NOTE: Happy Father’s Day! This post is about hardworking men with dirty fingernails because it is Father’s Day, but we love and appreciate hard working women too!
I have an old grubby cap they I usually wear when I’m working outside. It has never been washed and probably never will be. At this point it has its own history. It was promotional cap from a business, so I got it for free. The ole cap is well broke in about like me. There are some frayed threads, stains, and the dark color has faded from the sun and rain. When I eventually throw it away, I will revisit a few memories.
I was raised among men in grubby ole caps and hats. My first heroes were working-class people. Sometimes they are called the salt of the earth. My father was raised on poor southern ridge land and eventually became a factory worker. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a sharecropper who wore an old felt hat with sweat stains around the crown. My paternal grandfather, who I never knew, could do or build anything with his hands.
My Daddy worked at the Goodyear Rubber Plant where they had showers for their workers. He left home and came home in nice clean clothes but at the end of the week he brought his work clothes home for laundering. They were very dirty and stunk with a mixture of sweat, rubber, and whatever else the plant had to offer. As I remember, he had only about two changes for a five to six-day work week, so they were quite ripe.
I’m not sure if elites really appreciate the men in grubby ole caps. The grubby cap-wearers are the ones who raise our food, process it, package it, transport it, put it on the shelves, sell it, and bag it. They are also the ones who cut down the trees, saw them up in lumber, nail them together to build our houses. Those ole grubby cap-wearers also put in your plumbing and wiring. They will be the ones who will crawl under your house on cold days to fix your pipes and bear-walk through your attic on murderous hot days to find the short in the wires.
When we open a faucet, flip a light switch, crank our cars, receive a package, open a can of soup, sit in a chair, watch our television, or put on a new pair of jeans—we can thank a grubby ole cap-wearer. When we watch a plane fly overhead or wait for a train to go by—just look what a grubby ole cap-wearer made and keeps ‘agoing.
Practically everything we use, consume, or need the grubby cap-wearers will touch it many times before it reaches our hands. City dwellers in high rise apartments would die in two weeks if the grubby cap-wearers hung their caps up and said, “I quit!”
Grubby ole cap-wearers may not know about the latest trends. Their grammar might cause snickers to those with soft hands and skinny jeans, but it will be a grubby cap-wearer who will show up when the BMW is broke down on the side of the road.
More than once the ole grubby cap-wearers have traded in their caps for military helmets to win the wars the suit-wearers started while enrolling their preppy sons into Yale.
The ole grubby cap-wearers have been called many names by the arrogant—rednecks, deplorables, scum, proles, working class, hicks, lower-class, just to name a few. But they have never been called lazy, fearful, unloving, godless, prideful, or unfaithful.
When the chips are down, and all has hit the fan—I want an ole grubby cap-wearer to show up for my aid. If he has two dollars or two pieces of bread, he will give you one.
So, Father’s Day is just around the corner. If you have a wonderful Dad who is a grubby ole cap-wearer, he doesn’t need a new tie. He has one out of style tucked away in his closet that your mother will drag out when y’all bury him. For now, he might appreciate a new cap from Tractor Supply. It will fit him just fine when he adjusts the back strap, molds the bill to his liking, and gets a little dirt, grime, grease, and sweat on it. I know, I know he has twenty hanging on nails on the back porch but a working man can never have too many caps or pocket knives!
I tip my ole grubby cap to all you hard working fathers out there. You make the wheels turn and grease ‘em when they squeak. We love you! You are the salt of the earth, and we wouldn’t have you any other way!
Happy Father’s Day to the Dads who wear suits and khakis also—we bet you have a favorite ole grubby cap you wear when no one’s looking!
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt