For A Father



A lovely couple from Dallas approached me in the plaza to ask about my hat.

They both wanted the exact same shape I wore and I guided them to the location of the shop as I continued mesmerized by the flashing pigeons at my feet.

I received a call later in the week from my friend at the hat shop wanting to get a photo of my chapeau and correct measurements.

In the midst of our ensuing conversation surrounded by the best of the West in the way of both custom and ready-made fine felt and straw headwear at O”FARRELL HAT COMPANY (my handsome friend Scott measuring for a custom hat with the weirdest piece of equipment ever!)

Three strapping young men walked into the shop.  They took up space in a big way.

The tallest one went directly for a work-of-art hat displayed prominently by itself on a stand at the desk.

It was embellished with very detailed scenes of western life over 1/2 the surface area in a breathtakingly intricate way.

In his broken English the young man asked the price as he grabbed it by the crown and Scott gently showed him how hats should be picked up by the brim.

The guy puts this great hat/crown on.

He stands taller and poses for his silent friends to shoot a photo.

I saw pride, adventure, courage and maybe a little bit of fierce resolve.

But I could have made that up.

“We are from Ukraine” he says.

Coming to the end of his English he slowly took off the hat and placed it with care back on it’s stand.

He reached in to his jackets inner pocket and pulled out something which he handed to Scott.

Like a wave of heat the three men were there …and then quickly gone.

Scott showed me what he had been mysteriously given.  It was a brass medal which had the patina of age bearing a curious insignia.

We both felt something of significance had happened.

I asked if I could research the medal.

It is, in fact from the 1950s and used to be attached to the beret of a Ukrainian Special Forces paratrooper.  The Ukrainian trident national emblem is displayed on the disk.

Why did this strapping young man in the company of his friends give this object to Scott and just disappear?

Since The Ukraine has been such a hotbed of conflict for so long I had the thought that the medal originated with this man’s father as it dated from the 50’s.  

If I were to pick a representative for what visitors unfamiliar with the United States might think FREEDOM looked like it might be Scott; dressed in his cowboy vest, fine  hat, mysterious , quiet renegade attitude and all else marking him “epitome of Western guy”.

What if the Ukrainian man’s father dreamed of freedom?  Visiting us here where we enjoy freedoms unknown to most?

My mind weaved a story that the three guys had finished their stint in the army and came here, to the States…to the West.

The young man gave the best representative of freedom; Scott, his father’s medal as a way to honor his Dad; making sure he did indeed get a chance to visit the U.S. and feel the salve of being free. He chose Scott as the final landing place of this treasure.

This is my imagined story and I am a romantic.

Whatever transpired it felt mysterious and was clearly an important mark in time for  the young man/men from Ukraine.

And me.


2 Responses to “For A Father”

  1. JOE Lally on February 24th, 2017

    At last! A piece of ATEN art I actually understand. Never forget that I have a keen ability to see the obvious. Thanks.

  2. Dennis Chamberlain on February 25th, 2017

    What a wonderful, painterly illustration of freedom, romance, and generosity. You made my day Lady C!

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