Monday, April 21, 2014

The Red Hat Society in PTown

These Red Hat Ladies from Eastham, Wellfleet and Orleans
converged on Provincetown for lunch at the Lobster Pot.
“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple…” begins the poem 'Warning' written by Jenny Joseph, “…with a red hat which doesn’t go…”

It was a bright red fedora bought in a thrift store by Sue Ellen Cooper, along with this poem, which she read a couple of years later, that started a movement among “women of a certain age." Sue Ellen had felt a bond, a particular kinship with Jenny Joseph upon reading her poem, which urges doing what pleases you, regardless of convention or the opinions of others. Sue Ellen made a birthday gift of a vintage red hat, along with a framed copy of this poem, to her dear friend Linda Murphy, who enjoyed the gift so much that Sue Ellen decided to make the same gift to other friends. 
When this growing group of women decided to don their red hats, dress in purple, and go out to tea together, they realized they had informally begun a sort of “Red Hat Society.” Each of them thought of others who might enjoy an outing and the camaraderie of the group, which soon numbered 18. As the number of “Red Hat Ladies” became too large to easily squeeze into a restaurant or tea room together, members were encouraged to start new chapters. When a woman in Florida heard about the group and started a new one there, chapters began to spring up all across the country, and within five years there were 40,000 chapters worldwide.
The women above were among the 14 Red Hat Society members that held an outing in Provincetown last Monday. Their chapter hails from the outer Cape towns of Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet, and they came to PTown for lunch at The Lobster Pot, which had just reopened for the season. Each chapter generally plans an outing for their group once or twice a month, and major conventions they've held have sold out entire hotels in big cities. They're not much on rules, and each chapter remains quite autonomous. The emphasis is on fun and friendship.
I've wondered how they all manage to find hats in the same shade of red. When I visited the RHS website I found pages and pages of information on starting a chapter, activities, membership perks and travel discounts, conventions and more, all revolving around themes of fun and friendship. I also found an online store offering dresses, skirts, slacks, jackets and other apparel in red and purple, along with a choice of more than 80 styles of red hats, all in the very same shade!
A gentle good time and a feeling of belonging, along with a certain boisterous exuberance and a lot of laughter, all seem to travel with these women wherever they go, and it's always a pleasure to welcome the Red Hat Society to Provincetown.
Click on the links above to read Jenny Joseph's poem, and to visit the Red Hat Society website, and click on the photo to see it full-size. Click on this link to see a great YouTube video of Jenny Joseph reading her poem 'Warning'.

No comments:

Post a Comment