Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The end of the straw-hat season

According to pianist Stephen Hough, September 15 marks the end of the straw-hat season. Look at what happened on September 15 eighty-eight years ago:

In 1922 a veritable orgy of hat-smashing occurred throughout New York City. Gangs of up to a thousand men, using long sticks with wire attached, would lift off and impale the straw lids from unsuspecting heads. Police estimated that the doorway at 211 Grand Street was crammed with five hundred ruined hats.

15th September: the end of the straw hat season (Telegraph)
Sure enough, the New York Times has an article from September 16, 1922, “City Has Wild Night of Straw Hat Riots.” An excerpt:
A favorite practice of the gangsters was to arm themselves with sticks, some with nails at the tip, and compel men wearing straw hats to run a gauntlet. Sometimes the hoodlums would hide in doorways and dash out, ten or twelve strong, to attack one or two men. Along Christopher Street, on the lower west side, the attackers lined up along the surface car tracks and yanked straw hats off the heads of passengers as the cars passed.
Here at Orange Crate Art, September 30 is the last day to wear a straw hat. That’s what Linda Pagan of The Hat Shop advised when I bought a “straw” (I like saying that) earlier this summer. But I’ll be watching out for the fashion police, or gangsters.

(Thanks, Elaine!)

comments: 4

Stephen said...

I bought a Borsalino sisal from The Hatter about seven years ago. Despite all the things I told myself (protection from sunburn, looks sharp, etc.), I'd guess I've wound up wearing it about once a year.

Fortunately, no gangsters have attacked me or my hat. :-)

Michael Leddy said...

Mine’s sisal too. I’m wearing it pretty often, but it makes me long for the days of coat and hat checks and such.

By the way, that looks like a great store.

Stephen said...

Michael, that store is amazing.

Among their features:

Staff with decades of experience, whose fathers also worked there for decades.

Arcane head measuring devices to make custom hats. (I declined.)

One of the last places in the world with the in house skill to clean top hats. (I have not tried to verify this, but don't doubt it.)

Also, a lot of hats.

Anonymous said...