Design a site like this with
Get started

He Wears His Hat Square On His Head by Patti H.

Summary: The Boys Celebrate Father’s Day with Murdoch
Usual Disclaimers Apply
Warning: Little swearing and no beta…

Word count: 5,362

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting aura of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a flower seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
And then there was nothing more to add
He knew His masterpiece was complete.
And so, He called it – Dad.
   –   Author Unknown

The above poem is dedicated to my own Dad, who has been gone twenty-four years…he is greatly missed every day! Gone way too soon…only sixty-three.


“I guess it really doesn’t matter that he wasn’t there when I born,” Scott said to Johnny.

The brothers were standing by the holding corral near the old guard house one warm mid-June evening having a conversation. Johnny leaned against the railing, one boot hitched on the lower bar, a piece of hay he worried around inside his mouth. Scott looked towards the distance at the sinking sun, in the horizon just brushing at the treetops; it was a flaming red-orange circle of fading light, the day was almost over.

“Yeah, well maybe he made-up for it by being certain he was there when I arrived,” Johnny said quietly.

“Maybe. I suppose in the long run, it doesn’t really amount to a hill of beans at this late date.”

“What Boston?”

“If he wasn’t the one I ran to when I was a kid, with my problems of one sort or another.”

“Maybe not. I don’t ‘member much about him. A big shadow liftin’ me off the ground, swingin’ me on ta his shoulders. I think I remember him dustin’ my britches a time or two… it’s all kinda hazy. Could have been my step-father too.”

“I would be surprised if you did remember much. You were only two when Maria took you and departed the family abode.”

“I know…I’ve tried ta recall more,” Johnny reflectively chewed his hay shaft. “What was it like for ya growin’ up without him?”

Scott sighed, “I guess I never really gave it much thought when I was a kid. Grandfather never mentioned my mother, let alone Murdoch. I guess he figured if he didn’t say anything about them, then I wouldn’t ask him any questions. I thought Harlan was my father until I overheard the servants talking. He finally told me…right before my fifth birthday. Of course it meant very little to me, since I was told not ask any more questions about my parents. It was as if Grandfather had locked their memories away into the annuals of time forever. When I was lonely I would just sit and stare at my mother’s portrait, trying to…”

Scott paused not wanting to finish his thought. “And come to find out that Murdoch did come to see me at least once. Only I don’t think he was expecting the reception that greeted him…balloons, clowns, children squealing, and servants everywhere. I’m sure my Grandfather was a bit difficult to him.”

Johnny looked close at Scott; his brother had closed his eyes like he was thinking back, real hard with bad memories drawing to the surface. “Scott, stop lookin’ back if it troubles ya.”

Scott smiled an infinitesimal smile; the slight upturn of his pressed lips was barely noticeable, “I can see her portrait in my mind’s eye. She was young, younger than I am right now and oh so beautiful, like your mother, Johnny. Little wonder Murdoch fell head over heels for our mothers, rare beauties is what they were. The kind any man would be proud to have walking through life with him, right alongside him, sharing the ups and the downs. When I was a kid, I wished that mother would step right out of that portrait, put her arms around me and hug me tight. All of my pals grew up with mothers, which is why I liked visiting their houses more so than returning home to Grandfather’s. Something always smelled so good coming from their kitchens.”

Johnny bumped against Scott with his shoulder, “Hey, brother, I know what ya mean. My mother wasn’t the holdin’ on tight type. Sometimes I wanted her ta be…other times I did stupid stuff just ta get her ta notice me, like get into fights and come home with a black eye or a bloody nose. She would wave me off, too busy ta take much notice. Scrapin’ by like we were, she was too damn busy figurin’ out where our next meal would come from, I guess.”

“We’re a fine pair, eh brother? We’re supposed to be thinking about something special to give Murdoch for Father’s Day. Here we are turning into regular old mopes.”

Johnny’s jaw slackened into his cockeyed grin, “Maybe. Well, come on Mr. Harvard, ya got any bright ideas?”

“Nary a one, brother. I was counting on you to have one; you almost always have a trick or two up your sleeve.”

Johnny looked around, thinking and then pointed towards the sun, “Hey, Scott! There’s a bright idea!”

Scott looked to see what caught his brother’s attention. He squinted his eyes as he looked as far off in the distance as possible now that the sun had dipped below the trees, “I don’t see anything, brother. What are you looking at?”

“The sun.”

“Whatever for?”

“The poem ya told me, “Red sky in mornin’, sailor take warning…”

“Red sky at night sailor’s delight,” finished a bemused Scott as he turned to look at his smirking brother.

“Oh no! You can’t possibly mean what I think you’re thinking, are you?”

“Fishin’ Scott. We take Murdoch fishin’ for Father’s Day.”

“Absolutely not!”

“Come on brother, it will be like old times,” chuckled Johnny.

“You and fishing is like mixing oil and water…the two liquids don’t belong together, they don’t go together they are not like two peas in a pod. Fire and brimstone maybe.”

“Oh come on Scott! I promise you that I won’t shoot a single fish.”

“You promise? A single fish? Hah! That’s rich! I can see it all now. Murdoch and I are settling in for some peace and quiet, about to catch one of those large big-mouthed bass or trout…then all of a sudden…BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! You shoot off your own big-mouthed pistol, scaring the fish to kingdom come.”

Johnny grinned mischievously, “Look, if it will make you feel any better…I’ll even give you my word of honor that I won’t shoot ANY fish. Promise.”

“I have a better idea. If I agree to this idea…and I’m not saying I do. But were I to concede to your suggestion, as much as I love fishing and Murdoch loves fishing…to guarantee peace and tranquility, you must leave your rig at home, got it?” Scott waved his hand towards Johnny’s gun, resting faithfully by his brother’s side.

“Now, Boston, ya ain’t usin’ your college education. Ya know that ain’t gonna happen. Never heard such nonsense before. Me? Walk around without my rig hitched on? Ya might as well have me parade around buck-naked,” Johnny snorted.

“That’s what I’d have ta be doin’ not ta have my gun right here where it belongs.” Johnny rested his hand on the smooth well-polished gun butt.

“Well, it would at least be a whole lot quieter if you did walk around buck-naked,” Scott laughed as he elbowed Johnny.

“Ya first, Boston,” Johnny laughed, elbowing his brother back. “You’re older! Besides, ya know me, I’m like Murdoch.”

“In what way do you mean?”

“Our ol’ man wears his hat square on his head. Ya always know where ya stand with him…and with me…and ya too, Boston. Guess that’s one family trait we all share.”

Scott smiled, “You are absolutely right, Johnny. Lancer men have their own particular Code of the West, one of honor, loyalty and trust. I trust you that you will not shoot your share of the fish…on your honor.”

“Now ya talkin’ Scott…my share of the fish!”

“Whoa! Hold on a second. Correction, brother, ANY fish! You may not shoot ANY fish!”

“Dang it…almost had ya there, brother,” Johnny laughed as he slung his arm around Scott’s neck and tugged.

“I know, caught it just in time, Johnny,” Scott chuckled tugging back. “I’ve gotten use to your ways.”

“Not all of ‘em, Boston.”

Inside the Great Room, Murdoch and Jelly were reviewing Jelly’s plan to reorganize the workshop into a more arranged quarter. Murdoch had gone in there in search a pair of wire cutters that he left for Jelly to sharpen. He gave up in frustration at the total disarray in the workshop. After supper the two men discussed several options to sort out the space so that every item had a particular space. Murdoch was all for the idea of hanging up peg boards along the wall space and outline each tool’s designated spot…that way he could tell right off what was missing without pulling at his thinning grey hair in frustration at the mess on the work bench.

“I wonder what those two are scheming this time?” Murdoch pondered.

“What makes ya think they’re scheming anything, boss? Looks to me like they are having a chat about maybe the latest girls to arrive at the Painted Lady,” Jelly said as he rolled his eyes at Murdoch. He knew that his boy Johnny liked the ladies, and well the ladies adored him. Not that the Boston butterfly was missing any opportunities in that department. He seemed to be faring as well as his younger brother when it came to spending time with the fairer sex.

“Harrumph! Nice try Jelly, but I think I recognize scheming when I see it. Mark my words those two are up to something. I’ll bet my last dollar on it. You aren’t part and parcel of any schemes are you, huh Jelly?”

Jelly drew himself full, his hands pressed into his chest, “Me? Part of a scheme?” He uttered with as must indignation that he could muster. “ME?”

“Yes. You, Jellifer B. Hoskins, master of your fair share of schemes.”

“Boss, I swear, honest to God. I don’t have a clue, anymore than ya do as to what those two are discussing. Or if they are up to anything. Cross my heart,” he raised his right hand before he crossed his heart.

“Oh right, Jelly, I believe you,” Murdoch said, his large hand resting upon Jelly to calm the old man down. “I don’t know why, but I’ll give the old boy the benefit of my doubt. Now those two…”

He continued to appraise his sons through the arched windows, wondering what they were discussing with such earnest. He noticed that Scott elbowed Johnny and Johnny returned the gesture, both laughing as they tussled. He smiled; perhaps it was nothing but his overtired imagination that his sons were up to anything but sharing a brotherly conversation in the twilight.

In the fading light he watched as they turned towards the hacienda, filled with boisterous laughter as they made their way towards the kitchen entrance. Johnny, to be sure would be looking to snitch another piece of chocolate cake from their evening’s dessert. For which Maria would have left the cake in the middle of the table for him to find without rooting through her pantry. She found it easier just to leave the goodies out, so her kitchen was intact come morning.

“Jelly, come on, let’s go join them before those two scrape the cake platter clean. I could use a refill on my coffee and I want you to explain to the boys how you are going to reorganize the workshop. I don’t want any more tools wandering off without knowing who has them.”

“Sure boss, I understand. We better shake a leg before they polish off that cake. Maria sure knows how to please a man’s sweet tooth,” he patted his stomach.

“Maybe too much,” agreed Murdoch as he touched his own girth.

Johnny was indeed slicing a very large piece of the cake when Murdoch and Jelly entered the kitchen.

“Just a minute there, Johnny. Why don’t you make those smaller slices,” Murdoch commanded. “There’s enough there for all of us to share.”

“Ahh dang it Murdoch! Thought ya and Jelly had plans ta discuss,” Johnny grumbled as he licked some of the rich, dark frosting from his fingertips.

“Never mind that young man, cut that piece in half. Give one half to your brother and keep the other half for yourself.”

Scott looked at where his brother was going to make the new cut; he reached over and repositioned Johnny’s hand over the middle of the large piece of cut cake, “Try there, brother.”

Johnny rolled his eyes but made the cut under the three pairs of watchful eyes.

Jelly refilled coffee mugs, while Johnny handed over the sliced cake, his hungry eyes followed the pieces as his mouth was watering to put his fork into the moist cake and relish the bitter sweet chocolate flavoring. Everyone ate in silence for several minutes.

“Jelly, why don’t you tell the boys how you are going to arrange the workshop?” prodded Murdoch.

“Ahh, boss, can’t they just see it when it’s finished?” he whined. “Can’t we enjoy our dessert? They can see it when it’s done,” he grumbled.

“No, Jelly, go ahead, tell us,” prompted Scott. “We’re interested to learn of your great scheme.”

Jelly bristled at the notion that he had any schemes, decided to turn the tables, “Seems to me and your pa that it was you two younguns that your heads together, out there,” he canted his head towards the corral. “Why don’t ya tell us all about your scheme?”

Johnny stopped shoveling cake into his mouth mid-stream, looked at Scott who smiled at the old man, “Jelly, what makes you think Johnny and I were hatching any schemes?”

“I saw how ya jackasses had your heads together, laughing, like ya did when ya found out about Angelina. I say once a schemer always a schemer.”

“You know boys; Jelly might be on to something. What exactly were the two of you discussing with such fervor?” asked Murdoch as he looked from Scott to Johnny.

“Yeah, takes one ta know one Jelly,” mumbled Johnny.

“What’s that, Johnny?” asked Murdoch, pointing his fork at Johnny.

“Nothin’, Murdoch,” he smiled softly at Jelly, who glared back at the young man.

“Scott? No big secret I trust?” added Murdoch.

Scott squirmed in his seat, feeling Johnny’s boot tip clunk against his leg, “No sir. No big secret or secrets.”

“Tell him Scott,” Johnny said between licking his fork clean of any crumbs.

Scott paled under the interested looks from Murdoch and Jelly, “Damn it! He’s trapped me again, sitting there, looking all smug, leaving me holding the bag. Just because I’m older than he, well not this time, no sir, not this time.”

“Tell me, what, Scott?”

“Well sir, tomorrow is Father’s Day and Johnny would like…”

“And ya too, brother,” Johnny piped in.

Murdoch glanced from brother to brother in anticipation of what would come out of Scott’s mouth; he knew full well that Johnny had just successfully painted him into a corner, while he non-chantingly pressed his index finger to the cake platter, not missing any crumbs.

“Go on Scott, what is it that you and your brother have in mind for me on Father’s Day?”

Scott glared at Johnny before he uttered, “He wants to take you fishing.”

“FISHING!” bellowed Murdoch and Jelly.

Johnny grinned, Scott gulped and Murdoch and Jelly gaped at the brothers, “All of us, Scott forgot ta add.”

“After… the…last…time?” Murdoch sounded out, word by word. “Johnny, you WANT to go fishing?”

Johnny nodded his head up and down, “Sure Murdoch. I mean I know how much ya and Scott like it…and Jelly too. I already promised Scott not ta shoot any of the fish…seein’ as how this is a special day and all…ta show ya…well to let ya know we like havin’ ya as our pa.”

“Yes sir, he did promise me that,” Scott agreed.

Murdoch glanced again from brother to brother, wondering now if they were truly sincere or if he was being set-up for some type of prank. “Father’s Day, indeed! He never heard of any such day.”

“This isn’t some type of a joke is it?”

“No, Murdoch, no joke.”

“No, sir, it’s not a joke. Father’s Day is similar to Mother’s Day. Set aside for children to pay homage to their father by doing things together.”

Jelly stirred his coffee, “What in tarnation? Seems ta me like this is another one of those days not necessary for the calendar, just a bother ta busy folks is all.”

Murdoch scratched his head, “Boys are you sure you want to go fishing?” He said it to both but his eyes remained glued on Johnny.

“Sure Murdoch. We haven’t gone since…”

“You filled the lake with lead, brother.”

“Okay…okay…ya’ll can stop pesterin’ me about that. What else do any of ya have planned for tomorrow? Not a blame thing…so it’s settled…we’re goin’ fishin’,” Johnny proclaimed as he slammed his hand down to the table.

“Fishing it is my boys,” agreed Murdoch holding his mug up to acknowledge the plan.

In the early morning hours, before the sun completed its rotation around the Earth, the Lancer men were up, dressed, and had their breakfast prepared by their faithful Maria, who made sure that all her men were well-fed before they ventured from her sight. She packed a hearty lunch, knowing that even if they did catch fish, her ninos, especially Juanito would be hungry. He was, in her mind, still far too thin for her likening. She knew he must have missed many meals during his youth, for which it tore at her heartstrings and for which she did her best to make-up for his lost youth not spent at Lancer.

Jelly had their horses saddled and ready to go, along with a pack horse, in case they decided to make it into a full day, fry fish under the evening stars and sleep by a glowering campfire. He was ready for anything.

As the sun’s first rays beamed over the San Juanito Mountains, the four men were already high on the ridge, enjoying the view of Lancer as the sunlight softly kissed the white adobe of the hacienda, making it look all the more white from the green fields of long, waving grass that had recently received rain. With either son on his side, Murdoch’s heart was full as he looked upon his land…their land. He felt truly blessed.

“Sure is pretty, Murdoch,” Johnny said as he leaned over his saddle horn.

“Yes sir, it is indeed the most beautiful place in the whole wide world,” agreed Scott.

“My sons, anyplace you call home would have to be the most beautiful place in the world, but I have to agree, this one has most places beat,” beamed Murdoch. “Hands down.”

“Well, ya’ll gonna sit there all day jawing instead of moving?” Jelly interrupted. “We ain’t gonna get there sitting here, now are we?”

Murdoch turned Zeus’s head around, “Jelly’s right boys, let go, daylight’s burning.”

“Just barely, ol’ man,” Johnny quipped.

“What’s that Johnny?” asked Murdoch.

“Nothin’, Murdoch,” he smiled softly at Scott, who grinned back. “Daylight’s burnin’,” he agreed. “Race ya Scott,” he shouted as he gave Barranca his head.

Scott in turn gave Sheridan his head to chase after his brother.

“Boss, don’t ya think ya should call them back?”

“No, Jelly, let them have their fun. We might get there after them but we’re in no rush, sit back and enjoy this day. Besides, it might settle Johnny down enough so we can do some serious fishing this time.”

“You’re a smart man, boss.”

“Jelly, don’t forget, we were once young and wild like Johnny. Besides they have each other to keep their eyes on the other. We, older men don’t have anything to prove to the other…let’s arrive in one piece.”

“Like I said, boss, you’re a smart man.”

“A man’s got to know his limitations. No sense is getting all hot, bothered and winded. The fish will be waiting for us when we get there. Beside those two can start getting the poles ready and dig for the worms,” he laughed. “Let them get the work done for us…after all it’s my day to relax!”

Jelly laughed as he tipped his hat, “Boss, you’re a very smart man.”

“Thank you, Jelly.”

As Murdoch had predicated, his sons had their horses tied off to the string line they established, a row of long poles were freshly trimmed of their leaves, their previous fire pit was cleared of the old ashes and new kindling placed inside with a stockpile of logs waiting for when they wanted to start the fire.

“Who won?” asked Murdoch as he climbed off Zeus, placing his hands along his lower back and stretching his taut muscles.

“Who else?” Scott grumbled as he hitched a thumb towards his brother.

“One of these days, Scott, you’ll get the jump on your brother.”

“Still won’t matter, the way he rides Barranca…I might as well concede and give in,” he good-naturedly chuckled.

“No fun in that, Boston,” Johnny said as he pulled the saddle from Zeus and tied him to the string line. “Ya need ta keep pluggin’ along.”

Jelly and Murdoch set about finishing the fishing poles with line, hooks, corks for bobbers and some old washers as sinkers, while the boys finished setting up the campsite. Johnny assembled the fire grate, got the coffee pot out and prepared for later and Scott put up a lean-to for shade. Four pairs of hands made the work go smoothly and soon the men spread out to begin their quest for fish.

“Smallest catch or no catch of the day gets to clean the rest,” was the agreement made by all. “Fish until noon, then meet back here for lunch” was the other agreed upon condition.

“And no bullet holes!” cautioned Murdoch as he eyeballed Johnny.

“I know! Jeeze! Try something different one time and nobody lets ya forget!” grumbled Johnny as he slung his pole over his shoulder and marched away from the others. He yelled over his shoulder, “If ya do hear bullets flyin’, it me shootin’ at a critter, like a cougar or bear or somethin’! That’s okay, right?”

The others stood still shaking their heads at the impetuous Johnny. They all wondered how long it would be before something he did would interfere with their peaceful pastime.

“Knowing my brother, like I do, I say we better get fishing before he does run into something,” said Scott as they watched Johnny hiked away.

Johnny paused ever so often to take practice swings with the long pole. He managed to get the line tangled in bushes, pulled the line from the greenery and tried again. The other three watched, knowing he was a hopeless cause when it came to fishing.

“Fishing,” Jelly and Murdoch said. “This way,” both headed the opposite direction of Johnny.

Scott elected to stay near the camp site, hoping it would serve him as well as the last fishing trip when little Willie Sharpe absconded with his prize winning trout. His fish had measured at least a good two inches longer than the one Johnny filled with lead, and one didn’t have to worry about breaking a tooth on his catch of the day.

Murdoch found a secluded spot on a ledge overlooking the pond, from above he could see the silhouettes of the fish swimming along an overturned tree limb. Jelly opted further down the stream where a deep pool of water looked promising. While Johnny moseyed along his trail until he found a nice clump of shade trees, he tossed his pole aside with a shrug before he stretched out to take a nap! The world according to Johnny was if the others wanted peace and quiet, well, sleep was an option. He grinned; he didn’t mind cleaning the fish that the others caught, as long as he got to eat them!

Scott flipped his line and drew it back quickly, the idea was to entice the fish to believe it was a fly on the water to leap at and be caught on the hook. He was having good luck with his spot, as the water was at the level where he could view pools of fish swimming nearby and caught several in succession. A few were too small, that he unhooked and tossed back with a slippery throw and a mild splash.

Murdoch was also enjoying good fortune as he pulled in a several trout that were good sized. He relaxed as the morning wore on, the sun climbed steadily, it was tranquil, he heard very little other than the soft rustle of leaves from the nearby trees, a few bird chirps and tweets. This was good for the soul. Even Johnny was behaving himself, which made Murdoch grin as he imagined the only way Johnny was enjoying this day was by finding a secluded spot to take a siesta. He was pleased his sons wanted to give him a day of relaxation. “My sons are good boys.”

Jelly hummed a little tune while he sat alongside the stream. He had discarded the long pole to use a shorter line that he had tied on a small stick. The line he dropped into the deep pool and waited for a fish to nibble at the bait. He had rolled up his rumpled pants legs, removed his boots and holey socks to sink his feet in the cool water where he wiggled his toes in the soft squishy mud along the bank. He sighed, a very content man. It didn’t matter to him if he caught the largest, the smallest or none at all. He would leave all the heavy fishing to Scott and Murdoch, both serious fishermen. It was just nice to not have anything to do, or fix, or clean or cook or any of the hundreds of other chores required on the busy Lancer ranch. This was a rare treat that he intended to enjoy.

The day progressed, as each man fished in their own way. The sun heated the earth as it continued its climb towards the white puffy clouds that rolled gently across the blue sky. Johnny occasionally swatted at a fly that buzzed around his head, until he placed his hat over his face to block it, small snores could be heard if anyone was nearby. Scott counted six fish that he kept, this time close by in a pile of leaves. He was working on number seven when a shout sounded to his left, followed by a loud splash.

Scott dropped his pole, turned in time to see Johnny rush pass him at a fast clip. He gave chase as he followed his lightning quick brother. The yelling continued as Jelly paced up and down the shore line, he pointed towards the water, his yells echoed off the rocky point where he last saw Murdoch. Jelly had never learned how to swim and looked across the water in sheer panic.


Johnny reached Jelly, grabbed the old man, “Jelly! What happened?”

“Your father fell in from the ledge over there! He hasn’t come back up yet!”

Johnny kicked off his boots, unbuckled his gunbelt and drove into the water, swimming toward the rocks where Jelly had pointed. Meanwhile Scott had reached Jelly and was quickly updated to the situation, he too yanked off his boots and dropped his gunbelt to dive in after his brother.

Johnny reached the spot, inhaled a lungful of air and dove downwards, searching for Murdoch. He spied Murdoch wrestling with something and pulled on his arm, forced him up towards the light. Scott had joined Johnny under the surface. He assisted prodding Murdoch upwards who kept wrestling with his…hat of all things!

Breaking to the surface, Murdoch gasped in a lungful of fresh air as he pulled his arms away from his sons, all were threading water. He yanked his water-logged hat upon his head, dripping water down his face, as the brothers looked on in puzzlement.

“Murdoch, are ya okay?”

“To quote you my son, I’m fine,” he coughed; his tone was more than a bit irked.

“What happened?” questioned Scott.

“It was a really big fish that got away,” he got out, still coughing, as he spit some water up and out.

“But ol’ man that doesn’t explain how ya ended up in the drink,” Johnny said looking confused.

“Can we discuss this on dry land?”

Jelly was waving his arms and shouting from shore, “Is he okay? Is he okay?”

“YES!” Scott yelled back. “We’re coming in.”

“Jelly, go start the fire, we’ll be there directly,” Johnny yelled.

Jelly gave the thumbs up signal and then rushed off carrying his gear, stepping on prickly stickers every few feet, until he had enough and sank to the ground to brush them off his bare feet and then pulled on his foot gear.

Johnny and Scott maneuvered their way back to the shore, pulled and tugged Murdoch along with them. On shore they collapsed to the ground to, breathing heavily until their exertions eased. Murdoch coughed as his lungs were replenished with fresh air and his breathing level returned back to normal. Scott gently patted him on his back while Johnny wondered how much water he might have swallowed.

“Murdoch, what in the hell were ya doin’ down there?”


“Were ya fightin’ ta get your hat back on?” Johnny was completed mystified by his father’s actions. “Did ya swallow any water? Did ya hit ya head? Ya break anything? Ya sure you’re fine?”

Murdoch sat up, “My business…yes…no…no…yes.”

Scott and Johnny exchanged looks over their father’s head; their eyes indicated they were baffled by Murdoch’s answers. Johnny canted his head to Scott to ask the next question.

“What, sir?” Was the best Scott came up with under the circumstances.

“Your brother’s questions, those are my answers in the same order he asked them.”

Johnny and Scott were confused that their normally logical, clear-headed father would endanger his life to retrieve his hat, of all things. It didn’t make any sense.

“If that doesn’t beat all, Boston, I told ya.”

Scott looked even more befuddled, “What did you tell me, Johnny?”

“I told ya that the ol’ man wears his hat square on his head. Now he just proved it ta me, no matter what the situation, he gonna wear that hat square on top of his head. Even if it kills him!”

Johnny pulled Murdoch’s hat off and waved it. Murdoch snatched it and plopped it back on his head.

“Ol’ man, ya nearly got yourself drown over that hat, any good reason? Are ya sure ya okay?”


“Well, do tell, ‘cos I can’t think of a reason, good or bad to save that hat…I mean it’s a nice hat but not that nice.”

“I didn’t drown, was doing fine without you or your brother’s interference and if you must know, it keeps the sun off my head.”

Johnny laughed, followed by Scott laughing while Murdoch gave them both “THE LOOK”.

“I’m glad you two boys are so easily amused,” he griped. “I’ll be sure to remind you both when you’re busy with whatever I find to keep you both entertained tomorrow morning.”

“Oh Murdoch, we already know all about your bald spot, if that’s what you’re so worried over.”

“Yeah, Murdoch, we saw that, when your hat blew off last week and ya chased it down, kinda like a rabbit hoppin’ when ya were stompin’ the ground.”

“Not to mention the way you comb your hair to cover the spot,” Scott laughed as he fell against Johnny.

Both boys laughed so hard, Johnny pounded the ground, while Scott wheezed and snorted.

All Murdoch could do was respond with “Harrumph!” as he mustered his remaining dignity as he sloshed down the dirt path towards the camp. Leaving his sons behind, laughing like braying jackasses.

“Scott? Stop that snorting Scott, got something important ta say.”

“What brother?”

“That’s one family trait I hope I don’t get.”

“Me neither, Johnny.”

Both brothers collapsed into another laughing fit as Murdoch paused to look back at them, shaking his head in disbelief. “I paid them each a thousand dollars to come home? Well Happy Father’s Day to you Murdoch Lancer! I knew I should have gotten a dog!”


Patti – June 19, 2010


Reader’s Note 1:
This was inspired from a story told at the “Gathering of Guns” in regards to Lorne Greene (Bonanza – Ben Cartwright) during the filming of a scene in San Francisco, where he stepped on a trap door, which opened and down to the drink below he fell, off came his hat along with his “full head of hair”…from underneath said hat. He refused to surface from the water without it back in place! The set was cleared of most crew members, so no one could see his shiny dome.

For years, Michael Landon (Bonanza – Little Joe Cartwright), Pernell Roberts (Bonanza – Adam Cartwright), Dan Blocker (Bonanza – Hoss Cartwright) and other cast members tried to see Lorne without his hairpiece but to no avail. He was so vain that he used to change the order of cast to arrive for their make-up and wardrobe times so he would be in first and ready to go without anyone but limited people seeing his hairless condition!

Pernell and Dan were not so vain over losing their locks.

Reader’s Note 2:
Father’s Day would not have been recognized back in the period of the Lancers per the following History of Father’s Day:

Father’s Day is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting. It is also celebrated to honor and commemorate our fathers and forefathers. Father’s Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners to fathers, and family-oriented activities. The first observance of Father’s Day is believed to have been held on June 19, 1910 through the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. After listening to a church sermon at Spokane’s Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 about the newly recognized Mother’s Day, Dodd felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition, as well. She wanted a celebration that honored fathers like her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child.

Dodd was the first to solicit the idea of having an official Father’s Day observance to honor all fathers. Enlisting help from the Spokane Ministerial Association in 1909, she arranged for the celebration of fatherhood in Spokane. On June 19, 1910, young members of the YMCA went to church wearing roses: a red rose to honor a living father, and a white rose to honor a deceased one. Dodd traveled through the city in a horse-drawn carriage, carrying gifts to shut-in[clarification needed] fathers.

It took many years to make the holiday official. In spite of support from the YWCA, the YMCA, and churches, Father’s Day ran the risk of disappearing from the calendar. Where Mother’s Day was met with enthusiasm, Father’s Day was often met with laughter. The holiday was gathering attention slowly, but for the wrong reasons. It was the target of much satire, parody and derision, including jokes from the local newspaper Spokesman-Review. Many people saw it as the first step in filling the calendar with mindless promotions.

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents” In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

But what the heck…all fathers deserved to be recognized and appreciated at least one special day during the year!


Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Patti H. directly.


3 thoughts on “He Wears His Hat Square On His Head by Patti H.

  1. I love this story! How funny Murdoch is over something so silly-but we all are in one way or another. Johnny and Scott love Murdoch so much-what a nice Father’s Day gift. Thank you for the historical notes and thank you for sharing your stories with us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: