The Birth of the Half-Breed ®
Smarting from the scolding for messing up a straw and a felt hat that were customer orders, a very young Manny Gammage took the crown from the straw and the brim from the felt and sewed them together. His father Marvin, upbraided him for wasting time and said he'd "never dare wear that thing". He was wrong. Manny wore "that thing" to the Houston Rodeo, just to cause a commotion. He was so successful in this endeavor that the hat did not survive, but the idea did--in Manny's mind. That was about 1951.
Years later, Manny found himself back in his father's hat shop, this time in Austin, Texas. He hadn't ruined any hats, but the idea of the cool breeze running over his head, while the felt shaded his face had come creeping back into his thoughts. "This is the perfect hat for Texans!," he told his father, but in 1965 people were not ready for such a unique hat.
Six years later and Manny was now the owner of Texas Hatters. He could try his ideas out without reserve, but the public still wasn't ready. It wasn't until 1976 that he was able to get someone besides himself to wear these innovative hats. This was helped by "that thing's" ability to be two different colors. What patriot could resist a hat with a red crown, blue brim and white band? At this point, Manny's creation was called a Half & Half. Not exactly the catchiest name for a hat.
In 1980 the idea came to Manny to call this miracle of hat making; the "Half-Breed." Though some worried that he might offend certain groups of people with what many considered a derogatory name, Manny insisted. He promoted it as "The best of both worlds." Even pointing out that he himself could be called a half-breed and not be angry. After all, his heritage was what he referred to as a "Heinz 57," meaning there were several nationalities in his genealogy. "We're all half-breeds, some just don't know what the other half is."
Although many still think that the Half-Breed is a bit of an oddity, it's popularity has grown steadily since it was named such. Doctors of dermatology have praised the Half-Breed's UV blocking abilities, while still allowing the head to remain as cool as if wearing a straw hat. They have noted that straws, no matter how tightly woven, cannot block the harmful rays of the sun the way that a solid material, such as felt can. Straws can even reflect more rays to the face with the lacquers that are put on them to keep them stiff. This is why we recommend the use of sunscreen with all of our straws. Some dermatologists have even prescribed the Half-Breed for some of their patients.
As mentioned before, the Half-Breed has the potential to be more than one color. You can opt to be subtle and have the crown dyed to match the brim. Or, you may want to have a little fun and mix it up. If you have an idea for making a Half-Breed that is uniquely you, just call or email us. Remember, we're "as modern as yesterday, with tomorrow's ideas."
Though there are claims that another hat maker had made a straw/felt combination, or a two-toned hat of some kind, the name Half-Breed® was not used for any hat until it was used by Manny for his straw/felt creations. This is why the name, in connection with hats, is copyrighted by Texas Hatters. Any other hat maker calling theirs a Half-Breed is breaking the law.
The Gang at Texas Hatters