Sunday, July 27, 2014

How my dad loved hats and stinking badges

Thursday morning I opened an email my sister had sent Wednesday night. It included a picture.
I just realized that Dad died 9 years ago today. I miss him! P

My other sister had received the email and responded:
Oh wow. I had forgotten. So glad you remembered and sent this. And I just watched Treasure of the Sierra Madre on TCM with one of Dad's favorite lines: "Badges? We don't have no stinking badges!"
I responded:
I forgot, too. What a picture. He really dressed like that and drank wine from a skin? I thought that "badges" line was from "Blazing Saddles" ...
I actually didn't realize it was from Treasure either but there it was. It really goes more like: Badges? We don't have no badges. We don't need to show no stinkin' badges!
So I did what my dad might have done and googled “stinking badges” and sent my sisters this link to “Stinking badges” on Wikipedia. Then I sent this video clip.

What a hat that guy is wearing. And you might notice the hat my dad is wearing in that picture from, I guess, the 1970s. That hat might still be in the family. I had it for a while, then one year it went from the U.P. to California so my mom could wear it. It was the Halloween that Jennifer helped her to dress up as Charlie Chaplin. Or, maybe I should say the Halloween that Jennifer dressed her up as Charlie Chaplin. I wasn’t there, so I’m not really sure how it all went down. Though I did get a few reports. That my mom still didn’t take first prize in the costume contest at her Village for Old Fogies & Cronies befuddled us all. The year before, looking amazingly like Michael Jackson, she had also lost out on the coveted prize. That she didn’t win with this Chaplin outfit had us all believing for sure the contest was rigged.

Yes, this is my mom.

The bowler was part of a collection of hats my dad had. Indeed, my father was a hat aficionado, and it may be no small coincidence that his mother, who died when he was 15, was a milliner. Of course he had many Cubs caps for wearing to the ball park and other sporty places, but he also had hats to wear to work.

And hats for serious fun.

And practical hats for shading the sun.

Yes, I still have a few of my dad’s hats. I never wear them, except maybe once in a while I do wear one of the Cubs caps. My dad also liked madras, patchwork (he had a pair of patchwork corduroy pants that were yellow, green, blue, red, brown ... where did he get these things?), and with shorts he often wore knee socks. There is a story my mother tells about how Dick wore shorts to work one day and was sent home to change. This was in Aledo, that small town in Illinois that held two corn fields apart, either in the late 1940s or early ’50s, when my dad was done with the war and finished with law school and working as a lawyer in his dad’s law office. So it was his dad who sent him home to change. I don’t remember knee socks being part of the story, but I imagine they were part of the outfit.

Meanwhile, the Queen Anne’s lace is blooming and the black-eyed Susan. The red clover is crumbling to burnt-orange. The goatsbeard is blooming again and the St. John’s Wort is beautiful and the daisies won’t quit. There is milkweed and buttercup and yarrow and trefoil. Something called sow thistle. Hawksbeard. And there is cinquefoil and fleabane and the dogwood has clusters of white berries. Prickly vines sport tiny, wild red raspberries and the early goldenrod is blooming. An outside researcher has reported that the goofy blooming stalks covering my lawn and described very well as Dr. Seuss-like are English plantain. The field grass is tall, nearly up to my shoulder. Slender, nodding seed heads have a slight purplish tint, like an eyeliner of lavender. It is all green and yellow and white and purple and brown and lavender and dusky and fresh. In the morning Josie hops down the trail and into the field and disappears except I can see a few flower heads and grasses swaying back and forth. I call him, he appears, he hesitates, he dashes down the trail and veers off into the field once again, repeat. Elliott waits on the porch, where Josie finally returns, soaked with dew. Afternoon walks are more adventurous as Josie falls off a log into a deep pool in the river and has to be pulled out; scares up a hornets nest or something and comes streaking out of the field yelping; falls into a deep and weedy, overgrown culvert and has to be rescued.

I wonder if that stinkin’ badges video clip makes anyone else laugh. After watching it a dozen or more times, I am still laughing. And it is the second anniversary of Pea Pickle Farm. Maybe I should pick out a hat, and celebrate.


  1. Your dad was certainly a character and it seems your mom likes to follow suit! My mom died 8 years ago and I certainly sympathize. It's great though that after a few years have passed and the grief is less, you can remember the good and fun times. :)

    I love wildflowers and get a few here on my city lot in Ohio. I love queen anne's lace, but most people pull it up as a weed. I let it grow and enjoy the beautiful flowers. I also let a few milkweed come up - those flowers are so fragrant. People probably dislike me since I don't put any chemicals on my lawn, but I enjoy the dandelions and the clover (bees like them too).

    1. One of the greatest things about living where I live is that I can just let all these beautiful and interesting flowers grow. I used to try that when I had a city lot back in the Chicago area -- people do get touchy about that! But I too like dandelions and clover. And I bet I would like your yard!

  2. Queen Anne's Lace! Love the knowledge a botanist gave us about why there is a purple "dot" in the middle of some of the blooms. Nature just goes on about its growing and reproducing -- if we let it.

    1. OK, so I had to google that. The purple dot. You mean the drop of blood from Queen Anne pricking her finger? ... Also learned it belongs to the carrot family, which appeals to me. It is so common ... but I love it!

  3. Wow... both of your parents are quite the cabaret stock! How fun!

    I also thought the stinkin' badges line came from Blazing Saddles, which it does, but as a reference to the other clip that you showed here. I didn't realize that. My brother knows most of Blazing Saddles by heart and used to quote that a lot when we were younger. I found a compilation of movies that have used that line:

    Happy 2nd birthday!

    1. Arg! What a great compilation. Includes the Monkees!