While in Sante Fe last weekend, I renewed an old acquaintance with Kevin O'Farrell, the greatest cowboy hat-maker in the world.
There are cowboy hats and cowboy hats, but Kevin's hats are purely unique. That's why they've ended up on the heads of presidents, artists and famous rock stars you'd recognize in a minute. I met him more than a decade ago at a Michael Martin Murphey "Westfest," then again at his O'Farrell's of Durango hat store. He used to run with some of the same folks I did back in the day, including master holster-maker Gordon Davis, one of the co-founders of SASS and cowboy shooting.
O'Farrells of Durango was a screaming success, but Kevin wanted to build hats one at a time, made to order. So he sold the business in Durango and retreated to Santa Fe's Canyon Road, already crawling with artists and a bastion of eccentricity.
Kevin's got this ancient device for measuring a person's head—it looks like something one might have worn back in the 1880s to communicate with the dead. So he plops this device on your head, then walks around you two or three times, teaking this and that, while you wait to start receiving All-Zombie All-The-Time radio. Then he whips out a tape measure, takes a lot of measurements of your head and looks worried, is if somehow your skull has been found wanting. Then he makes a lot of notes on an index card, which he probably sells to Homeland Security as soon as you leave.
Not surprisingly, his hats are expensive--$575 for part beaver; $875 for all beaver. Kevin said I should have ordered one when he was in Durango, back when I might have been able to afford it. Still, an O'Farrell hat is a lifetime investment.
And, no, he doesn't sell hats on the internet! You've got to haul your butt to Santa Fe, put the device on your head, hand Kevin a credit card and wait for Zombie Radio. Tell him I sent you, and maybe he'll give me a discount.