Hat in a haystack: Sailor’s cap grabbed during 1945 victory celebration in Vancouver sought by grandson as birthday surprise
Sam Tridente is pictured with an unidentified friend in a 1945 photo wearing his military hat, which went missing when a Vancouver boy snatched it during homecoming celebrations.
Photograph by: David Rigler, Mike Tridente
Close to 70 years ago, a Vancouver boy reached out and snatched the sailor’s cap that was atop the head of Signalman 2nd Class Sam Tridente as the U.S. sailor joyously celebrated, along with thousands of others in this port city, Japan’s surrender to the allied forces, which effectively brought an end to the Second World War.
Souvenir in hand, the boy vanished without a trace in the euphoric crowd and time, as it does, moved on. In the ensuing seven decades, Tridente accomplished much, including a long career as a postmaster in Hoboken, N.J., and helped create a loving family that now boasts three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
But the 89-year-old never has never forgotten that day in August 1945 when his hat went missing, something his grandson, Mike Tridente, a 31-year-old New Yorker, studiously noted several weeks ago during a dinner at his grandparents’ place.
During the course of the evening, the elder Tridente, encouraged by his grandson’s wife, talked about his time in the war, and, eventually mentioned the hat.
“He was telling us that he still has the rest of the uniform, and he even tried it on a few years ago,” Mike Tridente said this week from New York.
“It was a little big on him as he’s gotten a little smaller as he’s got older, and he remembered that that hat is still missing … he was especially attached to that part of the uniform, so it was just something that he always wished he had.”
With 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of V-J Day, the younger Tridente was struck with an ambitious idea for a 90th birthday gift for his grandpa next May: the hat.
As a first step in tracking down his grandfather’s “Dixie Cup” U.S. navy hat, Tridente authored a post on the social media/news website Reddit detailing his search and this grandfather’s story.
To date, he’s had a few links sent his way connecting him with war memorabilia collectors, including one in Vancouver, but no luck finding a navy hat with “S. Tridente” stencilled on the inside.
Fully aware that the odds are stacked heavily against him, the younger Tridente is keeping his expectations in check. Yet he holds a “flicker” of hope that the stars will align and someone, somewhere will uncover the hat that his grandfather so fondly remembers.
“A lot of people suggested trying to find a vintage hat and getting his name rewritten in it, or just finding a replica,” said Tridente.
“I’m not going to go that route. I think it is either find the original, or move on to another idea. We love this man, and I would do anything for him. I’m going to try my best, keep my hopes low, but there will still be that flicker of hope going on in the background.”
Have the hat? Have a tip? Contact Mike Tridente at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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