Pop was always getting on to us for not wearing hats while we were working outside. And he was right too. It’s not too hard to catch a sun stroke working in the blistering Alabama heat, and more than once I remember getting a splitting headache because I had forgotten my hat. You get all dizzy and your vision kind of goes black, it’s just a whole lot easier to wear a hat. Pop also believed that you should wear long sleeves to keep yourself cooler in the summer. He was probably right about that, but I never tried that. I had to draw the line when he told that drinking too much cold water while you were working was bad for you.
Pop didn’t just tell us all that, he lived it. Pop never forgot his hat. There are probably people that have never seen him without a hat. He usually wears those mesh back trucker style hats in the summer, and full on cotton baseball cap in the winter. He wears them perched on top of his head. I have often wondered how they staid on.
Pop used to get Zach and me up at the crack of dawn to deliver hay. We’d get up early to beat the heat in the barn. Sometimes we’d make several trips from the barn to the client. sometimes it was a horse farm, sometimes a hardware shop, sometimes just a customer who needed to feed their cows, and even construction company. Now construction companies are not particular about the quality of the hay they get, since they only need it to spread for erosion control after they’ve planted grass. The horse customers are extremely particular, but that’s a different story. You could bale up a briar patch and sell it the construction companies and they wouldn’t care. Pop called that kind of hay mulch hay. Which I’m not sure is the proper term, but it get the point across.
One morning Pop had us load up a trailer and truck full of mulch hay to take to a construction company on the outskirts of Birmingham. Pop drove, Zach road by the window and I sat in the middle. That’s what I got for being the smallest. It didn’t matter how early we got to this place, it seemed like it was always scalding hot in the metal trailer where we had to unload that scratchy mulch hay. Once we got finished and piled in the truck, hot and sweaty, Pop rolled the window down for us. He always preferred the breeze over the air conditioner, and he wouldn’t let you run the AC with the window down. Which makes sense, but I’d rather have run that air conditioner. Pop had just merged onto highway 280 when a big 18 wheeler flew past us and Pop’s precariously perched hat almost went with it. He took both hands off of the wheel and grabbed his hat and socked it back down on his head. It’s a wonder that we didn’t have a big wreck, make the news and turn Vulcan’s light red all in a flash. After the smoke had cleared, Pop looked over at Zach and me, smiled, turned on the AC, and rolled up the window.