“So the moon got me a hat, too!” exclaimed Bear.
He tried it on and it fit perfectly.
from: Happy Birthday, Moon
written and illustrated by Frank Asch
Simon and Schuster, 1982
Even though we all know the Kentucky Derby is mainly about the horses, I’m thinking about the hats.
I have a friend who dresses up with her family members in their finest hats and watch the race together. Even though they watch the race in Wisconsin, no less excitement is involved.
My grandfather was a tailor. He brought his cap-making skills with him from the Old Country and opened a haberdashery. He made caps and sold them. He sold ties: neckties and bowties, and Adam Hats. He may have made the ties. They hung on a twirly rack that always got me in trouble. I loved to spin that thing and watch the ties fly out to horizontal while still attached at one end. Then my grandma would catch me up and distract me with miniature red-plastic Adam Hats to play with instead.
My grandmother, among her other talents, could knit and crochet practically anything. My mom learned from the best. Consequently, my hats were not frilly. They had nothing to do with style or show-off decoration. My hats were the keep-your-head-warm kind. Close fitted with earflaps knitted right in and knitted strings for under-the-chin tying. My hats finished off with a tassel on top and matching mittens.
Mom made my favorite hat (and matching mittens) with a skein of yarn that gradually changed from royal blue to deep violet and ruby red, bright orange, sunny yellow, then back again to orange, red, violet, and blue. And the hat and mittens came out looking like a rainbow. The kids asked where I got such a hat. I’d raise my chin a little and say, “My mom made it for me.” I smiled when I said it.
Although I tried knitting, my results always came out lumpy. I finally gave up. My own kids had store-bought hats and mittens, some knitted (by machine in another country?) some cloth, not made by me or my grandpa.
So back to the race. The first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875. It is always on the first Saturday in May. That first race imposed a strict dress code, including a hat (for men and women) in order to attract high society to the race and assure the public of the high moral standard. In 2017, it’s all about the hats.
In case you’re wondering, Always Dreaming won this year’s race in 2 minutes and 3.59 seconds. I’m still trying to learn why the race is called a Derby. Something about a hat?