For once I can actually date an item with quite a bit of precision! This black and orange reversible wool hat, or beanie as they were called, belonged to an Oregon State student named Gene Winn. A 2009 obituary for Mr. Winn says he was born in Albany in 1930 and attended OSU for a couple years, starting in 1948. He lived and worked in Albany and Corvallis most of his life, eventually retiring from the Fred Meyer in Corvallis. I’m not sure when he retired, but I can’t help but wonder if our paths ever crossed in that store, which I frequented so regularly during my time at OSU!
Here is another vintage wool Oregon State College hat from what I’m guessing is the 1930’s-1940’s. I have several hats that look similar to this but all are slightly unique. Many are reversible, but not all. One of these days I’ll need to take all of them to a hat historian (is there such a thing?) and figure out how old these are! Or I need go to through yearbooks and see if I can find pictures of fans wearing these hats to better date them.
These two old wool hats came as a package deal when I got them about a year ago. The orange one with the black rim has the “O” on the front but the black hat doesn’t have a letter on it. The black one is very small, leading me to believe it was a youth hat (my 4 year old can wear it!). Both of these appear about the same age, which if I had to guess, would probably be the 1930’s-1940’s.
This is a pretty unique “Shriners” style Oregon State hat that is made of wool and has a neat tassel on top. I don’t know if “Shriner” is even a style of hat… but it just reminded me of those organizations wearing this type of hat so that’s what I’m calling it! I’m not sure how old this hat is, but it appears to be a 1940’s-1950’s era because that’s when these old wool hats were popular around college campuses.
This is a great example of the type of wool hats that fans, or “rooters,” would wear to Oregon State games back in the olden days. This is one of the oldest hats I have seen and the overall style and condition lends this to probably having been worn sometime during the 1920’s or 1930’s! I also came across this picture showing a similar hat with an OAC pennant behind it, which would date at least the drawing of that hat to pre-1927.
Having been through it back in my days at OSU, it’s good to know that even back in 1917 some students went through some good natured hazing by their older classmates! In 1917 this 11×18 poster was hung up around campus by the “’20 Vigilance Committee,” likely the sophomore class, and was directed to the “Rooks” – the freshman on campus at that time. A couple of my favorite rules are that the Rooks “shall support athletic activities by your presence at the games” and they “must not fuss at any of the athletic contests”! Boy how times have changed!
Also, note the first paragraph that says the Rooks “shall provide yourselves with one green cap of accepted pattern…” Now I’m not really sure where the green came into play, as orange had been adopted as the school color with black as the background in the early 1900’s, but it obviously had some meaning… and my bet is the green hats simply identified the freshman so everyone on campus knew who they were and could “greet” them appropriately! The second picture below is a green cap with an orange O that those “Rooks” would have been seen wearing around campus!
Lastly, I came across this “Rook Bible” from OSU, dated January 1, 1919, which no doubt elaborates on those same rules listed in the poster. It’s funny to see this Bible was approved by the Student Council and I love how it says Rooks must “Have this book with you AT ALL TIMES”! Published by the class following the one who made the poster, this Bible shows the same “Rook” hazing at Oregon State must have taken place for at least a couple years and was passed down from class to class!