Thursday, August 18, 2011

"The Grand Ol' Hat" -


 My Great Aunt, Jennie Beckington, 1905


My Grandmother, Marguerite Hutchins Beckington, born 1892 

The Grand Ol' Hat

                       The
           Good
Ol'
Edwardian Days
When swirling skirts gracefully 
Swept the floor, ankles carefully hidden.
Puffed up like a proud pigeon and resembled
   An instrument measuring time.
Oh, how to show
Individuality? Dare
We suggest such a
Thing?  A prim and
Proper young
Lady
Must wear her hat squarely
Upon her head; no silly feather, please!
But, if one had a desire for a bit of frivolity, well a trip
To the Hat Maker might just do the trick.  A feather added and tilted
To one        side, a splendid ornate hat to promenade.  A       multitude 
Of other       frivolous items could grace the crown:  A poppy,      a plume,
How         about a large cabbage rose?  A bit overwhelming?          Well,
 That was         the very idea!  To have fun, live a little, after all,             it was
 Just                           a hat.  The only thing exposed                          was 
Hair!                        Sometimes splurged, and added a                     bird?
Well,                                 Not a whole bird,                                   nor 
Even                                             a                                           whole
Wing.                                       For                                      many
Years,                             Twenty                           in fact, 
The               Audabon Society            fought
To outlaw such animal cruelty!  
Even hat pins were subject to the law!
Why, they could only extend so far - dangerous
Weapons they.  Known for poking, scraping and stabbing!
Regulations on how far they could protrude without hat-pin
Protectors. Some were banned from public transportation, in fact.
So, no whole birds, but how about bunches of cherries, blackberries
Or ribbon rosettes?  Hats made to whirl, flow and dip; some swathed in
Tulle.  Some glorious hats mysteriously rested upon the hair, thanks to 
The secret of “wadded” hair saved from thy very own brush to make the 
Grand pompadour!   Possibly a bit of mystery might be desired; was that
Even allowed?   It could be arranged with a bit of cobweb trim hanging
Over the face.  Social gatherings were not complete without one’s hat,
In fact it was part of proper etiquette.   Quite disgraceful to be seen
Without!  Even the little widow could not step out... all in black, of
Course.  No feather for that would be too gay but the veil was ok.
Oh yes,  the good  Ol’ Edwardian Days!  Most likely styles to never 
Be seen again. Glimpsed by some of us still alive as we watched
Our grandmothers step out.   Those wonderfully grand ladies who knew 
How to dress in style, held on to their "vogue" until the very end. White 
Gloves, snap purse dangling at the elbow, and perhaps, the hats a
Bit smaller, but there non-the-less.  Ornate glasses framed many of 
Their smiling faces, pearls circling their necks.  Still buttoned up with 
Proper skirt line maintained; although a few inches shorter.  How “modern”
They must have felt.  So here’s a nod to the grand ladies of old, who wore
Those hats with such style and grace.  How were they able to carry off
Such hats as these? Looking at the photos, their eyes might offer a clue.   
The                    Women's
Suffra                     gette's
Atti                        tude?
 In Courage                 And Honor.          

by Margaret Bednar, Art Happens 365, originally written January 2011.

* * * * *
This "shape" poem has been resurrected for dVerse.   The idea today is tackling a big subject such as life, death, love, relationships, war, the passing of time, etc and present them in a new light; interesting ways of looking at them.  I hope I succeeded a bit.  This is also a Critique challenge.  So, please feel free to offer ideas for improvements - they are welcome and will be considered. :)


I also hooked this up with Words in Sync's "Weekend Creation blog Hop" - potpourri of talent.  

I remember going through the hat boxes in my grandmother's attic.  They were piled atop one another and these "ancient" hats were packed amongst newspaper.  By the time I was born, I don't think she wore them anymore - and I had a hard time imagining her in them.  How I wish I had those hats today.  At least I have a few photos.

In the photo above, I love that all the ladies have their "automobile" hats on.  My grandmother is sitting in the first row, third from left. (or first one sitting on the right)


In this photo, my grandmother is with her friends.  She is the one in the center with her ever present pearls and purse in the crook of her arm and ... one of two with a head piece on.  It was taken in the year of 1961. 

17 comments:

Christi Moon said...

I find it Impossible to say anything other than how much I enjoyed your tender and cleverly crafted shape poetry in honor of your grandmother.

A real pleasure to read, thanks for sharing!

Kim Nelson said...

You took a completely original approach to the challenge and used a visual device rather than a literary one. It works.

missing moments said...

I like that last photo ... such sensible shoes!

Brian Miller said...

first...this is visually stunning...great concrete...really impressed...as to the words, they are tender and gentle...love this..

Henry Clemmons said...

Great format and super pics. Loved the poem too. A total visual package.

forgetmenot said...

How fortunate you are to have all these wonderful old photos. And, wow, those hats!!!! Comfort has taken over style--it is kind of sad to see the way people dress these days. I think it's fun when people express themselves through their choice of clothing and accessories. We shouldn't all look like we just walked out of The Gap!! Have a lovely weekend. Mickie :) Love your words and the unique manner you put them on the paper!

shah wharton said...

Clever construction of words forming the hat - I wouldn't have the patience with that, so well done! And oh, these gorgeous pictures. I love old pictures. Wish my grand-parents had had more taken. Don't think they really had the cash for such things though. Funny how no-one ever smiled in them? Wonder where the idea to smile in pics came from?

Thanks so much for linking up at the weekend creation BH. Brilliant to have you with us. You have two links in it - they did show up afterall! ;D I just linked up to dverse too - Eternal Bondage its called!

Shah

Claudia said...

yep - love it as well...must have taken you hours to shape this in such an artful way...just stunning and a treat to read

avril yospa said...

Congratulations in creating such a unique poem. It's cleverly done, and the photos that precede it show us the image you've shaped clearly. What great hats! A wonderful visual experience.

The content really works, conversation and historical with humour and mention of the suffragettes at the end is superb.

Bravo
avril

lisa said...

This is simply beautiful Margaret!
Truly, you are so very talented.

Erin O'Riordan said...

A wonderful poem, and it's very enjoyable to see these vintage photographs, too. I'm also lucky enough to have some of my great-aunt's old photos of her parents and grandparents from the Old Country.

seasideauthor said...

Thank You for sharing your history and the life of your family. It was really fun and I know I miss them and all their hats too.

signed...bkm said...

Oh my you had to have put in a lot of time on this - I love the shape how it highlights the poem and gives it life....bkm

Nora B. Peevy said...

Lovely, creative poem. Thanks for the memories. My father is 78 and my mom is 70. I have many old photos at home that look like yours. The clothes fascinate me. I love the hats. Hats are glamorous still, to me!

Old photos hold so much charm, even if you don't know the people in them. You can still connect. As a writer, I find myself wondering what their story is? Were they happy when the picture was taken? Why were they having their picture taken? What happened after? So many ideas...

I shared photos for my blog hop entry this weekend too. I'm over from Shah's hop.

-Nora
http://norabpeevy.blogspot.com/

Ginnie said...

They really did look like that back then, Margaret, didn't they! :) I wonder if our grandchildren will look at us one day and say the same thing?

Jannie Funster said...

WOW, wow, wow!! Just amazing you have those family photos.

I see where your beauty comes from.

xo

Margaret said...

Truly, I am honored that you all liked this so much. It took me about two hours to do. I had the poem written and kept struggling with how to lay it out in stanzas. Then I just came up with the idea and had to add a few things to make a few of the curves...

I love the old photos as well. And I guess, if we are all blessed to live to a ripe old age, we all end up wearing sensible shoes. :)