Last week’s column, “A Memo to Pinal Elected Officials on When to Wear Cowboy Hats,” generated quite the response.
Pinal County Supervisor Steve Miller showed reporter Heather Smathers a photo of himself as a 3-year-old in a cowboy hat as evidence that he has been wearing one most of his life. And Assessor Doug Wolf joked at Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he was going to wear a cowboy hat but he had seen the memo in the Dispatch that said they aren’t allowed.
In letters, emails and comments on social media, a number of readers weighed in on the subject. For the record, I am not anti-cowboy hats. I just don’t like to see them used as political props by elected officials.
Those who liked the column were mostly brief and to the point, like Dennis who wrote: “I laughed when I read your ‘cowboy’ hat article but you were spot on! Thanks for having the courage to speak up. Keep up the good work.”
Len said the politicians should pay attention: “The photo in the article was quite humorous, looking like a scene from the movie ‘Tombstone’... I appreciate the hard work from these elected officials but as a staunch conservative voter, I always struggle to vote for a phony.”
Jennie also took politicians to task: “As much as I like cowboy hats for cowboys — not so much for Pinal County elected officials, including the sheriff. I doubt if some of them have even been near a horse for quite some time. I am also from the “old school” of manners that hats should be removed when inside. Sheriff Lamb always wears his hat inside, giving interviews, etc.”
And Al said: “When I see politicians in public wearing western hats, I wonder how much more attention do they need.”
I even got an email praising my column from “Anastasia Romanov.” OK, that may be an alias, but just in case, I replied that I appreciated her comments considering what she had been through during the Russian Revolution and all. I don’t recall the czar ever wearing a cowboy hat.
Elizabeth shared in an email that she and her husband were disappointed when they moved to Arizona 1 1/2 years ago that they didn’t find many men wearing cowboy hats here.
“I guess my impression about Arizona was wrong,” she wrote. “The Phoenix area is no longer a Southwestern city with grit, my apologies to those who are offended by this remark, it is just another large metropolitan area. Perhaps that spirit lies within the small towns.”
Elizabeth liked the column but was critical of my approach.
“As for you chiding these men, stating that ‘everyone is laughing at you’ does appear quite childish. If you want to tell these reps to remove their hats then do so, but stop with your finger-wagging approach about their attire.
“So Andy, pull up those britches, tuck your shirt in, remove your fists from your hips, put your cowboy hat on and be the best cowboy you can be.”
I’ll give it my best, Elizabeth.
Some didn’t like the column at all and thought there were better topics for me to write about.
“Perhaps it would be more advantageous to promote why business and industry could flourish. As stated, this (a cowboy hat) is a symbol of the area and endearing to many — empty storefronts — not so much,” Barbara wrote.
Stephen said: “I am surprised to see your (column) when we perhaps should be writing about the length of time DPS keeps an interstate highway closed after a traffic accident.”
And Lenny wasn’t impressed at all: “I read your column every day, and I have never written an answer to one. That said, however, this has got to be the dumbest one you’ve ever written.”
I shared Lenny’s email with my wife and she reacted indignantly.
“He’s wrong,” she said in my defense. “You’ve written a lot dumber columns than that one.”
You can reach Andy Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org