Larry
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October 2016
75
Born in Commerce, Missouri
Living in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hat maker

“It’s going to be pretty good because we are a melting pot.”

We entered a shop looking for a hat, and we left with a handful of stories told by a cavernous and hypnotic voice. Larry was born right on the Mississippi river, in his grandmother’s house. His grandfather was a captain on the paddle boats. Eventually he moved to California, but left 33 years ago because it “was getting expensive and very crowded;” he move to “beautiful Albuquerque.” He learned his trade from two hat makers, the twin sisters Polly and Arlene Farmer, renowned experts in making fancy church hats for black women. The twins advised Larry “don’t make hats for white women because you never know if they are going to wear them, black women have been wearing church hats since the dawn of time”. Having learned his lesson Larry specialized in men’s hats, something he became very good at. On a corner of his shop we spot a poster of the movie Big Sleep (1946) showing Humphrey Bogart on all the glory of his noir fedora hat, a felt hat with a wide brim and cavernous crown. “They started in Hollywood in 1923.” Larry has a great memory and that probably helps him to be optimistic about the future. “It’s going to be pretty good because we are a melting pot. From all over the world immigrants came.” And what’s the best hat to symbolize America, a cowboy hat or a baseball cap? “The fedora hat, because of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, that’s what they wore and they’re still wearing them.”

Where on the map