Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

“R” is for the Royal Red Divas of the International Red Hat Society


Red Hat's misbehaving

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The Royal Red Divas of Youngsville and Wake Forest, North Carolina, became an organized chapter of the International Red Hat Society in 2004. Eleven years and going strong! We have done crafts, been in parades,  and eaten our way through Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC! We’ve toured, partied on the local, state, and national levels, and have loved every minute! There’s just something about wearing red hats and purple outfits to make you laugh at yourself–so of course, everything seems funnier and more lighthearted. Sadly, we had one of our members die, but she even elected to be buried in her red hat regalia with us dressed to the nines as her escorts!  Now that is impact.

We are an especially lucky chapter, because although we have had a lot of turnover with moving and all, we have always kept a diverse group age wise, and racially. Having pink hatters, those under 50, and red hatters, those over 50, keeps us young I believe, keeps us vibrant! Some of our oldest members do that well also, as they are our friendliest flirts…we are never alone! Laugh, Love, Live those words  are our motto! 

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The Royal Red Divas of the International Red Hat Society and The Great Gatsby

The Royal Red Divas take in The Great GatsbyDressed in our 1920’s finest, the Royal Red Divas of Wake Forest, Rolesville, and Youngsville, NC strut their stuff right into the theater to see The Great Gatsby! Starting with dinner at a nearby restaurant, Fiesta Mexicana of N.Raleigh, NC, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo a bit late, nevertheless heartfelt! But we were dressed in our finest attempts to represent the roaring twenties, the era of the story in The Great Gatsby, to attend the movie. Of course, our youngest pink hatters, those under age 50, were there mainly to drool over Leonardo DiCaprio.

Red Hat, 2 gorgeous pink hatters! Annie, l, and Angie, R., May, 2013

Leonardo DiCaprio

Robert Redford as The Great Gatsby

The older ones of us were reminiscing over our last viewing of this movie and the sexy Robert Redford with his blue blue eyes tempting us! LOL  We agreed they were equally fetching with their “come hither” gleams!


Red h. Dora collects men whereever she goes! Our own femme fatale, Dora, didn’t let us down last night as she went about collecting men, real and cardboard cut outs! LOL  If you want to have fun in the prime of your life as a woman, join a Red Hat Group, you can’t help but laugh! see  redhatsociety.com

    Red H. Loretta H. on left with Dora p. on right, May, 2013Red H. Sharon left and Annie H. right, May, 2013  Red H. Carol Rafferty dons her sombrero given to her by Fiesta Mexicana staff!


"Warning" a Poem by Jenny Joseph Reminding us to Have Fun ! The

      Warning–a poem by Jenny Joseph–
             Reminding Us to Have Fun!

     Many posts ago, I believe I said I would show you a copy of the poem on which the Red Hat Society was founded.  “Warning”, by Jenny Joseph is not only a poem I love, I had found a copy, bought it and given it to my sister when she turned 50! It was much later that I learned that is exactly how the Red Hat Society got started!  A woman, now our national Queen Mother, Sue Cooper, also the founder of the Red Hat Society, gave her friend a copy of this poem when she turned fifty, along with a red hat to wear. The friend liked the gift so much, she decided to give it to some of her friends! Soon they had a group and decided to go to “tea” with their red hats and purple dresses on! The rest is history…the Red Hat Society is now an international organization of women!  It’s purpose is to remind women that with all of their responsibilities and volunteer work in life–that it is very important to remember to be happy throughout life–to play! Lots of us adults forget  that! But not the Red Hatters! 
      According to an article in Wikipedia:
” Joseph’s best known poem, “Warning”, was written in 1961 and is included in her 1974 collection Rose In the Afternoon and The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse. “Warning” was identified as the UK’s “most popular post-war poem” in a 1996 poll by the BBC. The second line was the inspiration for the Red Hat Society.[3]Her first book of poems, The Unlooked-for Season won a Gregory Award in 1960 and she won a Cholmondeley Award for her second collection, Rose in the Afternoon in 1974.  “

      Now I have a special presentation for you! As well as the actual words to the poem, I have discovered a video of Jenny Joseph herself reading her poem! As a red hatter myself, I have come to love this poem,and to get to hear the author herself read it, is quite a treat! 


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.

Jenny Joseph
    If you want to purchase a beautiful version of this poem in a purple mat, or on a card perhaps, here is a website where you can do so. Elizabeth Lucas bought the license rights to the poem and has developed many products with the poem, or parts of the poem on them! It is such a fun gift! 
This is a quote from Elizabeth Lucas Designs:
“If you are looking for copies of the complete poem, we invite you to order cards and gifts from our on-line store. You’ll be glad you did!
Visit Elizabeth Lucas Designs Web Site   www.ElizabethLucasDesigns.com
“When I Am An Old Woman” is now available on Canvas Tote Bags and 100% cotton, purple or white tee shirts. You may order them at 1-800-535-8227. Sizes available are S, M, L, XL, XXL and XXXL.

©2001 Elizabeth Lucas Designs All Rights Reserved

Set Of Six Cut-Out Shaped Red Hat Acrylic Magnets Available At http://www.ElizabethLucasDesigns.com ©Elizabeth Lucas Designs 2003″

     In our chapter, we use this poem for many occasions–we read it when new members join our group, it is read when “pink hatters”, those younger than 50 years of age, “reduate” and turn 50! It is then their turn to wear the bold colors of red and purple and to come out and play with the “big girls”! LOL 
     In many parts of the country, red hat chapters actually have “spitting contests”!  The “traditions” encourage red hatters to spit by all simultaneously turning our heads to the right, then as we motion spitting, we say “patooey!”  We’re thinking about having a watermelon seed spitting contest next summer…now, how long has it been since you did that young lady?! Can you say…never! or since you were about 8 years old! 
    We are all about the fun! Its so often hard for professionals, for mothers, to get outside of themselves and play. Any woman can join a group, or start one of her own! You can check the national Red Hat website:  redhatsociety.com  where you can find chapter contacts in your area and see if they have room for new members. Our own chapter is usually open and flexible because so many people move away, but we do sometimes meet in people’s homes, usually  in restaurants or studios, etc. so we try to keep our group to around twenty members…much larger, and its hard to get into a restaurant, a theater, a jewelry making place, a scrap booking store, a pottery studio, a dance studio, some one’s home…just to mention some of the things we’ve done over the years! 
    Talking about fun, I’ll leave you with a picture of our group in our Oktoberfest best this year! We found these wonderful hats locally and what a hit they were, and what joy! The ladies in purple hats are “birthday girls” who must switch their colors around during their birthday month!  Instead of wearing a red or pink hat, and purple or lavender clothes, you will find them in the purple or lavender hats and red and pink outfits! You just have to laugh when you dress like this! And that’s what it’s all about! Hope you have a great day, and get some laughter and joy in there! Helen

The Royal Red Divas of  Youngsville, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Louisburg, Knightdale, Oxford and Raleigh
North Carolina!

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The Royal Red Divas—celebrate in a Christmas Parade!

Most of the Divas in our group of red hatters had never been in a parade! But here we were–riding in convertibles, tossing candy, waving, shouting “Merry Christmas” , playing our        kazoos, and laughing all the way! What a great morning! 

      The Divas got together the day before the parade, to drink wine and decorate the cars! In that order!  It’s a wonder we figured it all out! It was a group effort, for sure, and we had so much fun together! 

The hat bouquets were a brilliant idea from a Diva, and we put a bouquet on the front and backs of the cars. The boas lined the windshields and spoiler. Our banners decorated one side of each car, then fans, bows, magnets, hats and boas did the rest! We had to plan the decorations Friday, and figure out how they’d be attached to the cars so as not to ruin any one’s paint! We didn’t want to leave the decorations on overnight, and let the dew get them wet! So we got everything planned, and prepared 

the best we could, 
then the next morning,
 we met to line up for the parade,
 decorated the cars, 
and played in anticipation!  
We Divas can do anything! 

A good part of the reason we are so successful, is that everybody helps out!  Yours truly, Queen of Perpetual Joy and Popcorn Peach Pie ordered the banners, only after consulting with the group on the design and cost.  Princess Luv-a-Lot sewed the hat bouquets together and to the strings to tie them around the hoods and trunks, donated her fan for decoration, and brought beautiful bows for the antennas!  Princess Sweet Magnolia was the first to figure out how to attach things, and the first to be ever present holding this measuring that, arranging with her great design talent, and taking pictures. Everyone made a monetary donation, which was mostly for the banners! Lady Diamond bought us all bows to wear on our Santa Hats–lavender bows for the pink hatters, those under 50, and purple for the red Santa hats for those 50 and older! Princess Sweet Melody and Princess Pinkalova GaGa both provided cars and drove!  Sweet Melody also shopped early for tape, string, rope, magnets, hooks…everything we might need to get the job done!  We needed scissors, safety pins…lists and more lists. But we are women…we are used to that!  Lively Lady Lorna, and HRH Magnetic Monica brought candy to toss to the children and stopped to buy batteries for the boom box to be played on the parade route!  Princess Luv a Lot asked her family to help–and they bought 800 lollipops! Since we’re in a very small town, we thought surely we’d never give all of them out! But boy were we wrong! We could easily have given out twice as many! There was a crowd of people there!  
      Jivin’ Jester Judy showed up Saturday morning dressed to the hilt in a beautiful sparkly purple tunic! As we oohed and aahed, she told us it had belonged to and been made by her sister, recently deceased, who was also a red hatter!  We were very emotional about the legacy and the meaning for her!  

  As three of us grandmothers stood side by side Saturday morning, we realized that we were called by our grandchildren: GiGi (sounds like gee gee), GaGa, and GeeGee (pronounced like “key” with a hard G) For some reason that struck us as being so funny and we kept on calling ourselves by those names!  One of our members had all seven of her grandchildren present at the parade, my two were there, and I met several others as well! Of course, Santa was present and came to visit with our grandchildren and with us–THE BEAUTIFUL ROYAL RED DIVAS! 



The Royal Red Divas Celebrate Thanksgiving!

       What an incredible Thanksgiving Feast we had with our Royal Red Divas this past Monday night! Fantastic women, fantastic fun, fantastic food! 

     What a group we have! We met at our hostess Countess Caroline’s house, who fixed turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and an incredible southern dish with collards, blackeyed peas, and onions! The rest of us brought wine, soft drinks, side dishes and salads and desserts! Can you imagine! We could have fed a small country on what we fifteen ladies had to enjoy!  My own daughter, pink hatter Annie, Princess Sweet Melody, made a gorgeous red velvet cake shaped like a pumpkin! There were pineapple salads, blueberry congealed salads, sweet potato casseroles, green bean casseroles, trifles, scrumptious rolls, I couldn’t name all the yummy stuff if I tried! We all agreed we probably gained 10 lbs in that one meal! 

   We celebrated one of our former pink hatters as she came into the prime of her life turning 50 this month!  Her Royal Majesty Magnetic Monica is now officially a red hatter and will no longer wear the pale colors of pink and lavender, but the bold colors of red and purple to proclaim the joy and verve of playing with the big girls! We will “reduate” her in January as we want her to have her own special ceremony and not compete with the holidays! Since it was Thanksgiving for us, we toasted her with wild turkey as such:  ” A toast to Monica in the name of three special American birds:  May you always have an eagle in your pocket, a chicken on your table, and Wild Turkey in your glass!” LOL  We also let her know how much we love her with another toast,  
“Here is a toast to 50 beautiful years of your life in which you have spread so many good things, so much happiness and joy to others. May you live to be a hundred! Happy 50th birthday! “

       Our Queen of Vice, Sharon, reviewed the excitement of the recent regional gathering some of us attended and how one of our members won not only a cake decorated like a pink and lavender hat, but she won $150.00 in the 50/50 drawing! Angie was one lucky Princess Pinkalova GaGa! LOL  Others of us who went showed off the shopping we’d done there with new hats, pocketbooks, and bling to blind the eyes! LOL  

        Its almost Christmas parade time also! We’ll be marching and riding in the Youngsville Christmas parade on Dec. 1st, and we can hardly wait! We’ll get together Nov. 30th to decorate our convertibles, and are roaring to go! 

    We welcomed a visitor who may or may not join us. I always wonder if we scare people off with our silliness, or welcome them to come out and play! This young woman is working on her PhD in theology…will she see us as a blessing or sinners? Actually, i guess we are all both! Love it! She was wonderful and we hope she joins us! 

     I love our Red Hatters, they add so much joy to my life and I hope to the lives of every single person there! Below is the poem about turning 50, written by Gail Price of the Sugar and Spicey Ladies of Woodstock, Georgia. Tonight we dedicated this poem to Monica: 

“Isn’t it lovely and simply divine, to finally be fifty, and not forty-nine?

Fifty has substance, fifty has style, now you can do things, that make folks smile.

None of this nonsense talk of “over the hill”, Relax and have fun, Just do what you will!

You can wear purple outfits, and a silly red chapeau, trimmed in feathers and flowers , be always on the go…

None of the “old talk” for this active bunch! It’s off to bunco, or a tea shop for lunch. 

We may have some aches, wrinkles may crease the skin, but we’re in glorious shape, for the shape that we’re in! 

We giggle and simper, gossip and tease, say what we feel, it’s us that we please! 

You may find us silly, you may roll your eyes. You may think purple, a strange disguise…

But purple is royal, It makes a grand show! We have a Queen Mother, she is wise, we all know! 

So dust off the cobwebs, and let’s have some fun. Join the Red Hatters, where new life has begun. 

You can be an old fogey and sit on the side, or join all of us, wear out colors with pride! 

That is our story, we hope you’ll agree, Belonging to the Red hats is the BEST PLACE to be! “




Royal Red Divas in the Neighborhood!

      Royal Red Divas in the Neighborhood!

My Red Hat group “The Royal Red Divas”  gathered in my neighborhood last night, and what a grand time we had!   We had a Taco Salad feast with all the homemade toppings and desserts 20 women can bring together! Then there was wine, sodas…many toasts to be made !  Laura graciously opened her lovely home to us, and  as I said I would in my last entry, I climbed up her steps and into her house for the first time in about 8 months,  due to my weakened muscles from taking my statin drug for 12 years! As I entered the house, many cheered for me, and I threw my hand up in the air celebrating my own victory! More about that later! 
            The whole neighborhood has to take notice as many of us live on this street to begin with, but you can’t have 20 or more women dressed in Red or Purple hats, and the opposite colored clothes, or pink and lavender for those under age 50!  I not only brought the lemon pound cake my HUSBAND, baker and teacher extraordinaire, made, but the guacamole topping that my daughter the pink hatter made!  I am the Queen, and I have a plaque given to me by a very smart Red Hatter friend, that proclaims “The Queen Does Not Cook!” This sign hangs in my kitchen proudly. Actually, I’m such a poor cook, its a wonder that no one in my family as grafitied under the saying, “and aren’t we so GLAD! ”   LOL

         Just in case the neighbors don’t pay us enough attention, I always bring the kazoos, our official instrument, red and purple of course! Last night we planned to serenade a member and neighbor who’d had outpatient surgery yesterday.  But she must have found out we were coming, because she ran away and spent the night at her son’s house far, far away from us!  We were only going to sing our love to Darling! 
          Besides eating and drinking , we had two birthday girls to celebrate! We have started a tradition of toasting and roasting our members with birthdays each month!  What hilarity and laughter ensues! Very quickly the lines to the potties are long!   It reminds me of the saying that ” I laughed so hard, tears ran down my legs!” LOL (only red hatters would be this irreverent!  For Julie, one toast I  loved went:

      “I raise a toast to Jiving Jester Julie, and lying, stealing, cheating and drinking!”
          (gasps all around…is she calling Julie a liar? a thief? a cheat?…apparently…no respect for a 73 year old in this group!)
        ” If you’re going to lie-lie for your friend.
         “If you’re going to steal—steal someone’s heart!”
         “If you’re going to cheat–cheat sadness and death!”
         “And, if you’re going to drink, drink with me!”
            author unknown
We had wonderful jokes and memories at the expense of both of our beautiful birthday girls, both of whom happened to be 73 this month! We range in age in our group from age 30, to 84! And our 84 year old is our wildest femme fatale, whom we all fear will run off with our husbands! LOL

We also had the pleasure of administering our  Oath of Membership  to Angel, our newest member and pink hatter at only 45 or there abouts.  I love our oath, and the poem our society started with, and thought I’d share them with you!
     We all stand, and place our right hands on the brim of our hats and repeat after the Queen….
” I do lightheartedly swear, on my lovely red (or pink) hat,
That being of somewhat sound mind,
And desiring to have more fun in the prime of my life,
I will uphold the ideals of the Red Hat Society…just as soon as I can figure out what they are, and if I can remember them when I do!

I promise, swear, and take oath that I will regularly practice having fun…laughing…smiling…playing…
and that I will dress outrageously, without care, in my full regalia of red hat and purple dress, and bling and boa,  (or pink and lavender of course!) whenever we get together!

So help me, I know I can and will do this, with the love, laughter, and role modeling of you, my cherished Red Hat Sisters!”   
It’s moving and celebratory and hilarious all at the same time and we cheer with congratulations and support for our new member!

I can’t imagine it , 🙂 but some of you may have heard all you want about red hatters! I’ll include some pictures and the poem “Warning” separately.   But if you want to know about joining or starting a group of Red Hatters, just let me know  and I’ll tell you all I know.  Have a great day!    

Helen, Queen of Perpetual Joy and Popcorn Peach Pie



Founding of our chapter of The Red Hat Society

         We’ve lived here for about 8 years now. I believe that during that time, 10 of us still live here who lived here when we moved in! That is actually very remarkable! Several of us women started a Red Hat Society chapter called the Royal Red Divas! The Red Hat Society is a national women’s group based on the idea of remembering/learning again to play and enjoy life after 50! We dress in red hats and purple outfits, and sometimes wear lots of bling or even boas! Younger women can and do belong and they are called pink hatters who wear lavender clothes until they reduate at age 50! Our group has been meeting monthly now for almost 8 years. Its how I got to know a lot of my neighbors, although not all our members are from this neighborhood by any means! But in thinking about the stability of our cul-de-sac, I realize that we had 5 Red Hat members who lived on the street behind us just 8 years ago, and now there are none from that street, one died and was buried in her Red Hat Regalia, as I want to be, and the other four all moved away! We miss them terribly.

         Our Royal Divas are meeting across the street this coming Monday night, and I am so excited about it! I miss this group of fun loving women when we are not together, and I flat out enjoy them when we are together…telling jokes, dancing, laughing, visiting, seeing shows, whatever we want to do! I haven’t told you I don’t think, but I am somewhat handicapped. I have a serious heart condition which keeps me from walking very far at all, so I use a wheelchair to go outside or to a store, etc. I will tell you more in another chapter, but I had gone backwards last January, and growing increasingly weaker and falling often, was no longer able to go into friends’ s homes or drive, or hardly even get my own shower and bath rituals! It was frightening and humbling even more than I had already experienced. But I have recovered some of my health lately, and last week my physical therapist took me over to my neighbor’s house and taught me how to climb the 5 steps up to her porch and get into her house! She and her husband were there cheering me on! Now you know why I am so excited to go to Red Hat on Monday. Its a major outing for me and I can hardly wait.