Being a picture framer I frame things that are near and dear to my clients’ hearts so I tend to learn a bit about them, and about they things they frame. The stories that come from these framing projects could fill a book. Here is one of them.
Recently, a client of some 20 years came to me with a special project. She wanted to frame a photo of her dad, his work hat, and some work awards. So we’ve framed lots of hats before. Usually those of the sports variety, like baseball caps, tennis visors, and I remember a couple sailor hats. Well, this was a really big hat. You see my client’s dad was the Chief of the Iowa State Patrol back in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Those guys wear big hats. I know this because I grew up in Iowa, and at 16 years old I drove a 1967 Mustang and had an occasion or two to see ISP hats up close and personal. I don’t know if it’s still like that in Iowa, but in my day you did not want to get pulled over by an Iowa State Trooper. Give me a county or city cop any time, those state troopers were all business all the time and you could never talk your way out of much.
So, anyway, this hat is enormous. Actually, it’s just like Rick’s hat (well, Carl’s hat). Many of you know what I’m talking about. A real Smokey the Bear kind of hat. So, Chip, my husband/business partner and ace framing engineer, is scratching his head trying to figure out how the heck we are going to shadowbox a hat that is about 7 inches tall. Not a frame in our huge offerings of some 4,000 choices was going to do the trick. Chip decided two frames were better than one so he stacked two frames together and placed thin wood shims to make it one cohesive unit. Here you can see how the frames were joined together. He then installed walls made from linen, matching the linen to which the hat and other items were mounted. We also added some wood fillets around the badge, pins, and photograph. After adding anti-reflective museum glass, the hat fit just perfect! Hanging in my client’s home, this shadowbox will help keep the memory of Howard S. Miller, a 33 year civil servant and Chief of the Iowa State Patrol alive for many years to come.
So that’s a pretty good story, huh? Well, the story really isn’t over because apparently, in addition to being a top notch law enforcement professional, Howard S. Miller was also a really good baseball player. In fact, he was the pitcher for the University of Iowa baseball team in the mid 30s. I guess he was pretty darn good because in his junior year in college, he was recruited by the White Sox, Cubs, and Red Sox. Valuing his education, he decided to finish college before going pro. Sadly, he sustained a serious shoulder injury in his senior year, dashing his hopes for a pro career in baseball. It sounds like Howard S. Miller went on to have a fulfilling and successful life, raising a family and keeping Iowa highways safe. In his photograph I see a man very content and proud of his life. But I can’t help but shake my head at the wonder of it. I could have just as easily been framing his professional baseball uniform and maybe even his baseball cap.