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Published March 26, 2012, 08:33 AM

What makes you, you

TOWNER, N.D. — It’s funny the things that people notice about you. Whether you’re tall or short, smiling or scowling, overweight or underweight, crisply dressed or sloppily dressed, the color of your skin or your eyes, what you have on top of your head.

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — It’s funny the things that people notice about you. Whether you’re tall or short, smiling or scowling, overweight or underweight, crisply dressed or sloppily dressed, the color of your skin or your eyes, what you have on top of your head.

There’s more to the list I suppose — glasses or not, moustache or beard, scruffy or clean shaven, long hair, short hair or no hair, ears that stick out or ears that tuck in, big nose or sharp nose, strong chin or no chin, the list just keeps going.

If I were to pick three things about me that are most often noticed, it’d be my height, my smile and my cowboy hat. They’re all mostly genetic for me. My frame came from my 6 foot mother and my 6 foot 2 father.

Those who knew my mother say I got my smile from her. She used to tell the story that when she was born, she had no mouth, so her mother told the doctor to just cut one for her from “here to here.” But the doctor thought she said from “ear to ear,” and so became my mother’s broad smile.

And the hat, well, you can pick one up in a variety of stores, but, for me, I got that tradition from my dad. Cowboys wear cowboy hats just like baseball players wear baseball caps and green berets wear, well, green berets. Dad was a cowboy, a real one and a good one, and at least a couple generations before him were, too.

There’s a saying, “all hat and no cattle.” But Dad and I, we were, “hat and cattle,” or “hat justified because of cattle.” And horses, too. Riding, roping, raising a few colts and then training them as they grew older kind of went with the broad brimmed lid atop our head.

Father and son relationships can be tumultuous, nonexistent or perfectly matched like a good team of work horses, but with one older horse and one younger horse hitched alongside to learn how to pull. Dad and I were the well-matched team in our relationship.

So it would be no surprise to those who watched me grow up to know that I would emulate my father in every way I could, including the hat. Treat people with kindness, especially the very old and the very young; have a healthy attitude toward hard work and those who work hard; keep your word and honor a handshake deal because, rich or poor, honesty was a trait you’d be known for regardless of how many coins you had in your pocket. Those are a few things that came from under Dad’s hat, and I’ve tried to tuck them under my hat, too.

Sure, the hat would come off from time to time. We never slept in our hats. Dad wasn’t a stern man, but if you kept your hat on while eating or at the supper table, he’d knock it off your head. It came off in church, at times of prayer, for the flag, the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. The hat would come off when you met a lady. Maybe it was just a matter of “truth in advertising” to let the ladies know that the handsome cowboy they thought they were meeting was just another average balding male with a receding hairline.

I don’t presuppose much about folks when I meet them from how they look or what they wear. It’s always best to start a conversation and learn firsthand. And, I suppose, that’s how we’d all prefer to go through life.

So, when someone notices me, tall, smiling, wearing that cowboy hat, and says, “so what’s up with the hat?” I have to say, “have you got a minute?” Because it’s not just something I picked up in a store.

Editor’s Note: Ryan Taylor welcomes comments about his column. He can be reached at 1363 54th St. N.E., Towner, N.D. 58788; email: cowlogic@ndak.net. Taylor, who ranches near Towner, is a columnist for Agweek.

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