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One Cool Cat in a Hat

That's are a part of my life. The elementary school I attended in New York City was run on English lines: soccer, Latin, Shakespeare, shepherd's pie, and the wearing of a cap bearing the school shield.

I remember tossing my school cap in the air, misplacing it on many occasions, hitting fellow students with it, and grabbing caps off other heads. I don't recall wearing it.

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In high school and college I went hatless. But by law school, when my present hairstyle began to evolve, wearing a hat became a necessity.

For many years I've worn a gray fedora from Labor Day to Memorial Day and then made the obligatory switch to straw for the summer months.

Summer hats give me great pleasure. The colors of my wardrobe are drab: gray and dark blue suits with black shoes. So it's exciting to top these outfits off with a straw hat!

On summer days I get lots of smiles and compliments about my headgear from passersby on the street.

I began by wearing a boater with a blue-and-orange hatband, the colors of the House of Orange, Dutch founders of my city. But a boater is unstable. A puff of wind and it flies off your head to meet an untimely end under the wheels of an oncoming car.

I prefer a Panama. My Panama and I have undergone many an adventure together. In Venice I placed the hat on a table and then accidentally knocked it into the Giudecca Canal. Water filled the crown and the hat began floating away,. "Soccorso! Soccorso!"

"Help! Help!" I yelled to a passing bargeman. He fished it out of the canal. We exchanged friendly words. The next morning, after it had dried, my Panama fitted better than before.

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On less formal occasions, I wear a Boston Braves baseball cap. It's a vintage cap, the Braves having left Boston decades ago, first for Milwaukee and then on to Atlanta.

I do not root for the Braves. I do not even follow baseball. I bought the cap because it was the only one in the sports store that fit me.

In New York, baseball lovers come up to me and reminisce about the Braves. In Maine, a gentleman asked me to join an existing Boston Braves fan club.

My hats, in addition to providing protection from the sun and cold, and a degree of sartorial splendor, have occasioned enjoyable encounters on two continents.

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