Featured in the Chicago Sun Times in November 1946, this photo shows an election polling site at a hat shop on Rush St. in downtown Chicago. The owner, Mrs. Annette Conkey, took advantage of the occasion to show off her millinery skills, placing the poll watchers in hats inspired by different nations. On the left is a Spanish style hat, next a French design, then a Chinese inspired creation, ending with a Russian style hat on the far right.
Not having much background in millinery history, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of these designs. If you ask me, though, the Chinese hat looks more Tyrolean than Asian. The Russian hat bears some similarity to the tall narrow hat worn by some Russian Cossacks. Mrs. Conkey herself has donned the Russian hat and continues her interpretation of the theme with an elaborately embroidered design on the shoulders of her jacket.
Why choose these particular countries to honor in an international hat celebration? Perhaps Mrs. Conkey was an enthusiastic supporter of the United Nations, which got underway at the end of the Second World War. France, China, and Russia were all permanent members of the Security Council. (Although that doesn’t explain the Spanish hat.) Hopes for international cooperation were still high in the immediate post war era. It would take a few more years for the Cold War to swing into gear; by then, I’ll bet that Mrs. Conkey exiled the Russian hat to the back of her closet.