Dad had a rule on the ranch. He'd hire a cowboy who rolled his own smokes only if he wore a felt hat. He'd hire a cowboy who wore a straw hat only if he smoked tight-rolls. I asked him why. "Son," he said, "if a man rolls his own & wears a felt hat, he'll spend half his time workin' & the other half rollin' smokes. If a man wears a straw hat & smokes tight-rolls, he'll spend half his time workin' & the other half chasin' his hat. If a man rolls his own & wears a straw hat, anytime he ain't rollin' a smoke he'll be chasin' that damn' hat & he'll never get a lick of work done."
Dad wore straw hats but he smoked tight-rolls--Chesterfields, for years. I wore a pima straw in the summer--they were cheap, about 99¢ in the early '50s--& a black felt 'Open Road' style hat I got at a little department store in Georgetown for $5. It was fur felt, too--not real high quality, but durable. The straw would usually last one summer, but i could get 3 or 4 years out of one of the felt hats.
When I started smoking I started on cigars & pipes, not on cigarettes. The only time I smoked cigarettes was when I was in the Army. You got 4 cigarettes in every box of Ration Charlie. Some of those C-rats had been around a while! I got a box of C-rats one time & the cigarettes were Luckies--in a green pack. 'Lucky Strike Green went to war' in '42, because the green ink used on Luckies' packs came from I. G. Farben in Germany.
I don't think I ever got a pack of green Luckies in a C-Rat, but I heard a story that some did. We got the four pack...Winston's I think.
When I was a kid, living in Kansas, I rolled Bugler or Bull Durham, which was funny stuff. The tobacco looked like wheat germ, little chunks. I never did get the hang of rolling one in one hand, but I saw guys do it. Bull Durham was cheap, 15 cents a bag and the papers didn't have stick'um. You only got four good drags. The little bag fit perfectly in the little breast pocket of your jeans jacket. It was the only thing I ever put in that little pocket. That tag hanging down from the picket was cool, I always thought.
Almost everyone smoked. Quite a few fellows chewed. I never did like it much. You got a lot more nicotine into your system from chewing than smoking and it was very addictive. Inside the house a guy would carry around a no. 10 can to spit into. Funny thing was when you stuffed a wad of Red Man or Beach Nut into your mouth and bit down the stuff tasted like candy. It was sweet and tasked great. Then it seemed that it sucked every drop of moisture from within my body. I never did get the hang of the stuff.
I always liked pipe smoking, but I didn't inhale much. Never smoked cigars...much anyway.
Like everybody else I quite smoking years ago and I don't miss it today. It is too bad that amoking is bad for you because it was fun watching the smoke curl up from your cigarette and that first drag was wonderful. Smoking a Lucky while sitting around a camp fire BSing was just about the best. You'd stick a long stick into the fire until it got an ember and lift it to the tip of your cigarette and lite up, then knock the ember out, and put the stick aside so you could use it again.
I still smoke my Maduro cigars--3 or 4 a day. I have to soak in a warm bath in the mornings to loosen up the joints, so I'll relax in the tub & have a cigar. I'll have one after lunch, one after supper, & then one while I watch TV in the evening. I chewed for a while, but my wife made me go rinse out my mouth before she'd let me kiss her. That was just too much trouble, so I quit chewing. Rather lose the tobacco than the woman--I've had her nearly 50 years. If somebody told me if I'd give her up I'd win the megamillions jackpot, I'd pass on the money.
I don't smoke near as much as I used to. At one point I was literally chain-smoking cigars. I don't inhale 'em, & they don't produce pyrobenzedrine, which is the chemical associated w/lung cancer. The smoke has to be very hot to produce that stuff--I got this from one of the guys involved in the original lung-cancer-cause research--& only cigarettes & those very small 'cigars' which are actually cigarettes wrapped in brown paper burn that hot.
I actually got started smoking about 60 years ago in, of all places, Boy Scouts. We'd take paper towels & roll cedarbark in them. Lots of cedar in the Texas hill country, so we never ran out of anything to smoke. I knew some guys who smoked dry grapevine, but that burnt my tongue.
I had my try at rollin', but I hated Bull Durham in a cigarette. I'd smoke it in a cob pipe, but I wouldn't roll it. If you didn't hold the quirly perfectly level or keep it pointed slightly upward, that flake tobacco wouldn't stay in the roll. The fire would fall off & burn a hole in your pants. Prince Albert said 'Does Not Bite The Tongue' on the can. No, it didn't 'bite' it--it reached into your mouth, grabbed hold of it, & wouldn't let go! Walter Raliegh was a lot milder, but it was a flake tobacco best smoked in a pipe. Duke's Mixture was another flake tobacco best suited for pipes. Bugler was about the only one I'd roll.
A lot of the Mexican cowboys smoked Lobo Negro--'black wolf.' Bull or Duke's were a nickel a sack, but Lobo Negro was 2 sacks for a nickel. I tried that stuff once. Once was enough! I don't know how they smoke that sturr regularly, but I've seen 80 & 90 yr old Mexican men still rollin' Lobo Negro or Pato Negro (black duck). We used to get Delicados out of Mexico--15¢ for a pack of 18--& they weren't bad at all. They were very mild & had a slightly sweet taste to them.
I wouldn't mind getting some Delicados, but I wouldn't step across that border these days even if somebody told me they'd found El Naranjal. That was at one time one of the richest gold mines in Mexico. It's somewhere on the Yaqui River way back in Sonora, but when the Spanish crown ran the Jesuits out, they also lost the locatiions of El Naranjal & Tayopa, another rich mine that has since been found.
I've had my old black hat abt 30 yrs & it's sort of my trademark. This thing has been thru so much a pal of mine insists it can't be cleaned, it has to be rendered. About the only time I wear it any more is when I go down to the Chaparral WMA below Cotulla. Chap holds 'youth shoots' twice a year, in March & October. They bus in High School VoAg classes & FFA clubs, the kids get a briefing at the HQ on the game & non-game animals of South Texas & then they go thru a 7-station round-robin in the field. They get archery, rimfire & centerfire handguns, skeet, they shoot a round of sporting clays, then rimfiire rifles, muzzle-loaders, & centerfire rifles. I teach muzzle-loading, mostly because I've been a muzzle-loader since I was in my teens. I've shot just about every kind of muzzle-loader there is, from a matchlock to these modern in-line things, which I don't like at all. They tell the kids "Mister Charley wrote the book," & that's true. It's called TEXAS SMOKE, MUZZLE-LOADERS ON THE FRONTIER, you can get it from Texas Tech Press in Lubbock, & it's a fully-illustrated, non-technical history of muzzle-loading firearms from the time the Spanish got here until 1860.
A new, off the rack hat has no character. When I got mine It had the 'J. R. Ewing' crease, but I got rid of that. It's had a Hopalong Cassidy crease from time to time, but its now got the old Army fore-&-aft crease. The lining's gone, as is the inner sweatband. I had to flatten the brim--I don't much like curled-up brims, tho my dad did. It's been thru rain, sleet, a hailstorm with BB-sized hail, lots of Texas dust, some mud, & almost a fire. It started out as an 'urban cowboy' hat--looked like what John Travolta wore in that movie they filmed at Gilley's--but it's the real thing now.
Just got my copy of RIP Ford's hat in the 1854 photo. Mike at Buckaroo Hatters did it!!!
I have sent the enhanced pictures of his hat to at least 10 different hatters over the years. Mike responded "I can do it" AND HE DID!!!! Somebody responded that the telescope crown was not correct---- wrong!!!
I sent an highly enhanced picture of the Rip's hat to 4 great custom hat makers this year and THEY ALL agreed on the crown type. If you want me to email you these photos let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rip's hat was NOT a top hat. I have a beaver top hat made in 1854 in NYC (documented) and that "ain't" Rip's hat. I am a happy hat owner.
PS Rip is my hero for years. He inspired me to get my law degree after my medical degree. But I ain't no tea tootler like RIP. Cheers to Buckaroo Hatters.
The hat I've been searching for is the one that Paul Newman wore in BC and the Sundance Kid. It wasn't exactly like a cowboy hat, but it looked right to me. I went to my personal hat guy who is the sheriff in Lusk MT. He fashioned me a hat alright, but it wasn't right.
From Googling images of Paul Newman in BC & TSK, I see that Paul Newman wore at least four different hats in the movie. One was a derby (bowler), another was a processed wool or fur hat with a flat, round top and a short brim curled like a modern cowboy hat, a third was a straw hat closely resembling the second, and the last one was similar to the second, but with less of curl to the brim. A derby is easy to find, but if you want the second hat, how about getting a stingy brimmed fedora and giving the brim a curl?
Actually that's what I have done. I search out old fedora's. I found a brown one with a wide ribbon that was smashed on the floor in a junk shop in Fort Bragg, CA. I punched out the top and it was fine, the silk inside was in great condition and it fit like a glove.
I call it my "story hat", because it has one. After I bought it ($28); I put it on and stepped outside. It was raining. Not wanting to soak my new hat, I stepped into the art store next door. An elderly lady came over. I told her I was just getting in out of the rain. Then I showed her my new hat. She looked at it and her eyes welled up in tears. "That was my husband's hat." She said. She explained to me that he had purchased it sometime before they moved from New York to Calif. in 1946 and that her daughter demanded the old hat after her husband died. Well, the daughter wanted it to sell it. I wrote the original owner's name on a slip of paper and put it into the hat band. The lady said that her husband never wore it and that it lived its first life on a self in their closet. It looks and feels like new. Strange story, but true.
I think that old hats are better because they are softer. I do have a bowler, but I feel funny wearing it. I also have a Panama which is comfortable, but it is a summer hat. I was in Benson AZ once. While walking down the street I came across a hat maker who specialized in hand made Panama hats. They were beautiful, very soft and finely woven of some kind of grass. I wanted one. I asked the owner "how much?" She said, "Well, they start at $1500". Whaaaaaa?! She said most of her clients are celebrities and I think Jeff Bridges is wearing one in Seabiscuit.
I needed a new black dress hat, so I went to River Junction. The guy told me he had one exactly like the one Kurt Russell wore in Tombstone, so I bought it sight-unseen. It was made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by the Flying Eagle hat company. It's an Amishman's hat! It's as stiff as plank. I'd make a pretty good weapon in a fight. You hit some guy with the brim of the thing, he's gonna remember it a while!