The Tale of the Hat: An Oral History

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By: Joe Anderson, Chief Library Elf

Our Niels Bohr statue in the reading room looking festive.Once upon a time on a cold and icy island far, far away, the elves who worked in the Niels Bohr Library were moody and sad as the winter solstice approached.  The assistant chief library elf, a jolly old pixie named Joan, was concerned about her crew. So she thought and thought about why her elves seemed unhappy.  Could it be Dewey decimal dementia or perhaps overcrowding, for the Library there was very small?  She read books, she talked with the chief elf, she consulted HR, but she found no answers.  Then she noticed that all the other elves at AIP were a little grumpy as well, and even the dogs that guarded the entrance to this place on 45th St. seemed irritable.   

Ah ha, she thought, it must be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  And being wise as well as jolly, she knew that the elves needed some winter cheer.  What better to make the imps happy than by decorating the imposing bust of the library’s patronymic, a fatherly figure even wiser than the assistant chief library elf?  So she went to a secret place (Woolworths or maybe Macys but definitely not Bloomingdales, where only very rich elves shop) and found a bright red hat with white trim.  What luck, she thought, to find the perfect attire and in just the right size—XXXXL. 

So she bought the hat, placed it on the head of our namesake, and everyone was happy—until 1993.  Then the library (and the rest of AIP) moved to a warmer, more humid land far to the south, where we can still be found today.  And while a few elves stayed on the cold, icy island, those who came to the new land were sad that the hat had been left behind.  With no headgear in sight, there again was grumpiness through the first winter solstice in the new land.  But not for long, for soon a spritely new elf, Nancy, came to the Library, and she knew that she had to solve the upcoming winter’s SADness.  So she went to a magical place called Target and found the biggest, reddest hat ever.  All the elves rejoiced the second year during the winter as our patronymic donned his happy apparel again.  Now, every year the hat comes out and brings cheer and holiday fun to all the elves at AIP and those that visit.  And everyone has lived happily ever after.

Disclaimer:  This account is based on oral tradition, which is a usually reliable source in the history of physics.  However, readers should keep in mind that it is not a primary source and represents a later retelling of events that happened long ago.