Wirth Watching takes us back to a time when a hat told your profession


(ABC4 NEWS) – There was a time when nurses, flight attendants, milkmen and bus drivers all used to wear distinctive hats as part of their uniforms.

If you’re old enough or watch enough old movies you’ve seen nurses wearing white caps with wings… or police officers sporting black hats with eight points. Craig Wirth remembers those days and his look back is tonight’s Wirth watching.

Remember when pretty near every job had a special hat?

Such as service station folks.

Taxi drivers

Your milkman

And of course, the nurse who gave you shots when you were a kid. Those are some of the first vocational hats you probably remember.

Certainly, Nurse Kathleen Kaufman remembers, she said

“Each cap, at that time in the 50s, would’ve indicated the school that the nurse had graduated from. Because each school had a different shape or style hat. And it became something that just sat on the head as opposed to covering the hair.

Chefs always had well, of course, a chef’s hat… you know it has 100 folds in it to represent the 100 ways to cook an egg.

Oh, and taxi drivers always had those hats and cops well you had to have a cop hat, not like today’s cops in baseball caps or those with no caps. I mean this was a cop because of the hat.

Although this is what a salt lake cop wore a hundred years ago.

“I think it was something that was easily identifiable with the position that they were wearing. And I think that I read something really peculiar that the hat was supposed to hold your knowledge in your head. And if you wore a hat you were considered to be a more knowledgeable person,” said Kaufman

You see hats made the person and the whole uniform complete.

They showed that you were a professional, they were more than something to keep the rain off the head they were a badge.

Or again, like with the nurses they were like a diploma you wore on your head.

Kaufman said, “These two hats are from the University of Utah and they again would be bobby pinned on the back of the head, you know. And it was a symbol of nursing. And it was a symbol that people treated with respect.”

Some hats were what you had to wear, or you had to wear because it was just what folks wore for centuries.

I always liked the press workers hats made out of the paper they printed, and remember mechanics wore hats, usually with union buttons on them.

Oh, I suppose it was a modern era wear folks waved goodbye to their uniform hats but I am glad to see pilots still wear hats, swell hats, so do park rangers, it would be wrong to not wear them.

After listening to Nurse Kaufman, well I guess I miss hats because I am getting old.

“And I think people liked it, particularly older patients really like it. Because that’s what they were so used to. Younger ones, I don’t think it’s as big a deal, but for the older patients they feel much more secure that way,” Kaufman said.

But again as she said hats brought respect.

Yep, I see the respect already.

I mean it’s the hat.

Yeah, hats that made the job and hats that made the authority, yes the authority.

And of course, back in the day, all news reporters wore fedoras with press tags in their hatbands.

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