Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Leopard Hat

This morning, when I read Garance Dore's post about leopard shoes, I was reminded of my Aunt Ruth.

This was her hat, and as mentioned in Garance's post, Ruth was one of those "old ladies" (although, I never thought of her as old) who always had a little leopard or animal print in her wardrobe.  She gave this hat to me a few years ago before she passed away at the age of 93.  I only remember seeing her wear it in pictures -- maybe from the 50's & 60's.  In a way, this hat says so much about her.  She had a flawless sense of style and perfect taste, but it wasn't that boring all put together perfectly matched sort of style that so many women of her generation wore.  No, there was always some little interesting twist in the way she dressed (not only herself but her home as well) - a little something unusual like the antique locket inherited from a maiden aunt and emerald green enameled watch worn on a thick old gold chain, a casually tied scarf in an unexpected color, and of course, leopard print shoes . . .  some little something that set her apart from the ordinary.  In fact, ordinary was highly frowned upon.  One of our last missions (we always had shopping quests when I visited her in Austin) was to find more "spotted shoes", as the ones she had were getting a little worn.  I think she was about 89 years old at the time.  Don't you love that?  I do.  
Oh, and after all our shopping was done, there might be a stop at the liquor store to replinish her supply of bourbon which she drank with bitters and a slice of orange (blood orange if possible).  And she only had one or maybe two drinks per night, thank you very much, 
no sloppy, unladylike overindulgence here.

(Aunt Ruth c. 2001)

She was also one of the funniest (had a wonderfully droll sense of humor) and smartest ladies I've ever known.  She knew everything -- about everything -- but was never pompous or acted like a 'know it all' even though she did -- know it all ^.^.  When we would visit, Mr. FC and Aunt Ruth would sit with their respective cocktails and talk for ages about Texas/U.S./World history, politics, sports, literature, wars (present and past) -- everything under the sun while I sat there like a bump on a log -- often having no idea who/what (especially sports ;-) they were talking about but still enjoying these conversations immensely.  Whatever happened to the art of conversation anyway? Which reminds me, Aunt Ruth never ever had a television in her living room.  It was discreetly tucked away in her bedroom and only turned on at night -- mostly for news and Johnny Carson.  Hmmmm, makes me wonder if this had something to do with her wondrous accumulation of literary knowledge?

This is our adorable Leah playing dress up in Aunt Ruth's hat and muff -- taken a few years ago.  It's sitting on the dresser in the guest room where Leah stays when she comes to visit (again soon I hope!).

 Leah never got to meet Aunt Ruth, but I hope she feels that she knows her in a way -- maybe through her leopard hat, you think?  I do.

P.S. And yes, I have accumulated a few pairs of animal print shoes over the years, but I'll never ever be the stylish lady my Aunt Ruth was, no matter how many pairs of  "spotted shoes" I have ^v^.

♥ ♥  ♥



stitching under oaks said...

what a wonderful tribute to your aunt...she sounds like such a wonderfully interesting person. I love that you display her hat in your home. I'm sure she'd smile about that.

wayside wanderer said...

I love this story and I also really like the way you have it displayed. The picture is so adorable, too. That is the sort of decorating I can get into...the kind with history and meaning. Just lovely!

Firefly said...

Oh thank you so much! She was remarkable, and I could go and on about her but . . . ;-).

Kristyn Knits said...

how wonderful your memories are! and the hat and leah keep them alive!

Jessica said...

What a poignant and beautiful description of Aunt Ruth. She was exceptional wasn't she? So are you! You absolutely DO have every bit as much style and sharp witted intelligence as she did! No question!!! I aspire to be more like you mommy! Love!

Pom Pom said...

She has such a warm smile, doesn't she? Oh, the smiles are the best accessory, aren't they?

Renna said...

Your Aunt Ruth sounds like she was a real class act. How blessed you were to have her. :-)

Firefly said...

Yes, I/we were very lucky to have her. I didn't have a grandmother (both died early in life), so Ruth was kind of a grandmother/aunt to me.
Thank you so much for stopping by & taking time to leave a comment

From All Stitched Up said...

Great story about Aunt Ruth. I think I need something with an animal print !

dottycookie said...

She sounds like a wonderful lady - your description makes me wish I'd met her too!

Thanks so much for your good wishes earlier. As it turns out, the fair was a washout, but you live and learn!

Karen said...

Ah, I love reading Garance's blog. What a lovely hat.

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