Cowboy Hats

I wanted so much to take a photograph today.  It wasn’t possible. But I wanted to share it with others.  It was a set of shelves in the foyer of a church building.  A double row of 1 x 12s above a coat rack.  They were high on the wall, but that’s okay, because they only need to be reached by the men.  They’re the hat shelves.  And these shelves were full of beautiful felt cowboy hats, some black, some off-white… lined up, one after another, gently sitting on their crowns, the way cowboy hats should be.  All my life I’ve seen hats placed this way, but I’ve never seen so many lined up all at once.

I was leaving the funeral of a good man from a small community, and this building was literally packed with friends and relatives who had come to bid farewell and show their love to his family.  I had only met him once.  I was there for his son and daughter-in-law… my cousin.

The people poured in.  More folding chairs were arranged.  And the people still poured in and stood there on this very cold day, lining the hallways.   Farmers and ranchers for the most part, it seemed to me.  You can tell by their boots and by their hats.

We sang together… beautiful comforting words like those about Paradise Valley… the altos singing lead, and the rich basses rolling up and down through the chorus.   We prayed and listened to the wonderful and familiar words of Scripture which bring us all hope of eternal life.  I learned more about this man.  How his family loved and admired him, how the church and his community thought so highly of him.  How he was always looking for opportunities to do good.  How he was driving a tractor when he was too small to reach the pedals.

I’m always so thankful on days like today, that this is where I live.  I’m grateful to hear the high plains accents of elderly preachers.  I’m thankful to join my voice with others in our traditional songs.  And when I stepped from the auditorium into the foyer, making my way outside… and I saw those beautiful winter hats lined up and waiting for their owners to don them as they stepped outside into this gray January day… I was just so honored to be sharing in that moment in Melrose, New Mexico.  Thank you to good people everywhere who make such a difference in the lives of those around them.  My heartfelt sympathy to this fine family.

9 Responses to “Cowboy Hats”

  1. Mary Anne says:


  2. Marcea Clive says:

    Thanks, Sandy.

  3. Jana Dodd says:

    Thank you so much for these beautiful words. Just read them outloud to my mother-in-law and Burl. Tears running down our faces, we are enjoying the beautiful picture you paint. Thank you so much for coming today.

  4. Sandy says:

    I hope I could, in some small way, convey with words the beauty of this day. It was truly an honor and privilege to be there. I’m deeply sorry for your loss.

  5. Cheryl says:

    What wonderful thoughts. And not to take away from the seriousness of the occasion you were attending but I wish men the world over could take the example that gentlemen take their hats off inside. I love that show of politeness. Guess it is the Southerner in me.

  6. Sharon Davis says:

    This is a wonderful place to live, with many thanks to fine Christian men like Deon Dodd, men that will never give up, that value their name, their family, their God. It was a lovely service, I’m glad I was there.

  7. Micah says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  8. Jane Calton Welch says:

    I was also impressed with the hats and rows and rows of good size men crowding in pews together. What an out pouring of love for such a fine man and his family!

  9. Sue Moore says:

    This is a message of honor, Sandy…honor to the man who passed on, to his family, and to each person who attended the memorial service that day. You wrote about it so well I envisioned being in attendance (though of course I wasn’t)and considered that an honor.
    Thank you.

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