Any Hats in Your History?

Little Mennonite girls could be fancy before they became plain. They could wear hats. Their mothers may have worn flat, black bonnets on top of their prayer veilings (coverings) at Easter, but they couldn’t wear hats with ribbons and flowers. At least not in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the 1950s.

My sisters and I are standing here in front of peony bushes wearing some cast-off hats Grandma Longenecker’s friend, Mame Goss, brought from a millinery shop in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Marian, Jean, and Janice in front of the peony bushes
Marian, Jean, and Janice in front of the peony bushes

I recall this scene through the lens of memory:

I’m looking now at a snapshot my mother took of my sisters and me in these hats, the three of us holding hands in front of a peony bed. The magenta peonies are in bloom, so it must have been May. The double whites mingled among them have ruby flecks in their ruffled centers. My sister Janice, three years younger, is standing at one end, with blonde hair fluffed into curls, hands obediently at her side. Jeanie, a tiny tot of two or three, appears to be looking down at the grass, her burst of tulle brushing light brown hair. I’m staring straight at the camera, two thick braids trailing down my back. Our dresses are all bedecked with ruffles and bows, embroidery or smocking, dresses surely made by our plain Mennonite mother.

I wore my first adult hat ever, a pale blue clôche with a blue chiffon dress one spring when Cliff and I were dating.

At Crista’s 5th birthday party I was wearing a knitted skull-tight cap, typical of the 1970s.

Hat1977redStocking

In the 1990s I bought a white hat trimmed in black ribbon and feathers, probably for Easter. I don’t wear hats anymore. I have already taken this one to Angel Aid, a charity for mothers and children.

Hat1999KillarneySteps

My sister Jan and I wore British-style hats to Downton Abbey events sponsored by our PBS station in Jacksonville, Florida. Each of our hats adorned with feathers, a flower and seed pearls cost $ 5.00 at Roots’ Country Market near Manheim, PA. We didn’t tell anyone at the gala how much our gorgeous hats cost.

JanMarianDownton

Sisters with friend Carolyn Stoner
Sisters with friend Carolyn Stoner with her fascinator hat in black and green

Hats have mostly gone out of fashion in recent decades, except among the trendy young. NAACP leader Roslyn Brock makes a style statement with her wardrobe of about 200 fashionable hats, expressing her love for her Grandmother Leona Pittman who “believed a woman was not properly dressed for church without one.” Brock emphasizes that

I’m following in the legacy of female civil rights leaders who completed their Sunday go-to-meeting clothes with fashionable hats.

 

Hats are the centerpiece of Roslyn’s wardrobe. She admits that she’ll buy the hat first and then find a matching suit or shoes. For Roslyn, who enjoys couture creations from Philip Treacy, Queen Elizabeth’s designer, wearing hats “keeps our history and culture alive.”

How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.  ~ Philip Treacy

HatAARPrarticle

 

In June it will be two years since my mother died unexpectedly. I still miss her terribly. Grief occasionally comes over me in waves. Now less often, with less severe impact. Still . . .

On my dresser I have kept three mementoes of Mother, one on top of the other: the two-quart Ball jar with bubbles in the glass, emblematic of her love of cooking and canning. And her last Mennonite black bonnet and white prayer covering veiling made of bobbinet fabric, a see-through, hexagonal mesh. Symbols of her constant faith and hope in God, each piece of headgear is less than half the size of those she wore in her youth.

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Any hats in your history?

What did it look like? Where did you wear it? Do you still wear a hat? Comments are warmly welcomed. Don’t be shy.

Coming next: What Lights Your Fire?

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Purple Passages with a Pop of Pink, March 2015 edition

SPRING

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine . . .  ~  Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden

Tulip magnolia tree in our neighborhood just about to bloom in Florida, early February
Tulip magnolia tree in our neighborhood just about to hit full bloom in Florida, early February   ~  Sunshine, no rain in sight

[in Just-] a poem by e. e. cummings, (his name usually shown in lower case letters) who is known for odd spacing and made-up words like “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful” so evocative of the squooshiness that follows the winter thaw. This British poet clumped together some of the names and other words he uses, just like mud on your shoes in springtime. Remember all that? Here are the first nine lines.

spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come

running from marbles and

piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

 

ENERGY

The only thing that keeps a man going is energy. And what is energy but liking life?   Louis Auchincloss, A World of Profit

MIRACLES

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”

MITTENS

The wee Longenecker girls wore mittens because it was cold in Pennsylvania until near the end of March. These are the mittens I remember my sisters Janice wearing. Jean probably inherited them when her hands grew big enough. Somehow I recall a string of woven yarn attaching the mittens under the coat so the little girls wouldn’t lose their mittens. Mittens actually do keep little hands warmer than gloves would – body heat from all four fingers and thumb is trapped inside the glove just like this. . .

PinkMittens

. . . which reminds me of the Mother Goose nursery rhyme about the Three Little Kittens. You can probably hear the sing-song sound of the phrases as you read this tale.

KittenMittensScreenShot

In the verses which follow, the kittens put on their mittens, then get them dirty, are scolded by their mother, inducing them to wash their mittens, even hanging them out to dry. In the final verse, Mother Cat compliments her kitties while teaching them a lesson in scavenging for their dinner:

“What, washed your mittens, then you’re good kittens,
But I smell a rat close by.”
“Meow, meow, meow,
We smell a rat close by.”

Your turn! This is a free-for-all post. Add your thoughts or quotes on spring, energy, miracles, mittens – or something else.
Coming next: Grandmother Kayaks Solo from Maine to Guatemala. Why?

The Potting Shed and Other Marvels

I just talked to my brother Mark in Pennsylvania, and our 15-minute conversation was interspersed with his exclaiming . . .

“It’s sleeting.”

Then, a few minutes later, “It’s raining . . .”

And finally, “It’s sleeting again!”

It’s March and most people north of the Florida latitude are sick of winter. Suffering from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder}, they are waiting to see the sun break through the winter blahs and unveil the crocuses and narcissus ready to pierce the soil.

Writer Linda Joan Smith had that feeling in mind when she said

Outside Snow’s dingy blanket may still muffle the stirrings of tulips and daffodils, and the pond may still be rimmed with ice. The reward of the garden must wait, but our gardening labors have begun. (“The Potting Shed,” The Traditional Home, March 2002)

Smith celebrates the potting shed, “the room that is as much a workshop to the gardener as the kitchen is to a cook.” She makes reference to the advice of John Claudius Loudon, who in his 1830s An Encyclopaedia of Gardening, recommends that proper potting shed must have light, air and warmth, including “a fireplace never omitted.” Smith’s article pictures two versions of the shed – an impressionistic one where there may not be precise order . . .

Illustration: James Staag, Traditional Home, March 2002
Illustration: James Staag, Traditional Home, March 2002

And one meticulously appointed where there is “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” (229) so says Mr. Barnes of Bicton Gardens writing in the1840s.

Photograph: Curtice Taylor, Traditional Home, March 2002
Photograph: Curtice Taylor, Traditional Home, March 2002

My blog friend Linda Hoye, who moved recently from the Pacific Northwest to Canada, is a gardener extraordinaire. In her blog A Slice of Simple Life she uses plastic gallon jugs for winter sowing:

Winter sowing is placing seeds outside, in the winter, in mini-greenhouses made from things like empty milk jugs. The plastic jugs protect the seeds from harsh weather while allowing the cold to toughen them up during the cold weather. When it gets warm enough inside of the little greenhouses the seeds germinate and become viable outdoor plants sooner than those started indoors because there’s no need to harden off the plants.

When you check out her post, you can see her mini-greenhouse project complete with a photo of the jugs in a tub.

Did I mention that Linda is innovative? Yes, indeed. She gives a blow by blow pictorial account of preparing a worm hotel – indoors. Knowing that worms aerate the soil, she nurtures them as help-mates in the growing process. Even she says, “Eww!” as she mingles coir mix, pumice and finely chopped veggie scraps topped with a damp newspaper before she moves the operation to the garage. Soon she will prayerfully tuck seeds, tiny flecks of hope, into dampened soil. Obviously, Linda has faith that “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” (Audrey Hepburn).

And gardener Hoye believes in whimsy too, as her creation of a fairy garden illustrates, anticipating spring in a post entitled “Spring is in the Air.

FairyGardenLHoye

Some Gardening Quotes:

“Outside there is water music as packs of snowflakes melt into water drops, merge into rivulets, trickle into puddles, then subside into pools and streams. The garden is mud, but no matter. Soon it will drain and dry in the strengthening sun.”  ~ “The Potting Shed,” The Traditional Home (March 2002)

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.“~ Margaret Atwood in Bluebeard’s Egg (1986)


In March 1985 my farmer parents, Mother and Daddy Longenecker, left wintry Pennsylvania and visited Florida where they couldn’t wait to get their hands into the soil. Soil that nourishes citrus trees, azaleas, and camellias is not necessarily good for hardy Lancaster County plantings. Daddy took one look at the sandy soil in my sister Jan’s huge back yard and ordered a load of chicken manure. After working it into the ground, he and Mother scored straight rows for planting.

Mother Ruth Longenecker sowing seeds in Florida
Mother Ruth Longenecker sowing seeds in Florida

Do you have gardening tricks or stories about gardening to share? Here’s your chance!