lady, it must have been Mrs. Lee. I was very young, and starting to look for some place to buy a real hat. There wasn't any "internet" or even much in the way of computers back then. Certainly no cell phones. I had no idea what I was looking at, or anything about hats. Just knew I liked them. I don't remember her much, except that she could tell I was not buying anything. It sure is a blur after all these years. The neighborhood was going down hill in that area at the time.....

Thanks for posting the photos. Wow.
 

Blackthorn

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,512
Location
Oroville
Long ago, I drove to their shop. Was in a residential area, and I think it was their house. Had a iron gate in front, and a top hat sign outside. Met the lady, it must have been Mrs. Lee. I was very young, and starting to look for some place to buy a real hat. There wasn't any "internet" or even much in the way of computers back then. Certainly no cell phones. I had no idea what I was looking at, or anything about hats. Just knew I liked them. I don't remember her much, except that she could tell I was not buying anything. It sure is a blur after all these years. The neighborhood was going down hill in that area at the time.....

Thanks for posting the photos. Wow.
Interesting...
 

John Galt

Vendor
Messages
2,080
Location
Chico
Long ago, I drove to their shop. Was in a residential area, and I think it was their house. Had a iron gate in front, and a top hat sign outside. Met the lady, it must have been Mrs. Lee. I was very young, and starting to look for some place to buy a real hat. There wasn't any "internet" or even much in the way of computers back then. Certainly no cell phones. I had no idea what I was looking at, or anything about hats. Just knew I liked them. I don't remember her much, except that she could tell I was not buying anything. It sure is a blur after all these years. The neighborhood was going down hill in that area at the time.....

Thanks for posting the photos. Wow.

That's the San Leandro shop. Just off the freeway, on the edge of a residential neighborhood on MacArthur Blvd. you have a very good memory, see the pic below, which I took when I picked up all the hat-making supplies (less nephew Peter's Optimo block & matching flange for posterity). It was not their home, actually, but had a definite lived-in feel.

a3amamu4.jpg
 

John Galt

Vendor
Messages
2,080
Location
Chico
John, I like the photos,they show the work area and the tools of the trade

Oliver, I specifically thought of you when I posted these ;-)

WH, it was probably one of the secrets of their 65-year run. At some point I'll post photos of their under-counter motor-driven spinner with two heads. You can see the blocking/flanging steamers (there are two) in the photos I posted here.
 
Last edited:

John Galt

Vendor
Messages
2,080
Location
Chico
Cool pics.I think they would be happy to know that their stuff will be put to good use.

I like to think so. I think it was an important consideration for their nephew, Peter. He kept an Optimo block and flange as a memoir, and I'll be making he and his son Drew each a hat with Ted & Marie's tools & hat bodies.
 

John Galt

Vendor
Messages
2,080
Location
Chico
Oliver, they both want black stingy brimmed fedoras with black grosgrain hatbands. I will post photos in this thread when I make them.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
107,255
Messages
3,032,227
Members
52,712
Latest member
Yamamoto
Top