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Crusher Values


Bearmon

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Thanks, Beau and Gary, that is exactly what I was looking for.

 

What is the origin of the term "crusher?" I know it all started with "50-mission crush" but where did "crusher" come from?

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Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:


"To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,


For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods."

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Hi Beau,

 

That's a pretty good example of the crusher. I do agree with you that the term crusher is way overused. There is a crusher and there is a service cap. A crusher is as you described flexible of both body and visor. All other configurations are not crushers. There is no need for the term "true crusher". A hat is either a service cap or a crusher.

Cheers

Gary

 

I would disagree. The "cushers" that are totally crushable (i.e. no springs and a flexible frame) were, to my understanding, simply a commercial development for the AAF flyers, who, up until that point, had to just modify their service caps. Thus, the original "crushers" were ordinary service caps that had the stiff parts taken out. The very crushable "crushers" came later, and are really just a subset of the "crusher" genre.

 

For example, my grandfather-in-law (a WWII AAF F/O), who I showed my caps to this weekend, told me that he and the other guys took their service caps and pulled out the stiff stuff, and crushed them to make them "crushers." He said they would even put them under their beds at night with their shoes on top to speed up the making of the crushed look. He said they called their hats "crushers."

 

I would agree that the "crusher" word is over used, but I disagree that real crushers have to have a flexible brim and frame.

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CNY Militaria

I have one of what nack described...Its an enlisted cap like the one originally posted, but the visor has been broken to fold up and give the crushed look. I'll post pics when I get a chance.

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Ok, so not to beat a dead horse, but here is a cap that everyone calls a "crusher" - the Flighter by Bancroft. When you distill the issue down to its core, the question is: "what makes a 'crusher'" Is it because it is a cap that an AAF officer or f/o wore as permitted by the regulations, or is it the style of the cap? If its the former, than my Flighter is not necessarily a "crusher," as I cannot say it was worn by a AAF airman (I don't think they restricted purchase of the crushable caps to AAF guys). If its the latter, then both my Flighter, and a service cap with the spring and grommet removed, are both "crushers." Either way, I'm sure we collectors are giving this wayyy more thought than the AAF guys did. ;)

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What you are failing to grasp is that a crusher is made to be crushed. You do not have to modify it in any way to get that "crusher look", it is not a look but a method of use. A crusher was designed from the beginning to be worn on the head and then when the time came to put on the fligt helmet you could simply crush it into a ball or fold it longitudinally and stuff it in your pocket. More importantly you could do that repeatedly(for years) without the concern of the hat falling apart which is what will occur if you do that to a service cap.

 

So to repeat, a crusher is made to be squashed, balled up, folded (but not spindled :lol: ), stuffed in a pocket or slipped into your flight jacket, and most importantly you could do it over, and over, and over, and over again. A service cap was made to be worn when you were wearing your Class A uniform and yes you could indeed remove the stiffener and break the visor to give it a "crusher look". But you won't be using the hat like that for long, especially if you try stuffing it in your pocket over and over again.

 

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

I would disagree. The "cushers" that are totally crushable (i.e. no springs and a flexible frame) were, to my understanding, simply a commercial development for the AAF flyers, who, up until that point, had to just modify their service caps. Thus, the original "crushers" were ordinary service caps that had the stiff parts taken out. The very crushable "crushers" came later, and are really just a subset of the "crusher" genre.

 

For example, my grandfather-in-law (a WWII AAF F/O), who I showed my caps to this weekend, told me that he and the other guys took their service caps and pulled out the stiff stuff, and crushed them to make them "crushers." He said they would even put them under their beds at night with their shoes on top to speed up the making of the crushed look. He said they called their hats "crushers."

 

I would agree that the "crusher" word is over used, but I disagree that real crushers have to have a flexible brim and frame.

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"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION."

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I do think the quote on this hat was low and the general estimate also was low(hence my comment) and Beau in the future I think you need to remember that people are asking for a retail value on things. Auctions are not an accurate judge of retail prices because in general the realised prices are one half to one third of retail. Just this month there have been three real German Para helmets sell on ebay, the cheapest 4k the most expensive 13k. So does that mean a Fallschirmjaeger helmet is worth 4k or 13k?

 

Understand the problem with using auction prices as your guide?

 

Cheers

Gary

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"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION."

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Point well taken Gary. I've used - mistakenly I suppose - eBay as my guage for prices, and with enlisted caps - including one of mine - selling in the bracket I quoted I thought that was given retail. I do now realize, however, the complications that arise from quoting those prices. Thanks for the collegial help.

 

Beau

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Collecting 29th Division and Virginia-Related Items!

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1) Beau's price estimate may have been a bit low, but he is correct that em caps are cheap. You can go to any show and pick up one for $10. Will there be others for sale at $20, $30, $40? Sure, but it doesn't make them worth that. I would agree that eBay is not the best indicator of price, but remember, something is worth what someone will pay for it, so make your own decisions.

 

2) The crusher cap did not come about because some army guys wanted to look more dashing. Look at the page from the regulations earlier in this post. It states that AAF officers, w/o, and f/o were to have hats like the standard service cap, "except [the] front spring stiffening may be omitted and the grommet may be removed." Thus, before Bancroft and other hat makers realized that they could make a cap specifically for AAF use, the spring stiffener and grommet were removed from service caps to make AAF airman's hats (i.e., crushers).

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usncollector

I wanted to identify an apparently low appraisal of an item, so that other members and guests were clear on a valid price range.

 

I don't know what "show" you are talking about, but all the ones I've seen recently at shows are starting a steady increase. I'm sure they are out there, but not enough to justify the $10 price. The only place you will find a $10 cap is at a flea market...

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Ok, I'll give you that the price range for a standard WWII EM cap is somewhere between $10-$30. And yes, they are starting to get more expensive like everything else. But if you exercise some patience, you can get one for $10. I'm not saying that every table has one for $10. I'm sure I could have found one at the SOS or the MAXX for $10, but I already have a few, so I'm not looking. Perhaps because I'm in the midwest, and shows are fairly plentiful, my price barometer is lower.

 

Again, though, as this is an oddball hat, I would agree that it is worth more than the standard cap, but I don't think it would command a premium of more than 2x or 3x.

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Do you know why the stiffener was allowed to be removed? The photo below shows the reason. Is this hat a crusher? No it is not it is a standard service cap with the stiffener removed. The vast majority of caps that are seen this way were used by transport pilots(Hump pilots being the most famous) bomber crews and fighter pilots would rarely(other than in a ferrying situation) wear their service cap with earphones like this because of the maneuvers that will have to be carried out in an emergency.

 

The Crusher as provided by Bancroft and others was most definately provided for those officers who wanted to look more dashing or cool. They hop out of their aircraft and pop off the flight helmet and pop on their crusher which is conveniently to hand and there you go, ready for the O club. They were much more expensive than the standard service cap and why do people pay 7000 for a handbag now? Because it makes them look cool and makes thm feel better. The same reasoning existed back then.

 

 

 

Gary

 

2) The crusher cap did not come about because some army guys wanted to look more dashing. Look at the page from the regulations earlier in this post. It states that AAF officers, w/o, and f/o were to have hats like the standard service cap, "except [the] front spring stiffening may be omitted and the grommet may be removed." Thus, before Bancroft and other hat makers realized that they could make a cap specifically for AAF use, the spring stiffener and grommet were removed from service caps to make AAF airman's hats (i.e., crushers).

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"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION."

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I have been in Texas all week for work and have not had access to the forum. First off I never thought the thread would turn into such a great learning experience about "crushers" thanks

 

I will describe the pliability of the hat in question and hopefully get picutres posted this weekend.

 

The brim is very pliable the sweat band is thin soft leather and underneath that is a thin paper liner, and a soft "burlap" type material holds the base of the hat up.

 

The hat can be rolled up with no problem, either in half lengthwise or from the back pushed completely into the front of the hat

 

The plastic "id" cover inside the hat is U shaped but ther are no identifying marks I can see. The top of the "U" is open for slipping in a card

 

An yes I can see plainly where the Disc used to be under the small eagle. (thanks for pointing that out) But it has not been there for a long time.

 

There is still a size sticker in the hat but I can't make out the size. I think the top is gaberdine but not positive.

 

Thanks again for all of the info.

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usncollector

I think Gary hit this one on the head.

 

"Crushers" really aren't the actual hat itself, merely a style. While some were made specifically for this purpose, what's to discredit a cap thats had the band removed if it was used for the same purpose and looks the same? I think what you should really focus on is the style of bills on the caps as a defining characteristic.

 

The hats should be defined with a name that describes the bills, instead of the style, as some people prefer the "true crushers" to have the thin, pliable bill.

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I’m not sure why you need to use this condescending tone. Are you a WWII veteran that has experience on this subject? Your comments “what you are failing to grasp” and “do you know why the stiffener was allowed to be removed” clearly indicate that you think I crawled out from under a rock and started chiming in on this issue. I have read quite a bit on the subject of “crusher” caps, and I’ve talked to many dealers, collectors, and veterans (who actually wore the caps).

 

Yes, “crusher” is a style of cap. The “crusher” cap is one variant of the AAF service cap, the other being the standard officer cap with all the interior parts intact. If you were a desk jockey, you didn’t need to remove the spring and grommet from your hat, but if you were a flyer, you did. Hence, the option in the regulations -- which is the root of the crusher's use. The thickness of the brim really has nothing to do with whether a cap is a crusher or not.

 

Now, I agree that the crusher caps that everyone wants today are the very crushable ones with a thin visor. And yes, I'll bet those caps were quite popular during the war. But those facts do not make all unstiffened caps without a thin visor non-crushers.

 

Anyway, it appears we will agree to disagree.

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If you took my tone as condescending I apologise for that was not my intent. I was trying to use the Socratic method (which is difficult in an email venue), as for your questions no I am not a WWII veteran but my grandfather on my dads side was a tanker in the 4th Armored Division and my wifes grandfather on her dads side was 101st Airborne (HQ Co. 506 PIR) and on her mothers side the Adjutant for the 379th Bombardment Group flying B-17s out of Kimbolton Airfield with the 8th Air Force and Hub Zemke was a good friend of mine, as his son is now, so I too have talked at great length(at least knowledgably) with pilots for at least the last 30 years or so.

 

That is why I am able with great certainty to say yes it was vanity that drove fighter pilots to buy crusher hats. I have had the priviledge of spending several hours with Dave Schilling, John Allison, Robert Johnson, Robin Olds, Gunther Rall, Adolph Galland(a real A**hole!)and of course Hub among quite a few others, and hear their descriptions of air combat and life at the sharp end. I am currently helping Hub Jr. write a seminar that he will be presenting to the US Air Force Academy on his father and the development of the "Zemke Fan" among other subjects. Hub Zemke has been adopted as the exemplar for the 2009 Academy Class hence the seminar and other presentations etc.

 

So that people can really see a crusher in action here is one crushed and the same hat 2 seconds later on the head form. Try doing that with a service cap with stiffener and grommet rmoved.

 

Cheers

Gary

 

 

I’m not sure why you need to use this condescending tone. Are you a WWII veteran that has experience on this subject? Your comments “what you are failing to grasp” and “do you know why the stiffener was allowed to be removed” clearly indicate that you think I crawled out from under a rock and started chiming in on this issue. I have read quite a bit on the subject of “crusher” caps, and I’ve talked to many dealers, collectors, and veterans (who actually wore the caps).

 

Yes, “crusher” is a style of cap. The “crusher” cap is one variant of the AAF service cap, the other being the standard officer cap with all the interior parts intact. If you were a desk jockey, you didn’t need to remove the spring and grommet from your hat, but if you were a flyer, you did. Hence, the option in the regulations -- which is the root of the crusher's use. The thickness of the brim really has nothing to do with whether a cap is a crusher or not.

 

Now, I agree that the crusher caps that everyone wants today are the very crushable ones with a thin visor. And yes, I'll bet those caps were quite popular during the war. But those facts do not make all unstiffened caps without a thin visor non-crushers.

 

Anyway, it appears we will agree to disagree.

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"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION."

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"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION."

Rudyard Kipling

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If you took my tone as condescending I apologise for that was not my intent. I was trying to use the Socratic method (which is difficult in an email venue), as for your questions no I am not a WWII veteran but my grandfather on my dads side was a tanker in the 4th Armored Division and my wifes grandfather on her dads side was 101st Airborne (HQ Co. 506 PIR) and on her mothers side the Adjutant for the 379th Bombardment Group flying B-17s out of Kimbolton Airfield with the 8th Air Force and Hub Zemke was a good friend of mine, as his son is now, so I too have talked at great length(at least knowledgably) with pilots for at least the last 30 years or so.

 

That is why I am able with great certainty to say yes it was vanity that drove fighter pilots to buy crusher hats. I have had the priviledge of spending several hours with Dave Schilling, John Allison, Robert Johnson, Robin Olds, Gunther Rall, Adolph Galland(a real A**hole!)and of course Hub among quite a few others, and hear their descriptions of air combat and life at the sharp end. I am currently helping Hub Jr. write a seminar that he will be presenting to the US Air Force Academy on his father and the development of the "Zemke Fan" among other subjects. Hub Zemke has been adopted as the exemplar for the 2009 Academy Class hence the seminar and other presentations etc.

 

So that people can really see a crusher in action here is one crushed and the same hat 2 seconds later on the head form. Try doing that with a service cap with stiffener and grommet rmoved.

 

Cheers

Gary

 

Ok -- no problem -- we'll chalk it up to the web format creating the miscommunication.

 

I don't disagree that vanity played a part in crusher popularity, and that it was an incentive for the cap makers' to make the snazzy totally crushable cap.

 

What I still don't get, and I'm not trying to be difficult, is why you limit the term "crusher" to a crushable hat with a thin visor. Do you agree that the crusher came about because AAF flyers needed to be able to wear headphones over their caps, and thus the regulations provided that they could remove the hat's spring and grommet?

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Maybe what some people do not understand is that in the beginning pilots made their own "crushers" because of nessesaty for wearing headphones for many missions and then later the cap manufacturers saw the need and demand for these and factory produced what we all know as "crushers" that were totally flexible, now the thing that gets me is the misuse of every cap out there that someone post war has just removed the stiffener and calls it a "crusher" that is where the confusion is if Im understanding this right, but I also understand there are regular caps that real pilots during WWII actually removed the stiffeners and folded them up during use....telling them apart is the hard part....mike

Always looking for and buying 50's era 11th Airborne/ 187th ARCT/ 82nd Airborne tac mark painted jump helmets!

 

 

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Hi Nack,

 

I don't think you are being difficult at all and for clarification I limit the names of things to the terms the men and the companies that made them used. All of these other terms have been made up by dealers and misinformed collectors and then perpetuated for years so that the next group of collectors continue the misuse of terminology.

 

There is a very old military term that I am positive you are familiar with and that is the KISS principle. If I take a service cap and remove the stiffener it is not a crusher it is a service cap with stiffener removed and yes as you surmise the rules were modified so that officers who had to use headphones could do so without destroying their headgear. The crusher style of hat is not just a thin visor it is also an elastic body. When I say that the hat on the head form was placed there 2 seconds after I had it balled up in my fist I was not lying or embellishing. That is what crushers do. They were purely a marketing gimmick by the major hat makers and they were very successful with fighter pilots who were the biggest purchasers by far.

 

So in the interest of simplicity which we all agree is best(I hope), you have two types of hat, the service cap and the crusher. That's all, nice and simple. The famous 50 mission crush look is a descriptive term that is used to describe a certain look that the service caps attain after hours and hours of being worn (with headphones)and I think that is where the multiple variations on the term crusher have crept into the lexicon.

 

Sorry for being so long winded but I do think it's important to get the terms right.

 

Cheers

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

Ok -- no problem -- we'll chalk it up to the web format creating the miscommunication.

 

I don't disagree that vanity played a part in crusher popularity, and that it was an incentive for the cap makers' to make the snazzy totally crushable cap.

 

What I still don't get, and I'm not trying to be difficult, is why you limit the term "crusher" to a crushable hat with a thin visor. Do you agree that the crusher came about because AAF flyers needed to be able to wear headphones over their caps, and thus the regulations provided that they could remove the hat's spring and grommet?

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"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION."

Rudyard Kipling

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Hi Nack,

 

I don't think you are being difficult at all and for clarification I limit the names of things to the terms the men and the companies that made them used. All of these other terms have been made up by dealers and misinformed collectors and then perpetuated for years so that the next group of collectors continue the misuse of terminology.

 

There is a very old military term that I am positive you are familiar with and that is the KISS principle. If I take a service cap and remove the stiffener it is not a crusher it is a service cap with stiffener removed and yes as you surmise the rules were modified so that officers who had to use headphones could do so without destroying their headgear. The crusher style of hat is not just a thin visor it is also an elastic body. When I say that the hat on the head form was placed there 2 seconds after I had it balled up in my fist I was not lying or embellishing. That is what crushers do. They were purely a marketing gimmick by the major hat makers and they were very successful with fighter pilots who were the biggest purchasers by far.

 

So in the interest of simplicity which we all agree is best(I hope), you have two types of hat, the service cap and the crusher. That's all, nice and simple. The famous 50 mission crush look is a descriptive term that is used to describe a certain look that the service caps attain after hours and hours of being worn (with headphones)and I think that is where the multiple variations on the term crusher have crept into the lexicon.

 

Sorry for being so long winded but I do think it's important to get the terms right.

 

Cheers

Gary

 

Gary,

 

Ok, I think I understand what you are saying. The "50-mission crush" is an adjective used to describe a visor cap that looks like a service cap used without the spring and grommet, whereas a "crusher" is a type of hat made to have the "50-mission-crush" look right out of the box. Correct?

 

I would submit that we both are right, or at minimum, this is a gray area where technical correctness doesn't always square with practice. I have heard both types of hats (i.e. "crushers" per your definition and service hats with the spring and grommet removed) called "crushers," "crush hats," etc. by vets themselves. Perhaps this is like the "slick wing" monicker for pilot's wings, which I have read sometimes varied in definition from place to place, unit to unit, etc. What do you think?

 

~Nack

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Gary and Nack bring out good points.Here is my spin on it.

 

To me its pretty simple.Invention spawns imitation.Soldiers being Soldiers(or Airmen) began removing the stiffeners in the service caps to allow for head sets.This looked cool(and functional),others do the same thing.I want that "look".The war movies in the 40s were showing pilots wearing these crushed or raked out.So imitation is the best form of flattery.Everyone likes that cool elite swashbuckling laid back pilot,50 mission hard core look.Similar modification also took place in the USMC enlisted service cap.You see that typical saddle look where the front and the back swoop up.This was a individual modification.Many of the vets I talk to wanted to look like the old Corps/China Marine etc.They would eiither take and shape the wires in the cap to swoop up,try a larger stiffener or in many cases take a standard wool cover that was a size smaller,stretch it over the frame and replaced the wire stiffener from the larger cover.This will give the cap the "saddle"look and thay were a little saltier looking.Hence my earlier statement...Its cool.

 

I have sevice caps that have stiffeners removed and actual floppy elastic crushers both enlisted and officer.A couple of my em crushers came with infantry ike groupings.To me it boils down to you bought what you could afford or made one out of what you had.Seeing the servicemen crush the caps down didnt take long to see that a company could sell these.Invention spawns imitation.I agree they were very popular with both bomber and fighter pilots.The only thing is the movies show alot of pilots wearing them as it looks cool,thats what pilots do.In reality If you flew at any altitude at all(where its cold and oxygen is needed) the crusher isnt what was worn.In my opinion Hollywood has helped spark this myth too.

 

Also in todays world crushers are getting to be spendy so I think the term gets thrown out there to inhance the sale or the stiffeners are removed to give it the "look".Its based on crushed verses crusher.Yes two different caps but I buy both when I can!!! :lol::lol: Just my opinion.

Thanks for letting me chime in.Take care,

 

RON

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

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...I do think it's important to get the terms right....

 

....I have heard both types of hats (i.e. "crushers" per your definition and service hats with the spring and grommet removed) called "crushers," "crush hats," etc. by vets themselves...

 

This has been an excellent discussion. Thanks to all who have contributed to it. However, I am still interested to know the origin of the term "crusher." The word is not used in the regulation, of course. There must have been some specific commercial jargon used by makers of these "crushers" to name their product. Was it simply the "crusher?" Hasn't anyone seen "crusher" advertisements from the War?

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Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:


"To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,


For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods."

 

 

 

 

 

 


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This has been an excellent discussion. Thanks to all who have contributed to it. However, I am still interested to know the origin of the term "crusher." The word is not used in the regulation, of course. There must have been some specific commercial jargon used by makers of these "crushers" to name their product. Was it simply the "crusher?" Hasn't anyone seen "crusher" advertisements from the War?

 

It may be one of those lost phrases that rank up ther with all the names for the overseas caps think.gif

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..





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...It may be one of those lost phrases that rank up ther with all the names for the overseas caps...

Yes, "lost in the fog of war" is the ultimate refuge of many quests for slang orignins and we may indeed end up there. However, and at risk of coining another unwanted term, the "ready-made crushed hat" was a commercial product and advertising definitely was not suspended for the duration of the War. My question is: What did ad copywriters call this hat?

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Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:


"To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,


For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods."

 

 

 

 

 

 


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