It may finally be time to give the cowboy hat its due.
It’s long been a favorite accessory for Texans, and one state lawmaker proposes giving the always fashionable headwear a formal title: the official state hat of Texas.
“The cowboy hat reflects the individualism that is so much a part of the Texan identity, elegant in its appearance while maintaining practicality in its function,” according to the bill filed by Rep. Marsha Farney, R-Georgetown.
“The cowboy hat has stood the test of time, while enduring the elements, cattle drives and modern fashion trends and [continues] to exhibit a sense of style and dignified appearance.”
House Concurrent Resolution 35 is getting a warm welcome from at least one Western enthusiast in Cowtown, home to cattle drives and cowboys alike.
Fort Worth attorney Jim Lane, who is rarely seen without a cowboy hat, called it a “great, great bill.”
“It goes to show that even a Republican can dream up something good once in a while,” said the staunch Democrat and former councilman.
Farney’s proposal appears to be the first state designation proposal filed this year, but it’s a tradition in Texas to give out official designations.
The state shoe, for example, is the cowboy boot, and the state snack is tortilla chips and salsa. And Garland has been proclaimed the Cowboy Hat Capital of Texas.
A Texas tradition
Farney said one of her constituents suggested the measure to her. After she and her staff researched the idea, they were surprised to find it hadn’t been done before.
Farney’s bill notes that the state’s heritage is linked to images of cowboys and the Western frontier and that the hats are vital to that.
Once popular for broad brims that shielded the wearer’s face during cattle drives, the hats became more popular through the years, topping the heads of actors, presidents, musicians, athletes — and regular Texans.
They’re even part of the standard uniform for Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and an approved part of the Texas Rangers’ uniform.
For Lane, it’s simply tradition.
Growing up, he said, he saw his grandfather first thing in the morning wearing three things — a pair of boxers, a T-shirt and a cowboy hat.
“The first thing he would do in the morning is put that hat on,” Lane said. “I guess I got it from him.”
Many locals celebrate the state’s Western heritage.
There was one slip-up in the late 1960s, when ad agencies tried to convert Cowtown to “Now Town” and get residents out of their cowboy hats and boots and into more sophisticated duds.
That didn’t last long in a city that has a piece of art made from cowboy hats hanging in the Fort Worth Convention Center.
Across the state, Texas’ Western heritage is thriving, with cowboy hats seen as often as baseball hats, if not more so.
“The cowboy hat symbolizes both the state’s iconic Western culture and the uniqueness of its residents and it is indeed appropriate that this stylish and dignified apparel receive special legislative recognition,” Farney’s bill states.
Lane said it’s about time. His hat stays on pretty much from sunup to sundown, although he takes it off, of course, when he greets ladies or when he’s required to inside buildings.
“People always tell me, ‘Don’t forget your hat,’” Lane said. “I tell them not to worry. I’d forget my pants before I would forget my hat.”
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610
Many Texans know that the state bird is the mockingbird, the state flower is the bluebonnet, the state tree is the pecan, and the state motto is “friendship.” But here are a few lesser-known designations.
State cobbler: Peach
State pie: Pecan
State cooking implement: The cast-iron Dutch oven
State dish: Chili
State pepper: Jalapeño
State domino game: 42
State fiber and fabric: Cotton
State fish: Guadalupe bass
State fruit: Texas red grapefruit
State gem: Texas blue topaz
State insect: Monarch butterfly
State reptile: Texas horned lizard
State dog breed: The blue Lacy
State epic poem: The Legend of Old Stone Ranch by John Worth Cloud
Source: Texas Almanac