Appalachia Profiles of Mountain People

Daddy’s Stetson

Today’s guest post was written by Ed Ammons.

My daddys stetson hat


Daddy’s Stetson written by Ed Ammons

Daddy had a gray felt Stetson hat. It was probably was the most expensive piece of apparel he ever owned. Daddy didn’t buy it though. It was a gift and it was used. Daddy’s sister had married into a family of “means”. She often gifted our family with items that were outgrown or unwanted, mainly clothes and books. Never money that I know of, but that doesn’t mean the hat had no connection with money.

Daddy was proud of that hat and wore it only on special occasions and always to church. He would take it off as he entered the door and carry it with him to wherever he wanted to sit. At Hightower the men usually sat on the left side. Daddy tried to get the first pew (the “pews” were actually homemade benches with straight backs) at the end next to the middle aisle. He would sit down first and the hat would sit beside him. There were nails in the wall at the back to hang coats and hats and such, but Daddy never hung his Stetson there. It always sat beside him. You are thinking, “why guard it so closely, it’s a church!”

Yes, Daddy was proud of his chapeau, but pride never entered the church doors. That Stetson served another purpose. When all the singing, shouting, preaching and praying had begun, the hat came into its own. Daddy would pick it up, turn it over and put something in it. Then he would cross over to the “women’s” side and hand it to whoever was sitting next to the aisle on the first pew. Then he would return to his seat to wait. The hat would make its way across and back and across and back again and again until it reached the back of the building, then someone would carry it over to the men’s side where it repeated the process in reverse until it made its way back to the front where Daddy was seated.

Along the way it collected a few pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. And fewer dollars. We were poor people back then and very little cash money was available. The adults would distribute whatever they could afford among their children before service so everyone could give. The best the church could expect to collect was enough to pay the light bill and give the preacher a little gas money.

When Daddy got his Stetson back he would take it up to the pulpit, sit it on a shelf in the back and return to his seat. Only then could I go sit beside my Daddy.


I hope you enjoyed Ed’s memories of his daddy and his hat as much as I did!



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  • Reply
    December 25, 2019 at 7:47 am

    My dad, Robert Lee Downs always sore a hat outside — always! Hat came off soon as he entered the house though. Hat had its own space on the wall, along side his jacket if weather was cold. I still have his last hat.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 18, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I seldom saw my grandpa without a hat whenever he was outdoors. I don’t know if he had one or several but it looked like the one in the picture and was gray. They were pretty dressey for church so I imagine he had a Sunday hat.

  • Reply
    Bryant Cooper
    July 10, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I have noticed hear of late, men have began to wear stetson and other types of hats often here in Texas. I think its the younger generation bringing the practice back. You know what they say “Wait long enough, styles repeat themselves”. My father wore a straw stetson hat in the Summer and a grey felt stetson in cold weather.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing it.
    I have my daddy’s last felt Stetson (cowboy style) hanging on the wall of my office. It’s been there for almost 30 years….and I still miss him.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2015 at 6:06 am

    My Granddad wore a hat all the time, he had his work hat, and a going to Church or special occasion hat..and a everyday hat, Only time you would see him with out it would be inside.. He was bald on top but was that way most of his adult life, a mule kick him and laid his skull open and he said they cleaned it and packed it back down and wrapped his head and all his hair fell out on top..Always had a shoe print scar on top of his head until the day he passed away..

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 24, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Eva Nell- We had a horse but no wagon. We had a sled but it would have worn the runners off it to drag it that far. We walked to church. It was only a couple of miles with only one mountain to cross and Grammaw lived near the halfway point. Most of our friends and neighbors lived in between the church and our home. Sometimes on Sunday afternoon it was time to turn around and go back by the time we got home. Spring and Summer Sunday and Wednesday nights after Church or Prayer Meeting were the best of times. Slipping out ahead in the dark and waiting to scare the group was our idea of fun in those more innocent times. More often than not I got too far ahead and was too scared myself to try to scare anyone else. Boo?
    Thanks! Tipper for posting my memories of my Daddy’s Special Stetson!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Seems caps or hats and country guys just go together. They sure come in handy to fill with grapes, muscadines, blackberries, huckleberries, hickory nuts or other unexpected bounty. Guess extending the idea to the dress hat and church just fit.
    I came along just at the end of the era of men wearing dress hats. My wife’s Grandpa was one of the last. Guess they went out about the same time as ladies’ white gloves.
    Reminds me of the Mayberry drawing of prize numbers from the hat and the ‘jinx’ drew 7 and 3/4.
    I miss those more gentil days.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    A wonderful, heartwarming story by my friend. Ed musta had a dad who was similar to mine, cause he wore Stetson Hats too. He was born in 1910, near the same age as Commodore.(Jim, Don,and Annette’s dad)
    I remember passing the plate or hat at our Church, and that was
    many years ago. And I don’t quite remember who started it,
    but we used wicker baskets when
    I was an Usher.
    Thanks Ed for bringing back some
    nice memories for me…Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 23, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    At one of the little churches I went to with my grandparents, they had a “penny march”. There was a container at the front on a bench & all the little children lined up & marched by it dropping a penny in as they passed.
    This was the same church where I learned an early lesson in deceptive appearances. At a dinner on the grounds there was a beautiful fruit pie with a lattice crust. This was something new to me–whatever deserts we had were utilitarian & I was eager to have some of that wonderful pie. Well, it was a big disappointment for sure! I’ve been suspicious of lattice crust pies ever since. (Cousin Teresa, if you’re reading this–it was the little block church near Medon that Uncle Lishea let them build & then took back–don’t know if you knew of this & I can’t remember if Aunt Velma attended.)

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    June 23, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I enjoyed the story. “Passing the hat” is certainly done in a more formal way, nowdays.

  • Reply
    Brenda Mclaine
    June 23, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Sweet story.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    June 23, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Oh my, Tipper!
    Ed’s story takes me back to that little Church on the hill, in Hayesville, where we belonged and attended every time the Church doors opened. Unlike ‘other folks’ we rode in a horse drawn wagon down the highway THREE MILES to our Church. Everybody knew we would be ‘on the road’ on Sunday morning and Wednesday night – going to Church and coming home. It was a beautiful and peaceful time!
    With much devotion,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    June 23, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Awww. I love this story.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2015 at 9:23 am

    That was such a beautiful story! I remember reading about such happenings with passing the hat. I remember buying a Stetson for my husband many, many years ago. I had to save quite a long time to buy him that hat. He still has it, but we don’t live in an area where he could wear it, so it sits in a box on the shelf.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    June 23, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I loved Ed’s wonderful story.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2015 at 8:12 am

    It’s been many, many years since I last saw my father’s grey felt hat, or ran my fingers over the satin lining in the crown. But it was the Sunday churchgoing hat, and I suppose also the rare Special Occasion hat, although there weren’t many of those when I was growing up.
    When my Dad passed away a few years ago, I asked my brother to see if the church hat was still on the shelf in the bedroom closet, as I would have loved to keep it. It was gone, but I can still picture it as clearly as my Dad’s Sunday shoes; wingtips that I used to polish for him. I miss my Dad so much.

  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    June 23, 2015 at 4:27 am

    That’s a beautiful story!

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