He sends me things just out of the blue sometimes but in his familiar handwriting, I noticed the box read, "HAT, do not crush."
I opened the box and inside was a beautiful, new cowboy hat. I immediately called my brother and asked why he sent me a hat.
"That was dad's." Wow. Why don't I remember it? I hate that. You'd think I'd remember every detail there was about dad after he was killed. I felt instant guilt that I didn't recognize it.
But, there's a wonderful story behind this hat, and several others he had. One of dad's patrol areas included the Idaho City area. He got to become very good friends with Charlie and Manetta Shrite. In fact, he ended up buying some property directly across Hwy 21 from their house.
I remember Charlie always laughing. He was such a character. Manetta was a tiny little thing but she was tough. She owned Rowell's Hat Shop. She didn't have machines. Every hat was made by hand. She had a funny thing that she placed on your head to measure your shape so the hat fit perfectly. It looked something like this...
She made hats for celebrities and regular folk. She made many for Paul Revere and the Raiders. She also loved dad, and made several for him.
So, here's the hat...
and inside, I was excited to see it was one of his custom hats, made by Manetta.
We have so little left that belonged to dad, I love it when something shows up that will stay with us kids and someday be passed on to our kids, and their kids and for generations yet to come. This special delivery made a kind of crappy day, ever so much better.
Thanks, Steve. I'm sorry you didn't have a place to display it, but I'm grateful you sent it.