Hanging Our Hats

Feb 19, 2012 | 1 comment

The Hat Rack

     The old bamboo hat rack sits just inside our front door.  In my memory, it has always been there, ready to receive the family hats as they enter the house and conveniently situated (and complete with mirror) for donning our hats as we go outdoors.  I don’t think it’s always been right there, mostly because that has not always been the front door.  Nor has that room always been part of the main house.
     The hat rack came to Oysterville in 1902 with the rest of my grandparents’ furniture, much of it wicker.  The wicker and bamboo items had been suitable in California and, after all, the H.A. Espys only intended to be here for a year or two to help out Grandpa who was ailing and old.  One hundred and ten years later, the furniture is still being used – especially the hat rack.
     Back in those early years, I imagine the hat rack stood in the parlor, close to the east (which was then the front) door.  By rights, it should have stood in the hallway, but it was too big or the hall was too small – whichever way you want to look at it.  Probably, it was mostly used by the men who came in or out of the house.  In those days, hats belonging to the women of the household were kept in hatboxes on closet shelves; women visitors kept their hats on.
     The hat rack also has a seat upon which two people can sit (rather uncomfortably). Lifting the seat lid reveals a fairly roomy storage area where I keep picnic table cloths and outdoor banners.  It’s also where we keep the BB gun that Gordon gave us, although I’m not sure for what purpose.  It doesn’t deter deer – they just laugh – and those chicken-stealing raccoons avoid daytime as well as any proximity to our front door.
     In recent years, since we cleaned out the garage and the car can wait for us there instead of by the front gate, the hat rack has become less convenient.  Now we leave by the kitchen door which leads through two back rooms with their doors and, eventually, to the garage.  Invariably, I remember my hat as I’m backing the car out into the rain – if I remember it at all.  Still, those extra trips back and forth between garage and hat rack are preferable to reaching my destination hatless and frizzy-headed.
     A week or so ago we went through the hats and removed those that we don’t often wear.  There are six “hanging pegs” and, gradually, the hats had become three or four deep on each one.  I thought that we might be able to make room for visitors’ hats, but we only re-discovered hats of our own that had long been buried.  Besides, when visitors do hang their hats, they often leave without them – sort of like not seeing the forest for the trees.
     My Uncle Ed left his old gray fedora on the hat rack back in 1988 or 1989.  He was a short man – about 5’6” I think – and either his head was small or mine is big (ahem!).  His hat fits me almost perfectly.  And what I say is… if the hat fits, wear it!  And keep it on the hat rack!

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    We have a hat rack that belonged to my in-laws and although it has a mirror it only has four hooks and marbel shelf instead of a bench which might be more handy. When we leave our Gig Harbor house it will probably go with Ana who rescued it as there’s no space in Ilwaco for it. We have a woodbox bench under some hooks by our back door and although I’ve thought of removing the box-bench and making way for the grander hat rack, I hate to do much that changes our 131 year old house and, besides, it’s very handy to have a place to sit down and change your shoes!

    Now I’ve heard that when a person leaves something behind it is their deep seeded desire to return so take those forgotten hats as a complitment and if they don’t return you can give them away, although Uncle Ed’s hat sounds like a keeper!


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