Friday, October 31, 2014

Today In Wyoming's History: Judge Skavdahl rules on same gender marriage case....

A few days ago I wrote a post here about the history of marriage. Last Friday, one of the three Federal judges in Wyoming struck down Wyoming's statute on marriage, which I've written about here:

Today In Wyoming's History: Judge Skavdahl rules on same gender marriage case....:

I haven't actually read Judge Skavdahl's decision, so my commenting on some aspects of it may be bad form, but I'm going to do so anyway.  One of the things I've often struck by in legal matters is how people and the press often fail to understand what a ruling actually does, or may do, and that even lawyers fail to understand how the law of unintended consequences tends to apply to big legal decisions and even the amendments of laws. For example, it's probable that the original proponents of no fault divorce never guessed that it would help usher in an age when many people would live in the same circumstances that previously would have been regarded as a common law marriage, but with no recognized marriage at all.

Anyhow, amongst the interesting questions is this. Does Judge Skavdahl's ruling operate the way he probably intended it to operate, or is the door now open to just argue that henceforth marriages in the state can't occur until a new law is drafted?  The existing law starts off reading as follows:
20-1-101. Marriage a civil contract.

Marriage
is a civil contract between a male and a female person to which the consent of the
parties capable of contracting is essential.
If that's what a marriage in Wyoming will be until Thursday, when Judge Skavdahl's ruling takes effect, can it now be argued that the definition of marriage fails under his ruling, and they just won't be at all?

It's an interesting question, but it's one that nobody is actually asking. And nobody will unless somebody tries to argue that in court, which would be unlikely.  Generally, nobody has an obvious interest in arguing that, which doesn't mean that it won't occur.  Probably if it were to occur, the Court would just "fix" the ruling to fit the desired goal.

That's basically what's happened in the overall context of the same gender marriage issue.  No matter what side of the issue a person is on, it's really basically an example of judicial legislation, although people aren't arguing that.  For those who take an original intent approach to Constitutional interpretation, the fact is that under the Natural Law marriages were always regarded as strictly male/female.  I know that people like to cite some odd examples, but they are extremely rare and usually rapidly break down under analysis. At the time the Constitution was written, the drafters were all familiar only with marriage as it then existed, and same gender unions would not only have been regarded as impossible, but illegal.  So any originalist interpretation of the Constitution would have to take that view into mind.  A person might still be able to reach the same results, by citing changes in other states and the Equal Protection provisions of the 14th Amendment, and that might be what the Court has done here, but that's a different position that what people conceive as having occurred.

Okay, on unintended consequences, it's almost certain that the one I noted above will not occur, but there are a host that I suspect will, and it will be interesting to see how they develop.

One that I'm almost certain will now occur is that "poly" marriages, i.e., more than one man or woman in a union will become inevitable.  I just don't really see how the courts can't find them constitutional under the same set of rationales that were used here.  At least one Federal Court has already issued that ruling, but then held its decision in abeyance.  This may seem far fetched overall, but only to people who don't live in the West where there are religious groups, presently small in number, that already espouse this view and always have.  So I think that's a given.

One unexpected probable result, however, is that in really thinking about the issue in a civil context, I suspect that the actual impact of the decision only effects something in actual legal terms to a very, very small degree, and ironically, in a way that the proponents of the change probably wouldn't fully want.  The real impact, in so far as I can tell, is mostly just on the division of property in a divorce.

The reason for this is that the civil law impact of marriage has been reduced pretty much to the provision of naturally born children (although even here it is greatly diminished) and property.  These features of marriage as a civil institution have always been part of the reason that it is a civil institution.  At first blush, a person might think that well of course, now those apply here, but that might not be fully correct.

It's incorrect, to be sure, as the "natural born" children part of it doesn't occur with same gender couples.  Yes, they can adopt and they can use surrogates, but they could before and the legal relationships that causes are already controlled by the law. So there's no changed there.

There is, however, in regards to property acquired during a marriage as opposed to a couple simply living together outside of marriage. Generally, the law doesn't control the distribution of property by break ups or death of couples that aren't married but living together, save for circumstances in which they'd contracted in some fashion to address that or there's a dispute about who owns what, which is fairly rare.  Now the law of marriage will apply.

That probably will have relatively low impact in testamentary proceedings, but it will now definitely bring in the law of divorce.  So an irony now exists in that one of the first impacts of a law changing the definition of marriage also expands out just a bit who is subject to the law of divorce.

Another area it will definitely impact is the area of insurance and benefits where a general "spousal" benefit exists, although that impact will be smaller than supposed because in the case of governmental employees it seemed to be expanding towards a "partner" definition in general.  It'll also impact the couples tax structure, although again a person has to wonder at which point a "partner" definition is brought into that, or at what point single people complain that tax benefits to the married no longer serve their original purpose and are themselves unconstitutional.  I think that effort would fail, but a person could at least argue that.  Probably not very successfully, however.

Another irony of this is that it takes this issue away as one that existed, to the extent it did, in the current Governor's race. Governor Mead is almost certain to win reelection, but he was getting asked about this a fair amount by the press.  At least the local Casper Star Tribune was clear in its view that the state should change the definition of marriage, and as the Tribune is present at every debate, this was going to come up every single time.  Mead, to his credit, was clear that he based his views both on his philosophical  position and his his religious views.  Not every candidate would be willing to admit this his religious views (Mead is an Episcopalian) had a role in it.  And citing to conservative Episcopal views in a state where the Episcopal church has really declined in numbers, and where that church has been in turmoils over this issue amongst others,is a pretty frank and bold position to take.  Now, however, this is removed as an issue for him, and should he decide to run for this or any other office in the future, he can take credit for his views but not have to live with the matter, maybe, as a continuing controversy. That all presumes, of course, that the Supreme Court doesn't enter into this debate soon, which is not a safe assumption at all.

If Mead is off the controversy hook here a bit, a group that may not be are people with strong religious convictions on this issue who hold public office in some fashion.  This is an issue that has been little explored, but this ruling might spark a crisis of conscious in some of these people, or perhaps might not, I honestly don't know. What is the case now is that we will have a situation in which County Clerks and Circuit Court Judges will be asked to issue marriage licenses and perform civil marriages and some of the people in those office, and perhaps more importantly some future potential office holders, may now have to reassess their ability to hold these offices, I'm just not sure. At least Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Mormons  and Orthodox Jews hold religious views that regard some unions as immoral.  At the current time Catholics and Mormons are a significant portion of the state's demographics and also a significant portion of the legal community, with representatives on the bench as well.  Greek Orthodox Christians are a significant demographic in some, but not all, Wyoming towns and likewise are fairly well represented in the legal community, although the only Greek Orthodox judge, a District Court judge, retired some years ago.  Muslims are a very small demographic in the state at the present time (as opposed the Catholic and Mormon demographic which are growing), although they're interestingly well represented in the medical community.  Orthodox Jews, however, are nearly completely absent from the state.  How this shakes out I do not know, and it should be noted that none of these demographics has so far found it morally objectionable to issue marriage licenses in the case of divorce, which some also have moral objections to, so perhaps its a non issue.  It comes to mind, however, as a County Clerk in an eastern state just resigned from that office last week, feeling morally obligated to do so, so perhaps this issue might exist.  If it does, this will actually be a real problem as demographics that are very well represented in the state should not be excluded from holding office, and if they do this will operate as  type of prejudice that will have real, although as yet unknown, negative consequences.

On other things about the decision, while I'm not in the habit of criticizing Federal judges, I do think that Judge Skavdahl was very unwise issuing his decision so rapidly as the rapid release inevitably discredits it.  Those who are familiar with this process know that whenever a judge released a decision that quickly, he basically had his mind made up going into the hearing.  Generally, that doesn't bother lawyers, but it does bother the members of the public in matters of significance.  That should have been on his mind as the general history of public respect for Federal decisions on decisive issues is that the public doesn't respect them.  The Federal courts already have pretty low credit in Wyoming, as they're constantly overruling the state on matters of importance to the state, although that's usually the D. C. Circuit.  But beyond that, big socially divisive issues, while the Federal Court has jurisdiction over many of them, generally do not sit well with those on the loosing side if they are judge made.  The case of Roe v. Wade is the classic example, as its never been accepted by a large portion of the American public and this line of decisions is unlikely to with those who disagree with them either.  It's probably partially for that reason that the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to take it up right away.  People on both the left and the right are constantly complaining of "judge made law", and here in this area the change in the definition of marriage is becoming increasingly judge made.  When so many people feel alienated from the courts and disrespect them rushing to a judgment was foolish.

It was also frankly foolish to take the matter up on an expedited basis.  The better course would have been to take it up when it came up in the natural progression of the case and then rule on it. That does involve a lot of delay due to the naturally slow progression of a case, in the eyes of the public, but it doesn't look that way like the judge made his mind up immediately and forced a rapid decision, which is how this otherwise will look to many. Additionally, there was no real harm in delay in the legal sense, as changing the definition of something that's been read one way for centuries can't rationally create an emergency situation.  Of course, the argument would be that the 10th Circuit's decision created that emergency, but that too would have been a reason to go slow, as if the court had, chances were good that the 10th itself would have taken this matter up or perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court, and the local Federal court would never had to have done so, maybe.  Now it has, and some are celebrating, others are upset, and yet others will note that the same judge recently made a ruling on the Federal health care act here that didn't sit really well with everyone.  Sometimes proceeding slowly is a better approach to take.

Postscript

A couple of additional comments, as this story moves along.

The impact of the ruling came a couple of days early, as the Attorney General determined not to appeal. Given the recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decisions that Judge Skavdahl relied upon, the Attorney General was correct.  No point in doing a doomed appeal.  It wouldn't even serve to try to get these issues to the U.S. Supreme Court, for those who hope to do that, as the existing opinions already  stand and that did not occur.

However, the Federal District Court in Peurto Rico issues an opinion going the opposite directly that was scathing in its view of the recent decision such as the 10th Circuits.  Whatever a person may think of this issue one way or another, that decision is undoubtedly the most legally correct.  Whether it will stand or not is yet to be known, as presumably the loosing parties will appeal to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. For those hoping in a split in the circuits, this might be it, or it might actually present another basis for a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, as its so clear in its views.

On another matter, here in this county we saw the spectacle of a non denominational woman cleric loitering around the courthouse all day hoping to find some same gender couples to marry, and finding one.  There's something unseemly about that.  Presumably any same gender couples that determined to marry weren't really looking into just bumping into a person commissioned to do it casually, which another female cleric who was supporting this movement noted in an interview yesterday. 

Postscript

The other day I was looking at some old statutes, and in doing that I was curious as to how this set of laws originally read.  I couldn't find the absolutely oldest variant, but here's one that dates to the 1890s:


As we can see, the original text defined marriage similarly, but omitted the "between men and women" language.  Not that this is surprising, as marriage would have been conceived of in no other way at the time.

The language that follows is sort of interesting, and clearly is cast in terms of male and female.  It's odd that males could marry only upon reaching 18, but females needed to only have reached the age of 16.  Minors could marry, however, with the consent of apparently one parent, with the father given the veto power on that if he was alive.

The Big Speech: Thomas Paine, the Crisis.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.
'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.
As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles. Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.
I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes centred in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.
I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.
But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.
I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.
America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.
Quitting this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.
There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.
I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.
ear.

Friday Farming: Two farms, abandoned farm in foreground.


Two farms, late 1930s. Abandoned farm in the foreground.

This photograph came during an era, basically commencing in the 1920s, and which never really has ended, of farm consolidation. It slowed in the 1930s due to the Great Depression, as farmers that otherwise would have gone over to mechanization held off, due to the expense.

What were they thinking?

The news has been full of stories the past couple of days of the release of embarrassing photographs of celebrated female personalities, dressing this up in a somewhat more dignified manner than the situation commands.  One of the online "news" sources was quick to come out with a headline telling us that the celebrated figures are amongst those who are "not to blame".  Bull, they're exactly who should be blamed.

Yes, I'm not excusing the thieves who stole their images, but how darned dumb can you be?  If your photographed and filmed image is your stock and trade, you ought to be protecting that image. For that matter, if a person has any level of decency they should be protecting it.  If a person is a public figure of any kind, and they release a photograph of any kind in any electronic form, they're publishing it and it will get out.

I don't, therefore, feel too sorry for the victims of the crime.  I don't excuse the thieves, but a person should be at least half way aware of reality.

I do feel shame, however, for those whose acts were shameless at the time, and now are shamed.  In one way, in fact, I feel that their reaction is a good thing, in that they are embarrassed by something that should indeed be embarrassing.  We can only hope that the embarrassment is not just that these photographs intended for a limited audience were rained down from the cloud, but moreover that they are embarrassed about having done the act of having such photos taken, or taking such photos. 

An element of this, I'd note, is that some of the reaction to this story assumes a level of poor judgment and conduct, and that people should be protected from the consequences of their own poor judgments in this area.  It's not so much a warning about letting those without sin cast the first stone, but rather an assumption that everyone is universally guilty of the sin society should be careful to make sure everyone turns a blind eye towards it.  But not everyone takes photographs of themselves of this type and shares them, and nobody need do it.  You particularly do not need to do it if selling your image is part of your trade.  Granted, at least one of the person's allegedly violated by this trespass works in an industry in which she is practically fully revealed anyway, but that makes no difference.  Up until this, there's a certain element of personal digity retained, the taking away of which sparks the outrage, to a degree.

It also sparks a certain degree of misplaced feminist outrage.  At least one very left leaning electronic journal was quick to excuse the conduct of the violated, but really, some focus should be placed upon this conduct most of all by that quarter.  Women already have to struggle against the concept that they're objects, and everything in the entertainment and arts industry tends to objectify them.  Visual arts, in and of themselves, tend to favor only those whose appearance allures, but that factor is a much more pronounced aspect of those professions for women than for men.  To find that women will objectify themselves reinforces, in the very worst way, the negative lessons that so many pick up from our society as it is.  It only takes one such example to take the most professional and accomplished of women down a peg on the ladder of respect, and they all hurt in the process.

Again, none of this is to suggest that the thieves are justified in their actions.  Clearly they are not.  But we should be clear about the crime, which was to fully reveal to the general public the self objectification of the victims of the crime, thereby making the objectification deeper, more complete, and universally known.  That's very bad, but the errors in evidence here didn't start with them, although it was certainly completed by them.

A little dignity, in an age with so little of it, would be welcome.

Postscript

But wait. . . not so fast.

Well, one of the developments in this story has been that one of the victims has expressed "embarrassment".  And, there's been a host of those in print riding to the rescue to defend the embarrassed damsels by proclaiming those who have uploaded the photographs on the net to be debased.

This is interesting, in that it shows an element of shame remains, which isn't a bad thing. The ability to be shamed is the ability to acknowledge an element of guilt.  So, those who have objectified themselves acknowledge a degree of guilt over it, while those uploading their shame are being shunned.  All in all, maybe some good comes out of this.

At some point, it seems, a party has to hit rock bottom in order to bounce back.  That's really unpleasant for those experiencing it, but then we're all guilty of behavior we regret.  The fact that we have a situation here where people are actually drawing a line, and the line is more or less the same on both sides of the line drawing, may mean that bottom has been reached and some push back begins.  If so, that's a strike in women's favor, as it means that there's a point at which being treated like an object just won't be tolerated any more.

Postscript II

Today we learn that some artist has determined to use life size blow ups of these images for a gallery display.

Okay, enough is enough.  Nobody deserves that, and that's totally unwarranted.  It was naive to think that these stolen images wouldn't hit the net, but to have them blown up to life size and put on display is depraved and shameful.

Postscript III

This odd story has continued on, but I've let it sit as I've thought enough was said about the entire embarrassing mess.  But today, the actress involved is reported as having made some comments in print that I thought were intelligent and noteworthy.   She compared the viewing of the photographs, or the searching, to an assault.

You know, I think that's right.  And she deserves credit for noting it in that fashion.

Of course, if we do that, we should make the logical extension. The intentional distribution of such photos by people who they are of (which did not occur here) would also be equivalent to specialized immoral and illegal behavior. That we're starting to look at this, in this sense, is a good thing, however, really.

Postscript IV

This story has died down, and I should let this thread die down here, but a couple of items or comments are perhaps in order.

On the item immediately above, it turns out the written comments also include a comment by the actress to the effect that as she was separated by distance from her boyfriend, a partial motivation was to give him  photos to look at, of that type, so he wouldn't go out and find photos elsewhere, assuming that every man must be looking at that stuff.

Well, bad psychological concept there.

Additionally, today's news indicates that a supposed comedienne has posted an instagram photo of herself without a shirt in a supposed act of protest against sexism.  Hmmm. . . . , sound like Chelsea is completely out to lunch or is confusing public display with protest.  About 190% of the men who go searching for that photo will be not looking at it for its political content.  Of note there's a certain eastern European protest group that takes that approach as well, and it isn't their message that makes up their appeal really.  These groups could use a basic course in how the psychology of this stuff really works.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

1947 Dodge WDX Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1947 Dodge WDX Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1947 Dodge WDX Cantrell Woody Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1947 Dodge WDX Cantrell Woody Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1960 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1960 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1955 Dodge C1 Power Wagon Crew Cab. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1955 Dodge C1 Power Wagon Crew Cab. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1957 Dodge W200 Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1957 Dodge W200 Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1957 W100 Dodge Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1957 W100 Dodge Power Wagon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1959 Dodge W200 Power Wagon Utiline | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1959 Dodge W200 Power Wagon Utiline | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1968 Dodge W300 Power Wagon Utiline | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1968 Dodge W300 Power Wagon Utiline | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1941 Dodge WC-12 Weapons Carrier | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1941 Dodge WC-12 Weapons Carrier | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1941 Dodge WC12 Closed Cab | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1941 Dodge WC12 Closed Cab | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1941 Dodge WC-10 Carryall, 8th Air Force | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1941 Dodge WC-10 Carryall, 8th Air Force | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1953 Dodge M-37 USMC | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1953 Dodge M-37 USMC | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The Duggers. Yawn.

The Duggers come to my house every morning.  And the other evening they came here for a wedding of one of the daughters.

No, not in person.  On my television set. Somehow they've pushed out the early morning news and the female residents of the house follow their old episodes on television.

I don't understand the popularity of their show whatsoever really.  What it tells me in part is that, in spite of what sociologist like to claim, and in spite of what feminist wanted, the age old interests remain and are genetic in nature.  Women of all ages are really interested in domesticity including watching the weddings, marriages, and child rearing of other families.  Men may take an interest, but not enough to watch an hour of a bunch of people we don't know.

Beyond that, I really truly think the Duggers popularity, combined with all the vast number of shows that are somewhat related (all those wedding dress shows, the show on the worlds most boring couple, Guiliana and Bill, etc.) are a symptom of something basically human becoming rather rare.  Its weird, and its disturbing.

It's weird and disturbing as the popularity of these shows seems to indicate that in an era when women in particularly are more separated from traditional families and traditional roles, at some level the deep attracting to some elements definable appeal, and people who would claim the opposite should give some thought to that.  The Duggers portray what is basically as semi rural Southern family, dressed, on the female side, in a fashion that recalls the 1920s and 1930s.  They're sort of like the female characters in The Waltons times five. So what we see there is that something that was norm, nor nearly the norm, for most people not all that long ago is now deeply fascinating to people who aren't experiencing anything too close to it now and that its also so novel that it merits a television show.  The wedding dress shows likewise show women doing something that most women did, and did only once, not all that long ago, and much less expensively.  Now the novelty of it both fascinates and builds a formerly relatively routine event up into a colossally expensive and novel one.  Guiliana and Bill is the urban flipside of the Duggers, presenting the concept that young, hip urban (and exceedingly boring) couples can have it all, including an overendulged infant, all while remaining hip, cool, and boring.

Now, don't get me wrong here.  I'm not condemning any of these people (well, okay, I am Guiliana and Bill as they're as dull as wallpaper paste). Rather, I think this shows something that tells us something, and not necessarily something good, about what has become unusual or novel in our society.

ISIS and Vietnam - NYTimes.com. Oh no, not this analogy again

ISIS and Vietnam - NYTimes.com

Thomas Friedman has drug out the the shopworn American military comparison.  Anything, anywhere, at anytime, we're doing overseas, recalls Vietnam.

No.  It doesn't.

It's really time for this shopworn argument to be put back on the shop, preferably in a used argument shop, behind the styles of the 1970s.  It's tired.  It's worn.  And its usually wrong.

It isn't the case that absolutely everything has a really useful Vietnam War analogy.  And it isn't even really the case that most arguments recalling the war are well grounded in historical sense anyhow.

Friedman's basic argument is that we didn't understand the nature of the conflict on the ground.

It’s a long, complicated story, I know, but a big part of it was failing to understand that the core political drama of Vietnam was an indigenous nationalist struggle against colonial rule — not the embrace of global communism, the interpretation we imposed on it.
The North Vietnamese were both communists and nationalists — and still are. But the key reason we failed in Vietnam was that the communists managed to harness the Vietnamese nationalist narrative much more effectively than our South Vietnamese allies, who were too often seen as corrupt or illegitimate. The North Vietnamese managed to win (with the help of brutal coercion) more Vietnamese support not because most Vietnamese bought into Marx and
Lenin, but because Ho Chi Minh and his communist comrades were perceived to be the more authentic nationalists.
That's not completely inaccurate, but it's not completely accurate either.  The North Vietnamese population wasn't solidly communist until it was heavily suppressed following the French defeat in Indochina, after which quite a few North Vietnamese moved to South Vietnam.  Even at that, this is a good argument for the French effort in northern Indochina, but not such a good one for the US war in South Vietnam.  In the South, the war was much more complicated than that.

And its an example of a war having a military result, rather than a political one.  Pundits like to make the argument that Friedman makes here, but the truth of the matter is that the back was broken on the communist effort in South Vietnam by 1968.  The U.S. populace lost faith in the war due tot he desperate last gasp of the Tet Offensive, but militarily, the NVA and the VC had shot their bolt, and they didn't recover for years.  Following Test, the South Vietnamese army actually was able to take over the fight, although it still required air support.  In 1972 it beat back a North Vietnamese invasion, with U.S. air cover.  In 1975 it couldn't beat back a conventional armored invasion, as we refused it air support.

The real lesson there is that the American population is fickle and looses interest in a war that's not won quickly.  Our enemies, on the other hand, have patience.  The enemy we're fighting in Iraq and Syria right now has been, in some ways, waiting since the 5th Century for victory.  They figure that they can out wait us and we'll grow tired and go home.  In Vietnam we did. That's the real less of the Vietnam War.

Caps, Hats, Fashion and Preceptions of Decency and being Dressed.

Some time ago the Old Picture of the Day blog ran a Hat Week, featuring photos of men wearing hats.  The introductory comment to that thread observed that men don't wear hats much anymore, but that the blogger suspected that they'd like to.

 A farming crowd. . .everyone wearing a hat or cap, courtesy of the International Museum of the Horse.

I think there may be something to that, although I'd notice that there sure is a lot of cap wearing, as opposed to hat wearing, by males, at least in this region.  The baseball cap seems to be a near standard in terms of male clothing, although it also seems that a lot of modern males choose to wear baseball caps in a style that's intentionally. . . .well. . . juvenile.  By that, I don't mean to suggest that there's something wrong with baseball caps but, rather. . .well, . . .if you find yourself wearing a baseball cap with a single large letter on it, and with a perfectly flat brim, a la Justin Beiber, well, you probably out to re-access your maturity and sartorial sensibilities.

Be that as it may, in the theme of the blog, the evolution in hat wearing has been dramatic over the past century.  And not just in male hat wearing, although that's the only topic actually addressed in this entry, but in hat wearing in general.  A century + ago, everyone wore headgear outdoors, and men did not wear headgear indoors.  Now, only men in certain occupations or regions can be found wearing hats relatively frequently, but caps can be found everywhere, including indoors.

Hats were once so much a part of men's dress, in all occupations, that to not wear a hat was regarded as vaguely obscene.  Seriously.  A dressed man did not normally go outdoors without a hat, and never wore one indoors.  And by this, we mean hats.  Not caps.  Caps, say circa 1900 or so, were regarded as approaching obscene, or a sign of poverty.  More on the cap situation later.

As odd as this may seem now, it was not without a practical foundation.  Hats protect a person against the elements.  That's pretty self evident in the case of snow and rain, but it's quite true of the sun as well.  That remains appreciated by the few occupations in the Western world that still work outdoors, at least to some extent, but it was overwhelmingly appreciated in earlier eras.  The simple reason for that is that everyone generally got outdoors a lot more than they do now.  As we've explored earlier, even people who work in offices generally hiked some distance to and from work, or perhaps rode in an open carriage, etc.  So, at a bare minimum, they were probably spending at least a couple of hours outdoors everyday, and often much more time than that.

That would lead, of course, to a discussion of what sort of hat were being worn.  Not too surprisingly, in an era when everyone was wearing hats, people made distinctions in hats that were based on status, use and  station.  Or, put another way, wealth and vanity definitely entered into a hat choice, no matter how practical a hat otherwise was.

We'll start in the late 19th Century, so we can generally avoid truly weird hats, like Stovepipe silk hats.  Or maybe not.

 Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.  Top hats remained formal headgear, to a limited extent, all the way into the 1940s.  In the mid 19th Century, they were the hat of men engaged in business and law, and the hat worn in formal affairs.  By the mid 20th Century they were an accessory to a tuxedo.  Here we see still robust Theodore Roosevelt wearing a top hat and a mourning coat, a type of coat that was  typical formal coat of  the era, but now a lessor known species of tuxedo coat.

Probably the most common hat for everyone was some species of broad or short brimmed hat.  That is, there's always been a felt hat around that has a brim.  There was then, and there is now.  While a hat of that type would be handy for the fields, it could also be for the town as well.

Theodore Roosevelt in 1914, in three piece wool suit and tie, with a fairly beat up short brim hat.  While hats of this general type had been around for centuries, Roosevelt was particularly associated with the Spanish American War type of campaign hat, and he often wore hats of that general type after the Spanish American War.

Broad and short brim hats are the subject of a lot of myths, which is unfortunate as they're very practical and the myths associated with them sometimes popularize them, but other times deter them from being worn.  They're the most practical hats around however.

 Stetson "Open Road," a very common short brimmed felt hat.  Open Roads have been made by Stetson for a very long time and come shaped more or less like this one, but are also commonly reshaped in all manners of styles.  They were, at one time, probably the most common dress hat for men who were not otherwise wearing a Fedora.

My grandfather, circa 1940s.  The hat is likely an Open Road with a Fedora type crease.

I don't know the origin of the felt brimmed hat, but it goes way, way back.  The process of felting, i.e., making felt, is so ancient that nobody knows how far back it goes.  No doubt the first felt hats didn't look like Stetsons, but by the Middle Ages there were already felt hats with relatively broad, and often fairly floppy, brims.   By the Renaissance broad brimmed hats with huge brims, sometimes pinned up one side or another, were stylish wear for men, including military men.  In North America there was never a point in time at which some men weren't wearing broad brimmed hats, and by that we don't mean Tricorner hats or some such thing.

Indeed, broad brimmed hats, some very odd in appearance, and some which most people today would mistake for cowboy hats, have been around since at least the Medieval period.   As felt is an adaptable and malleable material, not only have they been around, but they've been shaped and creased from quite early on. Some simple styles seemingly endure forever, while wild and foppish styles come and go.  But hats with brims starting off at about 2.5 inches and extending out to about 5 inches or so, have were the outdoor hat of millennia.  And, of course, they are still worn in certain quarters.

 Bird hunter with typical broad brimmed hat.

They were, of course, worn by farmers since day one in this country.  Artists like to depict every colonist wearing a tricorner hat, but in truth probably the average Joe just wore a simple broad brimmed hat, at least if he had an outdoor occupation.  Some of these took on unique regional shapes, such as the square crowned type worn in New England.  And of course the tricorner hat itself was simple a broad brimmed hat with three corners steamed up, a style brought about by a foppish desire in Europe to allow 18th Century men to display the curls of their hair, or more likely, the curls of a wig.

 World War One era Victory Liberty Loan campaign poster depicting a farmer, wearing a pretty typical non descriptive felt broad brimmed hat.

 Life imitating art, New York farmer just prior to World War Two.  His hat is probably Fedora that went from dress use to field use.   Another good example can be found here, where every farmer depicted is wearing a hat or cap.

Today its somewhat common for some to consider, or even call, any broad brimmed hat a "cowboy hat."  Not all broad brimmed hats are cowboy hats by any means, although one type of such hat is the cowboy hat.  The cowboy hat in particular is surrounded by a lot of myths, even including its origin, which is popularly attributed John B. Stetson.

Stetson didn't invent the cowboy hat, as so often claimed, but he did make an early type that was hugely popular, that being a type he created after having been on a hunting trip in the West. That model was the Boss Of The Plains, and for a time it was the most popular hat worn by 19th Century cowboys.  The Boss of the Plains was a very good beaver felt open crowned, flat brimmed, cowboy hat.  In many 19th Century photographs cowboys can be seen wearing them, if you know what they are, but you often have to know what they are, as they tended to push their hats to the back of their heard, so their faces would be visible, when being photographed.  The hat was massively popular with cowboys for a time, because it was an extremely durable and useful hat. Being a beaver felt hat, it was both impervious to ran and snow, and extremely long lasting.  In some ways, while not the first cowboy hat, hit sent the standard for all good cowboy hats thereafter.

 Cowboy Ned Coy on "Boy Dick".  Coy is wearing a Boss Of The Plains.

While the Boss of the Plains was a very popular cowboy hat, other types soon emerged that were associated with the term.  Indeed, that's no surprise, as cowboys were already wearing broad brimmed felt hats before Stetson ever marketed the hat.   What the impact of Stetson's hat may really have done was to set the standard. At any rate, cowboys soon started to customize the hats and want some variety and options.  As a result, various other styles and types came in, and creases of various kinds emerged, some of which were strongly regional in character.  Open crowned cowboy hats of course remained, but creases, such as the Montana Peak hat and the Pinch hat became very common in some areas.

Texas cowboy with a deep crowned cowboy hat with a slightly rolled brim.  Photographed actually on the range, this photograph depicts him wearing the hat as they actually were worn, rather than pushed up on the back of the head as is so common in various photographs of the era.  This photo was taken in the first decade of the 20th Century.  Of note here, this cowboy is clearly wearing the very high shanked cowboy boot that was the absolute rule before leather shortages caused by World War One.

Wyoming cowboys from 1887, in the photograph used as the flag for our Today In Wyoming's History blog.  The two cowboys on the right are wearing the then very common Montana Peak style of crown.  The second from left has a high shaped crown, almost of the Rancher style worn commonly today.  The cowboy on the far left appears to have a beat up Boss Of The Plains.  All of these cowboys have fairly flat brims, the 19th Century and early 20th Century norm.

21st Century cowboy, with friend, wearing the emblematic cowboy hat.


Modern Bull Rider style crease, a modification of the modern Rancher style.

Pinch style crown, worn by author.

By the late 19th Century, cowboy hats were so well established that they'd crossed over the line from formal to informal, and it was regarded as acceptable to wear one with formal clothing, in the West.  This may seem insignificant now, but it wasn't.  Dress hats were dress hats, and that a field hat had become acceptable for some dress wear, in some localities, was fairly amazing.  

 http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aU4TIwl9jXs/T4ghJxSCBKI/AAAAAAAAAKc/GrW3zo09a9o/s640/Invaders.jpg
Johnson County Invaders dressed for Court.  This photograph nicely demonstrates how cowboy hats were, by that time, acceptable for a formal occasion.  It also nicely demonstrates that nobody would have thought of entering a courthouse without being appropriately dressed at that time.  Additionally, this photo shows that by the early 1890s hat styles had already broadened out considerably, contrary to the occasional claim to the contrary.  Several individuals are wearing Montana Peak style cowboy hats.  A couple have large open crowned hats.  One has an extremely high crowned hat with a very broad brim, which appears to have a wide band. That latter style is one that some claim was not worn until the 1920s, when movies popularized that style, but clearly this isn't true.

Cowboy hats, while originally simply broad brimmed hats of about any type, began to influence other outdoorsmen, both occupationally and otherwise, as soon as they became an established type, and they rapidly spread outside of just ranching use to other uses.  Of course, that would only be natural as the cowboy hat was merely a subtype of the broad brimmed hat, and broad brimmed hats, as we've seen, had been in use for centuries.

One group that really took to cowboy hats were soldiers.  The U.S. Army has had trouble, seemingly from day one, in always being able to issue appropriate headgear, and that would explain it.  This isn't to say that by mid 19th Century all Army headgear was bad, or worse goofy, but the wearing of private purchase hats had been common for quite some time, and became more so starting with the Civil War.

Going into the Civil War the Army issued two hat types, one being  the Kepi and the other being the Hardee hat.

Union cavalryman holding a kepi.  One can only hope that the revolver, probably a studio prop, wasn't commonly carried by this trooper in this fashion.

Union infantryman wearing the Hardee hat.  The bugle was the symbol for infantry at the time.

Both of these items of headgear were actually relatively practical.  They'd come in following the Mexican War, during which time the Army had worn a peaked or "wheelhouse" hat, which was also relatively practical, and which hung on in many armies until World War One.  The kepi, a cap, not hat, was a French design adopted by the U.S. Army at at time when the Army was fascinated with all things French. France was regarded as the world's premier Army up until the 1870s, when it was bested by the Prussians.  The Hardee hat had come in as specialized gear for Voltguiers, a type of unit contemplated but never really incorporated into the U.S. Army. As they were mounted troops, up their on their horses and in the sun, a broad brimmed hat was regarded as more practical for them.  In the end, the Army never included that formation in its makeup, and stuck with dragoons and mounted rifles, but the hat came on in for general use.

Hardee hats were frequently modified by their wearers during the Civil War, which shows how many of them were practical.  The most common thing to do was to punch out the crown and flatten the brim making it look like. . . well. . . a cowboy hat. . . even if there wasn't a hat called that at the time.

Ambrose Burnside, for whom "side burns" are named, wearing a reshaped Hardee hat and being admired by a forage cap (not a kepi) wearing artilleryman.

 Officers of the 4th PA Cavalry during the Civil War displaying a variety of headgear types.  Seated on far left wears a private purchase broad brimmed hat, the one standing wears a reshaped Hardee Hat.  The remaining two have standard kepis. 

After the Civil War (and indeed during it) as the Army spread back on to the Frontier, there was no ability or maybe even desire to keep soldiers in their issue headgear, and they just stopped doing it.  When the Hardee hat ceased to be issued I don't know, but soon after the Civil War soldiers simply took up wearing their own broad brimmed hats.  The Army, recognizing the practicality of the type, experimented with some designs, at first issuing them only to cavalrymen, and issuing some really odd ones in the bargain, but a good hat became something that soldiers were willing to spend their own small pay to acquire, showing how much the type was valued.  By the 1870s, soldiers were wearing all manners of civilian broad brimmed hats, many of them completely indistinguishable form cowboy hats of the period.  The Army, in turn, settled on a number of short brimmed "campaign hats" for general wear, issuing them to everyone at last, although those did not supplant private purchase hats. By the 1890s, the Montana Peak had spread into unofficial soldier use, and in 1911 the Army just gave up, and adopted the pattern itself.  It'd last as an official general issue item up into the 1930s, when it passed for all but cavalrymen, who retained it through World War Two.  It's still around as the "Big Brown Round,", the had worn by Drill Instructors.

 California National Guardsmen at Camp Perry Ohio, in 1908.  Most of them are still wearing blue wool shirts from the Frontier era Army and all have the current pattern of Campaign Hat.

Officer at Camp Perry, perhaps a National Guardsmen, wearing the current pattern of uniform for about 1901, but appearing to also wear a private purchase Campaign Hat rather than the issue pattern, a practice still common prior to the M1911 Campaign Hat.

 U.S. Army cavalry branch officer just prior to World War one, on the Mexican border.  He's wearing the M1911 Campaign Hat which lives on today as the Drill Instructor's "Big Brown Round."

Federalized National Guardsmen at the time of the Punitive Expedition.

Soldier on the border during border troubles with Mexico, note the variety of hats.  M1911 Campaign hat, some type of early Fedora and a cowboy hat.

In the same period, the Montana Peak, but with the peaks oriented in a bit of a different direction, was picked up by the Canadian army went it went to fight in the Second Boer War.  Given that the mounted contingent of the Canadian forces hailed form the West, that's not surprising really.  To Canadians, that design simply became the "Stetson," irrespective of who made it, and following the Second Boer War the hat spread to the North West Mounted Police, today the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, where it remains to this day as a dress item.  Interestingly, the same pattern somehow spread to New Zealand where it also remains as a military dress item.  Meanwhile, in Australia, civilian herdsmen had developed the broad brimmed hat into a Drover's Hat that had a unique crown, and which spread into the Australian forces during the Second Boer War.  Drover's hats remain a popular item in Australia, and the Bush Hat, or Slouch Hat, which is the same hat in military use, also remains an Australian Army item.  Indeed, it's recently crossed back over from being a dress item into a semi field item due to an Australian Army concern over skin cancer, which Australians are afflicted with more than any other people on earth.  Unlike true Stetsons, the Australian designs aren't beaver, but rabbit.  Having said that, the U.S. Army's hats in the 19th Century were "Coney" which often were rabbit, and which were not beaver.

 A member of the "Fighting 69th" says goodbye to his family prior to shipping out for Europe during World War One.

 M1911 type campaign hat, of the original pattern with the three rows of brim stitching, but actually a nice contemporary version, soldiering on as an outdoorsman's hat.


The broad brimmed hat has endured, if much less used, to the present era, but one other beaver felt hat which hasn't really, except in very odd limited circumstances, is the bowler, or as it is sometimes called, the Derby.

 Man contemplating the bowler, circa 1896.

The bowler was the man's dress hat, save for very formal occasions, of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, and it even now sort of occupies that position in a few areas and occupations today, although it's certainly very far past its heyday.  It's odd to consider that the hat actually had a field origin.  But it did. The bowler actually started off as a hat worn by mounted gamekeepers on English estates in the mid 1840s, and it was really sort of a helmet as much of as a hat.

The original idea of a bowler was to give a dressy hat to mounted gamekeepers who were otherwise, and absurdly, required to wear a top hat.  It's an example of the extreme formality of the era that anyone would have been required to wear a top hat in that occupation, but some were. And a poor choice of hats it was, as it was tall (and unattractive) and it tended to get knocked off in brush.  The bowler, however, which was made out of very thick felt, and which had a more streamlined shape, would not.


Harry Longbaugh and Etta Place.  Longbaugh, more famously known as The Sundance Kid, is wearing the full formal mens' attire of the second half of the 19th Century and early 20th Century, and is holding a top hat.  Top hats are one hat type I haven't covered here, being a hat limited to formal wear by the late 19th Century, even though common as general formal wear earlier.

Being a dressier hat than the other available broad brimmed hats, the design took off fairly quickly, and by the 1880s it had widespread use in all urban areas of the Western world, and it even showed up in a lot of rural settings. Basically, men who didn't work constantly outdoors took to it, as its short brim and dressy appearance made it suitable for their occupations.  Additionally, as a hat, it was easy to take and pack if you needed to, so it worked well for men who might frequently ride in coaches or trains, or have to travel.

 Extraordinarily well dressed lawyer, W. Morgan Shuster, in New York in 1914. Shuster's impeccable dress is emblematic of the well dressed businessman of this era.  He's wearing a three piece wool suit and carrying a cane he almost certainly doesn't need to use.  And, he's wearing a bowler.

Former governor of Wyoming and later an Assistant Secretary of State for Woodrow Wilson, John E. Osborn.  This photo was taken in Washington D. C. in the teens, and Osborne is also wearing a three piece wool suit and carrying a cane, while sporting a bowler.  Obviously, bowlers and canes were very much in vogue in the U.S. at this time.

 Controversial heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, circa 1909.  Johnson is wearing a three piece suit, bowler, and has a watch chain.

 Legendary photograph of the Hole In The Wall Gang, aka The Wild Bunch.  Often not noted in this photographs is that the high standard of dress was intended as a joke.  Each gang member here is wearing a bowler, although they do not all look comfortable in them.  They're also all wearing three piece suits and they have watch chains, none of which would have been standard attire for them.

The bowler also likely served the purpose of branding the man wearing it on a daily basis as "not a farmer."  In other words, it became a badge of an exulted status.  Top hats, which they supplanted in every day use, hadn't really served that some function. The bowler was more practical than the top hat, could be worn, stored and carried every day, but with their short brims they were no field hat.  The owner didn't want one.  And he didn't want to appear like a man who needed one.

Bowlers hung on surprisingly long, and even to this day they occasionally now serve a formal role in some localities, but increasing urbanization supplanted them as a daily hat, just as urban occupations became more common.  As this began to happen in the early 1900s, and new hat style, which takes us back into the "short brim" realm of "broad brim" hats appeared, with that hat being the Fedora.

Politicians, 1938.  Note the man second from the right is wearing a watch chain in the same manner as Jack Johnson, above.  These men all seem to have Fedoras except the man in the foreground in the light suit, looking to our left, who is wearing a Homburg.

Fedoras seem to have an obscure origin, but they were showing up prior to World War One.  They were a more practical hat than the bowler, with short brims, but functional ones.  They were also a softer felt hat.  In terms of brim size, their brims were generally the same size as short brim cowboy hats or other short brim "broad brim" hats, so they could be worn by men who saw a fair amount of time outdoors.  They were, in short, more practical for men who really did spend more time outside than Bowler wearers did, even if they were living in the cities.  And like bowlers, they were easy to wear in a car, given the short brim, or a railroad car.  Automobiles, in this ear, were becoming more and more common.

Image
The Cairo Gang, British anti Republican agents, dressed in mufti, circa 1920.  Three of the men are wearing hats, while the remainder are wearing Newsboy caps.  Of the hats, at least #4 is wearing a relatively modern Fedora.  No 3 is also wearing  Fedora, although a more nondescript one.

Fedoras, as noted, are of unknown origin.  They were named for a character in an Italian play who wore one, that character being a female character.  By the 1920s they were taking over the men's hat word, and by the 1930s they completely dominated.  They were the last great new design of men's hats, and their era is nearly symbolized by them, even if they were not the only hat design around at the time.

 George M. Cohan in 1914 or 1916, wearing a Fedora.

Fedoras are a hat design that are still around, and they remain, with some cowboy hats in some areas, as the only hats that really work wear with modern formal wear.  They remain seen, if not super common, in big cities and even in towns, when there's a need for a hat by men wearing formal wear, or even just wear men want to wear a somewhat distinctive hat.  They were very common up into the early 1960s, but like all true hats, have declined in commonality since then.

 Farmer in bar in the early 1940s, wearing a classic Fedora.  Chances are that this hat went from being an on the town hat to eventually being a field hat.  Fedoras could be worn for anything.

Fedora, in my office, with a coat.  Both of which are mine.

Contemporaneously with the Fedora, and somewhat resembling it, is the Homburg. The Homburg was another felt hat of the same era with a similar short brim, although the brim was normally rolled. for some reason, the Homburg was regarded as a more formal hat.  Fedoras showed up everywhere, in use by businessmen and the like, but also in use by men who had no other hat in every type of role.  Homburgs showed up only with suit and tie, and generally worn by those who had means.  A lot of casual viewers today probably mistake them for Fedoras, but they were all finely made hats.  In some ways, the Homburg replaced the Bowler in the dress role, being a less peculiar hat, very finely made, and just dressier in general.

We'd be remiss, particularly given the recent release of the new version of The Great Gatsby, if we didn't mention the Boater.  Boaters are a hat that's familiar to everyone, but the name no longer is.  The Boater was a popular hat from the turn of the prior Century up through the 1920s.  It was sort of a summertime alternative to a Fedora, Homburg or Bowler..  The hat, named for its association with sailing, is now a curiosity item associated with certain activities such as political campaigns and barbershop quartets, even though it had a practical origin. They appear very peculiar to our modern eyes, but a large part of that is because men do not wear hats nearly as routinely as they once did, so only  the less peculiar types and heavily functional types look normal to us now.  Boaters were practical in their era and region, but simply because they were a light straw hat that wasn't too hot to wear in town in the summer.

Baseball legend Connie Mack wearing a Boater.

Boaters, it probably should be mentioned, have an odd association with the FBI.  The FBI in those days was made up principally of lawyers and accountants, and they generally dressed like lawyers and accountants did in that era.  In the summer, at least according to legend, they wore Boaters.  This detail was one sartorial item picked up in the film, The Sting as all the bogus FBI agents are depicted wearing Boaters.

A hat band advertisement showing another style of once popular hat, the Boater.   Note here how formally dressed the crowed watching a baseball game as depicted as being.

Before I move on, I should probably note, and it is probably obvious, that I've pretty much exclusively dealt with men's hats here.  And for a good reason.  For reasons that I'm not sure of, women have been particularly afflicted with the absurd in both hats and shoes.

No doubt some sociologist has looked into this, but while men's hats, with some exceptions, have tended to be practical in origin, women's hats have not been by quite some mark.  In the 19th Century, if a woman wanted a practical hat, and as much outdoor work as they did they did, they end up relying on the men's broadbrimmed hat, which of course fits them as well as any man. So, in summer, for women who really worked outdoors,. a man's hat it was.  This was not, by the way, shocking.  If a woman wanted to stick to a woman's item of dedicated appearal, she had to make due with a sunbonnet.  In terms of urban and dress hats, however, there's no explaining them.  Even as late as the 1960s quite a few women's hats were downright weird.  Not all, as the one illustration above depicting some women in hats shows.  And by the teens, some women's field hats were fairly practical while being unique.  But a lot of women's hats do not appear to have been inspired by anything practical at all, an attribute they share with women's shoes.

 Women, with practical hats, in the Woman's Land Army during World War One.  Note also the leggings.

But why have hats, true hats, declined so much in use?  And by hats, we mean hats, not caps.  Caps are dealt with below.

Theories on this abound.  My father maintained that the nearly universal conscription of men in the US in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, had killed hats.  His point was that servicemen, having to wear hats everyday, had enough of hats by the time they left the service and didn't' want to wear them anymore.  Perhaps that's true, but I doubt it.  Like some others, I think it was the car.

Hats remains very common men's items up until the car.  The reasons were practical.  The average industrial laborer of the 18th Century walked an average of seven miles just to get to work.  Seven miles.  Most people today would regard seven miles as a heck of a hike, but most were doing it everyday, and were working twelve hour days.  If you had to work seven miles in the weather everyday, you'd want a good hat.

Even the many who did not walk that sort of distance had to be out a lot.  Consider, for example, an average lawyer in, say, 1913.  You'd get up in the morning and walk to your office.  Even if your office wasn't seven miles away, and it probably wasn't, you'd still be walking a mile or more.  And out in the weather.  At noon or so you'd go out again, on foot, to a local restaurant or lunch counter.  If it was a lunch counter, it might be outdoors. At the end of the day, you'd walk home.   And during the day you may well go out for one reason or another. Every time, you'd want your hat.  Even if it was a bowler, it'd be better than nothing.

This would have been true for many people up through the 40s, or even 50s, but cars did start to make a real impact by the 20s.  When cars came in, the need for a hat didn't disappear, but it did lessen, and the hat now had to accommodate a car.  Sitting in a car is a pain, as the brim will hit the seat and otherwise get in the way. Fedoras were easy to wear in a car.

But only for so long. By the 50s, cars were really part of the everyday scene for everyone.  In a world were most people drove to work, and only walked to their office, there was very little need for a hat.  Hats in towns declined until they reached their present status, or even, quite frankly, much less than that status.  Hats have actually staged a bit of a comeback in cities for some reason.  Perhaps people are getting out in the weather a bit more.

Cowboy hats, and other broad brim hats, also took a pounding due to automobiles. Indeed, the modern cowboy hat, with prominent brim bending, is the result of the car.  Prior to the automobile cowboys did not steam significant rolls into their hats.  Cars gave them a perceived need to do that, although here too, in recent years flatter brim styles have returned.

Anyway you look at it, hats were actually already in decline in the 1930s, even though that was a pretty heavily hatted era.  Following World War Two the decline was steady.  Photographs increasingly show men and women going hatless routinely.  The 1960s seems to have been the zenith of the hatless era, and they've made some slow but steady rise since then, with that rise really being more in the past couple of decades as people apparently began to realize they missed them, or that there was a need for them, as will be mentioned below.

But, while hats declined mid 20th Century.  Caps really took off.  At least some caps did.
Of course, there's some hat and capt types that never took off in the United States, including the beret, shown here given its long-lasting association with artists.  An extremely common cap in some parts of the world, the beret, which is a cap of dubious utility, has never been popular in the US, save with the U.S. military, which seemingly became fascinated with the British use of their military beret during World War Two, and which now issues a beret to every soldier of the U.S. Army.

Early in the 20th Century, and in the late 19th Century, any decently dressed man wore a hat.  Men who wore caps fit into two classes.  The desperately poor and those whose occupations required a cap for some particular reason.  Wearing a hat otherwise was regarded as vaguely obscene, which shows how much wearing a head covering was, a if caps could be sort of obscene, just imagine how going bare headed was regarded.

For those who wore caps, one of the most common was the Newsboy cap, otherwise sometimes called a panel cap. They were called Newsboy caps as newsboys commonly wore them, fitting into the desperately poor class.

Newsboy wearing a Newsboy Cap.

Newsboy Caps were cheap to make.  They were made by tailors with a minimum of cloth and next to no effort.  They could be made very quickly, and they were warm when they needed to be, and shed rain also as they were wool.  They also were easy to fold up and carry.

Newsboy caps were the headgear of the poor and some working men whose working conditions precluded them from wearing a hat. But then a couple of funny things happened to them.  One thing that happened to them was the automobile, and the other was sports.

When exactly sportsmen of certain types started wearing Newsboy caps I don't know, but they were doing it by the 1890, and the Newsboy was so widely worn by some sportsmen that it became to be identified with the sport.  Golfing might be the best example, as a golfer was practically identified simply by depiction as wearing nickers, a Newsboy cap, and argyle socks.

Golfer illustration, golfer smoking pipe, rather than golfing, and wearing newsboy cap.

Golfing great John Henry Taylor.

As the cap became used by one class of sportsmen, it spread to others, and saw application for quite an array of sporting and field uses.  It didn't replace the broad brimmed hat in that role by any means, but it did star to see wider use.

 Oddly well dressed Florida turkey hunters.

It was the automobile, however, that really caused the Newsboy to take off.  The cap stayed on in an open topped car, which they nearly all were, and they rapidly became the favorite cap of early drivers.  As cars were expensive, this meant that a sporty somewhat well off class suddenly was wearing the same cap as the poor.

 Early sarcastic drawing on women drivers from 1915.  Women were not common early drivers, actually, as the steering mechanism of early vehicles often required appreciable upper arm strength and the brakes were mechanical, not hydraulic, and therefore also required appreciable physical strength.  At any rate, this drawing shows all three male drivers wearing Newsboys or Touring caps.  The male drivers are depicted in the archetypical driving outfit of the time, including overcoats and gloves.

 Motorcyle racers posing for a photograph in the 1920s.  Both are wearing newsboys, which the man on the motorcycle has on backwards.

Automobiles, in fact, had such an impact on Newsboy Caps that they gave way to an inspired design based on it, the Touring Cap.  In basic shape, they were, and are, the same cap, but much smaller.  Sports of all types soon took to the Touring Cap as well.

The Touring Cap didn't cross over to semi dress use, but the Newsboy Cap did. By the 1930s, it wasn't uncommon to see Newsboys in use with Sports Coats, or generally any semi dress wear less than a suit.  Certain sporty sets and occupations, like movie directors, favored them for their utility and their appearance. They, like Fedoras, had become common for any use.

Upton Sinclair coming out of court, wearing  a Newsboy cap.  Man to the left also is wearing one.

 World War One poster with a depiction of what the artist imagined a typical schoolboy to look like, probably pretty accurately.  Working in the garden, he's still wearing a tie (at school) and he's wearing the working man's overalls and newsboy cap.

Newsboys have proven remarkably durable, as have Touring Caps.  The Newsboy's popularity has increased and decreased, but it's never completely gone away.  It's even occasionally revived in eras not otherwise known for hat wearing, such as the early 1970s when it endured a mysterious revival.  It's still a hat pattern around today, both as an informal and semi formal use, although like the Fedora (which it no doubt outnumbers) it isn't as common as it once was.

Newsboy Cap and Tweed jacket, again on my coat rack at work.

The touring cap likewise remains, and it has recently had a remarkable revival, although its original purpose is long gone.  Both hats were brought up in the automobile era, and they do well in it, suitable for about any use.

Other types of caps, of course, existed.  Painters have had a unique type for ever.  Railroad employees likewise have had a type strongly identified with their occupation for decades, reflecting the fact that their job was dirty and required cheap, washable, headgear.

 Railroad engineer wearing the archtyipical railroad cap in the standard blue and white pinstripe pattern.  This cap became the basis for a variety of Army and Marine Corps fatigue caps, and its lineage can still be seen today in the Marine Corps utility cap.

Railroad engineer with the blue and white utility cap.



 Railroad employee wearing a cap, but it's so dirty, it's impossible to tell what type.  By the 1940s, baseball type caps were spreading into industrial use.

Railroad employee in the 1940s with baseball type cap.

Female roundhouse worker with some sort of cotton cap, 1940s.

It was the baseball cap, however, that seems to have worked an enduring revolution in American headgear, or maybe it's just been the most enduring example of headgear.  Or, perhaps more accurately, it's the only US headgear that managed to survive the hatless 60s and come back strong.

Baseball, being a sport poorly suited to hats, has used hats since day one.

The baseball St. Louis Browns in 1888, wearing early baseball hats, and sports coats.

Early baseball hats were not like today's hat at all. They were actually much more akin to painters hats, having more of a canister shape.  It wasn't until just before World War One that the shape began to evolve into the current form.

William Doak of the St. Louis Cardinals, 1914.

By the 1930s, the caps, while still wool, were becoming fairly recognizable.

Washington Senators playing against the Philadelphia As.

And by the 1940s they were pretty close to the modern cap, if not identical.

1940 World Series, Joe Judge and his father.

It was about this time that the baseball cap began to break out into other uses, or at least hats that were pretty close to it did.  The Army Air Corps, for example, started issuing a hat that was pretty close to a baseball cap just before World War Two.  It had limited use, for aircrews, but it was used. The U.S. Navy soon followed suit and began to issue one for deck use on aircraft carriers.  After that, the baseball cap never left military service and it became increasingly common in civilian use.  The cap survived the hat drought of the 1960s, save for military use where it enjoyed a period of service, in an odd looking variant, as the official fatigue cap, and then it spread out into wide use in the 1970s in various guises, such as the "CAT" hat, or the "trucker" hat, or the "IH" hat.

So what happened?  It's not like everyone is wearing a hat now?  Were they just a silly fashion accessory?

No, what happened is probably a combination of things, some of which we've addressed above.

The big one probably was that people just spend less time outdoors. They don't think they do, but they do.  As noted above, the average male, no matter where he lived, was simply outdoors a lot more prior to 1950 or so than latter, and much more than very recently.  People drove less, walked more, and general conditions simply put a person at least out on the street, in the elements, for part of the day.

But, starting probably as early as the teens, that began to decline with the car.  By the 1960s, with America's "love affair with the car" in full swing, quite a few people didn't walk any more than it took to cover the distance from the house to the car and then the parking space to the office.  Not much of an outdoor exposure, and when a person has that little time in the elements a hat, any hat, is just a pain.

Indeed, one of the interesting things about the 1960s and 1970s, hat wise, is that real hats held their ground best either in heavily urban environments or heavily rural ones, and not so much in between.  That may seem odd, but in heavily urban areas cars can be a pain, so people actually find themselves walking in the elements a bit more than they do in other urban areas.  And, of course, in heavily rural areas people are outside a lot.

And I do think, as odd as it may seem, the generation that had to wear hats and helmets for four years of the 1940s and three years of the 1950s, might just have been tired of being made to wear hats.

But beyond that, and significantly, people forgotten why they'd worn hats and caps.  They were always protection.  Protection against the elements, and protection against the sun.  With less time in the elements, people forgot about the elements themselves, and didn't think them necessary.  They also started to almost forget that clothing was necessary.  It's not wonder that skin cancers grew in commonality enormously post 1960.

During that period, when people didn't remember what hats were for, they came to look at them as sort of a fashion accessory.  And that's been detrimental to practical hats, which hats like the Fedora were.  Now, people might think they look neat, but they they also look "period" or like part of a costume.

Since 1980 or so hats have been staging a slow recovery. And in the same period, it seems, people have rediscovered the danger present in the elements.  That's been expressed in an odd fashion, in that some of the approaches to the dangers of the elements have been, predictably, staged as if no generation prior was aware of them, so chemicals and synthetics are often the first line of defense against the rediscovered nature.  But hats have been too.  Indeed, as part of such an example, the Australian Army recently re-approved the wearing of their archtypical "slouch" hat with their field uniform, save for combat environments, specifically to address the risk of skin cancer.

Australian soldiers at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during World War Two.  All the soldiers here, save for one who probably isn't an Australian soldier, are wearing the Diggers typical slouch hat, which has now reappeared in Australian semi field use.

Australian soldier in shorts, but wearing a slouch hat, on camel, during World War Two.

Mounted Australians escort Prisoners of War in Jerusalem.  Note the British soldier on the far right, wearing a Pith Helmet.

 Maj. Gen. Roger F. Mathews Deputy Commanding General U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC) and Australian Defense Force Maj. Gen. Richard M. Burr, Headquarters U.S. Army Pacific Deputy Commanding General of Operations, in Afghanistan.  Gen. Mathews wears the U.S. Army's black beret one of the most worthless general purpose caps of all time, while Gen Burr wears the Australian slouch hat, one of the most practical.

And here in the US, any number of new hats are marketed to specific outdoorsmen, such as fishermen, that have good sun coverage, even if they don't really beat the old broad brimmed felt or straw hats in that fashion.  Having said that, outdoorsmens felt and stray hats have staged a bit of a comeback too.  Interestingly, for working use some of the really old styles have reappeared in actual use, even while in in film use cinematographers have forgotten in some occasions what they were. So, in Wyoming you'll seem modern Rancher style cowboy hats alongside old pinch or Montana Peak style hats, while on a film that's supposedly set in Wyoming, such as An Unfinished Life, the actors are sometimes wearing Australian drovers hats, which you never seen here in working use.

In urban settings, real Fedoras, as opposed to Trilbys or "Stubby" Fedoras, which looked like they were going to be the Fedora's last gasp in the 1970s, have made a bit of a comeback, and even in Denver I'll sometimes see men wearing them.  Newsboy caps keep on keeping on amongst their fans (myself included). But it's baseball caps that have really seized the day.

Perhaps showing its strength, the Army even adopted the baseball cap as the official fatigue cap, although it had an odd stiffener in it that was probably supposed to give it a snappier appearance, but just made it look odd.  That cap replaced the floppy cap that somewhat recalled a railroad engineers cap in both the Air Force and the Army, but the Marines and Navy didn't go for it, keeping a more traditional style of fatigue cap. At any rate, that cap wasn't popular with soldiers, but baseball caps sufficiently were such that in the 1980s you'd see troops wearing Olive Green truckers type baseball caps specifically marketed to them as a better looking cap.

At any rate, baseball caps never suffered the same sort of decline that other hats did, and by the 1970s they were making a comeback. As noted earlier, the "Trucker's Hat" type of baseball cap became particularly popular in the late 1970s.  These caps were passed out free by various industrial outfits at first, as advertising, and some people collected them.  By the 1980s they were sufficiently popular that a lot of companies had quit giving them away and were selling them instead.

This sort of cap remained increasingly popular in the 1990s, and by the 2000s, in at least some regions of the country, they had regained a level of popularity nearly rivaled by all other hats. By that time, real major league baseball caps had grown larger bills than they had in earlier eras, and there was a sort of merger between the true baseball cap and the "golf cap," a type of baseball cap that had a longer brim.  Around here, for example, a large percentage of men wear them every day.  They became so popular in fact, that men took up sometimes wearing them with suits.  I know two judges, for example, who will wear nice suits and ties and then put on baseball caps.

"Baseball" caps, in this case caps for Natrona County High School athletics.

Baseball caps also reentered the service at this time, and occupied part of the same position previously occupied by patrol caps.  baseball cap in camouflage patterns with Velcro tabs entered the U.S, British and Australian armies, and can be see in photographs of troops in the field right now.

Truly bizarrely, at the same time that soldiers are wearing Multicam baseball caps in the field in Afghanistan, a certain type of baseball cap became trendy with trendy youth, that being the oversize "fashion" baseball cap, with flat brim.  The fashion is, quite frankly, infantile and looks absurd, but it shows, perhaps, how widespread the use of the cap has become.  It's an odd thought that the same general cap design is worn by roughnecks in the oilfield as is worn by trendy teenagers who look like toddlers, with their hats on sideways or backwards.

With the baseball cap being so dominant now, it's amazing anything could rival it, but something has arrived to do so, that being a variant of the Army's old Patrol Cap. The Patrol Cap, a plain cap with a sort of canister crown, first appeared in World War Two, although it didn't see a great deal of use at the time.  It started to come in to the service in strength, however, during the Korean War, and indeed it features fold in ear flaps giving it a bit of insulation value in cold weather.  It started to disappear again in the late 1950s and did disappear in the 1960s, only to come roaring back in the late 1970s when BDUs were adopted.  The new BDU Woodlands pattern cap was a Patrol Cap, indistinguishable, except for being camouflaged, from the Korean War variant.  That cap has stayed on in service, and the Army now uses a digital camouflage variant for wear with the ACU uniform that's actually on the way out and in the new Multicam pattern.

Old camouflage pattern and new one in use, with patrol caps, in Afghanistan.



Caps, therefore, have staged a pretty strong comeback, even if hats haven't done so as much. They have somewhat, however.  That caps have staged a bit of a comeback is a good thing, although it'd be better for those out in the sun if broad brimmed hats did.  They simply offer more protection.  Indeed, for that reason, some years ago, the Department of Agriculture actually came out withe recommendation that farmers eschew the "feed store" cap, and go back to broad brimmed ones.

Even so, things have never returned to the full hatted state of affairs of prior years.  It's a shame, really as they're practical and afford protection where needed.  Perhaps they're staging a slow comeback, or at least a slight comeback, and a little more can be hoped for.

Postscript.

This has proven to be one of the most popular posts on this blog, rating at the time I'm adding this postscript just under the photograph of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada (the popularity of which continues to surprise me).  So, something noted in the beginning of the of the thread, that people might be more interested in wearing caps and hats than society would generally credit is true. At least people are looking into it.

At any rate, a recent event closely related enough to this to note it here drew my attention.

When I was a kid, we were taught not to wear hats and caps of any kind indoors, and we did not.  For the most part, this mostly meant at school or perhaps at some friends house.  This was particularly significant in the winter, when we were always sent to school with wool "stocking caps", a type of hat I haven't worn now for years and years.  Anyhow, the thought of wearing a stocking cap indoors wouldn't have occurred to us anyhow, as they're generally uncomfortable and pretty darned warm.  The recent trend of of wearing them in the summer as an affectation, therefore, strikes me as highly bizarre, although I'll confess that when I was in the National Guardsmen a few of us still wore "Jeep Caps" underneath our helmets even in the summer, and they're a type of stocking cap.  You got used to it, and it made the M1 steel helmet less uncomfortable.

The service, I'll note, very much enforced the "no hats indoors" rule as well, and presumably still does.

I suppose by junior high this age old custom was declining as I can recall actually being complimented by a junior high school teacher on taking my cap off when I entered the building.  I can't recall the cap, but I can recall the compliment.  By high school, I can remember kids wearing "trucker's caps" in the hallways, and those who were from ranches could be seen wearing their cowboy hats in the hall, but we probably weren't supposed to and we certainly didn't wear them indoors.

My son informed me just the other day that that same high school has announced a ban on wearing caps and hats indoors, no exceptions.  It surprised me as it's become so common that I now think that, as a custom, it's dead.  A lot of people just don't know that there was a custom requiring a person to take a hat off indoors.  I've seen people wear baseball caps into courtrooms, for example, and I've even seen a witness attempt to take the stand with one, although the judge required the hat to be taken off prior to his being sworn in.  And I've seen hats and caps worn in movie theaters, which is something you'd not see at one time at all.

Cowboy hats have staged a bit of a comeback also in ways that are becoming increasingly noticeable.  I see quite a few wedding pictures or engagement pictures in which the man, and sometimes the woman, are wearing them.  When I see them, I usually read the announcement as I figure they're from a local ranch and I wonder who they are, but in actuality they normally are not.  It is, I guess, a way of stating a rural allegiance, or preference.

Postscript II

The weather here recently has been really icky, which oddly enough reminded me of this topic.

As noted above, I routinely wear a hat.  And when the weather is drizzly I usually wear some sort of broad brimmed hat, such as a Fedora or a Stetson Open Road.  What occurred to me just recently is that once you are up around or over 50 years of age, you apparently have societal license to wear them free of comments.  When I was in my 30s and would do that, I'd occasionally get comments, keeping in mind that 20 years ago was long enough ago that hat wearing was very much in remission at that time.  Now, hats are becoming increasingly common, but you still don't see many Fedoras around here.  Still, if you wear one and are up around 50 years of age, apparently it isn't particularly noteworthy.  One of the nice things about having some age, I guess.

So far, as readers of this post are aware (and at the time of this postscript, this is the most popular post on the blog), this thread has dealt with men's hats.  But something I saw the other day, and which I'll also note on the Standards of Dress thread, causes me to make this entry.   What I observed were women wearing head coverings at Mass.

 Women with covered heads in a Catholic Mass in Chicago, 1940s.  It must have been cold when this photographs was taken, as everyone is heavily dressed.

That's pretty unusual now but at one time, in some locations, it was a rule.  When the rule was lifted I don't know.  It's intent, I believe, was to act as a sign of respect.  Men, on the other hand, were not to wear hats or head coverings at Mass, which is still the rule. Catholic Priests, on the other hand, were required for much of the early 20th Century to have a standard man's hat in black.

Women in this era often had a lace head covering, which was not much more, and indeed less than, a scarf in many examples.  You rarely see them now, but on rare occasion you will.  On this occasion, two girls from one family and their mother, and a teenage girl from another family, were wearing them.  This is extremely rare here, where regular everyday clothing, as addressed in the Standards  thread is the rule.

My noting it here isn't to make a point, as I don't have one, other than to note an observation.  Once the rule was lifted, this style of headcovering disappeared, and I believe it disappeared here fairly rapidly.  Women almost never wear a headcovering or a hat in church here now, and I'd wager many would find it odd, and instead would be inclined to follow the practice of their male counterparts and remove any hat they were wearing, if they had one.  The local priests usually don't have hats, although one we once had did have a sun hat he wore outdoors.  But it was more of a fisherman's type hat.  At any rate, however, it's interesting to note that with some cultures head coverings for religious purposes continue on, that being particularly common with Jewish males in some communities, and that some practices of this type carry on with some voluntarily.

Postscript III

The popularity of ball caps, as well as the lack of practicality of modern fashion, now that most Americans spend most of their time indoors, recently came home to me due to the purchase of a ball cap.

Just before the AFC championships I bought my daughter a Denver Bronco's ball cap.  She's a Bronco's fan, and we were in s store that sells team sports apparel  They had some that had the old 1970s  and 80s vintage Bronco "D" logo, and she wanted one.

The hats have what I'd regard as an unshaped brim.  I've noticed that quite a few kids and young adults wear these hats with flat brims, a style of wearing them I just hate.  It looks goofy.  But you can buy them that way, and I think you always cold buy them that way.

When we bought one, the clerk in the store was wearing a hat with the brim flat.  He asked us if we'd like the hat sprayed with waterproofing, and I was about to say no when my daughter answered yes.  Waterproofing a ball cap would never have occurred to me, but it's probably a good idea.  The clerk next asked if we wanted the stickers on the brim taken off before he sprayed it.  My daughter answered yes.

After we left, I had to ask who on earth would have a hat waterproofed with the stickers on.  My son and my daughter both answered that a lot of kids keep the stickers on.  Sure enough, about two days later a kid got on the elevator at  my office, while I was riding the elevator down, with a ball cap with flat brim, with the stickers still on.  He was also wearing the hat so that the brim didn't face forward but at some goofy angle.

The whole thing is odd, and it effects, I must say, an amazingly juvenile appearance.  That people in their 20s would want to look like toddlers amazes me, but perhaps that says something about the degree to which so many people no longer work in a world wear their clothing really matters, and that some of the clothing is protective.  In contrast, a couple of days later I spent the whole day in the oilfield.  Ball caps were in abundance there, when hard hats were not, but all the brims were bent and facing forward.

Postscript IV

Up above here is a short discussion, in the main text, on the type of cap once so common with railroad workers.  That type of cap has this appearance here:

  
The cap style, while associated with railroad employees, wasn't unique to them.  It actually was worn a fair amount by working men of all types.  I frankly really like the style of cap, if a person is going to wear a cotton cap, but if you are wearing now you'll be self conscious about it (a bad reason not to wear a cap or hat, however) as they're so heavily associated with railroads. Still, they do still make them in stripped denim, as in this photograph, and in blue denim. And, as I recently learned, some outfits in California, where "vintage" work wear is still in, apparently even make them in brown cotton duck (I'd like to have one).

Well, when I first posted our entry here, I didn't say much about the Army and Marine Corps having basically adopted this style of hat during the Second World War to replace a floppy brimmed fatigue hat, but they did.  The hat was very similar in appearance to these caps, save for their color (Olive Drab) and that their brims were a bit shorter.  They style remained in use into the early 1960s, although it started to be supplanted by the hideously ugly "Ridgeway Cap" that the Army adopted, that style having been retained by Fidel Castro for eons.  Recently, I happened upon a place that was selling replicas of the Army cap, nicely made, for a reasonable price, so I bought two, one an OD "herringbone tweed" cap, and the other a "duck hunter camouflage" one.  I thought they'd be nice for summer work.

 Young displaced Nebraska farmer, first resident of a FSA resettlement location, with obviously fairly new engineers cap.

And they are really comfortable and look good too, as was quickly evidenced by my son's attempts to appropriate the OD hat.  I soon had to order an additional two.

I sometimes get half serious jokes about being some sort of a trend setter in a mild way on conservative clothing items.  I wore round "ball grip" glasses way before they returned to popularity for awhile and I have had A2 and B3 flight jackets for decades as they've come in and out of popularity.  Anyhow, when we bought these hats I joked we'd set a trend.  Oddly enough, I'm now seeing some of the blue ones show up in town, and sure enough, there's a high tech version in the stores, and a fashion version on the net.  Ralph Lauren, for example, makes an insanely high priced version, and there's the Bruin "vintage" work wear version as well.  Maybe the most interesting version, however, is a new high tech version that some company is offering, advertised to keep your head cool.


Postscript V

Another item showing the popularity of the baseball cap, I suppose.  New Navy regulations for the "Navy Ball Cap" and the "Command Cap", both of which are baseball caps.

http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/uniforms/Documents/BALL%20CAP%20FAQs.pdf

Command type caps have been pretty popular for a long time and see a lot of civilian use actually. 

Baseball cap use, of course, is not new to the Navy, which introduced baseball caps to service use at least as early as the 1940s.