dad and hannah creeley caps

Will Creeley

Philadelphia

As a little kid, one wears what one’s handed. Or put into: Feet directed into boots, hands into gloves. (Stay warm!) So my younger sister Hannah and I would hit the cold Buffalo air wearing the warm wool caps that were ubiquitous around the Creeley place.

The caps were knitted by my older half-sister Sarah, a teacher in San Francisco, and sent east, accompanied by sweet notes in her cheerfully loopy script. I can see Sarah’s handwriting now: perfectly billowing cursive, maybe in colored pen, floating alongside drawings of rainbows bounding above clouds. Love from California!

Sarah’s caps are horizontally banded in rich colors selected especially for the recipient—fog gray, constellation chart blue, mossy green, aubergine. The caps fit snug, riding just above my eyes, excellent for walking snowy sidewalks holding a parent’s hand or waking up in the backseat after long drives.

All of us wore Sarah’s caps: my mom and dad, me and Hannah. My mother remembers my father wearing one right from the beginning of their relationship, back in the ‘70s. So we wore them, too. There were always several at hand by the door during winter. Get one on your head and step into the Buffalo night, ready to walk the dog.

I wasn’t cognizant of the hats’ status as a family staple until first grade. My classmate Jeremy—I forget his last name, but he was a hypercharged kid, a real motormouth, and very funny—let out a loud crack at the cafeteria table about me and my wool beanie. “Hey Willy! Yeah! Wearing the Creeley cap!”

I remember laughing, simultaneously blushing and proud at being identified so particularly. The Creeley cap! It was true.

Will Creeley lives in Philadelphia with his wife Sarafina.