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  #1  
Old 01-16-2019, 08:32 AM
jplinville's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Dayton, Ohio region
Posts: 299
A good hat...and the story behind it.

Most men have a favorite shirt, sweater, jacket, or ball cap that they just can't be without. For me, it's my beat up and abused Minnetonka Buffalo Nickle hat that I picked up in Utah, at Smith and Edwards, for $10. I got it at that price because of a water stain on the leather, and the fact that the front nickle was off center a touch. At the time, I figured I'd replace the band, dye the hat, and wear it when the feeling hit me.

To me at the time, it wasn't anything special...just a hat to keep my head warm in the winter, and would likely spend the rest of it's life on the top shelf in the closet. I didn't do anything to it, other than wear it, until 2 years after buying it. I pulled it out of the closet one day to put it on, and the leather had drawn up, and got a bit tough...it was no longer shaped to my head. I decided I would start giving the hat the love it required, and if I worked it properly, it would fit again...if not, I was going to toss it in favor of a better hat. I worked it with Nokoma glove conditioner and mink oil, slathering it all over the hat, sealing it in a plastic bag for a week, pulling it out and doing it again, until it finally softened up a bit. I then put a hat stretcher in it and cranked it til I split the end of the back form. I let it sit another two weeks with the stretcher, further cranking it as I went, til it was too big for my head. I treated it once more, and began wearing it daily, so the heat from my head would help form it to fit my head perfectly.

Since then, I've used Nokona and mink oil every 6 months, and wearing the hat everyday, even in the hot summer. It's been on my head anytime I've made repairs or improvements to the truck. I wore it when I redid mom's deck last summer. I wore it even when I was in the hospital 4 times...that hat has been on my head in more pictures than I can count when out with friends...

A few months ago, the wife and I were out in WV, and stopped at an Indian trading post in Wheeling, out by Cabella's, and we saw that they had the same hats in stock. My wife made the argument that my hat is showing it's age, and that I needed to get a back up to it...something I really couldn't argue with, since this old hat has been abused and loved for going on 12 years. After looking at the new hat, I noticed that the quality of the new hats was nothing near the quality of my old hat. The ink stamp inside the hat was off...it was blurred. I looked at the stitching, comparing it to mine, and that was off as well...longer stitches that weren't tight. The top panel also had an odd pucker to it, which was caused by it not being lined up properly, and the loose stitching. I mean, it wasn't a bad hat, and would likely last a number of years, but the quality and pride in construction wasn't there. I decided against buying that one, and opted for a nice looking leather Stetson that I figured I could work and bring out the character in it...and it's getting more beautiful as I continue to work the leather.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a collection of western hats. Everything from a cheap $20 hat found at a truck stop to a Stetson Shasta 10X...I've got probably 15 of them, all in different rooms of the house...some in proper boxes, and the cheaper ones hanging on hat hook I made out of old horse shoes. I love the hats, and the story they tell. I have some that are brought out for special occasions...like the Stetson Shasta. That one was bought for me after surviving my heart attack, by some great friends of mine, and I wore it the day I went home, and again to my brother's wedding. I had it on the day my second granddaughter was born.

No matter how many or how expensive the hats that I own, this $10 discounted, stained, beat up, out of shape hat just fits me in more ways than I can count. It fits my head, my attitude, my personality, etc. This old hat has been through more than most, and it has character that no new hat has yet. I ran into a good friend of mine the other day when I was out with the wife, he's a local attorney with power to his name. He's been trying to buy that old hat from me since he saw it. He loves good leather..and his briefcase is a Saddleback Leather Co full grain leather bag that he paid nearly $700 for. He wants to buy my hat from me, because it perfectly matches his briefcase in color and shape. He's beat the hell out of that bag for the past 15 or so years, works the leather like I do, and it's beautiful. It's one of those things that if money was no object, I'd likely own one of them.

I just can't seem to let this hat go.

I know...it's just a hat, but when you've worked on something so long, putting accumulative hours of work into something, and countless hours of enjoyment from it, and from the comments you get about it, it's hard to set aside.

This is how the hat looked a couple months after I bought it. The photo came from a photobooth that make it look like it was drawn...but the color is accurate. It was taken in early 2009



After 10 years of abuse and love, the old hat now looks like this. The character the old hat has is something that no new hat has.



This hat is one of those things that I'll have til I die, and will likely die with it on my head, if I have anything to do with it. The other hats have their place, and I really am going to try to fit that new leather Stetson into my life, and not just throw it in a box in the closet.

Some people have boots, others have a collection of watches or other things. I like western style hats...and cherish a hat when it's finally as it should be.
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1987 560SL
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Meet on the level, leave on the square. Great words to live by

Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread. - Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821.
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  #2  
Old 01-16-2019, 08:51 AM
t walgamuth's Avatar
dieselarchitect
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Lafayette Indiana
Posts: 34,341
I have a similar looking leather hat, more in the style of Indiana Jones that I have had probably 30 years at least. I don't wear it every day but do whenever it rains a bit. I have not had a problem with it stretching too much. It's not suede but smooth on the outside. I like your nickel headband!
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  #3  
Old 01-16-2019, 10:05 AM
jplinville's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Dayton, Ohio region
Posts: 299
Quote:
Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
I have a similar looking leather hat, more in the style of Indiana Jones that I have had probably 30 years at least. I don't wear it every day but do whenever it rains a bit. I have not had a problem with it stretching too much. It's not suede but smooth on the outside. I like your nickel headband!
The hat was originally what they refer to as "Ruff" leather...not a smooth full grain leather. Basically, I think they ran it through a machine that roughed it up a bit. I was concerned on how to care for it when I bought it, but after a few years, I no longer cared if my process harmed theirs or not...I just wanted the leather protected and soft. It now has a bit of a burnish to it where it rubs the collar of my jacket and getting in and out of the truck.

I don't baby the old hat at all...I put it through things that other hats would be basically ruined by.

The hat band is what attracted me to it. Now a number of my hats sport buffalo nickel conchos on them. My wife said it was my trademark...LOL
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1987 560SL
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Meet on the level, leave on the square. Great words to live by

Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread. - Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821.
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