Saturday, 8 October 2011

Passionate about hats

Youngest son has always been very creative.  He could draw in profile before he went to school. On his first day he came home and told me what funny pictures the other children drew - their drawings of people were like balloons with sticks for arms and legs coming out of them.
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?


  1. i love this story. i love what children are drawn to and that the whole family got caught up in his passion. i love his creativity. does he still love hats?
    we were just on the same lake champlain ferry a few weeks ago. it's such a lovely little journey.

  2. Dear Annette-it is lovely to think that you have been on the same journey as us. He is not particularly in to hats now, only warm woolly ones in the winter. However, he is still very creative, and is having an "open studio" to show his linocuts next month.
    Thank you for stopping by with your kind comments. I have looked at your blog which I think is lovely. Best wishes.

  3. Dear Rosemary - The story of your youngest son conjured up many wonderful images, and I'm so glad you included a photo of him, all the better to imagine the tea cozy hat. I remember wearing a 1940s hat that belonged to my mother. It was dark maroon felt, wide-brimmed and with a black plume, and in my mind it was exactly what the evil Captain Hook would have worn. I never saw my mother wear that hat again, and I think my dead-on appraisal was a factor in that.

  4. Hi Mark - I am pleased this story brought back a hat memory for you too.
    As a little boy our son did like dressing up, he also had a very vivid imagination

  5. Ah, I found the post, Rosemary, and what a delight to read. Your son sounds quite a character, and I suspect his delightfully whimsical approach to life has endured. Yes, you have indeed travelled the same road as our daughter and her little family are, in fact, travelling right now as they return to Canada. They spent Sunday evening in Stowe, (and I suspect a look around for a Von Trapp was part of the deal) and are now en route back to Montreal (Monday night) then home to Ottawa. By all accounts the visit to Cape Cod was a rousing success. I wonder if the Russian hat-maker's factory still remains in Montreal?

    1. The journey that your family took is lovely - I recall having the Von Trapp family home pointed out to us high in the hills, and I am reminded now that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had moved to live in Cavendish, Vermont around the same time as we visited.
      I wonder too if the hat factory is still operating? may be it has been converted into loft style apartments now!!!


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