Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark | Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New hat

Set in New York City, the following brilliant excerpt comes from the last chapter of Tom Miller's 'The Panama Hat Trail'.


Pictures and drawings of John Wayne fill the wall of Stansbury's den at home. A half-dozen more line his office at work. "As the years go by, you don't give up something you enjoy. My brother-in-law and I like to find hat shops whenever we go out of town. We buy straw hats and give them to each other or to friends. You know, a man looks so different in a hat. To give another man a hat, well - there's something about it that creates a bond. It's a lasting friendship."

The day Ray Stansbury decided a new Panama was in order, he dropped in at Western Hat Works during his lunch hour. He had bought hats there before and thought they had the best selection in town. He looked at a few Shantungs, tried on a couple of natural straws, and decided on a Panama, brisa style. A blue-and-white band circled the off-white body. Sales clerk Alicia Del Rio rang it up: $35, plus $2.10 state sales tax.

I told Ray a little of the story behind the hat and how much the weavers in the Andes earned. "Really?" he said. "That's some markup." Instead of putting his new Panama hat in a box or a bag, he wore it out the door and then for the rest of the day.

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