They say there’s nothing that makes a person feel more foolish than chasing after their hat blown off in the wind. You run and run, finally slamming your foot down on it to pick it up. But it isn’t a hat anymore. It’s changed into something symbolic; a conquest, bringing out my inner hunter-gatherer. Maybe that’s just me but being a hat person I’ve had to hold onto one almost every day this spring.
That’s what I get for wearing a broad-brimmed cowboy hat. My druthers would be to have a hat like Sheriff Longmire, but, I fear, it would look silly on me. Come to think of it, I probably look silly in the old hat I wear every day, but after all these years I’m relegated to it.
I took to wearing cowboy hats in high school in Western Kentucky, which I blame on the television westerns of the 1950s and 60s. I mean, there was a time when every kid wanted to wear a coonskin cap like Davy Crockett. Rowdy Yates looked so cool and stoic in Rawhide, Paladin’s hat had silver conchos, and Bret Maverick wore his black hat on the back of his head. But then there was the Stetson derby worn by the real-life Bat Masterson.
Speaking of derbies, I was reading a book by Captain William French called Recollections of a Western Ranchman. French was the manager of the sprawling WS Ranch over in Alma in the 1880s, and although he was veddy British he acquired a knack for western ways and his observations of the cowboy ranch hands at the WS were, as the English would say, spot on. He relates first-hand experiences with saddles, round-ups, Apache attacks, and even the Elfego Baca Frisco Plaza standoff.
In the book, French muses that the ranch hands wore all sorts of hats, a variety of wide-brimmed hats, but one particular cowboy who was the envy of others sported – you guessed it –a dapper black derby. High fashion in those days, I guess, but I can’t picture Matt Dillon wearing one.
Those old westerns are getting a second life thanks to DVDs and streaming sites on the internet. Speaking of which, there were TV shows and movies where hats can be distinctive, such as Robin Hood’s whatever-it’s-called hat and the tri-cornered pirate hat Johnny Depp wears as Jack Sparrow, both of which would elicit either grins or double takes if worn while walking down California Street.
The most common headcover in Socorro still seems to be the baseball cap. Everyone needs to have at least one. It may be a city ordinance, I don’t know. As designed, baseball caps are great at keeping the sun out of one’s eyes. Which doesn’t work if worn backward. Do you think we could start a new trend if we start putting cowboy hats on backward?
The proper hat can make a statement about who you are, whether it’s felt, canvas or straw. That’s besides the chapeau worn by various professions like firefighters, state police officers, Greek fishermen, or Scottish pipers. I always fancied the hat worn by Sgt. Preston of the Yukon in the old TV show. Although some refer to it as a Smoky Bear hat, it started out as an Army campaign hat and is still worn by drill sergeants in boot camp, but for some reason it makes me think of pictures I’ve seen of President Theodore Roosevelt when he led the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. Hmm…I don’t know if Teddy ever owned a derby, but I know he was an avid fisherman and probably had one with lures pinned to it. Poet Carl Sandburg once said politicians should have three hats: “One to throw in the ring, one for talking through, and one to pull a rabbit out of, if elected.”
However, if one of your hats is made of tin foil, the reptilian aliens know where you live.
At any rate, the spring winds are continuing and it’s not unusual to see an assortment of miscellaneous objects rolling along California Street, from those plastic shopping bags to empty Bud cans and candy bar wrappers to ‘what the heck is that?’ mixed in with the occasional tumbleweed.
Any way you look at it, spring has got to be New Mexico’s most unboring season.
Thankfully, here we don’t have the sort of extreme weather that people in other parts of the world experience; tornadoes, hurricanes, crippling snowstorms, earthquakes or even molten lava that swallows up cars and houses.
Although we could use fewer wildfires and a little more moisture…
I don’t know if the bloomin’ things have affected you yet, but May is National Allergy Awareness Month, so if you’re already sneezing your ears off, don’t take time to stop and smell anything.