Hats of every kind will be atop most heads

I love hats–hats on other people.
I can’t do a hat unless it is a ball cap and I’m hiding a frightening hair day.
You have to have a certain sort of panache to pull off wearing a hat. The word panache is derived from the historical reference to a tuft or plume of feathers, especially as a headdress, so that alone is explanation enough of the requirements to don a head covering.
I admire those who do wear hats, admire them without envy or judgment, just a happy witness to self-confidence.
Frederick The Great, ruler of Prussia for forty-six years in the 18th century, said a crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in. I concur.
There are hats that I’m glad became extinct, the top hat being one and anything too grotesquely flamboyant. Some hats have enjoyed a long life, like the bowler and the bonnet.
One can’t think of Winston Churchill without him sporting his bowler. Laurel and Hardy were well-known bowler wearers, and we must not forget Charlie Chaplin. The bonnet saw a long life of protecting women from the sun and from the stares of lecherous men.
My father wore a fedora when I was very young, pulled it on as easily as he did his coat, as though one would never venture outdoors without his fedora. It was very uncommon to see a man out in public without a hat.
My mother always wore a hat to church or any social engagement, and I’m not sure when that habit slipped away.
My father had a variety of hats, but the fedora was his go-to hat. He always wore a hat around the farm, but for the life of me I can’t recall what it looked like.
The 1960s were witness to a cultural revolution on all levels and hats joined in with tremendous enthusiasm, ridiculously so in many instances. One only need to tune into the running of the Kentucky Derby to see all manner of ridiculousness where hats are concerned, but everyone seems to enjoy the tradition.
Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., a gaudy name in itself, was the founder of the Kentucky Derby in 1875 and he wanted to transform the racetrack from its rough and dangerous reputation of ill-repute to one of high-society; hats was his means to that end.
The Running of the Roses takes place this Saturday, May 4th and will be the 145th running of the greatest two minutes in sports.
No clear-cut favourite has been declared as of yet by the odds predictors, but 20 horses will run the one and a quarter mile with first prize claiming 1.86 million dollars.
And no matter who is given top odds to win, the crowds will clamber in and hats of every kind will be atop most heads.
I might have agreed to wear a hat in 1964 when a small Canadian horse named Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby in two minutes flat. He won the Preakness as well, but came up third in the Belmont Stakes and missed snagging the Triple Crown, but he was welcomed back a hero to Canada and became one of the most successful sires of race horses of the twentieth century.
He died in 1990 at the age of twenty-nine, his remains returned to Ontario where he was buried and in April of 2018 his grave became an official heritage site.
And maybe, just maybe I will pull on a hat while I tune in this year, in honour of our Canadian racing giant. Maybe.
wendistewart@live.ca