I've been watching a lot of old western movies and television shows lately and I notice that the cowboys wear handkerchiefs around their necks. Is it a fashion piece, like the ties of today, or does the handkerchief serve a purpose?
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correct - and it was used during violent dust storms to cover the mouth and nose to keep out the debris.
rustlers also used it to hide their identity when stealing animals from the good guys.
Yes, and what is interesting, is that it goes way back to the Medieval days.
It makes sense now that you mention it. I think when I saw Gene Autry (sp?) wearing his hankie and looking so dainty, logic escaped me and I started wondering if it was just a fashion statement.