'Cap Lady' gives celebrities something to remember: Jax

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The First Coast has several great venues for performing artists, and it's a hot spot for presidential hopefuls during campaign season.

The point is, larger than life celebrities and world leaders make their way to our city, usually for quick visits, then it's on to the next town.

Maybe you wonder what memories people leave with of Jacksonville, the beaches and river are certainly up there.

But when it comes to first impressions, it may be a Northside woman who is the feather in Jacksonville's cap.

If you try stitching a label on Fathiyyah Muhammad, it won't stick.

She sews for hours at a time in her Northside home, country music is her soundtrack when she's not listening to Rush Limbaugh.

"I'm to the right of Rush," she said laughing.

But she's very serious about her politics. She's a member of the Tea Party, and "as conservative as they come."

"Must be something in the water," she said. "Maybe I should start bottling it and sending it to Rush."

But despite her right lean, her daily toil is for folks from across the spectrum.

"I call myself a reverse Robin Hood," she said from her sewing room in the garage of her Northside home. "I take from the poor and give to the rich."

She gets blue jeans from Goodwill, some neighbors will donate their old denim and sews them into caps. Each hat she makes she'll give to a famous person who's visiting Jacksonville.

"I enjoy doing it, thinking the whole time they're going to like it, I know they're going to like it."

She started making the caps 30 years ago, and she estimates she's made them for more than 400 celebrities and world leaders.

"We didn't know what we were doing," she said. "My husband and I just decided we were going to do it, so we did it."

In her office just up the street from her home, she has a literal wall of fame. Her office wall is papered with the pictures she's taken with the celebrities over the years.

"I got a bottle of champagne from Marvin Gaye," she said pointing to a picture she took with the singer. He was wearing the hat she made him, and a bathrobe. "I still have that champagne."

She shows off another dressing room picture, this time she's posing with Van Halen.

"That's Sammy Hagar in his robe, he had barbecue sauce stains all over it. "

Her goal was to give each of these people something to remember our town by; when so often their visits are only for a couple hours.

"When all of the famous people who come to Jacksonville, we should make something to give to them."

She's got pictures with five presidents: Ford, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama.

There's no trick to meeting these people, she says she just goes to the venue before each show or speech, walks right up and starts talking.

"No one told us we couldn't do it, so we just did it."

She doesn't ask for anything except a picture and of all the famous she's met, you'll notice a theme. The country stars have a very special place.

"Oh Randy Owen was the nicest guy I ever met," she said of the lead singer from the group Alabama.

One of her more interesting experiences came when she met Hank Williams, Jr.

"He just came off stage and he threw his shirt off into the crowd," she laughed. "He puts on a show."

And sure enough, there's a picture on her wall of a bare chested, sweaty Hank Williams, Jr. in a full embrace with Muhammad and her husband. But despite her clear favorites, her caps are for all who visit.

"When I see that look on their face, it just makes me feel so good."

She says her husband figures out the size of the caps by simply looking at pictures of the celebrities coming to town. Out of the 400 they've made, they say they've only got one wrong: Chuck Mangione's.


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