Friday, August 12, 2016
Two head coverings that protected our parents and grandparents from the sun were sunbonnets for the ladies and a broad brimmed straw hat for the men. I can't say much for the sunbonnet as they were hot whatever material (cotton mostly) they were made of and I hate to tie something under my chin. It chokes me.
Men went through several stages of head gear during the 20th century, old felt hats, straw hats, then for many years most men worked outside wearing some form of a baseball cap. Their faces were heavily tanned below the cap and their forehead was much lighter. Few may realize it, but Blacks also tan though nature has given them some natural protection from the sun. Now I noticed that it's a brimmed hat with mesh sides in a kind of Indian Jones style or a British Driving cap much like the newsboy cap.
The lighter a hat is in color the more comfortable they are to wear because the sun is reflected off light colors and absorbed by dark colors. A simple experiment proves this: take a white sheet of construction paper and a black sheet putting a small thermometer under each and place them in the sun. Examine them about ten minutes later and you will find the thermometer under the black sheet is about ten degrees higher than the one under the white sheet.
One style that remains the same over the years is the "fisherman's hat" with a wide band for hooking flies and other small implements within easy reach. No spouse will even think of washing or getting rid of that sweat stained smelly item of fishing equipment.
Fashions come and go, woman got smart and adopted men's head gear. It's nice to imagine a woman grabbing her mate's straw hat and going out to hoe the garden and discovering how much cooler wearing the hat was than her close fitting sun bonnet. If it had a few holes in the sides, so much the better because they allowed air to circulate over her head,
I have several straw hats hanging around to pick up and wear when I'm going to be out in the sun. I keep one on the backseat of the Jeep for wearing when I take my morning walk around the gym to keep the glare out of my eyes and off my neck. One has a droopy brim where I've sprayed it with Off to keep mosquitoes at bay. It's the first thing I do when I step off the back porch. When I'm working outside I fold one of Nash's colored handkerchiefs and tie it around my head to keep the sweat from running down into my eyes. For me this works better than a sweat band, which gives me a headache.
A sunny day on the lake and everyone is packing to go home after a great weekend taking with them a bright rosy skin. I can see little indication that anyone was wearing a hat. All the chemical protection ever produced will not completely protect someone from the sun itself or the reflection of the sun off the water. One needs a bit of shade protection.