The Ball Cap

I often ask friends for topics for my column. Writing is pretty easy for me but finding a topic to focus on is typically a bit more difficult. I was sitting with a friend one morning, asking him to suggest a topic for this week, when the subject matter became as obvious as the cap on his head.

I’ve always admired a nice ball cap. My dad used to give me one every once in awhile when I was young. These were usually a cap he’d received as the result of seed purchase or other farm-related transaction. I usually kept these caps until they were pretty well used. When you were an article of clothing long enough, you kind of develop a relationship with it.

In my teenage years, my favorite cap advertised the Boondocks Truck Stop located near Des Moines, Iowa. My brother Darrel had brought it home for me during one of the summers he spent work as a custom combiner. I became an auctioneer later in life and would purchase a box of caps for very little or on a per-cap basis for about a dollar per cap. I used to wear a “Jacques Seed” cap a lot during the nineties which I thought was about as nice a chapeau as existed.

Today I wear the more “formed” ball caps. People used to have to bend the brim of a ball cap until it was a proper shape to fit the head. If you don’t bend the brim properly, it reinforces the pre-made shape of the sweatband area of the cap and isn’t always comfortable. Not everyone’s head is shaped the same so if you bend the brim a little, it makes the front part of the cap fit your head better. Somewhere in the last decade or so, ball caps came with a bend in the brim. I always wonder if a proper bend is accomplished by a specialized machine or done by hand. If it’s done by hand then I guess I m lucky to have my job. The crown of the cap has changed too. Ball caps used to sit pretty high almost like a stove pipe hat. New designs follow the size of the head more closely and look a lot better in my opinion.

I currently wear a Farmall cap. It is gorgeous cap and my but I am so proud when I wear it-particularly when paired with the Farmall hoodie which Lisa gave me for Christmas. I did pick-up a new cap from the Soil and Water Conservation District this week which I really liked-good color and design. I believe I will begin to work it into a rotation with my current caps as the weather warms up.

There’s something special about installing a ball cap on your head. When I see someone where a ball cap, I always think that maybe they grew up on a farm or maybe have a grandparent on the farm which they occasionally visit. Or I can just look at the silk-screen on the cap and perhaps know what is important to them. Unless it is a Jacques Seed cap, that’s just advertising-although it would be a darn, nice-looking cap.

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