The Virtue of the Crossover Hat…
As we head towards summer and when hopefully, we might experience more than two days in a row of similar weather, you may be tempted to reach for your sunglasses and hat, maybe even a crossover hat for some protection against the elements…. but it has to be said “Things aren’t what they used to be”....
When the settlers in the American west finally settled and the prospectors struck gold, they holstered their weapons, scraped the dust off their boots and set their minds to building. A town with stores and saloons now had a church, a courthouse, a school, and that signifier of a truly cultured citizenry, a theatre, often with the grand title of “Opera House”
Built with enthusiasm but without expertise, these temples of culture were often found wanting. When the acting troupes arrived with their sets, they found that, while the seating was commodious, the stages were small; so small in fact, that there wasn’t enough room behind the scenery for the actors to cross from one side of the stage to the other unseen. In the spirit of American knowhow, calamity was averted, with the creation of the “crossover hat”.
This convention meant that when an actor exited stage left with a flourish only to reappear shortly thereafter wearing a particular hat, the audience accepted that he wasn’t part of the scene but was merely in the process off taking up his position for his next entrance stage right. This tacit agreement ensured the smooth progress of the drama, and a continuation of the suspension of disbelief necessary for any satisfactory night out in the theatre.
This ingenious item of millinery has gone the way of corsets and hooped skirts but it still has appeal. There are times when we could all do with the anonymity and goodwill embodied in the notion of the crossover hat – not to be invisible, to be in plain sight, but nonetheless excused.
By Lorna Lesley