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.
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.
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.