Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Hat for Decoration Day

Anyone who lived during the depression learned to be frugal and remained that way, even after the economy recovered and there was extra spending money. My grandparents had a hard time, struggling to keep their family together.  Mama remembered eating canned garden peas three times a day during one especially hard winter, a winter when they couldn't go to school because they had no shoes.  Having lived through this, Grandma considered it a serious sin to waste money. 

She loved her hats, she did, and allowed herself one new hat a year.  They were always small and black.  It was totally acceptable to wear black hats all year long, but wearing a white hat during the winter would have been considered just plain crazy.  Grandma's new black hat was always purchased in time for decoration day, where it made its first appearance sitting on her gray bun and held in place with a lethal-looking hatpin.

Grandma wore a hat to decoration day every year except one.  It was in '71 or '72.  The day had dawned cloudy with intermittent rain, but nothing short of an F5 tornado would have stopped her from going.  She did concede to going to the cemetery early to put her flowers on the graves, planning to go back home and get dressed for church afterwards.  The cemetery had lots of exposed red clay dirt, and she knew if she wore her good shoes there, they would be ruined.

My lil' ole sister and her new hubby took her and the flowers to the cemetery early before anyone else got there.  As she was walking around, making sure the flowers were properly distributed, she slipped off a wet bank and cut her head on a rock.  Profuse bleeding prompted an immediate trip to the emergency room.

The rest of us were sitting in the church house, singing hymns and wondering where Grandma was, when she made her appearance.  Instead of her usual proper hat, her head was adorned with multiple strips of white gauze holding a bandage in place.  The cut on her head had been long but shallow, but the doctor insisted that she was to go home and stay in bed the rest of the day.  Grandma scoffed at the idea.  I'm sure she would have insisted on going to church even if she had been on a stretcher.  That showed her firm determination, although some spitefully called it just mule stubbornness.

I own several little black hats that I have bought at auctions, but they are all too small for me.  When I want one to wear, I prefer the broad-brimmed and very colorful ones.  Although she probably wouldn't have left the house in my favorite cowboy hat, it is entirely possible that I got my love for hats from my Grandma Gean.

Thanks, Grandma.  Hats have rescued me many times on bad hair days.