My Great Aunt, Jennie Beckington, 1905
My Grandmother, Marguerite Hutchins Beckington, born 1892
The Grand Ol' Hat
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
We suggest such a
Thing? A prim and
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.
In Courage And Honor.
by Margaret Bednar, Art Happens 365, originally written January 2011.
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Today this archived poem is linked with Imaginary Garden with Real Toad's - Kenia's Challenge: "Celebrate Femininity". This was originally written for a Magpie Tales challenge and then again shared at dVerse. So I am SORRY if you have read it before... it just seemed to be an easy fit.
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.