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Red Hatter Chris Boward. Photo by David Broughton Red Hatter Chris Boward. Photo by David Broughton

as hats turn red

The Red Hatters have grown into a massive sisterhood across the world. Even in Clark Fork, Idaho, Red Hats are stared at when they waltz into a café for their meetings. Founded in Clark Fork by Billie Presley, they are a fellowship of 14 to 16 members and several permanent guests.

Each chapter of Red Hatters are different, some organized and some not so organized. According to Clark Fork/Hope Queen Mum Christine Boward,  their  sisterhood is a fun-loving, somewhat crazy group of women, who tend to lean towards the semi-organized side.

The Red Hat society actually began by accident in California when one friend gave another friend a red hat and a copy of the poem, “Warning” by Jenny Joseph.

 “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

with a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves...” it begins.

Now there are conventions across almost every continent, and hats ranging from extremely simple, to outrageously extravagant. Chris says that sometimes they get women from chapters in Bonners Ferry and even as far away as Canada stopping by during their lunches.  

The Clark Fork/Hope chapter strives to keep things fun, yet affordable, so that no one feels they cannot be a member. Meetings are a time of gathering, supporting each other, and basically staying on top of life.

Chris and the other Red Hatters are often seen in local parades. “We love to show our colors,” Chris grins. ”We are way past being embarrassed!”

While 55 is the age you must be to become a red hat lady, there are pink ladies, for those “underage” women who still want to be involved. Chris Boward also has the power to make princesses, who at this time are Roberta Berdine and Jeannie Roach; both ladies are involved in sending cards to support the Red Hatters emotionally.

Debbie Bullis knows well how important the Red Hat support is. Debbie recently went through breast cancer and knows how the red hat relationships work. “I am blessed by the women in our chapter, their friendship, knowing we are there for each other. We are a real sisterhood,” Chris says.

There will soon be a convergence of Red Hatters in Spokane, and over 800 women will be involved. Their theme is the Roaring Twenties. Red Hatters do love an excuse to wear a costume!

If you think you’re about ready to wear a red hat, and you live in the Bonner’s Ferry area, get in touch with Jan Scott and the Bonnie Babes via email at [email protected] If you’re in the Sandpoint area, Meg Frost is the lady you want to speak with regarding the Sandpoint Red Hats Rascals. You can call her at 208-263-4916.

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Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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