A ladies’ hat in 1906 was a thing of wonder, an elaborate headgear adorned with ribbon and feathers and flowers. The problems of wearing such an architectural monument were also legendary, and the font from which poured a billion cartoons, vaudeville routines, and wheezy jokes, not to mention a few angry letters to the editor.

The other story reminds that chapeau love isn’t only a woman’s province, as Mr. Skaggs must convince a haberdasher to reopen his store late at night because he couldn’t be seen at the ball game without a derby on his noggin.


Editor Republican: Will you assist the long suffering men at public assemblies who desire to see the speaker and help us to get an ordinance to require women to remove the glaring sky scrapers and upturned things now in use? I sat behind one and just as I got a peek of the speaker through the loop of a sinuous twisted thing that crowned the feather head piece, away bobbed the owner’s head and I had to squint alongside the head where the so-called hat rim shoots skyward, holding a bunch of something to prop it up. My limited view of the speaker was interesting, could I have kept it, but a baby at the far end of the room began to rattle a paper and away went the head and spoiled my view.

An ordinance should be passed requiring females to remove their hats at all public assemblies and require the posting of notices in all halls and churches.

At the jubilee concert ladies removed hats on request, but some who came in later sat in their selfish flaring glory (?) the entire evening.

Why will a woman be a lady everywhere else but at a public assembly? Let us have an ordinance and a policeman, if necessary, but have the menace abated at any cost. Has the practice a single defender? [signed,] A SUFFERER.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 4, 1906

William W. Skaggs was the victim of a peculiar mishap Saturday evening. While seated at the theater on Main street enjoying the performance the seat in which he rested suddenly gave way beneath his weight. Skaggs struck the floor amid the wreckage rather hard, but this is not the part that worried him most. Beneath the seat was his derby hat and when Skaggs had raised his two hundred pounds off the crown of the hat it resembled a pancake more than anything else. He had been planning to go to the ball game at Petaluma Sunday afternoon and when he left the theater after the performance all the stores had closed. He rustled around and after much persuasion succeeded in getting an accommodating hatter to sell him another skypiece. His friends are making the most of the unpleasant predicament at Skaggs’ expense.

– Santa Rosa Republican, November 26, 1906

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Rule #1 in advertising is to make products sound less objectionable than they really are, so you’d expect a bottle of something called “Danderine” to be an anti-dandruff medication that probably smelled godawful and burned like hell as you dumped the goo on your flaky scalp. Not at all; for about a half century, Danderine was widely sold, and used as a hair conditioner and styling gel that smelled like aftershave lotion.

In the first years of the 20th century, the company promoted it as a “hair-growing remedy” safe enough for children, such as the manufacturer’s daughter seen in this 1906 Santa Rosa Republican ad. In the 1910s, newspaper and magazine ads portrayed young women with waist-length tresses, and the implied promise that using the stuff would make your hair easier to style in the late Edwardian bouffant fashion. Danderine’s heyday apparently came in the 1920s, with ads that targeted women with shorter, bobbed hair. Danderine was now a “one-minute hair beautifier” that would make your hair “appear twice as heavy and plentiful.”

The “twice as heavy” claim could well be true, after it was used for a few weeks; a 1907 analysis found that about five percent of the borax and glycerin in the formula never evaporated, staying behind in your hair as residue. A later chemical analysis found Danderine was mostly alcohol, with glycerin, boric acid and resorcin (the anti-dandruff part of the formula), salicylic acid (aspirin), capsicum (pepper), and apparently cantharidin, a potentially lethal chemical that’s infamously known as “Spanish Fly.”

Danderine was so well-known that its advertising claims were repeated like folklore. A 1919 book on public health has the story of a rural Kentucky woman claiming to know someone who hadn’t washed her hair in 28 years, yet “had a beautiful suit of hair that reached clear to her knees… [because] every morning she combed her hair with a large comb which she had dipped in Danderine.”

Danderine was sold at least through the 1940s, and was followed in the later half of the 20th century by “Double Danderine” shampoo, which promised to “kill the [dandruff] germ on contact. “

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