A short ode to the cowboy hat
The cowboy profession is without doubt a dangerous one. In the era of the cattle drives, there were many dangers to deal with, such as, hostile Indians, rustlers, weather, stampedes, swollen river crossings, and the everyday trials with beasts that weighed hundreds of pounds.
The result of facing these dangers was that many of these western men were extremely superstitious and would do many things to ward off misfortune. And while these men were not what you might call religious, though I am sure their Mama read to them from the bible, they lived God’s creation every day. But they still figured that lady luck needed to be on their side. So, they were careful to never set their hat on a bed because they knew that might bring bad luck in the form of being cross with one another, injury, and even sometimes death.
This superstition stemmed from several ideas. One was that it was common practice to set one’s hat on top of their casket and not one of them wanted that image pestering them in the bedroom.
One other possibility was, many Oldtimers knew that when you took your hat off at days end, it would cause your hair to rise and even sometimes seem to spark. That meant that demons were in your hat to cause trouble and not one cowboy wanted to share his bed with those kind of creatures!
Today we better understand static electricity, but to those early cowboys, this meant trouble. Where there is a problem, there is a remedy and any time a cowboy hat is found on your bed, you must immediately spit in that hat, swat it to the ground and stomp every lick of bad luck out of it! Now, if you are one that likes to adorn your hat with some object of affection like a feather, ornamental horseshoe, posey, or rattlesnake rattler, you must always place it on the left side of your Stetson. And if you are hunting or competing in a rodeo, you never wear a new hat with any type of new gear. A companion of superstition is hat etiquette.
You remove your hat when you say the Pledge of Allegiance or during the National Anthem. And of course, when speaking to a lady, or at church, funerals, and mealtimes. You show a person respect, courtesy or greeting by tipping your hat.
Now, ladies can touch or take a ones hat from his head in tender or romantic moments, but always remember this…gentlemen don’t mess with another man’s hat! Don’t touch it, ridicule it or ask to try it on. If you are bold enough to knock a fellers hat off of his head, you best be prepared to fight, because a cowboy can be mighty touchy about his hat.
Ode To The Hat
It hung there on that rack, just the same as his other tack,
‘Til he once crawled outta bed, then he put it on his head,
Just a part of a mornin’s cue.
But when he stepped out into that cold, to see what the mornin’ might unfold,
He tugged his hat down tight, for that wind would send it on flight,
And friend that just wouldn’t do,
You see, once that hat was snugged down, he could face the day, grin or frown,
An’ his thoughts kinda rambled ‘bout, an’ come to terms where there was no doubt.
You see, it just don’t matter who.
A cowboy is some partial to his lid, but there was somethings he always did,
Like take it off when he’d kneel an’ pray, to ask the Lord to guide his way,
Then tuck it back on tight as glue.
An’ he’d tip it to the ladies he met, ‘course, at dinner, you find a place for it to set,
Same as church or Moms sitting room, or when you ask a gal to dance, I assume,
Otherwise, there’d be a hullabaloo.
An’ at the rodeo when the anthem was played, or Old Glory at the parade,
You don’t do this ‘cuz that’s what they expect, no siree, it’s outta respect,
A condition some folks should renew.
Use it to water your ride when on the trail, or fan a fire, when it tries to fail,
Or pack some grain to feed your hoss, or dust it off when you speak to the boss,
Ah, you can wear it when you’re havin’ a brew.
It’ll block the sun that can do harm, or stop the wind an’ keep you warm,
There’s times when it will shade your face, or slap your pony when you’re in a race,
Keep it on when you’re whittlin’ or take a chew.
Now understand, a western life is hard, most cowboy’s give credit to their Lord,
An’ they handle their task each day, considerin’ just how to make their play,
So’s to measurer up to the crew.
Sometimes that means taking a stand, the cowboy code is to ride for the brand,
He works hard an’ he’s a loyal cuss, he may tip his hat to wave at us,
His way of life is his virtue.
But here I have a warnin’ for you an’ your kind, so please take heed if you’re of a mind,
Don’t mess with the feller’s hat on or off his head, he’ll take it personal an’ you’ll come to dread,
An’ at this time I give a clue,
A feller’s hat is a shore ‘nuff personal thing, so don’t make the mistake of assuming,
That he will allow you to meddle with his lid, ‘cuz he might dot your eye an’ put you on the skid.
I expect that would change your view!
Actually, the cowboy life is no myth, ‘cuz he’ll do to ride the river with’
You can’t beat him for companion an’ friend, he’ll be there until the end,
‘Cuz he’ll shore ‘nuff see you through.
But what’s that got to do with his hat, well, there’s things I have laid out, there is that,
But friend, take into account, a cowboy’s hat ranks up there with his dog an’ his mount,
Their partnership is true blue!
So, friend, as ‘crost this land you ride, always wear your hat with pride,
Set an example for your fellow man, knowin’ this is part of God’s plan,
Your example is seen by more than a few.
Hopefully some young’uns you might inspire, truth is, that hat is part of your attire
An’ this is just knowin about your hat, ‘cuz you know… cowboys are like that!
An’ this works for me an’ it works for you!
© Ol’ Jim Cathey
Join us Sunday morning at First Baptist Church Marlin
God bless each of you and God Bless America!