Easter hats in all shapes, sizes, and styles showed up Friday at the Hillsboro Senior Center noon meal, thanks to a special invitation to area seniors from director Brenda Moss.
“We just don’t get to wear these hats at other times of the year. They used to be such a big thing,” Moss said.
RuthAnn Penner wore a colorful silk flowered hat to lunch Friday that her mother wore when RuthAnn was a child.
“My mother, Olga Pankratz, always wore a hat on Sunday,” Penner said. “Back in those days Hillsboro had a millinery store, Schaefflers, and they had a whole room of hats. I remember as children we loved to go along with mom when she was getting a new hat.”
Penner attended Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church near Goessel as a child and said she remembered almost all the women wore hats back then in the ‘40s and ‘50s, especially on Easter Sunday.
“I don’t think they were terribly expensive,” she said. “Almost everybody had them.”
Penner said that she still had one or two of her own hats, with the most important one being one she got for her church engagement announcement.
“When Willis and I were engaged, I wore a brand new outfit and matching hat,” she said. “I still have that one. That was in 1951 or 1952. They were still popular then.”
Penner said she was not quite sure when women quit wearing hats for Easter, Sundays, and other special occasions. She still has about a dozen of her late mother’s hats, bringing them out for tea parties when her grandchildren were younger.
“My granddaughters always enjoyed wearing them with me,” she said. “It’s something that is not in style anymore but we have fun with it.”
Helen Fenstermacher brought one of the oldest hats to the special Easter meal Friday in Hillsboro. The black velvet band combined with black netting belonged to her grandmother.
“This hat was always very special,” Fenstermacher said. “Grandmother took very good care of it and so have I. She wore it very seldom, and only on very special occasions.”
Fenstermacher even brought a picture of her grandmother in the hat with her to the Friday meal at the senior center.
“This really has been fun to see all the hats,” Moss said. “We even had several pairs of bunny ears come to lunch in honor of the holiday.”
Moss gave several prizes out to hat-wearers Friday, including one to the only man who wore his Easter hat, Kermit Ratzlaff.
“Men used to wear nice hats to church on Sunday and for Easter too,” Moss said. “We can’t forget them.”