Grandma’s Funeral and the Great Hat Feud

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I love this story my mother told me as a kid. I never met Grandma Perkins, who from all reports was an old war horse. Neither my mother nor my grandmother had a warm thing to say about her, so I feel no guilt in sharing this tale. Also, from what I heard, she had plenty of axes to grind with relatives she actually met, so surely she won’t bother with haunting me for speaking ill of her.

Grandma Perkins always said she loved a good fight. Well, she must have died happy, because she and her daughter-in-law had a whing-dinger going when she had a stroke and keeled over. Ruby Nell was a sweet woman and didn’t usually get into it with Grandma, but hadn’t been able to avoid her that day. Her sons, Dave and Harry, and their luckless wives, Ruby Nell and Ethel, had both built houses on Grandma and Grandpa’s place, so Grandma felt free “straighten them girls out” whenever they needed it. Ruby Nell was making pickles when Grandma decided to come over and straighten her out. If she’d given over, Grandma would have ruined the whole batch of much needed pickles. Enraged, Grandma threw a fit, had a stroke, and died on the spot. Of course, poor Ruby Nell felt awful.

Having been the object of Grandma’s temper many times, the other family members tried to console Ruby Nell, but she felt so guilty, she insisted she couldn’t possibly go to the funeral. Finally, her friends and family reminded her of how she been like a daughter to her, despite Grandma’s frequent fits. It could have been any of them that day. Ruby Nell had been the best of all to Grandma. Dave assured her, “Mama knew you loved her. You have to go to the funeral.” Then the clincher, “What will the neighbor’s think?”

After all this loving reassurance, Ruby Nell decided she had manage the funeral after all, but didn’t want to face the small-minded gossips to shop for a new hat for the funeral. She had a new, black bombazine that looked great on her, but she couldn’t show her face without a hat. Her friends, probably the same gossips she was hoping to avoid, showed up bringing all their best, hoping to spare her tender feelings. Hat after hat covered Ruby Nell’s bed: veiled black felts, sequined hats with feathers, cloques with wide ribbon bands. Though, Ruby Nell had never had access to such a plethora of millinery finery, she wisely chose the veiled, black felt, to best hide her tear-stained eyes.

Once Ruby Nell made her dowdy choice, her sisters-in-law Ethel and Maude, Grandma’s unmarried daughter descended on the delightful confection of frothy hats. Both immediately laid claim the loveliest of the lot, a forest-green fedora trimmed with a stunning green band and jaunty plume. It was unbelievable to find such a beauty on loan! They almost pulled it apart! Their argument got quite loud with Maude screeching “it ought ‘a be against the law for a fat little dishwater-blonde like you to be wearing a beautiful hat that, when I’ve got this beautiful red hair!” Harry got concerned about the neighbors seeing a “hair pulling” then and took Ethel out to buy her own new hat.

Smugly satisfied, Maude, proudly wore that gorgeous hat to the funeral. She was a vain woman, proud of her secretarial position down at the bank. Though the hats had been loaned to Ruby Nell, Maude scooped them up, taking them next door where she still lived with her father and recently deceased mother. Those lovely hats made appearances regulary over the next couple of weeks at the bank. Embarrassed in front of her friends, Ruby Nell finally had to have Dave go next door and collect them to be returned to her friends.


Nutsrok Meets VanBytheRiver


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Okay, Now that Van, from Vanbytheriver has posted about our meeting last week, I have to catch you up.  It was so much fun.  I sent her a picture, but she swore she’d know me anywhere.  I guess she didn’t think there would be that many round ladies in a blue-and-white gingham checked shirt and white knee pants with wild silver hair grinning like a possum and waving like mad on the Septa Platform.  Believe it or not, it turns out she was right.  I knew her the minute I saw her!  She had a smile a mile wide, probably because she was anticipating a  serial killer and pleased I didn’t look the part, so if you’re looking for a convincing serial killer disguise, try mine. Turns out, my daughter had warned me that Van might be a serial killer, till I reminded her I’d set up the meeting.  Wouldn’t it have been an amazing coincidence if we had both been serial killers stalking each other instead of WordPress bloggers meeting up for the first time?  What a premise for a story!

We laughed and swapped stories like we’d grown up together.  I feel like she’s my sister, now.  We tried on hats in a consignment shop. Van looked adorable in the cute little paper hat with a flower.  I looked like a crazed Southern Belle in my white veiled wedding hat.  All I needed was a mint julep to complete the picture.  You’ve probably already wondered what in the world in was doing in that hat in my Ask Auntie Linda pictures.  Well that explains it.  I did end up getting a complete set of Roger’s Silver Plate for eight in a lovely case for $42.  I just love vintage stuff.  I had more fun than I’ve had in such a long time.  I wish I could meet all my WordPress friends.  If you ever want a meetup, let me know.  If you haven’t read Van’s article, please check link above.  She is not a serial killer, as far as I know.