On one breezy day back in the seventies, my late friend Jim and I were out driving around in our fine town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. It was around mid-day and given the times it would not be unheard of for us to have been slightly impaired.
Jim, behind the wheel, was heading east on one of Kenosha’s main streets. As he approached an intersection a man and his young son stood in the road waiting for us to pass so they could cross the street.
The man was wearing one of those small brimmed Fedora hats that were popular in the sixties and seventies. It looked like a Swiss mountaineer hat, complete with the little red feather sticking out of the band. I never cared much for those hats, but as many who know me can attest, I am no slave to fashion.
Nevertheless, the man had one on and unfortunately, that being an extremely windy day, soon lost his fine feathered headwear to a gust of wind. The hat floated down like a kite, directly in the path of Jim’s fine, though somewhat rusty, banged up old Rambler.
As I sat taking it all in, I was focused on the man’s demeanor. Looking right at Jim, he started to step out to retrieve his spiffy hat, knowing Jim had plenty of time to stop, and was confident he would.
Unfortunately Jim was clueless as the hat hovered for a time, then floated down directly in front of his car like a wounded canvasback on a still pond.
Still focusing on the man attempting to rescue his hat, I watched his expression change in minute stages, from one of confidence, to one of alarm and disbelief, as he realized Jim was not going to stop, or even slow down on behalf of his fashionable head wear.
As the event unfolded, my demeanor changed along with the man’s as I realized the hat was now doomed. As our vehicle passed directly by and over the topper, both the man and his boy looked down and watched as both tires on the right hand side of Jim’s hulking Rambler crushed and flattened the man’s once spiffy fedora, like a beer can ran over by a garbage truck.
Turning around in my seat, I could see the man looking down at his now flattened hat, and back up at our passing vehicle, with a stunned look on his face.
His son, with a look of confusion, kept looking in turn, up at his dad, and down at his dads now squashed headpiece.
The hilarity of the scene struck me suddenly and hard as I started laughing uncontrollably, unable to neither stop nor explain to my clueless friend the calamity he had created.
When finally I was able to explain what had happened, he fell into uncontrollable laughter as well.
And although I felt bad for the humiliated man and his son, for many years after Jim and I would break out in laughter recalling the incident, especially the look on the unfortunate man’s face, as we drove over and destroyed his fashionable topper. (Who knows, maybe his insurance covered it)