It was just a nondescript straw hat with a round crown and wide brim which provided shelter from the sun when I needed it. My need for a hat became apparent while visiting San Diego. My daughter and I were there during August 2015 to spend a week with my oldest grandchild Tori. We had planned the trip to celebrate Tori’s 16th birthday. My brother-in-law Neil and his wife Laurel live in La Jolla and were going to host some of the events of the week. During an excursion to Sea World with them is when I realized that I needed a hat to provide safety from the sun.

There were racks at Sea World which were full of hats for all occasions. However, the price tag of $20 plus was beyond the amount I was willing to pay. Since some of the medications I take make me allergic to the sun, I need a hat for all outdoor activities. Nevertheless, I did not purchase one of the hats at Sea World.

Whenever we passed a rack of hats while sightseeing, I would look for one that would provide protection from the sun. One search revealed the straw hat which would serve the purpose and with an amount on the tag that I was willing to pay. The hat found its place on my head for every occasion which required spending some time in the sun. The wide brim kept the sun off my forehead and the crown protected the topmost portion of my head. During a walk through a park, I was thankful for my nondescript straw hat.

In February of the following year my sister and I embarked on a three-week cruise to Hawaii. Since Hawaii is known for its sunshine, I attached my straw hat to my luggage while packing for the trip. Our transportation from Texas to California was a passenger train, and the utilitarian hat was safe in the overhead bin of the train. It wasn’t long after boarding the ship in San Francisco that I needed the protection of the trusty, broad-brimmed straw hat.  

It didn’t take long for me to find out that any hat worn on a ship needed to be securely tied under my chin if it was to remain perched on my head. My trusty hat -- which had protected my cranium and forehead from the sun -- had no string or strap surrounding its brim or hanging beneath the sides of the crown. I found a strip of fabric which was suitable to use as a sash for the hat. After making a hole large enough for heavy-duty cord on each side of the hat where the crown and brim met, I ran the fabric around the crown and through the holes. Now I was able to tie the strap below my chin and keep the hat on my head no matter how fast the wind was blowing.

The hat served its purpose well during a whale-watching adventure. Even though I was seated on a bench next to a wall of the large boat which carried us out to sea, the strap on my hat was severely tested. It was amazing how strong the wind blew around and across the boat, but my hat remained in place and protected my head from the sun.

At the end of the cruise, I made certain to attach my trusty hat to my luggage. Again, when I found my place on the train, the hat was placed in the bin above my seat. I was sure it would be safe and would not get damaged while stored in the overhead bin.

At the end of the two-and-a-half day train ride, I gathered all my belongings and made my way down the steps of the train and onto the platform at the station. As the train pulled out to continue its journey to Fort Worth and beyond, I remembered that my hat was still in the safety of the overhead bin. I was saddened to know that the nondescript straw hat which had served me so well on two journeys was no longer in my possession. I can only hope that as it had done for me, the elusive straw hat would provide protection for another person who needed to be shielded from the sun.  

Julia Nation grew up in the Humble area and taught for more than 30 years. Email comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Julia Nation
Author: Julia NationEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Julia Nation grew up in the Humble area and taught for more than 30 years. Email comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..