>The Billycock, the Derby and the Bowler


“Mad as a hatter”
Mercury was once used in the felting process which led to mercury poisoning.

“If you want to get ahead, get a hat”
~Denton circa 1825
Anyone showing up for a job interview without a hat was quickly shown the door.
~Denton, England circa 1840
“The hat that won the West”
~Lucius Beebe
Let’s pause for a moment
so we can watch the movie clip (below).
I watched this movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when I was young and impressionable. In a tiny town in the middle of the Lincoln National Forest, my family and I were camping for an extended time alongside Aspen Creek.
The drive to the show involved a ride in the back of an old Chevy pickup, wrapped in blankets. The movie was shown in a small gym, with the rickety movie projector playing tic tic tic behind our heads. We sat on folding chairs and on the wooden floor. The ladies of the local library sold bags of home-popped popcorn for ten cents a bag.
Anytime someone stood up to walk to the bathroom or buy more popcorn, their silhouette played against the screen. Our small audience would hiss and holler. The projectionist would pause the film and wait for the interference to subside before allowing the movie to continue. What wonderful conditions to fall in love . . . with the Derby Hat.
Then came 1850 and the Billycock Hat (aka the Derby and the Bowler)
Every one was wearing a bowler. For the first time, both the union man and the banker wore the same hat. Something important was happening.  The bowler hat marked a change, and the “modern man” by wearing one, wanted the world to know that he was part of it.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

2 responses to “>The Billycock, the Derby and the Bowler

  1. >Wonderful description of seeing the film! Evoked memories of those clacking grade school projectors that frequently malfunctioned, either chewing the film, or unspooling it at the feet of an unsuspecting audio-visual student-"technician."

  2. >and the tension in the classroom, wondering if your teacher had the wherewithall to get the projector going and keep it going.(should i get my hopes up that we would actually get to see all the film?).

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