Friday, September 4, 2015
Mr. Gilbert's Hats
This gentleman, Robert Harris, sells hats from a stand on Buckeye Avenue, next to his church. His business, Mr. Gilbert's Hats, and his little white truck with the top hat and cane logo, are often seen around town. Over Labor Day weekend, he'll be selling hats to sun-baked spectators at the Cleveland International Air Show.
Harris, 70, has been in the hat business for decades, having worked at the famous Cleveland store Mike the Hatter. He would like to open his own store, maybe at Shaker Square where he lives, and sell upscale hats.
I have passed his stand many times while driving, but today decided to stop and chat with Mr. Harris, who regaled me with stories about his life and his views on modern mores "Kids today don't have respect. I had a teacher at the old East Tech, she was a midget of a lady. But she'd take you by the ear to the principal's office. We didn't disrespect her."
He reflected on his earlier years. "I was into some bad things, selling drugs and that. The pastor of this church saved me. He believed in me. I love that man."