Red Hats offer high society |

Red Hats offer high society

My first brush with the Glenwood Springs Red Hat Society came on a Tuesday evening at the RendezVous restaurant. I came in a little late to see 15 older women in fabulous hats, feathers and costume jewelry. Their color scheme is red and purple, and their modus operandi is fun.Breathlessly they told me all about the club. It’s for women older than 50. There are no dues. There’s dinner. And unlike most clubs in town, “We don’t do anything for anybody else.”I scrutinized my dinner companions. To a woman, they were outrageously attired and obviously have a great time. On my left, dripping with Red Hat Society charm bracelets, pins and earrings, was Lavonne Diemoz in a bright red, cut-velvet shawl and a red felt fedora with purple marabou feather trim.The gals at my end of the table were chortling over how they’d ducked out of making dinner for their husbands.Lavonne said her husband, Floyd, took one look at her getup Tuesday evening and said, “Are you going out like that?” But it didn’t faze her. “I don’t pay attention to any of that, and it’s so nice not to cook dinner,” she said.At one point in the evening, one of the ladies declared she was having a hot flash and whipped out a large red and purple-feathered fan and waved it at herself and everyone else in range at our end of the table. Of course, there ensued a lively exchange of hot-flash horror stories.As I Iooked down the line of women at the table and the variety of hats, I realized that somehow the hats gave them permission to be silly and outrageous. Not that they acted out, but their rather overwhelming presence in the small restaurant did give the other diners pause.I also knew without a doubt, that I must have one of those hats.The Glenwood Springs Red Hat Society formed about a year ago and now has 50 members, said Monica Miller, co-founder of the chapter with her sister, Angie Parkison, and their mother, Joan Anderson. Like all good ideas, word soon spread around town. The group, which usually numbers about 20, gathers at various restaurants for dinner at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Usually there’s some kind of program afterward.Last Christmas the ladies made a splash in their regalia at afternoon high tea at the Hotel Colorado. They’re still talking about it.Sue Ellen Cooper, who is affectionately known as “the Queen Mother,” founded the Red Hats. As the story goes, Cooper found a red felt hat in a thrift store that she particularly liked and gave it to a friend for her birthday, along with a copy of the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. The presents were so well-received she gave other friends the same presents for their birthdays. Her circle of friends soon came to call themselves the Red Hat Society, and they loved to don their flashy hats and go out to afternoon tea.Friends of friends spread the word, and now the Red Hat Society has almost 1 million members, with more than 39,000 chapters across the United States and in more than 25 countries. There are no rules, but the guiding belief is “having fun and enjoying each other’s company … as members age,” the society’s Web site said.Cooper has summed up the Red Hat philosophy: “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.”After a leisurely dinner, the women swept out of the restaurant and paraded up Grand Avenue to their next stop, the Forest Service building, to view Frank Mechau’s Depression-era mural. As I lagged behind, gathering my things, I saw they’d left a drift of feathers in their wake beneath the table, a sure sign they were not a figment of my imagination.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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