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Knitted Cap Names

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  • In Vermont the term toque is still in use, but as my Dad was in the Navy during WW2, I grew up calling them watch caps. We also called them ski caps.

  • In California, spreading from naval bases throughout the state (and, says my research, from all WWII West Coast naval bases) during and post WWII, watch caps; more often wool caps now. Another term that emanated from the Navy was zories (from Japanese zorii), which they were always called growing up in the 60s, and what they were labeled in stores. The rarer terms were “thongs,” first, and “sandals,” (or beach sandals or beach thongs). As the population has grown, they’ve become ‘flip-flops.’ I was born in 1955, and didn’t hear “flip-flop” until well into adulthood, 30’s maybe. I regard “zories” as the correct California term, with “flip-flop” identifying one as a foreigner, as with “Frisco,” or “San Fran.” or, more recently, “Cali.”
    San Francisco, to native Californians, (Northern, at least), is “The City.” Same with “Cali.” If you say that, you’re not from there.
    These days many native born folks from Cali wear flip-flops when they go to San Fran. The other vernacular seems to now mean a multi-generation Californian.
    Culture is language and food. I don’t care for the changing of California-speak among native born Californians, especially 2nd or later generation. I resist the assimilation, the fading of my culture.

  • As a Californian born and lifer, with a Navy dad and two Navy brothers, closest port being Port Hueneme, and as a one-year adolescent Sea Coast Cadet, I had never heard the term “watch cap” before. It makes sense though. And as I recall, the only color you could get them in was Navy blue. Most of us in Ventura County called it a “beanie.” I’m also familiar with zories and thongs. And you’re right about “Cali,” that just grates on my native ears! If they want to shorten it why not the proper “Calif” since the root word of California is from the Arab “Kalif/Calif/Kalifate/Caliphate” family.

    The other thing about knit caps in California: WHY?! For that cold night the temp drops below 55?!

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