On Monday, May 12, 2014 the Royal Red Divas of the International Red Hat Society, crowned their new Queen. For the last ten years Helen Holshouser had been the Queen of the Divas as Queen of Perpetual Joy and Popcorn Peach Pie! Many women had come and gone over the years. One member had died and chosen to be buried in her red hat regalia. The Divas had laughed, cried, and grown older together. Tonight, however, marked Helen’s retirement and a new Queen would begin her reign. The coronation was set for Angela Rowe, Queenie Pinkalova GaGa!
Excited about this special event, the Divas gathered early to decorate the room. With red, purple, and pink tablecloths, flowers in abundance from their gardens, and laughter flowing, the divas transformed an empty room into a beautiful palace throne and dining room! Diana Craig, Lady Diamond, had transported a beautiful high-back pink, winged chair around town all day while she took her mother to the doctor and shopped for the beautiful sash for our new Queen. Grand Madame Ettoufe’, Loretta Highfield, arrived with her arms full of supplies– ready to set up tables and decorate. Princess Sweet Melody, Annie Holshouser also arrived with the music, the cake, and other decorative items. We went to work as other Divas joined us in transforming our space. Joining us were Baroness Breezy Beverly Reid, Countess Regina—Jean Mitchell and her daughter Ronni, our guest. Comtesse Caroline Carol Rafferty, Baroness Geraldine Hildebrandt, and our own Lady Hops-a-Lot- Sharon Jones O’Kelley! Our famed Queen of Vice, Sharon Wright Kittrell tied the evening together! As usual several members had to work late, were out-of-town, or unfortunately, sick with a bug and had to miss all the fun!
At last it was time to welcome our new Queen! As Angie entered the room, two Divas met her with rose petals which they tossed for her path and showered her with– the joyful aroma of roses filled the air! Diana Craig escorted our new Queen to her throne. Waiting for her beside the throne was the retiring Queen, myself, Queen Helen. I welcomed Angie to her special night and reminded the group of the excitement of this cherished ceremony. As we began, Angie stood and took the following pledge
“I, Angie Rowe, do solemnly swear that I, having ascended to the lofty status of Queen, will gracefully and regally fulfill the duties of the office, including, but not limited to, the following:
I will reign over my chapterettes with a kind, benevolent spirit, valuing each member for who she is.
I will promote harmony and understanding among our world-wide sisterhood.
I will wear my colors and regalia proudly.
I will wield my scepter and make grand pronouncements whenever the mood strikes.
I will honor the spirit of the little girl who lives inside myself and those of my Red Hat sisters as well.
I will promote the core values of the Red Hat Society – fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment and fitness – where ever, whenever I can.
I will never call a ‘meeting’, make a ‘motion’, or possess a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order. I will refuse to take myself – or anything else within my power – too seriously.
I will do myself and the Red Hat Society PROUD!
Then Queen Helen says, “By the power vested in me by the International Red Hat Society and the Royal Red Divas, I now pronounce you Queen Pinkalova GaGa – Queen of the Royal Red Divas! Cheers and shouting commenced!
At this point Sharon Kittrell, our Queen of Vice, transferred the Queen’s Robe, from Helen to Angie, placed the Queen Diva Pin on her sash, crown ring on her finger, gave her the royal scepter, and last but not least– moved the crown from Helen’s head to Angie’s, and history was made! Angela Rowe became the new Queen of the Royal Red Divas of Youngsville, Wake Forest and Rolesville, North Carolina!
We were not quite finished our ceremony, however, as we had gifts to give our new Queen! We read the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph, giving our Queen the materials she would need as she grew older.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
There is a videotape accompanying this story, taken our own Loretta Highfield, which shows the gifts of brandy and summer gloves being bestowed upon our new Queen as she vowed to break the rules and get over the sobriety of her youth. The joy of giving these gifts and celebrating our inner child, was summarized in a second poem read by our Queen of Vice Sharon Kittrell, which can also be seen in the accompanying video.
With the coronation, gift-giving and poem-reading completed, we adjourned to share our feast and special desserts made by our own member pastry chef Annie Holshouser. She made a Queen’s cake with an exact replica of the crown placed on Angie’s head tonight. She also made red velvet cupcakes with crowns for each of us!
The dinner went well, enjoyed by all– stories were told– music was played, and laughter and tears rang through-out the room! At one point, one of our founding members, Countess Regina, Jean Mitchell came to the front of the room and presented a gift to the outgoing Queen. While doing so, she talked of her relationship with the former Queen and how close it had grown over the years. Then she presented the Queen with an unexpected and incredible gift that the former Queen is using at this very moment to dictate this blog post. It is a voice recognition software program called ‘Dragon’. Helen is unable to use her left hand for typing at this time and is facing surgery, what a wonderful gift from the Divas to allow Helen to continue her blog posts. Helen shed tears several times during the night and this was one of those times. Tears of joy I can tell you.
What a night! What a joyful, joyful night! The leadership of the Royal Red Divas might change, but the spirit and enthusiasm of the Divas will go on forever! This is one of the best groups of women both current members and past, one could ever ask to be associated with. Thank you Lord for the Royal Red Divas and the blessings they have brought to our lives!