Hatter Josephine Dwyer of Rhode Island could never have guessed what surprises her 50th birthday would hold!
Her sister Debbie called in to purchase a surprise Gift Membership for Josephine. Debbie mentioned that it would be wonderful if we could help her invite a few Hatters to come to her sister’s surprise party. This was an unusual request, but Georgia told her that we’d do our best. Donna, our Hatquarters Liaison, took over and called several of the local chapters. Queen Phyllis of The Red and Pink Hat Bells and her chapterettes rose to the occasion and helped make Josephine’s birthday a night to remember.
As they gathered to dine and celebrate, Debbie commented to her sister and the many onlookers, “I bet you’re wondering why all these Red Hat Society ladies are here.” Josephine said, “Yes, I am. I’ve always wanted to be part of the Red Hat Society. I want to be one of you!” Debbie announced, “”You are!” She presented Josephine with a Gift Membership, her first Red Hat, and a purple boa as Queen Phyllis, her nine chapterettes and all the new friends gathered around.
You can probably guess the immediate outcome of this tale. Debbie is joining, too, and Josephine will most likely talk her into being Queen of their new Chapter. After all, she did start this whole thing! And once she’s joined, she’ll be able to contact other Members all on her own! Ladies from Josephine’s office didn’t want to be left out so they are becoming Members. And the gals from The Red and Pink Hat Bellas are just as proud as punch that they could help make someone so happy and gain some new friends, too. How will all these new relationships flourish? Only time and the Sisterhood will tell!
“How did the RHS get started?”
In the words of Founder Sue Ellen Cooper, "The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humor and elan. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next."While visiting a friend in Tucson several years ago, Sue Ellen impulsively bought a bright red fedora (which is now in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History!) at a thrift shop, for no other reason than that it was cheap and, she thought, quite dashing. A year or two later she read the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat. Sue Ellen felt an immediate kinship with Ms. Joseph. She decided that her birthday gift to her dear friend, Linda Murphy, would be a vintage red hat and a copy of the poem. She has always enjoyed whimsical decorating ideas, so she thought the hat would look nice hanging on a hook next to the framed poem. Linda got so much enjoyment out of the hat and the poem that Sue Ellen gave the same gift to another friend, then another, then another.
One day it occurred to these friends that they were becoming a sort of "Red Hat Society" and that perhaps they should go out to tea... in full regalia. They decided they would find purple dresses which didn't go with their red hats to complete the poem's image.
The tea was a smashing success.
Soon, each of them thought of another woman or two she wanted to include, and they bought more red hats. Their group swelled to 18, and they began to encourage other interested people to start their own chapters (18 women don't fit well around a tea table). One of their members passed along the idea to a friend of hers in Florida, and their first "sister" group was born.
Since then, Hatting has spread to 26 countries all over the globe, from Japan to South Africa to the Netherlands! This cheerful women’s movement is spread by word of mouth, by friends reaching out and encouraging each other to join and to spread the Hattitude!