A Lifetime Of Hats

In my 6-plus decades I’ve worn many hats, speaking literally not figuratively. They have never been for adornment, never has there been a “Sunday go to meeting” hat hanging by my door. All have been for keeping my head warm, dry, or protected from the sun. If head protection wasn’t called for then my hat was left at home, because I was (and still am) likely to just misplace it.

One sunny afternoon 40 years back, while working as a dude wrangler in Yellowstone National Park I let a pretty girl wear my wide brimmed hat while we rode horses. That evening my face was burned lobster red. After that girls had to furnish their own headgear. Except for baseball type caps, which just seem to grow around here, I’ve never built an assortment of any kind of hat. If one disappeared it was replaced.

Way back in 1973, a friend and I got it in our heads to ride horses from Bozeman, Mont. through the mountains to Jackson, Wyo. The second day out while leading my horse in a terrible rain and windstorm, my hat blew off into the horse’s face. He went nuts and bolted. In trying to hold onto the reins, I was whip-lashed into a rock filled ditch. My partner caught up the horse and said, “You should have seen that hat go! It never hit the ground the entire time it was in sight.” He was totally uninterested in my lumps and bruises. Winds like that make stampede strings on hats handy. As soon as possible I bought another Stetson. I still have it.

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