He was only knee high to a grasshopper when he first began wearing our tea-cosy. It went everywhere with him, and he was completely unaware of other people's amusement. It was a gaudy, colourful affair, with rather lovely oriental flowers all over it. I quickly made sure that I replaced it with another tea-cosy as I did not want him grabbing it off the breakfast bar with a pot of boiling tea underneath. So began his collection of hats.
When he was about 10 years old we visited my brother in Canada. We spent a week with them before travelling down to New York State. Along the way we visited a rodeo, and of course they were selling Davy Crockett hats which young son coveted, and spent his pocket money on. From then on he wore it all of the time on the visit.
One evening, having crossed Lake Champlain on the car ferry from the Adirondacks to Burlington, we were enjoying an evening meal in the Ice House Restaurant beside the lake. A lady came over to say how much her husband was admiring our son's hat and ended up telling us that her husband owned a hat factory in Montreal. Can you imagine young sons face - a hat factory!!! They invited us to call in on our journey back to Canada where we were meeting up again with my brother's family at their lakeside cottage.
On the journey back through New England to Quebec, a little voice kept saying, are we nearly at Montreal yet?
What a journey through Montreal it was. There seemed to be highways all over the place with railway lines crossing and no barriers. At one stage we ended up on a railway line with a huge train baring down on us, with one those enormous cow catcher ploughs on the front, blasting its horn - we had a very lucky escape.
Eventually the hat factory was located in a very large warehouse, where the owner welcomed us with open arms. He was an immigrant Russian, and made hats for the large retailer Sears. He insisted that all of us had a hat, not easy, it seems we have quite large heads. However, with a few alterations here and there from the seamstresses, we all ended up with a hat. Young son was in his element, and it was an experience none of us would have had if it had not been for his hat passion.
a hat or a tea-cosy?