The pinwheel beanie has really caught on in these parts.

Pinwheel beanies are those little cloth skull caps with the propellers on top. They’re currently whizzing out of each Pittsfield store that carries them, at a rate of about 20 a day. The W. T. Grant department store, for instance, has put in its third pinwheel beanie order since they went on sale last week.

Boys and girls of all ages buy these new beanies. Wearers range from five-year-old children to Pittsfield High School students. Most of them are the active, energetic type.

Since air makes the wheels go around, the idea is to keep moving, or at least to stand in a stiff breeze. It is also good to jump from high places and run downstairs as fast as possible. When this is done properly, the propellers revolve like mad, emitting a pleasing whirring sound.

All pinwheel beanies work on the same aerodynamic principle but they come in many different colors. One of the most popular models is an attractive yellow and purple, with red and green propellers.

Besides their obvious advantages, the hats seem to suit children brought up on Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. In recognition of this fact, the inventor dubbed his line the “Atomic Whirler.” But most local youngsters are impatient with suggestions that if they run around fast enough the propellers will lift them off the ground.

“What’s the matter — ya think I’m crazy?” asked one little boy when queried on this point.

The original pinwheel beanie sprang from the fertile brain of Benjamin Molin of New York City, a novelty-hat manufacturer in partnership with Joseph Rosenbaum. Their firm is known as the Benay-Albee Novelty Company.

Messrs. Molin and Rosenbaum have put out a pile of trick hats in the past eight years. One was the Easy Money Beanie, which had five new pennies fastened to the crown. Another was the Sportie, a regular beanie sporting small wooden models of athletic equipment. Still another was the Charmie, which had dozens of plastic animals hanging from the rim. But none of these inventions have been received with such acclaim as the Atomic Whirler.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.