Hats, Gloves and Accessories from the 1930s & 1940s
from the Collection of Sue Fletcher
It didn’t start with the hats. I grew up learning the history and the importance of every piece of furniture, knick-knack, and china (grandma had six sets!) my mom’s family had. Not wealthy by any means, grandma’s purchases were thought-out and deliberate. She bought great pieces to last a lifetime, only to get passed on to the next generation. My grandma came from Ashland, WI, a family of six sisters; Agnes, Elouise, Madelyn, Vera, Helen, and Imelda. The baby was called ‘Honee’, and she remained that until she died. All the sisters and their families settled from Kenosha and Racine, WI to Chicago, IL and South Bend, IN. My mother, Collette, was the first and only daughter and I was the first granddaughter, making me number three in the “pecking” order, as grandma would say. She reminded us always how treasures got passed down. As a small child, it was my job to clean out grandma’s jewelry drawer, the entire huge top drawer with all its compartments would be put on the floor for me to sort and, of course, color coordinate.
As time passed, mom and I had the job of cleaning and sorting my aunts’ homes. In 1991, Grandma Agnes and Aunt Honee were the only sisters living. While cleaning Aunt Honee’s home, a well-meaning cousin had set out all the hats in their boxes on the curb. Luckily, I arrived before the garbage men to save them from the dump. Aunt Honee’s little house in Kenosha was filled with treasures, Fostoria crystal, home-made furniture now called ‘tramp art’, old holiday cards and the newspaper of the Kennedy assassination sitting on the kitchen table. The sisters’ hats have stayed with me all these years, from WI to CA, to be brought out and worn for teas, Christmas parties and other occasions, with friends. I’ve never had all the pieces together (hats, jewelry, gloves, hankies, etc.). I feel really blessed to be surrounded by things my family loved and am always anxious to share with my friends and neighbors, especially the Historical Society of Clayton.
~ Sue Fletcher
View the Exhibit Brochure
Dressing Up for Going Out