September 27, 2011
Tim Santefort’s story isn’t a hundred years old, but it will be.
That’s what he tries to tell you about the framed Stormy Kromer poster surrounded by the dozen or so caps he and his family wear on a daily basis. “It’s a hat rack, that’s all.”
Maybe so, but it’s a hat rack worthy of homage in the Santefort household.
Tim, who works as an insurance and financial services representative in the east-central Illinois community of Watseka, isn’t who you’d picture as the traditional Stormy Kromer customer, and he didn’t get his first cap from his great-great grandfather, either. He’s a relative newcomer to the Kromer legend, and he did his homework before he ever went shopping.
“Let me start by saying I’m bald, and bald guys need serious protection from the elements. I needed something that would last—something that was more like a tool I could use than just a piece of clothing,” said Santefort. “So I researched every brand and all of Kromer’s competition. I loved the Stormy story and that it was hand-made in America . It also felt like I was dealing with friends from my very first order.”
There have been quite a few orders in the year or so since Tim first pulled down the famous ear-flaps, and they’ve been raising a few eyebrows around town.
“People come up to us in the grocery store and say ‘Well, would you look at that.’ They just love our caps.”
“It’s such a conversation-starter that my four-year old no longer waits to be asked: ‘It’s a Stormy Kromer,’ she’ll say to anyone who smiles at her.”
They’re the talk of the town, and Tim tweets frequently about his favorite headgear, but the stories that will be remembered are the adventures the Kromer-capped Santeforts share outdoors.
She probably won’t forget the time her dad wore his original wool cap to take a Polar Bear Plunge into a frozen Lake Michigan, either. Well, at least it kept his ears warm.
“I imagine after they’re grown up and I’m long-gone, my kids will see a Stormy Kromer cap and think of all the things they did with their dad.”
So maybe it is a shrine after all—honoring not just the family’s caps, but the memories that fill them. Or, as Tim puts it, “These little caps bind our experiences together and tie the memories tighter.”
And in a hundred years, the great-great grandkids will have much to remember.
What is your Stormy Kromer story? Share it in the comments.