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The iconic 'busted hat' that tells a million stories

OLD FAITHFUL: Evan McCosh wears his entry into the Ipswich Show 'busted hat category', a hat he's treasured since 1970.
OLD FAITHFUL: Evan McCosh wears his entry into the Ipswich Show 'busted hat category', a hat he's treasured since 1970. Rob Williams

YOU can leave your hat on.

Joe Cocker said that, and Evan McCosh has been doing exactly that with his legendary "busted hat" for 47 years.

He first wore the 1896-model Lord Baden-Powell woollen felt hat when he was a young Scout in 1970, when his parents presented him with what was a pride and joy piece of headwear.

Since then it has been burnt, worn for days on end fishing, hiking and at the beach...and has been with him to Mt Everest base camp.

Last Christmas the hat was "retired" after a Christmas outing to Tallebudgera, but don't be surprised if it comes out of retirement again this December.

Mr McCosh, who lives at Flinders View, has now entered his tried and true hat in the Ipswich Show's "busted hat" category.

"I was 13 years old when I got the hat with a whole brand new Scouts uniform," he recalled.

"You were proud as punch because you were going to Scouts, after going to Cubs for four years.

"But a couple of years later it got burnt."

 

Evan McCosh in 1970, the day he received his new Scouts hat. It was burnt on the brim two years later, much to his horror.
Evan McCosh in 1970, the day he received his new Scouts hat. It was burnt on the brim two years later, much to his horror. Contributed

Mr McCosh's wife Robyn has written a brilliant poem about the hat, based on the information her husband gave her, and one of the stanzas refers to the "war wound" it received.

It goes like this:

For many years I wore it as a Scout

There are lots of stories I can tell you about.

One such story, happened only after two years

Raising just one, of my greatest fears...

Mr McCosh picks up the story, while pointing to the hole on the brim.

"It was at a Silkstone Scout fete on a Saturday afternoon," he said.

"Everyone panicked and pulled all the stalls down and packed everything away, and I threw the hat down to the side near the barbecue.

"In the wind a coal got blown out of the barbecue and landed on my hat.

"Later, when I saw it, the hat stunk. And it stunk for years after because of the burning felt."

The young McCosh knew that his working class parents couldn't afford to replace it, being an expensive hat.

So he kept wearing it, and wearing it, and wearing it.

 

Evan McCosh wearing his favourite headpiece at his wedding rehearsal with wife Robyn at Brown's Park. Robyn has written a beautiful ode to the old hat.
Evan McCosh wearing his favourite headpiece at his wedding rehearsal with wife Robyn at Brown's Park. Robyn has written a beautiful ode to the old hat. Contributed

Robyn's poem takes up the story:

Whether it be wind, rain or sun protection

This hat has provided it all, just to mention

Used for many activities such as mowing and skiing

It has played a big part of my true well being.

Mr McCosh wore the hat wherever he went, for shade.

It went with him to Mt Everest base camp with a group of trekkers.

He wore it to Double Island Point on beach trips.

 

A fit and bronzed Evan McCosh, and old "busted”, enjoy the sun at Double Island Point.
A fit and bronzed Evan McCosh, and old "busted”, enjoy the sun at Double Island Point. Contributed

It was on his melon when a group of hundreds of motorbike riders roared through the bar of a hotel at Aratula to break a record.

It was atop his head while driving boats at Somerset, while fishing. You name it.

"I wore it every day," he said.

"When it was a Scout hat it was really hard but then it got soft.

"So as I got older I took the inside piece out of it so it could fit my head.

"I could roll it up and put it in my pack."

The hat has the top blown out of it, like a grenade went off inside it.

"But that is just wear and tear," Mr McCosh grinned.

Robyn's poem continues:

My hat no longer has its place on my head.

Its time now belongs on my shed hook instead.

"It had its last trip to Tallebudgera caravan park where I have been going for the last 27 years for Christmas," Mr McCosh said.

"My hat goes with me every year.

"But I noticed last year it is nearly torn through at the back.

"My wife and my children, mind you, have been trying to get rid of this hat for years.

"The kids say 'that hat is a disgrace Dad. You can't wear it anymore'.

"My wife hid it on me once, and told me she had thrown it away. That just about divorced us.

"She was embarrassed to see me wearing it."

 

Evan McCosh wearing his hat fishing at St George. His hat was his lucky charm with rod in hand.
Evan McCosh wearing his hat fishing at St George. His hat was his lucky charm with rod in hand. Contributed

Reluctantly, Mr McCosh realised last Christmas that his hat was just about to split in two.

His wife bought him a new hat, and old trusty went in a special place.

"It hangs in my shed now," he grinned.

"But I can still wear it if I really need to.

"I have fought tooth and nail to keep that hat.

"It has been such a part of my life. It brings back so many good memories. I can go through a thousand things thinking about that hat.

"I used to take it to squash tournaments, because it was the only hat I ever had."

It was Robyn who suggested her husband enter the hat in the Ipswich Show.

"She saw it advertised and said 'you have got the winning hat surely'," he said.

"I thought 'why not?'"

 

Evan McCosh with "old faithful” on his melon after riding a motorbike through an Aratula bar room.
Evan McCosh with "old faithful” on his melon after riding a motorbike through an Aratula bar room. Contributed

Robyn writes her husband's farewell to the hat in the last two lines of her poem:

I am sure we will meet again in heaven

Goodbye, from your best friend EVAN.

But maybe that farewell is a bit premature.

"Where it is in my shed, I see it every time I walk in," Mr McCosh said.

"If I am getting all my gear down to go away for Christmas, there is every chance it will go in with my gear - just so I can hang it in the annexe at the caravan park.

"Everyone recognises me there, just because of that hat."

When you see this busted hat on the horizon, you certainly know who is under it.

To borrow wife Robyn's words, and put them in her husband's voice:

"I cannot bring myself to lay it to rest.

"My hat to me, will always be the best."

Topics:  hat ipswich ipswich festival


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