I had a visit from a couple of guys from Iowa last week and they were both wearing a pair of bib overalls. You could say they kind of “stood out from the crowd.”
I remembered writing an “Ode To The Bib Overall” many years ago, and in honor of these two farm boys and others, I’m submitting one of my “Classic” Last Windrows I wrote years ago.
“Ode To The Bib Overall”
When I was but just a little child,
Thinking of them and those days makes me grin.
Straps around my bare shoulder blades,
And a bib that came up just below my chin.
The only redeeming grace was this,
Almost every friend I had wore his.
Blue or striped or herringbone,
On the first day of country school,
how those metal buttons shown!
Of what I speak you may now know,
Is the once almighty bib overall.
On farms and ranches across the land,
They could be seen on almost every man.
Oshkosh, Key, Lee, Big Smith and more,
Adorned the shelves of the garment stores.
Sizes small to “Giant” were bought,
Function over fashion was what was sought.
But as garments, bib overalls did more,
Than just cover the parts the wearer bore.
Each pair gained a character of its own,
And most wore patches, neatly sewn.
The pliers pocket, along the side,
Was to us kids a place to hide
Rocks and bobbers and gopher paws,
Mom always checked there before she washed.
A pencil pocket in the front was handy,
We’d fill it full of penny candy.
And once or twice a frog was found,
By some young girl who was “foolin’ round”!
Dad used the buttons for more than fastening,
He scraped and lit his matches on their indented face.
Then he lit that hand-rolled, Zig Zag smoke,
While rolling home from the field at a leisurely pace.
There wasn’t a pair of bibs that didn’t fit.
The straps adjusted to their respective loads.
And, although some men wore only one shoulder laced,
We were taught to keep both straps in place.
I can see them now, the men I grew up with,
Standing around that old gas station store.
Some with thumbs firmly curled around the buckles,
Big men with huge hands and ruddy, working knuckles.
The buttons that secured the sides,
Sometimes strained to contain the load.
But, they too could be adjusted,
So that relief could be had before you busted.
Some would laugh and some would tease,
That the rural crowd should be fond of these,
Relics of that bygone, rustic age,
When hard work meant more than the stock market page.
But, I’ll tell you this, if you put me to it,
More comfortable suits were never made,
Than those stripped and herringbone contraptions,
That wound around my shoulder blades.
I think I saw on TV just the other night,
A tall, Paris model strutting down a glitzy runway,
And what she wore drew wild applause,
My gosh, she was wearing
a pair of blue, stripped bib overalls!
The only difference that I could see,
Was the price tag that dangle just below her knee.
For was was once a low priced, tough work companion,
In Paris now is going to cost you four hundred and three!
Enjoy your bibs!
See you next time. Okay?