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A Presidential Muddle And The Case Of The Hot Derbies

July 2024
1min read

In a caption on page 19 of our June/July, 1979, issue we said that Millard Fillmore ran for the Presidency in 1856, “just three years after leaving the White House as a Democrat.” Robert O. McNiel of Roanoke, Virginia, brings us to heel: “This is totally incorrect. Fillmore ran for Vice-President with Zachary Taylor on the Whig ticket. When Taylor died in office, Fillmore succeeded him. He was, of course, a Whig—not a Democrat ever.” Mr. McNiel is dead right. Fillmore, a staunch conservative who had come to his Whig persuasion under the tutelage of none other than Thurlow Weed, would have been appalled.

In that same issue, we presented a little story (“Head Lines”) concerning a gadget once used to measure a man’s head for hat fitting; it brought forth an addendum from Edward C. Brummer of Jaffrey, New Hampshire: “As an additional and very simple method of meeting the problem, I would like to describe the tactic used by my father and uncle in their clothing store in Lisbon, New Hampshire, many years ago.

“In those days, when lumberjacks came to town for Saturday night, they got all dressed up, including a derby. Since they often had very knobby and odd-shaped heads, my father or uncle would sit them down in a chair near the coal-burning stove in the ‘back shop/ hold the derby over the red-hot coals to melt the glue supporting the hatband, then clamp the derby with one quick thrust on the head of the flinching lumberjack, thus molding the hat to the shape of his head.”

We can only say that Mr. Brummer’s father and uncle were either very brave or very big men.

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