Sam Moore's article about hats in the January 2008 issue of Farm Collector brought back a lot of memories. In the summer my pappy always wore a dilapidated dress hat around the farm, usually straw, but sometimes an old felt hat with a series of holes cut around the crown for ventilation.
This was pre-OSHA. From the time I could hold on until I was big enough to drive a tractor myself, whatever Pappy did, I rode on the tractor with him. He had a Ford 8N and I stood on the step plate, leaned on the fender and held on with both hands. One summer I was riding while Pappy was cutting wheat with the 8N and a 5-foot Case combine. He was wearing a particularly dilapidated old felt hat that summer and he told me, "Alan, I'm about done with this hat. When the wheat's all cut I'm running it through the combine."
The day we finished he let the combine clean out, then tossed the hat into the header. We watched it ride up the canvas, and then disappear into the cylinder. Pappy pulled up a little, and then we walked around back to check on the hat. It was flat, but otherwise unhurt. Pappy picked the hat up, slapped it against his leg to knock the dust off, re-shaped it and placed it on his head. "Guess I wasn't as near done with it as I thought," he remarked. I don't recall how much longer Pappy wore that old hat, but I imagine for the rest of the summer.