LOCKHART, Texas – Being raised in Texas, you know to tip your hat to the ladies. If you’ve got a hat from Texas Hatters, well you’re doing alright. So we head to Lockhart to see wanted to see all the fuss about the famous hats that have topped some famous folks.
Five days a week, you’ll find David Torres stretching, folding, and shaping hats. Since 1987, David has been a part of the family of Texas Hatter’s. His wife Joella runs the business that’s been a part of her family ever since her grandfather, Marvin Gammage, started it.
“We put a little bit of ourselves in each hat, and it’s an act of love for us,” Joella says. “It’s like producing a child for you to take with you.”
Joella got involved in the hat business back in the 70s learning the ropes from her father, Manny.
“After school, or if I was home sick from school or anything like that, I went to work with Mom and Dad,” Joella explained.
Manny made Texas Hatters into what it is today. When Manny passed away, the future of Texas Hatters was in the dark, but with the commitment of David, it has been able to keep up with top of the line toppers.
“I could not have done it without him. In fact, the fact that he stayed, even after Dad passed away, was part of what really, really made me fall in love with him,” Joella said.
From 1965 to 2006 this business boomed in Buda. Now located in Lockhart, Joella and her husband David are now the keepers of this high-quality hat house where every hat gets a personal touch.
“It took me years to realize all these forms are all made for a reason, to fit different styles, but yet we incorporate the persons features into it,” David informed us.
Many musicians also wear these Texas treasures. It all started with Jerry Jeff Walker in the 70s and blossomed from there.
“He and my dad made friends. Then came, as my dad would say, then came Willie and Waylon and all the boys,” Joella explained. “The first time I ever met Willie Nelson, I was sitting in the backroom drinking a soda on top of a coke cooler. I was about eight years old, I think. My dad brought him in the back door with a serape over his head and then pulled it back. I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh. Dad’s bringing in homeless people now.’”
Even the great Stevie Ray Vaughn was a regular here.
“Stevie was quiet, but he had a handshake like a vice,” David said. “It hurt.”
Familiar with Hank Williams Jr? His hat featured on Monday Night Football was made here by Joella.
“I got a phone call from Hank Williams Jr. and he asked me if I could make a hat.,” Joella shared. “When he got the hat, he called me up and said, ‘I knew you could do it.’ I was really startled. He said, ‘Your daddy raised you right.’”
Outfitting movie stars and having their hats play a role major motion pictures is all fine and dandy but simply making a hat that will stand the test of time is what really puts a feather in their cap.
“It’s an investment when you’re getting a hat made with us, because you will be able to hand it down to your next generation,” David says. “We’re not just making a hat and putting it on you. We’re making it to last you and look right on you.”