An Experiment In Gyro Hats can be found in Magazine Entry


JUNE 1910

An Experiment in Gyro-Hats

By Ellis Parker Butler

Author of "Pigs is Pigs," etc.

THE idea of a gyro-hat did not come to me all at once, as some great ideas come to inventors; and in fact I may say that but for a most unpleasant circumstance I might never have thought of gyrohats at all, although I had for many years been considering the possibility of utilizing the waste space in the top of silk hats in some way or other. As a practical hat dealer and lover of my kind, it had always seemed to me a great economical waste to have a large vacant space inside the upper portion of top hats, or high hats, or "stovepipe" hats, as they are variously called. When a shoe is on, it is full of foot, and when a glove is on, it is full of hand; but a top hat is not, and never can be, full of head, until such a day as heads assume a cylindrical shape, perfectly flat on top. And no sensible man ever expects that day to come.

I had, therefore, spent much of my leisure in devising methods by which the vacant space above the head in high hats might be turned to advantage, and my patents ranged all the way from a small filing cabinet that just occupied the waste space, to an extensible hat rack on the accordion plan that could be pushed compactly into the top of the top hat when the hat was worn, but could be extended into a hat and coat rack when the hat was not in use. This device should have been very popular, but I may say that the public received the idea coldly.

My attention had been for some time drawn away from this philanthropic work by certain symptoms of uneasiness I noticed in my daughter Anne, and my wife and I decided after careful consideration that Anne must be in love, and that her love must be unhappy. Otherwise we could not account for the strange excitability of our usually imperturbable daughter. As a practical hat dealer my time has been almost exclusively devoted to hats and, as a good wife, my companion's attention has been almost exclusively devoted to her husband, while Anne was usually so calm and self-contained that she did not take my attention from my hat business at all. But when such a daughter suddenly develops signs of weeping and sighs and general nervousness, any father, no matter how devoted to the hat trade, must pay attention.

One of the primary necessities of a dealer in good hats is calm. An ordinary hat dealer may not need calm. He may buy his hats as another dealer buys flour, in the bulk, and then trust to advertisements to sell them; but I am not that kind of hat dealer. Hat dealing is an art with me, and great art requires calm and peace in order that it may reach its highest development. When I buy hats I do not think of dozens and dollars. No, indeed; I think of noses and ears. To be able to buy of a manufacturer a hat that will make the pug nose and big ears of a man I have never seen seem normal and beautiful when that man enters my store and buys a hat, requires calm. And no hatter can have calm in his soul while his daughter is love sick and unhappy. I demand happiness about and around me, and I must have it. So I told my wife, and I told her so most emphatically, and I informed her that Anne must become happy at once.

Perhaps you can imagine the shock I received when my wife, after making the necessary inquiries of Anne, informed me that Anne was indeed in love, and in love with Walsingham Gribbs. It was not because Walsingham Gribbs had never bought a hat of me that I was shocked. Bad hats are a common failing of mankind, and a man will try a hundred hatters before he at last comes to me.

The trouble was deeper than this. The thing that staggered me was that Walsingham was a staggerer. (This is a joke, but I hold that a hatter has as good a right to make a joke as the next man.)

That my daughter had fallen in love with Walsingham Gribbs without having met him was altogether to her credit. She first saw him when she was crossing the ocean (for she travels where she pleases, my hat business affording her such pleasures) and that he reeled and staggered about the boat did not impress her, for it was a stormy trip and everyone aboard reeled and staggered, even the captain of the boat. But when she returned to New York and saw Walsingham Gribbs on the firm pavement of Fifth Avenue, she had a harsh, cruel disillusionment. Walsingham Gribbs reeled and staggered on terra firma.

I am glad to say that my daughter saw at once the impossibility of the daughter of a high-class hatter mating with a permanent staggerer. As she realized this, she became sad and nervous, thus creating an atmosphere in my home that was quite opposed to the best high-class ...

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