Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Here a Hat, There a Hat, Everywhere a....(Dickson Estate Sale, Vintage Hats)

Hello again!

How's tricks? Are you getting ready for turkey day tomorrow? I've just got a minute here but as heavily hinted at in the last post, you know I am almost dead from not being able to share the good word about some of my estate sale hauls. I thought I'd pop over and tell you a little before I have to start dicing, slicing, peeling things for tomorrow! Ready? Steady? Let's go! And caveat: I hope you like hearing about hats an eighth as much as I like talking about them because, spoiler: there are a whole lot of hats going on in this post.

Because I've been trying to take this gym routine kind of seriously, and because the time of one of my favorite exercise classes falls smack in the middle of that tiny estate sale window on Saturdays when you can still get things half off, I've been scrambling lately to hit the sales and still make it to the dance floor by 11:45. In the last month or two, I usually pick my folks up around 8, run around to only the best sales, run home, change, and dash back out to the Y. It's close scheduling but it's not too bad. About two weeks ago, Michael Taylor, who, in spite of my abiding love for all estate sale agents in the Nashville area, is definitely a KING among tag sale runners, was doing a sale in Dickson, TN, a good hour-ish drive west from town. I thought, "Eh, that means I'd have to be like at my folks' house around 7 to get to the sale by 8 to get back to town by nine-thirty and hit maybe two other sales in time to drop them off by 11. Thaaaat is kind of cutting it." A few seconds of poring over the preview photos elapsed before I was texting my parents, "7 AM REPORT TIME DO YOU COPY OVER" on Friday night. Do you see....all the the above left? I KNOW YOU DO. And I know when I did, this ol' heart of mine, been broke a thousand times, swelled up a tiny bit again in anticipation of the picking I was about to do.

Did I cut it close? Girl, you know I did. Did I come home with a haul? Also, affirmative. But first, let's look at the interior of the house, because honestly, the whole place was kind of amazing:

Fiestaware, chandeliers, patterned wallpaper, oh my! The house was just off the square in downtown Dickson and nestled among a spattering of thirties' or forties' slightly Tudor cottages. When we rolled up in the Civic around 7:55, there was already a line of dedicated salers standing out in the blustery November weather, baskets and reusable shopping totes in hand. I queued up with the rest of them and checked my cell phone at least four times in anticipation of the 8 AM start time. When the glass paneled, dark wood door swung open to invite us in promptly at eight, I clambered up several brick steps to the porch and into the house itself. A TIME CAPSULE. Stately, turn of the century furniture mixed in with forties' and fifties' pieces, and oh, the wallpaper. Each room had a different pattern, more baroque than the last! My favorite was this colonial courtin' and sparkin' pattern in one of the bedrooms, but really, they were all my favorite, when do I move in?

In spite of the generous appointments of each room, with twelve foot ceilings and parlor-into-formal-dining-room-into-kitchen dimensions larger than probably the sq/ft of my entire house, there was the to-be-expected traffic jam of people who don't understand that if you stop in midtrack to examine an heirloom clock, people behind you may also have to stop...I sidled past a dawdler or two as I've been sharked out vintage baubles I don't know how many times by someone who was there just a few minutes before me. Not long after the doors opened,there was the sound of breaking glass from the left side of the house in the honeycomb like layout of bedrooms...I was too busy standing, maw agape, at this wallpaper and the hats that were remaining on the wall in the front room to rubberneck the unfortunate maladroit shopper. Lord have mercy:

"She had enough hats, didn't she?" an older woman in a windbreaker opined as we both looked once and twice over the over-the-top toppers. While these pictures are yanked from, know that there were at least that many hats there the second day, as the stock must have been replenished. There were MORE HATS THAN THERE WERE PLACES TO DISPLAY THEM. I don't know if my mind will even properly wrap around that idea. A card read "VINTAGE HATS $15", and it was half off day, so I carefully weighed my shopping options. As I was looking, one of the sales ladies who always greets me by name came up and touched my elbow. Sotto voce, she intoned: "I hoped you were comin' to this one! Go on upstairs, there's a ton of vintage dresses." And upstairs, she was right! Two closets and two rolling racks filled with clothes from no later than the eighties'. While I was sad that a lot of the preview stuff was gone with the wind (goodbye, kaleidoscope of color fifties' crinoline; 'til we meet again...), everything left was five for a dollar. Wait, five for a dollar, you say? Uh, yes, twenty cents apiece, every stitch of clothing in the house. I promptly pulled anything of vague interest to me off the hangers and into a SOLD box on the first floor. But there was still the question of hats.

Things we may have talked about before....a) I have a wild and untamed passion for vintage only by b) my extremely large, contemporary-azz head. I always like to cite the big-head-little-body formula of thirties' movie actresses (hallowed Joan Crawford prime among them), but even their outsized craniums were vintage ladies' outsized craniums. As few six foot tall women as there were in these olden days, I'm sure there were an even fewer percentage of women in that tribe with heads like casaba melons. All that not to elicit pity but to explain-- if I could, I would buy ALL the hats. Few are the hats I've ever seen and not gone ga-ga in my oversized head about. But I know from the heartache of a beanie-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-cloche too many that there are hats you can "make work" with this hatband size and ones you can't. I promptly started scouring the house for those that fit in the former category.

Rumbling down the narrow central stair of the house back to the checkout counter to claim my pile of polyester dresses and collared shirts, another of the sale workers took notice of the pair (yes, sadly, just two) hats I'd grabbed, again, in considering size, practicality, and the $7.50 price tag. "Is that all you got?" he said, then, "Go back and get you some more hats. I'll give you a deal." Me: "How good of a deal?" He: "Five bucks a pop. Go on, get you a couple more hats." Is that salesmanship or what (the what being am I sucker for a good deal and a hat)? Both, really. Before I was done, I walked out with seven hats. SEVEN HATS. Am I sorry? I am not.

My hair wasn't cooperating with me today so I borrowed this gorgeous bust of an African American lady I found at Goodwill a couple years ago to stand-in for me as a hat model. For balance, the center shows her sans chapeau and the lower right hand, Elizabeth-Taylor-in-the-sixties' hat is from a thrift store in St. Louis. But all the rest were from the sale!

Some of these look better on her than they do on me...but only by a little! :)

Looking at the hats in panels here all on one head, I was thinking about all the different outfits over different decades the lady of the house must have worn them! From flapper decadent (bottom row middle) to 1940's My Girl Friday (middle left) to Streisand fabulous (bottom left), there's a LOT of style going on here. Can you guess which is my favorite? Oh, I'll spare you the suspense and let you get a look at this thing stuffed on my oversized head: 

"There is nothing like a turban! Noooothing iiiin the wooorrrld.
There is nothing you can name that is anything like a turban!" Apologies to
South Pacific.
Ugh! Could you die! My usually non-plussed-at-my-purchases mom went, "Oh my goodness, that is so cute" over the gold turban and I'm on #teamturban right there with her. It's a tight fit, but if I stuff all my hair up into the recesses of the interior....well, don't I feel just like Nefertiti on her Nile. Oh! And clothes! I forgot to take pictures of all of them but rounded up a couple from my closet, here's dresses:

The center dress is killing me for how much I love it. TWENTY CENTS.
And here's shirts:

Again, there are four or five other shirts and one dress getting laundered but these were on hand in my closet. The woman for whom the estate sale was being held was no-o-o-ot afraid of standing out in a crowd! And I think that's a fine thing. I'm looking forward to taking these babies out on the town (or...just to a regular Tuesday work day)!

At any rate, I came back to the car positively beaming and my folks were excited for me that I'd found so many goodies. We goofed and laughed all the way back to Nashville, went to another sale, and then I was able to drop them off, change, and get to Zumba just in the nick of time! Best weekend I've had in a long while.

I've got to scoot, but tell me-- which hat is your favorite? Had any looney tunes deals out at the sales lately? What have you scored while I've been away that has a story and a half behind it? I'd love to hear from you!

Have a happy, HAPPY, happy Thanksgiving and I'll be back at it with more vintage chatter next week! If you don't already follow She Was a Bird on instagram and Facebook, check back there too for the next time a post comes up! I'll talk to you soon!!


  1. oh wow. i'm sorry i missed that one! the wall paper! and that turban looks amazing!

  2. Wow, what an incredible collection. What an amazing woman she must have been.
    Love the hats you picked, I think the velvet flapper one is my favourite.
    And 20ct for each of the clothing?! Oh dear, I think I would have had a hard time not sinply taking everything with me.
    Wish you a lovely Thanksgiving,
    ~ ette (

  3. Awwww....I'm so glad that you got to go, and I'm especially glad that you got some of those great hats...I never got out to that sale, but the client had been telling me about those hats for awhile and I knew it was going to be an awesome collection. That turban is epic.

  4. It makes me so happy that these hats have gone to a good home. I love hats, and my head is kind of a midcentury size-but my hair is silver, and I don't feel like I look very good in these hats. My grandma did, with her silver hair, but I think she had the right kind of hairstyle. I can barely be bothered to blow dry my hair-so I must admire hats from afar!

  5. That bow hat is supremely magnificent and definitely my favourite but boy do you wear that gold turban well! Please one day post a pic of you in the bow hat! Also, those dresses! I am more than a wee bit envious - 20 cents for a vintage dress is such a lovely thing when it happens! I am so curious about that pinky flowery shirt and I'm intrigued by the shirt immediately below it on the left. So much fun! Also, your favourite dress and wallpaper are mine too. So lovely.

  6. Wow! Once again, they were all waiting for you and only you! Wear them well! Happy to see you are still active a bit on your blog! Missed you!



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