Thursday, November 7, 2019

Legendary Hats...






This morning, when I looked out the kitchen window, I proclaimed aloud for all to hear, "It's not a fit day outside for man or beast."   Rain was coming down and strong winds were sending leaves  scurrying  along the ground and away into the fields where the cattle were seeking shelter under every limb and leaf.   Winter was certainly knocking on our door this morning.






One of my favorite John Wayne quotes is, "We're burning daylight."  Well, there's definitely not as much daylight to burn these days as there was awhile back.  Actually, I can't help but enjoy this time of year when we can spend long evenings by the fire, perhaps watching some old movie.  We like the old Westerns best.

A couple of evenings ago, we watched The Virginian, a really old movie made in 1929, starring a very young, tall and handsome Gary Cooper.  The film is well-known for Cooper's line, "If you
wanna call me that --smile," in response to a cuss by the antagonist.
       







Sometimes I get so caught up in studying the movie props of these old movies that I almost forget to follow the plot.  But, what I really like most, besides the horses and the leather saddles, is the clothing  the cowboys and the ladies are wearing.  There were definitely some talented seamstresses working behind the scenes of these old movies.

And what about those hats?  From screen cowboys such as Tom Mix and John Wayne to presidents like Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan to country singers like Hank Williams and Garth Brooks, a Stetson has long been the go-to-hat for both the celebrity and the true cowboy.




According to Cowboys and Indians Magazine, "It has been that way practically since John B. Stetson handcrafted his first hat in the early 1860s in a battle with the wilderness.  What originally began as an attempt to weatherproof himself with a big brimmed hat on the Western Plains has become a great American success story and a potent symbol of Americana."

John Batterson Stetson, born in New Jersey in 1830, learned hat making from his father.  When he got tuberculosis in his 20s, he went west both to improve his health and to mine for gold.  It was on an expedition on Pikes Peak that Stetson made himself,, for warmth and shelter, a broad-brimmed  hat from felted fur shavings.  Later, in his travels, a cowboy bought that same hat right off his head for a $5 gold piece.

In 1865, he moved to Philadelphia, borrowed money from his sister to get set up, and launched his own hat making company.  In 1869, he recreated the hat he sold to the cowboy and started marketing the newly minted "Boss of the Plains" for $5 retail.

And, the rest is cowboy history.  John Wayne once proclaimed Stetson "the hat that won the West."



Gary Cooper and Molly Brian in The Virginian, 1929


Not long ago, when I was cleaning and rearranging, I moved the Cowboys and Indians cupboard into my closet.  I cleaned the shelves after having taken each doll out to gently brush away any dust that might have collected on it.

I sometimes almost laughed at my attempts, but at other times I quietly wondered how I had ever found the time to make these dolls and their costumes.

The hats were probably the most challenging, for I had no molds except for the doll's head itself.  Each hat was made from stiffened wool felt and trimmed with bits of leather, beads and feathers.



Thanksgiving in the doll cupboard....



If you have ever read Lynne Reid Banks' book, The Indian in the Cupboard, you won't be surprised that I sometimes wonder what goes on inside that cupboard where cowboys and Indians live, side by side.  Why there may be wars going on there while I sleep.  Sometimes I do find things slightly awry -- a doll tipped over or a hat slightly askew.

I hope your November is off to a great start, and that your plans for Thanksgiving are taking shape just as you have planned.


Until next time,
       
        Mary


     
       

41 comments:

  1. GC was a handsome fellow wasn't he? Have you seen "The Rounders?" It's not nearly as old, but pretty funny (Ford and Fonda.) I kinda like the long evenings as well, but by December's end, I will be ready for the days to grow.

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    1. And, the days do start to "grow" by the end of December... but oh-so-slowly it seems. Thank you for stopping by!

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  2. You made the outfits that the dolls are wearing AND the dolls too? That must have been a lot of work. Somehow I think you enjoyed it though.
    Middle son has a black Stetson that he wears on rainy days.

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    1. I also have a black Stetson hat which I never wear. I love hats as long as someone else is wearing them. I am still making dolls but my interest has switched to those that are inspired by doll makers from the 1800s such as Izannah Walker.

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  3. Mary...your dolls are True West!! Extraordinary craftsmanship & artful.

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    1. Hello Anni! Being a Texas gal, I'm sure you see a lot of True WEst out there. These dolls would surely fit right in.

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  4. You made those dolls?!?! They look so professional! I do have to say that an eye for authenticity is always appreciated, whether dolls or movies. I like a good cowboy hat too.

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    1. Thanks Leigh! The dolls are actually quite primitive, but I rather like them that way. We don't see too many people wearing cowboy hats around here, but a few do.

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  5. Good morning I answered your question under your comment
    I love these dolls!! you make such awesome dolls-are you ready for the cold? brrr guess it is really come in next week hugs Kathy

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    1. and I really enjoyed the story of the stetson hats-I love old westerns too

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    2. Oh no, Kathy, I am NOT ready for the cold, but "they" say it will be here by Tuesday! We are hustling to get more firewood cut by then. I think I knew that you like the old westerns too! I always enjoy your posts about movies you watch.

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  6. Hi! I think this is my first time visiting your blog. And how wonderful it is! Your dolls and outfits are simply amazing! I can't wait to delve into your blog and read everything! Thank you for visiting mine and leaving a comment so I could find you. I have been neglecting my blog, but not on purpose. Life and duty calls very loudly sometimes. Blessings to you! Carolyn @ Dolly Blessings

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    1. Carolyn, I am always happy to find someone who shares an interest in the old dolls. I will keep an eye on your blog for new posts.

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  7. Your dolls are wonderful! Thanks for the information about your research--I never even wondered about the history of the Stetson and love that kind of information. The details on the dolls costumes is amazing.

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    1. Just about anything having to do with history interests me too. I really liked this story, too! Can't you just imagine being out on Pikes Peak fashioning a hat to keep you warm?

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  8. Your dolls and the outfits are amazing. Each one with their own personality. The amount of work and detail show you are a true artist. I will never tire of seeing them; and always look forward for what is still to come. How many dolls have you made? I wish I had your creativity. ;0)

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    1. I also wanted to say that I am like you about watching shows. I love to look at the background to see the sets; and also the clothing to learn more about that time period. I am just a few shows away from having watched the entire "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" series. I find myself watching what decor she has in her beautiful log cabin home; and also the clothing she wears! I would have loved to be able to see the movie sets in person! I would also love to be able to reproduce all of that in my home.

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    2. Thank you, Sandra. Someone told me that the frontiersman in the last picture looks like my son. Now that I think about it, it kind of does. I love Dr. Quinn! Now, you have made me want to watch all of the episodes again! It would be a good time of year to get started.

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  9. Yes, I have read The Indian in the Cupboard. My daughter read it when she was a little girl and liked it so much that I read it.
    You show a lot of talent in the dolls and their outfits that you make!!!

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    1. The Indian in the Cupboard was one of the books my class read when I was teaching. There's really a lot of history to be learned from it. I think your school boy friend that you have met on your walks might like school better if the teacher would bring out some really good books like this! :~) Another book that my students liked was "My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George. I think you might like it too.

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  10. Love your post! We watch a lot of the westerns as well and enjoy them all! We also love to watch the older movies that come on Turner classics. I like you, love to watch the shows for the props and backgrounds and the costumes! Love love your wonderful dolls!

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    1. Yes, we have watched a lot on Turner Classics too. Especially during "Oscar Month" each Feb. or March. Thank you for stopping by!

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  11. Oh, I don't know where to start. Your dolls/clothing are amazing. I would love to see you make one. I just cannot imagine how you do them to get the look...I wish you had a tab that had photos of all your dolls. (I know you probably need another job!LOL)

    The thing about wintry days and rainy days, I don't feel guilty for sitting and sewing...or working a puzzle...Jobs are not whispering in my ear that they need to be done, and the sun is not calling me to come outside. Even though I have had 3 spots of skin cancer on my face, I still want to be out.

    And I still love the old westerns....and old war movies even. I would watch Gun Smoke every day but Roger doesn't want to watch it, but he will watch old movies with me, and is a great fan of Gary Cooper.

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    1. Rose, when I saw your Quilt Tab at the top of your blog page, I tried and tried to set this blog up like yours, but could never figure out how to do the tabs. You must be computer savvy to have accomplished the feat. These days I seem to be drawn to sewing more and more, but time to do so is hard to find. I do love a cold winter day for that reason.

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    2. I am so glad you posted over on my blog till I could come...I could not remember how I did the tabs. So, what you do is click on Design up in the right hand corner...it opens up the page where you can change everything, see all kinds of stuff. Over in the left hand column, there is 'Pages'...click on that. And then click 'New Page'...and I think you will be able to get it from there. It brings up and editor page just like when we do a post.

      I keep thinking about starting a tab of all the quilt projects my daughter has started, but would sure take me a while to get all the photos together. And they are mostly tops...but still yet for someone who works full time, and never just an 8 hour day...most days are 10-12 hour days...she gets so much done.

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  12. Oh I loved The Indian in the Cupboard series...that was a few years ago now. I don’t think that they are as popular as they once were. My grands are not impressed with the stories that their dad once loved. Your dolls are exquisite. What a beautiful job you did creating them. They are treasures to be very proud of. Now you’ve made me want to watch a Western or two. Go figure!

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    1. I thought the first book in the series was good, but the later ones were a bit far-fetched, I thought. I hope you enjoy the movie! :~)

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  13. I too would love to visit each one of your exquisite dolls, to gaze upon the amazing wardrobes you so skilfully stitch and each beautiful doll you have created. Ahh.....Gary Cooper. I was in love with him when I was but a slip of a girl. I do believe I have seen every one of his movies. To sit by a cozy fire on a chilly wintry night, watching an old western or indeed a 'golden years of Hollywood' movie is my idea of bliss. Love old movies!

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    1. And, I think I know you well enough to guess that there would be a needle in one hand while you watch that old movie! :~)

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  14. Your dolls are beautiful! I, too, love the old westerns, movies and TV series and watch every day. I also love Gary Cooper.

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    1. Thank you, Jean! I think the ladies may like the old westerns almost as much as the guys do.

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  15. You are getting to be quite the historian! We don't watch movies together because the farmer can't stay awake with me. :) I wish I could wear a cowgirl styled hat, but instead my hat has to be an old woman hat, one that shades the sun sensitive skin on my face. I also love your dolls!!

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    1. I will have to admit that the farmer's sister sometimes nods off before the story ends! :~/ It helps to have something In my hand to work on. I should think you would look charming in a cowgirl's hat. Of course, I like best to think of you wearing a scarf just as Hannah Hauxwell did.

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  16. Your settings for your beautiful dolls are museum-quality or better. I love studying all the little nuances of the dolls and their clothing, not to mention the backgrounds where they live and play.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. I am sure my work is a complete waste of time, but the dolls have gotten to be a habit I can't seem to break.

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  17. Mary, loved reading the story about the founder of the Stetson hat. I so love the older Westerns, from John Wayne to Gary Cooper to Jimmy Stewart and Audie Murphy...and oh those black and white ones. Thanks for sharing and your collection is sweet. Janice

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  18. I never was much of a hat wearer. Seems like they were were always blowing off right in the middle of of chasing cattle. My grandfather always wore a cream colored Stetson. In the winter he would tie it on his head with a scarf to keep his ears warm.

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  19. Wow! You made all those dolls and their outfits? You are a very talented and amazing woman! They are treasures. I wouldn't know where to begin. The patience and vision you must have had to create things so beautiful. I always wanted to be a cowgirl when I was young and I still love farms and ranches. I had my own for a bit...horses too. Thank you for stopping by my blog and I will for sure be stopping by yours again! Happy November to you too. My Rottweiler and I used to go for long hikes and she would always go out ahead of me like that. I told her I should have named her scout because that is exactly what they're doing...checking things out before you get there. Happy Trails!

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  20. I'm so glad I found your new blog (wasn't sure where to look after the old one gave me an error message). Your cowboys and indians have always been favorites of mine. Stetson--what a great history!

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  21. I came visiting yesterday and tried twice to leave a comment from my phone, but I guess they didn't work. Well, I certainly enjoyed your post. I am a hat person and have always wanted a Tom Mix hat, they are my favorite cowboys hats. Do you watch American Idol? A few years ago there was a young lady that sang older western songs and dressed in the most adorable cowgirl outfits and sometimes wearing a Tom Mix hat. I fell in love with her and although she didn't win, she went very far. There is something about the old west and the cowboy life that is very appealing. It's hard work, but I think hard work is good for the body and soul :)

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  22. I love when you post about your dolls. Those Indians and cowboys in the cupboard are simply amazing. Wouldn't surprise me for them to be moving around in there at night. Dan and I are big fans of the old westerns too, in fact that is just about all we watch. We've seen The Virginian, the movie, and we love the series The Virginian and watch them over and over. I wish western clothes would come back in style around here. I used to love Dan in a cowboy hat back in 80's...I wore one too. :)

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