Remember when no Easter outfit was complete without a hat? Unless I had on my cowgirl outfit, I never wore one except at Eastertime.
Little-girl Easter bonnets were mercifully minimalist. They usually involved straw, with a few flowers somewhere on the sides and for the very young, a ribbon tie. I remember one of my hats had cherries on it – giving the impression of a well-tended fruit tree growing from my scalp.
My mother didn’t need Easter as an excuse for hat-wearing. She never went bare-headed to church, and I’m told it’s still the custom in many African-American congregations.
(I like the idea of dressing up for church as a way of making it special, but I wonder if the people sitting behind those hats appreciate them as much as their owners do.)
Judy Garland sang about hats in the movie “Easter Parade.” “I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet . . .”
As mentioned in the iconic song, there really was a parade down Fifth Avenue, a Manhattan tradition since the 1870s, stopping after 2019 due to COVID. I’m hoping it reappears.
The paradors displayed their finery – the more over-the-top, the better. Online I saw hats sporting Eiffel Towers, an Empire State Building, Easter bunnies, flamingos and enough flowers to decorate the Rose Parade. Some people even brought their pets wearing hats, too.
Pre-COVID, Shepherdstown, W.Va., also had an Easter Parade, including a contest for the cleverest homemade hats. I remember one especially cute one made of heavy construction paper with Peeps glued, rainbow style, around the top. Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase, “I’ll eat my hat,” doesn’t it?
A well brought up girl (or woman) in the 1950s never wore a hat without gloves. When was the last time you saw a pair on anyone, except at the supermarket during COVID or maybe on Queen Elizabeth?
The gloves in question were always white, wrist-length and made of soft cotton. They drove me nuts. They attracted dirt like dogs draw fleas and the seams often split, displaying my naked finger inside.
Always a scatterbrain, I left a trail of stray gloves behind me, like Hansel and Gretel walking through the forest.
Maybe memories of Old School Easter finery are best left in the past: “A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
Reach Carol McEwen at email@example.com.