Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Freedom can be as simple as no bonnet blindness


March 18, 2014

A friend mentioned that she had been looking through some of her treasures and had come across a collection of sun bonnets. Of course, that evoked many memories of early life in those canyons at lma.

Her collection included bonnets made of lace and other fancy materials. They held their shapes by having slats sewn into them. Those were strips of cardboard that were an inch or so wide and about six inches long. The material was gathered at the back and had ties attached to help keep it in place.

Women and girls wore those contraptions almost any time they were outside. They also wore the dressy ones to church and other activities.

As you can well imagine, some of us were less than pleased to have to wear them. They were to protect us from being sunburned so our complexions would remain fairly decent.

If you ever saw blinders used on plow horses and mules so they could not look to either side but had to look straight ahead, you have an idea as to how those bonnets felt on our faces. We couldn't see anything on either side and could run into all sorts of objects if we weren't careful.

They didn't allow us to feel a cool breeze on our heads unless we were walking into it. They limited a lot of our freedom of movement, and in my case, freedom of mind.

The minute I would get out of sight of Mother or Grandmother, I would shove that bonnet back on my shoulders so I could enjoy the beauty around me. Besides, I didn't like to run into bushes, trees, rocks, or other impediments. Freedom to run was most necessary for that little girl in the canyons, and running required paying attention to the surroundings. That couldn't be done with a bonnet limiting my vision and creating more danger than helping to keep me from being sunburned.

As soon as I would be nearing the house, I would pull the blinders on again and try to act as if they had never been removed. Sometimes a little sunburn would give it away, and Mother would often ask how I managed to get so many twigs and leaves under my bonnet. I always played the innocent child, but that act was always discovered even when I refused to admit what had happened.

As I grew and began to work with Dad, he bought me a western hat to replace the bonnets, and I was one happy kid. Of course, I had to chase it at times, but the run was worth the freedom and the pride that hat gave me.

As you look through your treasures from the past, recall some of the great times you have lived through and the privileges you have had. Our history is quite a collection of treasures.

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.


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