Sunday, January 30, 2011

Men In Hats

Men In Hats

Years ago, on the very first afternoon that I ever walked down a London street by myself, two elderly gentlemen tipped their hats at me and I was enchanted, happier than ever to be a girl, and longing, once again, for the age when such courtesies were the rule rather than the exception.
Days when people dressed for dinner and held garden parties in the pink glow of a setting sun.
When women wore white gloves, carried hankies and kept their original noses.
When houses had parlors instead of media rooms.
When the secrets concealed in hand-written letters were protected by red sealing wax.
I miss the days when men wore hats.
I suppose I should clarify by saying that I missed the days when men wore hats, for by the time I came along, hat wearing had pretty much been redefined by the baseball cap, a sadly pale imitation of the real thing.

Far be it from me to question the wisdom of Those who arrange such things, but it has crossed my mind from time to time that perhaps, just perhaps, I was born in an incorrect age. My pastimes and pleasures have never exactly been of the modern variety, even when I was a youngster. From an early age, my dreams were lit with candlelight and populated with cottages and peony gardens, fat books and tea times, windowseats and four posters, and chinese lanterns that swayed in the trees on a Springtime evening.

I find now that I am not the only person loathe to let go of the old ways, for I have come across a new book that proves there is at least one more like me in the world. Her name is Lesley M. M. Blume and she has penned a charming book entitled, Let’s Bring Back, which is a chronicle of delights from days gone by - delights that should never have been jettisoned on our way up the evolutionary ladder.
Who doesn’t think longingly of love letters and lighthouse keepers?
Of evening strolls and elbow gloves?
Tree swings and toy soldiers?
Hot toddies and syllabub?
Now I probably wouldn’t choose to go back in time, even if I could. I mean, to live without air-conditioning, The Beatles, or my Dyson vacuum cleaner might take some getting used to, after all. But this book is a winsome resource of those things we don’t want to lose, at least not completely.
And it’s nice to be reminded.
Elevenses, anyone?

I'll be humming this song all day.......

We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties

Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do

We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society
God save Mrs. Mopp and good Old Mother Riley
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium
God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them

We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular
Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula
We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate
God save Tudor houses, antique tables and billiards
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
God save the Village Green.

lyrics by Ray Davies


  1. I would love to see the return of "grace."
    This year I have already made a concerted effort to pen notes and letters to friends, instead of the usual e-mails we have become use to. It makes me feel good, and I know the recipient is joyful when bringing in the mail.
    I have been trying hard in my own little life to rekindle certain items of the past. I invited a friend for tea last Sunday, and it was delightful.
    We have to pick up where these lovely traditions have left off.
    By the way, I bought my husband a brimmed hat, and he loves it!

  2. I always imagine living in the 16th
    century but it's a romanticized view...for sure, I couldn't handle the vicious acts that went with the I'm fine in today's modern world practicing a little ancient ritual now and then...

  3. You've described exactly how I feel about men in hats, dressing for dinner, garden parties and so on. My own lifestyle contains very little in the way of gracious living but I wish it did. I really must try harder to bring at least a little of the elegance of an earlier age back into my life. I do still write letters so that's a start - not sealed with sealing wax though. Perhaps I should bring my fountain pen back into use:)

  4. Oh for the days of raspberry teas where your guests picked a basket, not plastic ice cream container of raspberries , the sat in white wicker chairs in the shade drinking tea and consuming cucumber sandwiches and tiny tea cakes and conversation and a few flirtations were the order of the day.
    I miss dancing in the afternoon, again at tea time where one was only lightly chaperoned. Just to think that I was still chaperoned at an ice-skating rink when sixteen!
    Even in the early fifties it was de rigeur to wear hat and gloves and carry matching purse to go shopping in the city.
    Formal balls where your hostess received guests at the top of the stairs and dancing started with a formal polonaise with intricate movements and one saw, face to face, every guest at the function. Oh for the pounding heart when one spied the one face one hoped would later bow and ask one to dance .. . .
    I for one can easily get on without dishwashers and even vacuum cleaners, you cannot dream and relive a diner party over a dishwasher and vacuum cleaners are a noisy lot. Give me the days when people sat upright on a chair instead of lounging, shoes and all on a sofa or in the gutter and then on public transport seats.

    Yes,, please, please bring back the elegant gentility of my youth when manners were in vogue and gentlemen rose when a lady entered the room.

    I know it is only a pipe dream now, but afternoon tea-dances in the conservatory have not lost their charm for me.

  5. Santa brought me a copy of Blume's "Let's Bring Back". It's delightful.

  6. Oh yes, let us please have more civility and less ugliness; I wish we could return to the graces even of the 1950's...beautiful post!

  7. I feel the same as you about the days of long ago and am so glad to find others here who feel that way too. I have lots of old letters that were tied up with string from my great grandparents time. My Grandfather was born in 1888 and dressed in suits and wore hats like you mentioned. The only other person I ever met who wears such hats nowadays, is my former boss, Keb'Mo a blues artist, who now lives in Nashille. Oh... I have been watching the movie you recommended, Downton Abbey and love it! I can't wait for the next (final?) episode. I will check out the book "Let's Bring Back" too. Thank you for such a wonderful post!

  8. Oh dear, now I'm singing the song!
    Looking forward to reading the book.

  9. Those were the days my friend.

    My father always wore a trilby hat and would raise it to every passing lady.

  10. I have a hat collection, but I never wear any of them, although I do wear baseball style caps all day long and even as I read in bed at night. I know that hats look a damn sight better, but they do have some significant problems. For one thing, the back of the rim tends to touch headrests in cars, which means that they have to be taken off when driving. Well, I want something to shade my eyes when I'm driving, and I don't want to have to take my headgear on and off every few minutes when I'm running errands. Also, hats are fragile compared to caps. When I go somewhere that it seems good to take my cap off I can stash it inside the pack that i always carry. Hats need to be hung up or at least laid flat, which just makes them too darn much trouble. Plus, caps shade the eyes better because they can be turned down a little on either side of the brim. The only advantage of hats is that they do look a whole lot better, so one has to decide whether looks or functionality is more important.

  11. Why don't we found our own Cultural Preservation Society and become members of the protections of things (not yet) past? Meet for tea and go for walks, arm in arm and find all those lovely thing we miss and pull them out of hiding....
    My list is long: True charm, politeness and curtesy, flirting without being vulgar, movies theaters with style and class, going to the theater and the opera, finding country lanes to walk, home baked bread, wholesomeness, well bred children, playing until dark, reading on a swing, tea dances....

    Love it all!

  12. Oh, I'm so with you on this one Pamela. For special birthdays etc. I always use my sealing wax and seal !!
    When I worked in Mayfair, London, I used to get to work very early and, who would tip his hat and say 'good morning' to me ?.....David Niven !! He used to go out for an early morning walk and it was usually just him and me passing each other every morning in a very prestigeous street of London, preserving the traditions of his youth.I always thought that he was the quintessential Englishman.
    I think that it always sounds so romantic to have lived in an earlier century but, I think that the majority of it would be very hard.
    Thanks for telling us about the book. I think that it could be part of my sister's birthday present. XXXX

  13. I, too, wish that so many of these things were still in use, particularly in relation to behaviors! I have bemoaned the lack of manners, respect, honesty, good sense, and more that once were the only acceptable behaviors. Despite how I go on about being an "old lady", I am not old enough to actually remember all of these bygone things, I remember many of them though and certainly think that the return of civility and grace would make the world a much better place in which to live.

  14. I love anything written by you and anything by Ray Davies. I agree on this post Pamela and often times think I too was born in the wrong time. I am so saddened at times of the state of the world right now, and mostly how manners have completely gone to the wayside...I see it everyday..I feel so sorry for the kids of today, they won’t even be able to have a conversation with one another but speak instead to their so sad.

  15. I always thought that I was born in the wrong century.
    I love todays luxury, but log for the time that woman were ladies and men were gentleman.
    Love, from Holland

  16. You really are a STAR Pamela!!! I loved this.Especially the lines from the Ray Davies Song, which I might add is used in my most MOST favourite television series in England, 'Jam and Jerusalem'!!
    Its so sad that the gentlemen of today don't wear Trilby hats any more.Your post has prompted some memories of my own.
    It was New Year's Eve long long ago when an elderly Gentleman tipped his hat for me for the first time. My Dad and I were waiting outside the house to bring in the New Year. I must have been about fifteen,all around was dark and deserted. In those days, no fireworks or rowdies just the sound of the ships horns on the Ship Canal honking in the distance,and I remember feeling so grown-up that an older man should have tipped his hat to us whilst bidding us 'Happy New Year'.

    I don't doubt in your case that the two gentlemen recognised a real Lady when they saw one! :)

    Sending Hugs

  17. I remember when men wore hats!
    Living in a rural area life is lived more slowly and more graciously but even here the modern world intrudes
    Where would I be without the internet and blogging!!!!!!
    Still there is time for an Earl Grey tea sipped out of a fine china cup whilst sitting under the trees and smelling the roses!

  18. Hello Pamela

    I will look into buying this book--seems to be a good read. I agree with Purple Flowers-it's always nice to get letters through the mail and not always on the computer.

    It's good to keep the past alive in certain areas to help the future.

    Tracy :)

  19. Dear Pamela, you have touched a chord with me. I have been having dialogue with my grand children about morals and manners. Seems theirs lack a good deal of grace. I still have my white gloves and lovely summer hats worn to tea parties - Oh how I miss those days.

    These are the days of paper plates (UGH) and e-mail thank you's - I prefer china and hand written thank you's - I am told I am of the "generation gap." I like my gap!

  20. This looks to be a charming book and, yes, I too long for better manners and the tender caring of a soul rather than the latest fad.

    I live in a suburb near Chicago, best known, most likely, for all its warts, but, a good city, none-the-less. The long reigning Mayor Daley is not known to be an eloquent speaker, but he does always look dapper in a gentleman's hat - with just the touch of a feather along its side. (hmm, a feather in his cap.)

  21. Definitely pine for an older time, but, after reading so many Jane Austin books, or any number of books from those more "formal" times, I realize how much I romanticize it. I'm dreaming of the return of respect, honor and manners, and a move away from a "rat race". Though I LOVE the elegance of those times.

    I'm striving to create a simpler life here and now, and celebrating the choices I have... like high speed internet and my vacuum. But my pining is surely a sign of feeling myself so at the edge of our culture, witnessing from a distance and doing my best to enter only as much as is safe, if that's at all possible. My pining is for the little thatched cottage at the edge of the wood with a wattle fence and a sweet cottage garden. Maybe somewhere in town men are tipping hats to women, while I'm weaving besoms from birch twigs! That would be grand, surely.

  22. Oh yes! I too love the beauty and grace of those eras.... but like you wouldn't want to give up air conditioning, the Beatles or my electrical appliances! I love the humor that you sprinkle in your writing. And oh how I would love to give and get a hug from Edward, what a king of beasts!!!

    I love old movies with men in hats,
    especially Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart... and you should see the collection of womens hats I seem to collect!
    When I wear a beautiful hat, an older gentleman will often comment on how lovely it is.

    I so enjoy reading your words, thank you for the wonderful posts.

    Have a delightful weekend, filled with the beauty and grace of years past.

    ~ Violet

  23. So many things to bring back and I look forward to ticking off the list via this book. As to men in hats...I hate baseball caps! Who looks good in a cap like that?
    Fedora, Akubra and a good old fashioned walking hat....I happen to wear them all and when I see a man wearing the same, I always take an extra glance. If only Mr. H would wear them too....

    Here is the perfect site for the perfect man's hat...happy viewing!

    Jeanne xx

  24. Brava, Pamela! Many of us were born in the wrong era. My daughter is the same, so it's not only those of us "of a certain age."

    We long for culture, civility, and grace in our lives. That connotes sensitivity, which is ohso necessary today. I'm glad there are so many of bodes well for the future, I say.

    Much of my blog this week has been devoted to this inner struggle to appreciate what we have today while longing a bit for th way things used to be.
    We can only hope to "devolve" a bit in the future!

  25. I was thrilled this winter when my husband, who knew he was to be standing out in the cold hosting the city Christmas tour, went to the store and bought himself a proper hat ... and he received compliments on that hat all day during the tour. That hat helped keep him warm, and he looked very fine while wearing it.

  26. Pamela, elevenses always available here! How funny that we both posted on hats today - stop over to see some of mine and where I keep them!

    Throughout my childhood I can't recall my dad ever leaving the house without a trilby hat! Believe it not my mum wore cream gloves to her workplace every day - and I treasure the one pair I found in her dresser drawer after her death at age 91. Getting my husband to wear other than a ball cap (usually the Red Sox one), to shield his now balding pate on a sunny day, is difficult. I love men in hats - just last week I swooned over an older mustached gentleman wearing not only a gallant brimmed hat, but also an Australian duster coat, fabulous!

    Yes, those were the glory days, thank goodness we have another episode of Downton Abbey tomorrow.........and can dream.

    I'm going to be on the lookout for the book.

    Hugs - Mary

    Love this post and will look for the book.

  27. Yes indeed, real hats not baseball caps, and polished shoes instead of sneakers. Also the grace of Sunday quiet and Sunday best.
    A beautiful post, as always!

  28. Civility is sorely missing these days. Sadly, few believe it to be important. I find that men who make an effort to dress nicely are a pleasure to be around because they also make an effort to be courteous.

  29. I've always felt I was born into the wrong century, but realized that if I was able to go back, I could not stand being a girl. I would HAVE TO be a boy. :)

  30. I am all for men in hats! Now that I'm thin on top, a hat keeps me warm or cool, as needed.

  31. I saw this book during the Christmas season and wanted to purchase it as a gift to myself, but didn't! I had leafed through it and it's delightful and on the top of my to get list.
    Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to combine the past niceties with our modern day lives...I bet it could be just might be time for a "Men In Hat's" revolution.

    I'm sorry about your recent 'blue period', I am happy though that you've emerged from it and that it provided you with a wonderful post. Thank heavens for PBS, bloggers and ice cream!

    Happy Anniversary ♥
    xo J~

  32. I couldn't agree with you more. I have always had a feeling that I was born in the wrong time or that better yet, I have a strong connection to my past. Thank you for the book recommendation. It sounds like it just might become one of my all time favorite reads! xo Samantha

  33. I adore Kate Rusby, who sings that song.

    I've just finished reading Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Light Years -- which takes place during two summers just preceding WWII.
    Wonderful descriptions of the sort of (vanished) life that you allude to.


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