The Birth of the Half-Breed®
Young Manny Gammage had just suffered a scolding from his dad for ruining two customers' hats. It was the crown of a felt hat and the brim of a straw. He 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 Livestock Show and Rodeo, just to cause a commotion. He was so successful in his 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, having purchased his father's shop in 1971. He could try his idea out, without reserve, but the public still was not ready for what he was then calling the Half & Half. It wasn't until 1976 that he was able to get someone besides himself to wear these innovative hats. This change in the likeability of the hat 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 a white band?
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 could be called a halfbreed, and not be angry; after all, his heritage was what the referred to as a "Heinz 57" - meaning that there were several nationalities in his genealogy. "We're all halfbreeds, some just don't know what the other half is.", he said.
Although many still think that the Half-Breed® is a bit of an oddity, it's popularity has grown relatively 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 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 in the way that solid materials, such as felt, can. Straws can even reflect more rays onto the face, because of the lacquers used to stiffen them. Some dermatologists have also 'prescribed' Half-Breeds for 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 have some fun and mix it up. If you have an idea for making a Half-Breed® that is uniquely you, please call or email us. Remember, we're "as modern as yesterday, with tomorrow's ideas".
Though there are claims that another hat maker created the half straw, half felt hat, or two-toned hats of other materials before Manny; the name Half-Breed® was not used for any hat, before Manny used it for his straw crown, felt brim creations. This is why the name, in connection with hats, is copyrighted by Manny Gammage's Texas Hatters, Inc. While imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery, any other person(s) or company calling a hat of any kind, a "Half-Breed", "Halfbreed" or "Half Breed", even in combination with another word or name, is breaking the copyright laws of the U.S.
The Family of Manny Gammage's Texas Hatters, Inc.