Accent on Living

GIVE an ordinary man a sun lamp and a ten-gallon sombrero, and he can write his own ticket. Why this is so, nobody knows; but he combination of a tan and a Western hat seems to convince us all that their proprietor is a person of sterling worth, whose word is as good as wheat in the bin. Such a man stands above the chicanery of Hormburg wearers and the pale, scheming, snap-brim people, who would cheat and hoodwink even their nearest and dearest. He comes among us, especially in the bast, as a guileless, simple fellow, the sort of man more at home on the wind-swept prairie than in the counting rooms.

If he is a little man a shrimp, if you please — he is probably lough and wiry and quick on the draw. The big man in the big hat is even more convincing; we envision him as one who likes to do business man-fashion — openhanded, genial, plain-spoken, and just as tough as the little chap when the chips are down. Both possess, in a degree certainly not shared by men in derbies or caps, the quality of courage— cold nerve. They care nothing what the odds may be.

What stirred me to these meditations was a newspaper photograph of a half-dozen Westerners, all wearing big pearl-gray sombreros, who had just arrived in Washington. Without the hats, I dare say they would have looked like other middle-aged lobbyists invading the Capital, but the hats tend to blur the perceptions of the beholder. If one of the delegation was grinning too conscientiously, I found myself putting it dow n as joviality; the paunch of another was doubtless an aberration of the lens; and they all met my eye as honest outdoor folk, looking only for a sequare deal among the skinflints of the Interior Department and Congress.

As I looked at these upstanding men and the bold sweep of their hatbrims, I seemed to catch a whiff of sagebrush and saddle leather, to hear the sowbelly sizzling in the skillet and Old Paint whickering on his picket line.

Texans have been aided from time to time by the big hat — would it be fair to call it the hat trick? — in the recovery of their submarine oil resources (although Louisiana did just as well by snapping its galluses). Whether the quest by the latest arrivals in the big hats was for grazing rights on the public lands, or a chance to use some of the timber now going to waste in the national forests, I do not recall.

But it ‘s only common sense to make sure that we have plenty of critters on the range for our beefsteaks and enough lumber to help out on the housing shortage, especially when the proposition comes from such down-to-earth, friendly people as the men in the big hats. Let it not be said that we sent them back empty-handed to the Absarokas, or the Bitter Roots, Painted Post, Twin Buttes, or wherever they spread their blankets. In the name of hospitality alone, we ought to do something for them, and if a few acres of land — really nothing hut scenery — are all they want, w hy not give it to them?

On realizing the direction in which my thoughts were turned by the newspaper photograph, I am moved to offer a few words of advice to legislators in general: whenever you are waited upon by a delegation of sunburned men in $200 sombreros, watch your national parks.