Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bonnets: Essential Headgear For The Oregon Trail!

Bonnets are an image of quaintness--of bygone days. Although they're still used, for practical reasons, by women in the farming world, they seem a frivolous fashion accessory from another century.

This headgear was essential for survival on the hot, dusty Oregon Trail. More functional than fanciful, the bonnet's goal was to prevent its user from sunburn, sunstroke and other UV-based hazards.

There was no sunblock on the Oregon Trail. Men wore broad-brimmed hats for the same reason. This headgear was hot and uncomfortable under the merciless rays of the sun. But without this protection, the Oregon Trail emigrants would have been utterly miserable.

In these days before sunglasses, bonnets also helped to greatly cut the glare of broad daylight. It thus allowed travelers keener vision, in case of unexpected dangers--or to spot roadside goodies, such as firewood, "buffalo chips" or cast-offs of prior Trail travelers.

People still wear hats, of course. Baseball caps, knit caps and hoodies are our modern bonnets. We have more sophisticated options to protect us from melanoma, sunburn or other issues. But we still wear hats--both for fashion's and for function's sake. This is one of the many small details that link us to our Oregon Trail-traveling forefathers.

No comments:

Post a Comment