Dear Sun Spots: Is it proper to go to a restaurant and have your meal without removing your hat? It is so repulsive to see. – Martin & Janette Savage, Temple.

Answer: Unless it is somebody who needs to keep their hat on because they’ve lost their hair to chemo, or another like reason, Sun Spots believes the hat should come off when indoors.

If they are doing it out of contempt, that is fine.. it is akin to refusing to shake someone’s hand when they offer it. If they are doing it out of ignorance, that reflects poorly on their upbringing and makes them look foolish and uneducated. It would be like not knowing what a handshake was and recoiling or looking at someone oddly when they offered their hand because you didn’t know how to respond.

The “tipping” or removal of a hat is said to have originated from the same place as the military salute. Knights would lift the visor (face guard) on their helm, showing their face as a sign of respect and their empty hand as an indication they meant no harm. This tradition evolved into the modern military salute. Similarly, the removal of a helm (helmet) or other headgear indoors and as a sign of respect or reverence is said to have originated before the Dark Ages. This tradition was carried on throughout the centuries by men of arms (soldiers) and nobility, as well as their staff, servants and slaves. After the Dark Ages, manners and etiquette grew to become an essential part of everyday life and the conventions of hat etiquette became ingrained in civilized culture.

Up until the late 1940s and early 1950s, hats were worn by gentlemen, particularly outdoors. It was considered “bad manners” for a gentleman or a lady to be seen outdoors without proper headgear. President Kennedy was the first U.S. President to be seen outdoors without a hat and from the 1960s on, the use of hats declined considerably.

According to the Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette there are many accepted traditions concerning proper rituals that should be adhered to by gentlemen while wearing a hat. In the 1800s, hat etiquette was strictly followed and thus became second nature to gentlemen in Victorian times. Being that the frequent (or nearly constant) wearing of hats is a tradition of a by-gone era, it is important that those choosing to reenact that era be particularly aware of the proper rules of conduct that should be demonstrated by the wearer.

Indoors, a man should always remove his hat, (particularly in a home, church, court room or restaurant) except: (1) in public buildings or public places such as railroad stations or post offices; (2) in the main parlor area of a saloon or general store; (3) or while seated at the “lunch counter” of a diner or cafe; (4) in entrance halls and corridors of office buildings, or hotels; (5) in elevators of public or office buildings, unless a woman is present; (6) if carrying packages, parcels or bags and both hands are occupied upon entry; (7) If the man is an actor or performer and the hat is being worn as a part of a costume or performance.

By and large, women are generally exempt from all of the preceeding rules, particulalrly if their hat is fastened (pinned or clipped) to their hair. If a woman is dressed in men’s style clothing (jeans, slacks, etc..) and is wearing a man’s style hat or cap, it would be considered good manners for them to remove their hat for the National Anthem or a passing funeral procession, but they are basically exempt from all of the other rules.

Dear Sun Spots: For No Name, No Town who is looking for a Michigan rummy game: I have one still in the box. Please call me at (207) 783-2920. – No Name, No Town.

Dear Sun Spots: For No Name, No Town, I have a game of Michigan rummy. If you are interested please call me at (207) 268-4580.

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