Head Gear

Head gear can be considered: a cap, helmet, lid, derby, hard hat, or even one of them things some folks call a dew rag. Never quite understood that one.  Is that what you wear when there is  dew on the ground? Or is it to keep the dew off of you? Or maybe it is to keep you from messing up your dew…  man oh man am I confused!

Head gear to me, and the folks I grew up with, was just one thing:   a Cowboy Hat. You know, a felt hat made for Cowboys to give them protection against the elements. There were black, silver belly, tan and Larry Mahan even came out with one called a “Grizzly”( it needed a trim in my way of thinking). They came in all shapes and all sizes; long oval, tall crown or even both.  But the men who wore them gave them their own identifying crease.

Different parts of the country gave terms to the cowboys who wore these hats. The “Buckaroo”, from up north and west wore flat brims. The panhandle cowboys liked theirsto be high and tight creased, sort of taco shaped, but no matter the man or the crease or the country,  a real working cowboy gave his hat his shape.

Most of the time it was sweat stained and very well broken in from all the days in the elements. It kept the sun of your head as well as the rain or snow, it made warmth in the winter and shade in the summer.

The way I was brought up, there were some unspoken rules about a hat: it wasn’t to be wore inside, always tip you hat to the ladies, never lay it on a bed and never lay it brim down. Don’t ever mess with another man’s hat. And my dad always said, “Never judge a man by the crease or the hat on his head.”

I have had a lot of hats in the last 25 years and usually wear them plum out before I even consider getting another one.  My mother would tell me I ought  to get a new hat or change the oil in the one I got.

Well cooking around that ole wagon of mine can add years and character to a hat in a hurry and ole bertha,  that wood stove of mine, can do a number on a felt hat in about two years just from the sweat and smoke. I have retired some hats- given them to nephews and grandkids, but the hat that meant the most to me was bought by Dad about two weeks before he died.

I wore that black felt hat in pride to him and his legacy he left behind as a cowboy, a gentleman and a father. I retired that hat about a year ago and gave it to Shannon.  Now let me tell you it was plum wore out by the time she got it. No liner, no hat band, I had shimmed that ole rascal with duct tape for years just to keep the Southwest Oklahoma wind from blowing it off my head everyday. Years of smoke and abuse had taken its toll on that ole hat but I just couldn’t give it up, but I know it is in a safe place, just as am I.

I have a hat now that cost more than it ought to- but man it is one of them things every feller ought to do once in a great while. Just like a new saddle, when you get that rascal broke in it sure feels good.

As long as there are cows there will be Cowboys, and as long as there are Cowboys there will be Cowboy Head Gear.

So if you see a Cowboy hat on a Real Cowboy,  look at the crease and the mileage it has on it- it will tell you a lot about the feller under it.

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