Hats off to memories


The arrival of the special preview reception for the exhibit Inspired Design: Lasell College at ATHM meant one thing: I needed to find a hat. This proposed a bit of a problem, as I don’t have many hats in my wardrobe. Aside from the small collection of winter hats I had stowed away, I could not think of anything suitable to wear.

Luckily, just a few weeks before the reception, my parents visited and brought with them my childhood bedroom packed into several boxes. There, in a box of vintage hats from my grandmother (which were all too small for my head–a common problem I have with hats) and other hats used for costumes, was a felted wool pink hat, which I was compelled to buy several years ago (mostly because it was pink and it fit). I happily brought the hat with me to work the next day, and was one of several people who got into the hat-wearing fun at the reception.

The reception had me thinking about how important hats used to be in society. It now strikes us as odd to see people wearing such beautiful, extravagant hats. Hats still have the power to shape our lives, though, despite the fact that they are no longer a fashion requirement. I think of my dad, who worked as a carpenter and continues to build in his spare time. I knew he was busy repairing or constructing when he wore a multi-colored, faux tie-dye, paint-splattered baseball cap from the 1980s. When I think of my husband, I picture him wearing his favorite baseball cap emblazened with a “C” (standing for Cornell University). As members of the pep band at college, we played at every home hockey game, and he was always terrified of our players scoring hat tricks. Fortunately for him (but not so much for our team!), he never did have to part with his hat.

It's hard for me to imagine my husband without this hat!

One of many fond memories I have shared with my brother is when we happened upon a store in the mall selling out-of-style hats of downtrodden hockey teams for mere pennies. Each of us walked away with more hats than days of the week.  My finds from that day were also in the boxes my parents bestowed upon me.

It amazed me how an exhibit of beautiful hats could help these memories re-emerge, and I know that many of our visitors will have many stories to tell of the hats in their lives, too. Make sure to check out the exhibit Inspired Design and share your hat-related memories!

Maren Caulfield
Coordinator of Membership and Development

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