I have long been a ‘hat person’. I like hats and generally wear one. I have had many hats over the years. Some were just for style. When I was, perhaps, eight years old my mother bought me a little felt skimmer for Easter Sunday. I have no recollection of what happened to that hat. I’m sure it suffered the same fate as many things belonging to young children. I’ve owned – and still own fedoras (including a blue plaid model), cowboy hats, and an endless parade of ball caps and toboggans. I have the ‘dink’ I was forced to wear during Freshman Week at College. I’ve had a couple of those umbrella hats. Straw hats, fishing caps, a Russian’ Trapper’s cap (synthetic – not real fur) that was really good for staying warm in the winter, a cheesy fake Racoon Skin cap (ala Daniel Boone) bought at some tourists stop gift store: and many others. I still have a truly dorky hay mound hat (if you remember John Astin’s appearance on Gunsmoke as Festus Hagen’s cousin) I bought from a now defunct general store in my teen years. I love that hat. My wife wishes not to be seen with me on any occasion I wear it. I once had a derby that I let a member of my youth group keep after using it in a play.
A few of my hats have been more specifically functional. (These days they’re all functional because they keep me from sunburning the bare skin where my hair used to be! But leave that aside.) For instance, I had a hat for the Marching Band in high school. As part of a ‘uniform’ it served the purpose of making me look as much like all the other kids in the band as possible. As a college student and Seminarian in Tennessee I got into spelunking. After painfully bumping my head enough times, I got a hard hat – and a cool carbide lamp to mount on it. When I lived in Indianapolis, I came across a broad brimmed Australian Stockman’s hat that I liked a lot! I rode a bicycle around quite a bit in those days and was amazed how that brim could keep you almost entirely dry when riding in the rain. My children, in their very young years and for reasons that eluded me, thought it was extremely entertaining to stomp that poor thing flat.
Many professions employ recognizable headwear; police caps, firemen’s helmets, various head covers for different types of sailors and non-military seamen. Back in the day there were banker’s visors and nurses’ hats. Even diner employees used to wear those jaunty little paper caps!
And in the field of religion the Catholic Church has several specialized hats designating various officials right up to the pope. Judaism has skull caps. Eastern Orthodox clerics have their own versions. Islam probably wins the prize.
If there is a prescribed head gear for non-denominational Christian preachers, I missed the memo. But, as a Christian, I can only say that I hope one day to have a crown – only for the purpose of casting it at the feet of Jesus Christ.
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church