Sunday, April 18, 2010

THE HAT LADIES PROTEST (well, at least one of them does)

Two weeks ago the local magazine, Charleston Scene, featured a small profile of me. It's a weekly feature in which they ask locals questions about their life. One of the questions is:

My answer: The Hat Ladies Easter Parade because it is so surreal and because I have worn a hat every day of my life for the past 30 years. It's fun to watch the amateurs who only do it once a year."
To watch the 2010 Charleston Easter Hat Parade click here.

Here is the text from a letter to the Editor to the Charleston Post and Courier, April, 11, 2010.

I have to take exception to the statement made by Mark R. Jones in the recent Preview article 'Scenester.' To call the Hat Ladies 'amateurs' is totally ridiculous! I have been wearing hats for more than 30 years, although not every day.

The Hat Ladies do an extraordinary amount of volunteer work around Charleston while wearing hats. We also do several social events monthly, wearing hats.

The promenade is our signature event of the year, not the only time to wear a hat, as Mr. Jones suggested. We celebrate Easter in the old-fashioned way, promenading down Meeting Street with family and friends, including a few canines, all wearing hats.

Rebecca Geary
Hat Lady
Polony Place

Ms., Miss, or Mrs. Geary:

First of all, there is no Preview in Charleston anymore. In case you hadn't heard, that tradition is over. It is now called Charleston Scene.

In your first paragraph you prove my "amateur" contention by saying "I have been wearing hats for more than 30 years although not every day." I don't really care about all the volunteer work you do, since I didn't mention your volunteer work. Don't change the subject and don't be so touchy. All I mentioned was that some people walking in the Easter parade were hat-wearing amateurs. I did not mention anyone specifically. You made the assumption the comment covered everyone in the promenade. I'm pretty sure I saw several men in the Ladies Hat Parade who don't wear hats on a daily basis. Ditto with a lot of the women who were in the promenade. I'm pretty sure most people in the promenade do not wear their hats each day when grocery shopping, going to the doctor, at work, etc ... but I do.I understand this is not the only event of the year for the Ladies Hat Society. You meet several other times a year and wear hats. In fact, the Hat Ladies attended the kick-off party for the Charleston Scene but you still called it Premier in your letter. No comment about the tradition of over-indulgence in Charleston at social events.

I also understand the history and tradition of the promenade in southern culture. But sometimes tradition can be surreal, like:
  • Running With the Bulls at Pomplona
  • Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA
  • Miss America Contest
If you don't find the sight of hundreds of people dressed in over-the-top millinery wear, with dogs on leashes clothed in Easter outfits strolling through an American city in the 21st century and singing karaoke while riding in a pedicab surreal, then you need to purchase a new dictionary. While you are perusing (also listed in the dictionary) you may also want to look up "satire", "silly" and "stuffy."

Oh, by the way, if you had read my entire profile in Charleston Scene at the end you would have come across these two questions:

IN ONE WORD YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU AS? Answer: Irreverent. (also in the dictionary)

Irreverently yours,
Mark R. Jones

Mark R. Jones, age 3, already wearing hats!

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