The Suitcase Lady


March 31, 2009, 10:51 pm

My Aunt Lillian worked in a hat factory. Shortly before her untimely death, she was promoted to be a designer. In fact, she had been designing and creating hats for years for all the women in my family. It’s no wonder that I, too, am a lover of hats.

When I was a child, Sunday mass was mandatory as was hat wearing for women in church. I couldn’t wait to see the weekly chapeau fashion parade – intriguing shapes, colors, flowers, feathers, ribbons and veils.

The hat as art form reached its apex on Easter Sunday. The show at my Polish Catholic church was lush, but I yearned to be at St. Patricks in New York. To me Easter and hats were synonymous.

I’ve had my share of great hats through the years. One of my favorites is an elegant purple felt one, a gift from my then teenage son, who picked it out all by himself.

Fashion has become much more casual and so have my hats. For the past decade I’ve been attached to my beloved denim bucket hat which can be rolled up and kept in my purse with no ill effects. It has literally traveled all over the world with me. Last year it took a vacation alone for a month in New Mexico. However, it was miraculously returned by a kind gentleman who found it in the parking lot at my aunt’s assisted living and said, “I knew that was your hat the moment I saw it.”

6 Comments for this entry

  • evie

    mary–aha! i shall be on the lookout for irrestible chapeaus. e

  • Carol

    Love the pictures! And the new design for the site. Thanks for the entertaining reading. I look forward to my Wednesday mornings.

  • Noreen

    Hi Mary,
    Oddly enough, I just this past Sunday found a hat I can wear to deflect the sun, which in Phoenix is often brain-melting. My daughter, son-in-law, and I went to the Tempe Art Fair and within the first 10 minutes, I had my first new hat in years. I too grew up in a Polish Catholic Church and adored my Jackie Kennedy pillbox or Breton roller that matched my coat, gloves, shoes, purse, etc. By the time I was a young teen, most of the lovely hats gave way to the veil of which there were two varieties. I preferred the triangular black lace mantilla, but many wore the small round lace “doilies.”
    I kept a wide assortment of hats in my art room just for fun too, but the school “no hat” rule was the bain of my existence. It wasn’t like we had gang-bangers at Holy Family so it never made much sense to me. Hats were often helpful in drama because the kids felt free to immerse themselves in characters during art, which I thought was a great cross curricular activity.
    Right now I am helping to proctor our state’s high stakes tests which I find abhorent and obscene on multiple levels. At least when we had the Iowa Basics (which I also hated) it was only a day, not a full week!

  • Mary

    Noreen! We definitely don’t need to wear those red hats now, we had great hats as kids.

    Russ looked at your comment and said, “Why is ‘Noreen’ blue?”

    “Because she is a techie whiz,” I replied.

    Check it out, everybody… click on Noreen.

  • Mara

    Hi Mary!
    Love the new design! Congrats!!

  • judith

    ooo I like new