Ladies, don’t lie to me now. I know you’ve done it. I’ve done it. But we’ll go to our graves with the one secret that could send us there in the first place – I may have thrown away a farm cap or two in my day as a farm wife.
It’s been long enough now that I have forgotten which caps I may have tossed out to pasture. The truth is, if I don’t recognize them and they look like they’ve been squished into a vacuum-sealed package that might have gone on the Apollo 13 mission.
And would they even notice if one just found its way into the garbage bag on trash burning day? The answer is, of course, “Yes!”
The farmer has a special connection to that which, well, connects to his head. If women have a “thing” for shoes, then farmers certainly have that same “thing” for caps.
My dad had hundreds of them, but he always wore the same grease-soaked one or two; and he was the only man I ever knew who wore his caps with the bill turned up. It looked as natural as could be on him, since that’s the only way I ever saw him wear one.
Like excuses for not dusting, farm caps are a dime a dozen, and farmers will never pass up a new cap. They will probably also never use most of them.
“Some of them are too cool not to have,” I’ve been told by one of my sons.
Not that long ago, I had grown tired of our guys’ collection of caps that were overtaking our porch and basement. I hadn’t even seen these caps on any of the guys for months, possibly years.
I made the executive decision to get rid of some. I got a garbage sack and began stuffing hats into it as I rejoiced silently, thinking about how we would now have an additional 800 or 1,000 square feet in the house to use for other more useful things.
When I had finished gathering the caps and had tied the bag shut, I was halfway across the room in the basement on my way to the stairs to take them up to the attic, when my husband came into the house.
Knowing that I would be paying apartment rent if he knew I was planning to eventually dispose of those sacred head pieces, I immediately did an “about face” and stuffed them into a busy corner before he actually got to the basement.
A few weeks later I seized an opportunity to get them to the attic without him seeing, relishing the fact that I at least got the caps out of plain sight for the time being.
After some time had passed, my husband asked, “Where are all those caps that were over there?”
(“Nerts,” I thought to myself.) But I said calmly, “They’re in the attic. Why?”
Incredulously, he wanted to know why they were up there, reasoning, “Well, we can’t wear them if they’re up there. Get them back down here so we can wear them.”
He was standing up for farmers against their wives everywhere. Lucky for me I hadn’t burned the caps right away; I would’ve probably been paying my own apartment rent and child support as well.
I have to say, though, that the farm cap can truly be a useful accessory. I’m told it makes a good holder for parts when you don’t have anything else handy; it’s a sweat catcher, cobweb duster, waver-downer of people, and was probably the original sun blocker before companies made billions with their rub-on kind.
It’s a holder of baby kittens, can make a little kid feel mighty big just by wearing one and can even be used to hide underwear when blue jeans malfunction in front of mixed company.
It can be part of a show of fatigue when removed and followed with a head scratch. It can also be a sign of respect to God or to someone of the opposite gender when it is removed in their presence.
Some days of the Old West still lives on in the modern day armer’s cap.
My most vivid memory of the use of the farmer’s cap was a few years ago when, in an act of chivalry, my husband once used it to swat a fly that was on my back.
(At least that’s what he told me, anyway.) I don’t know if he got the fly, but the plastic adjustor on the back of the cap certainly swatted me very effectively.
Good thing he had his cap on as he drove, to shield the glare that was coming from inside the car. Yes, farm caps are useful, indeed. For many reasons.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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