What color is your hat?

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

Lapine house plays host to society teas, weddings

Special to the Journal

If you said "red", then you must have heard of the Red Hat Society!

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Started almost by accident in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper, the group has grown like wildfire over the past few years.

Today the Red Hat Society has more than 37,000 chapters throughout the world with about 900,000 members.

Two such chapters from Birmingham and Montgomery met on Saturday, April 16th – Tea Kats N Red Hats headed by Queen Mother, Teri Dingler and Tibi Westbrook, and Glovenia's Peppermint Patties, headed by Queen Mum, Betty Byrd Stephens and Vice Mother, Joan Byrd Davis.

Glovenia's Peppermint Patties was formed three years ago by family members who so named their chapter after the late Edna Glovenia Jeffcoat Byrd.

The group consists of family members (from daughters to great-granddaughters and soon to be great-great-granddaughter) and friends of "Granny", as she was known to all, who 90 years ago was born right here in our very own Crenshaw County.

Today there still remain descendants of the Jeffcoat/Byrd families in Luverne and surrounding areas.

Tea Kats N Red Hats was formed two years ago by Queen Mother Teri Dingler and Vice Mother Juanita Smithee and have been adding pink hatters and red hatters since.

The group consists of family and friends who love getting together and having fun!

Two members of the group also are great-granddaughters of Granny Byrd.

The two chapters met for a tea at the 100 year old home of Bud and Yvonne Files in LaPine.

The Files' purchased the old Bradley house located on Meriwether Trail almost 10 years ago and have spent countless weekends renovating the place.

Last year, the house was the site of a reception after the wedding of the couple's niece, Allyson Garvin.

Two more wedding receptions are slated for the summer and fall of this year.

As the Files' near the completion of their renovation efforts, they hope to attract other outside interest as well.

"It is a magnificent old dwelling that has proudly stood for over 100 years on the outskirts of Crenshaw County and one the county can be proud of."

The home was decorated in true Victorian style – tables set with antique china, crystal and flatware, lace and linen tablecloths and each adorned with its own teapot filled with fresh cut red, pink and purple mums, carnations and baby's breath.

Hats, in all styles and colors, old and new, were draped on the backs of chairs and in the main hallway, with a full length mirror for "trying on".

Chairs were draped with mink wraps, antique gloves and delicate purses for "dress up". Buffet tables were filled with individual chicken salad cups, pasta salads, fresh fruit, and of course, sun-dried tomato/olive and fruited tea, open-faced cucumber and tomato/bacon tea sandwiches.

Orange pecan scones were the hit of the afternoon, baked to perfection and sprinkled with just enough sugar!

Cheese wafers and a cream cheese ball with crackers were also served.

The array of food was complemented with peach & raspberry iced tea and a selection of hot teas. Lemon Pound and Red Velvet cakes completed the "tea party" theme.

So what is the Red Hat Society, you ask?

Whatever chapter members make of it!

Each chapter is independently run, and according to the Red Hat Society website, the group describes itself as a "no-rules disorganization", which has no bylaws or rules to follow.

Members believe that having fun and enjoying each other's company is really what matters as we age.

Chapters are open to all women who want to have fun, whether 50, older or younger.

That's the only requirement - well, that and the donning of a red hat and purple outfit (or pink and lavender for those under 50) when going out as a group on a fun adventure.

Today, Red Hatters are frequently spotted at the theater, having tea or just generally out having a great time and attracting attention.

Do you have a Red Hat Society in your community?

For information on how to start a local chapter, please visit the Red Hat Society website.

For information on Meriwether Manor you may call 334/537-9110.