I had an interesting idea pop into my head awhile back.Of course, at the time, I was recovering from surgery and may have still been a bit loopy from the anesthesia, so “interesting” in this instance is highly subjective. I will let you, Gentle Reader, decide whether “loopy” or “drug-induced” might be more apt terms.
At one point during my convalescence, I got to thinking about how about the image people frequently associate with the newspaper reporter is that of the fedora hat with a “Press” card tucked in the band.
It also occurred to me that in my nearly 30 years in journalism, I had never encountered a single reporter who’d actually done that.
Then, on the heels of that thought: Perhaps it was time one did.
I got to thinking about how a wearing a hat with my press identification card in the band might be a good way to let people know right away I’m a reporter whenever the occasion requires me to do that. It also entered my mind it might be the best possible way to carry one the press IDs we are issued at The Independent, which are a tad big to carry in a wallet.
The only feasible way I’d found to carry my press ID in a manner in which folks can see it had been to clip it to a lanyard and wear it around my neck. That worked well enough, I suppose, but let’s face it, it didn’t look anywhere near as cool as those hats worn by the newspaper guys in old movies did.
And besides, I like hats. During very cold weather or when the sun’s beating down, wearing one is pretty much an absolute necessity for me, seeing as how I have no hair to keep the heat from escaping my body or protect my dome from getting sunburned.
So, with all that mind, I set out to find the perfect reporter hat — one that was in a style similar to what those old-timey scribes might wear, yet was still stylish and classy.
I searched first in several stores, but couldn’t find anything suitable. The problem I kept encountering was the hats I found appealing style-wise all had faux bands — pieces of fabric that were stitched solidly to them. Where was I supposed to tuck my press card on one of those?
Also complicating matters was the fact I have, shall we say, a rather prodigious noggin, and the lids I looked at in store were all too small for me.
Eventually, a Google search led me to an online hat shop. After first checking to see whether it carried hats in my size and learning it did, I proceeded to track down the perfect style.
The first one that caught my eye was a pork pie. It looked really sharp in the photos, especially in black. But, I eventually decided it looked more like the one worn by Walter White, Bryan Cranston’s character on “Breaking Bad,” than it did one a reporter might wear. (I still may eventually order that one to wear during nonworking hours, though.)
Browsing further, I located the perfect candidate — a brown short-brimmed fedora in a style described simply as “blues.” It had a band, but I couldn’t tell in the photos whether it was an actual one. However, it did have a feather in the left-hand side of the band, so, I reasoned, I could find some way for it to accommodate my press ID instead of the feather, if need be.
I placed my order, and when the box from the hat company arrived several days later, I excitedly ripped it open and donned my new chapeau. If fit perfectly — better than any hat I’ve ever owned, in fact.
I at first tried replacing the feather in the band with my press ID, but the slot in the band was a bit small, and I couldn’t get my ID to stay put there. That led to it falling off without my knowledge in one instance and me losing track of it. Fortunately, our maintenance man here at the paper located it in the men’s room and returned it to me none the worse for wear. Experiments with Velcro failed miserably.
Then, one day as I was examining The Hat, as I like to call it, and trying to figure out what to do, I noticed the band was only sewn to it in a couple places and there was a loose spot on the right-hand side that was plenty large enough for me to fit my press ID into. So, I started wearing it with the feather in place on the left side and my ID on the right.
So, if you see spot me out in the public with a brown fedora perched upon my head, you’ll know I’m working — wearing my reporter hat, you might say.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2654.