Hard Hats

When I first started wiring, it was on farm houses.  Nobody even knew what a hard hat was.  It was not until I got into government jobs that hard hats were required.  The same goes for steel toed boots.

It seemed the hard hats were very heavy to wear, and in the summer time they were excruciatingly hot.  Eventually I found liners you could wear inside of the hard hat in cold weather.

Most of the early hard hats were made of metal, but eventually they were manufactured from hard plastic.  Some featured smooth tops and some of them had ridges.  I was once told the reason for the ridges were so that electricians could hold wire up with their hard hats.  That was one story I didn’t believe.  In all the years that I worked while using a hard hat, I never once had occasion to hold wire up with my head.  Today you can get hard hats and hard caps, and I have even seen hard protected cowboy hats.  I preferred hard hats with a brim that would also somewhat protect your shoulders from falling material.

It was quite popular to write something on your hat – your name or trade, or a slogan – something humorous.  Some of the guys I worked with were quite artistic, if not completely articulate.

On many jobs, when issued a hat, it was a specific color for a specific trade.  It was not uncommon to have a number designation on your hat, which made it possible to identify the wearer from a distance.

One time the big boss of a large construction company was in the hospital next to a construction job his company was doing.  He demanded a room overlooking the job so he could look down on the job from his office … no … his bed.  He had field glasses to observe his men and report what was going on back to his superintendant.

I remember one job where my hat was just plain gray (or grey – either way it’s the same color).  Someone took a strip of wire markers that said; “Power Power Power and applied it to my hard hat to be humorous.  I was allowed to keep the hat after the job was done.  I still have it; along with a collection of other hats I was given.

I do know of one hard hat that didn’t make it.  One of my friends, who was also my next door neighbor, oversaw the installation of high voltage lines.  He liked his hard hat.  He wore it all the time.  One day my friend was out hunting, wearing his hard hat of course.  When they camped at night the group wanted to make coffee but they had no tin can to boil water.

My friend took the interior webbing and support out of his hard hat (it was one of the metal ones) and used it to boil water over a campfire.  The next week he was on a pole and a gust of wind blew his hard hat off of his head.  Upon landing on the ground the hat broke into a hundred pieces.

I have no idea what that coffee tasted like.  And I don’t know if drinking it had any negative impact on their health.

On the other hand, plastic is not the answer to everything.

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