Work Bibs and Dress Bibs: Big Smith Overalls

Before tractors had cabs
Work bibs: a pocket watch 
and a DeKalb bullet pencil
with a little metal cap. 
Shirtsleeves rolled to the elbow. 
A Pioneer seed corn cap. 
Tired leather work boots
Rockford socks.

Christmas 1976

Dress bibs: New ones,
after showering in the cellar, 
good enough for company, 
opening Christmas gifts 
even if your mother-in-law is there, 
savoring a game featuring Johnny Unitas.

Gloria, Dad, and Mom, 1980s, Dexter farm, having just entertained “company”


  1. My grandfather wore bibs. My father wore bibs when he was doing carpentry work. He liked them so well he thought his sons and son-in-law should each have a pair, so he bought us each a pair one Christmas when our otherwise scattered families were together one year. Somewhere I have a photo of all three of us dressed in our bibs beside the Christmas tree! I still have mine–although they’re a tight fit!

  2. appreciated this post: My future husband met my parents (Manhattan, opera, University educators) in his good bib overalls – I nearly died. My mother said ‘those are the most hideous things I’ve ever seen’, and that set the tone for the rest of our marriage and their relationship (wink wink)

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