Some Fine Hats

When it comes to fashion, hats have the practical function of keeping one’s head warm. However, hats are also symbols of identity that can tell us about the owner’s social class, occupation and personal style.

Navy velvet hat

One of the Pink Palace’s most unusual hats belonged to Ms. Mary Guidi. She was a successful Memphis lawyer wh
o practiced in the city for 42 years. During her career, she won a 1949 Supreme Court-mandated retrial that was ordered on the grounds that the initial trial judge “had an aversion and prejudice to women lawyers.” She also won a case before the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1955 to require more specific language in police warrants. Guidi worked in the Falls Building downtown. One day she overheard Luther Hammons say that he could make anything out of wood so she challenged him to make her a hat. According to newspaper columnist Eldon Roark, Hammons replied, “I’m not so sure I can make good, but I’ll guarantee you this: I’ll make something that will look more like a hat than the things you’ve been wearing.” Roark ran a picture of Guidi wearing the burled walnut hat in 1940.

Mary Guidi (2)

Pillbox hat with pink mesh and silk rosesYellow straw hat with yellow grosgrain ribbin from Goldsmith's Department store

Jewell Rosenberg, the museum’s textile conservator, selected these hats to share.

Caroline Mitchell Carrico works in the Exhibit Department at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. She has a graduate degree in history from The University of Memphis, and her favorite artifacts are the Cold War civil defense supplies.

Crocheted black straw hat with black feather    Navy straw hat with pink satin bow and silk flowers White straw hat with silk flowersGreen and white pillbox hat with white veil and gold hair clip Felt hat with tafetta ribbon and steel buckle

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Oceans of Memphis

Did you know that at one point the Memphis area was covered with 100 feet of water?

Approximately 200 million years ago, Earth’s land existed as a giant super continent named Pangaea. At the northern-most edge of the Mid-South, mountains formed where older continents had butted together.  This range was the ancient Ouachita-Appalachian system, which transected Pangaea in an east-west arch. After Pangaea began to break up, the central Ouachita-Appalachians and the land surrounding them drifted westward, riding their continental plates. The Reelfoot Rift underwent further faulting and stretching. Magma plutons rose through the old faults uplifting the land again. One theory proposes that the uplift was produced by the area passing over a magma plume hot spot. This action caused the central part of what is now North America to rise as much as 3 kilometers as the pressure of the magma pressed against the continent above.

The formation of the Mississippi Embayment occurred during the Late Cretaceous period (71 million years ago).  As North America slid westward and passed the hot spot, the crust cooled and subsided to a depth of more than 3 kilometers. This settling caused an inundation by the Gulf of Mexico over the central part of the continent. This event and the geological traces of it are known as the Mississippi Embayment.

Since the Mid-South was submerged, the area’s fauna included shellfish, lobsters, sharks, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs. Fossils of these and other aquatic life are routinely found at the Coon Creek Science Center, which is a member of the Pink Palace Family of Museums and located in McNairy County, Tennessee. You can read more about the Mississippi Embayment and Coon Creek on the museum’s website.

Caroline Mitchell Carrico works in the Exhibit Department at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. She has a graduate degree in history from The University of Memphis, and her favorite artifacts are the Cold War civil defense supplies.Mississippi EmbaymentCrow Shark tooth found in the Coonr Creek Formation Decatur Tennessee

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