Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why I Wear My Hat

For my Great-Aunt Gus*, 97, who emailed and asked me last Thursday


By early 1981, I had participated in two Springtime Tallahassee parades with the Godby High School Drama Club since my family's arrival to town on September 1, 1978. The Godby Drama Club was welcome to walk behind the Godby Cougar Marching Band in the Springtime Tallahassee parades.

In 1981, the date of the annual Thespian Festival in Jacksonville, Florida coincided with the weekend of Springtime Tallahassee. I was one of a few who could not attend due to other commitments, and received approval from the Drama Club to march with the parade in their stead.

In the last few days before the parade, My First Halloween buddies and I, along with the Godby Wargames Club and sundry friends, built a boat from wood, cardboard and an old baby carriage, and called it a float. I visited the Magic and Fun Costume Shop in Tallahassee and purchased a Captain's hat for $3.09. At parade time, we perched a cockatiel in a cage at its prow, and we alternatingly pushed and pulled it through the 1.1 mile parade route to the delight and astonishment of many thousands.

If we gave our boat float a name, it eludes me after all these years. No photos to my knowledge still exist, but there were at least seven of us involved in that crazy outing, and my wildest parade experiences were still several years away.

We didn't save the boat, and I didn't remember saving the hat until shortly before preparing for a move across town in Spring of 1990, when I noticed it in a box of costume paraphernalia that had not been unpacked since several moves earlier. I made major changes in my life beginning with that move, and completely forgot about the hat again for two more years.

In my early years in Tallahassee, I often enjoyed playing volleyball at Tom Brown Park on the weekends during high school, and then much less frequently after graduation. In Spring of 1992, I heard about Tallahassee Community College's annual Student/Faculty Day festivities including volleyball, and attended.

I ate a burger for lunch and played volleyball all afternoon. I hadn't played so much volleyball at one time in several years, and loved every moment of it.

Until later, when I stepped in the shower and realized I'd sunburned my head.

I wouldn't begin regularly playing softball for another year. I had just moved a few weeks before, and knew where my captain's hat was. It was the only hat I owned. I immediately needed a prophylactic for my head, and the hat seemed to agree with and please me.

Since then, and now more than twenty years later, unless I am playing softball, sleeping, swimming, or on someone else's clock, I am generally wearing the hat. I've been going to the Magic and Fun Costume Shop for my specialty costume needs since they opened in 1979, and continue to purchase my captain's hats there. I consume two or three a year depending upon my activities, and keep a pristine dress hat for special occasions, and use the more worn ones for painting, yard work and the like before their eventual disposition,

On rare occasions, I will encounter someone else wearing the same style hat, and have had much success in asking these individuals to pose for a photo with me. I have a "Captains" Facebook photo album with these and photos with other Captains I've met. I especially enjoy wearing my hat on cruises, and with Halloween costumes that are complemented by it.

 Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011

* Great-Aunt Gus is my grandfather's sister Augusta, who married my grandmother's brother Elmer.