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I did belong to the Red Hat Society for several years, a group of women determined to enjoy some social time together.

Editor's note: West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer Mary Jean Rivera shares some thoughts about living the "Red Hat Life."

My two sisters and I planned to meet in the Phoenix airport to sort through my mother's jewelry box, in the spring after mother passed away. To facilitate the meeting, my youngest sister bought three red hats and mailed one to me and to the other sister. So of course, we found each other easily in the airport that day. The hats she bought are a lightweight leather, and considered to be "newsboy style." They look a little like they would work on a motorcycle gal too! I have had many compliments on mine.

After that I did belong to the Red Hat Society for several years, a group of women determined to enjoy some social time together. Other than a monthly breakfast out, they favored dressing up in purple outfits, attending tea parties and shopping together. The coordinator hosted other events too, and kept us informed through a website. With them I enjoyed a visit to Japanese Gardens, and garden shops, and we even formed part of the parade at the Oregon State Fair for several years. People got a kick out of a flock of older women dressed in purple and red, and would stop to ask what were we doing.

I found a red hat worked for me in other situations too. Gathered with others in a line, unclear who is first: "Lady with the red hat! You are first." I liked that! When I am wandering in Target with another person, for instance, whoever is looking for me looks first for the red hat. It also covers every bad hair day.

Some years after that, I was hired by Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) to be a group leader. Wearing a red hat, rather than carrying an umbrella high to show the way, suited me well. My attendees could see me from a distance and felt more confident that I was still around and hadn't left them behind. The first red hat lasted through five seasons. I knew my sisters had the mates. I asked could I please have the look-a-likes? One sister didn't know what happened to hers. The other sister, who purchased them to begin with, still had hers, and resisted giving it to me. I begged! And then I offered her money. Very reluctantly, she sold it to me, and yes, she took the money.

Actually, I have a collection of red hats: a fedora, a straw version, several knitted ones, some with sparkles, a red flannel baseball cap and one red eyeshade, like a baseball cap without the cap part. But none work as well as that first one, which I still have, and its sister hat.


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