You know how you get an invitation, or these days an ‘e-vite’ and get excited to go, well, I got one forwarded from my neighbor Bev who is trying to get our neighbors to realize what a treasure our Museum of Seminole County History is.
Kim Nelson, Museum Coordinator for the museum knows how to bring life into an exhibit, she makes them interesting while also adding a dash of history into it, you will find yourself learning something while enjoying yourself.
When I got the email, ‘Enter “Colored” Hats‘,   I looked it over and knew I must find out more about this person, Valada Parker Flewellyn,  local author, storyteller, poet.  Anyone reading poetry is always a draw to me. So off I went while wearing my silly little hat, which was suggested upon coming.  And there I am in the building wearing my goofy little hat with things pinned into it,     a hat I have made my own.  And swirling all around me were beautiful hats of all colors and design in cases and on display.    Now these were real hats, hats  sparking legends  and  historical hats  (That’s Poet, Alexander Pushkin).  Hats loaned by local women, hats loaned by a local business, Claires Hat Boutique.
The hats held mystery,  it had me thinking about being at Deja Vu Boutique on Monday, (this is a photo of the many many hats at Deja Vu.) sale.)  Who were the women who picked out these hats and now no longer wore them, what became of them all?  What were their lives about? Their struggles, their loves and their losses.  What was their story of life capped beneath the brim?  (Catchy Title, Life Beneath the Brim.)
When I grew up, my Nana and the women her age were always perfectly dressed, but wore hats very little. My mother?  I don’t remember a hat on her head. My Aunt Beverly and her sisters wore hats, they were from the south, South Carolina and they dripped of southern honey, accents, beauty, and the proper southern etiquette and attire which included hats.  But me? The child of the 60’s, wore silly clothes,  but no hats,  Wooo, look at me in culottes in highschool in ’68’.  And even as this hippie chick went to college in Mississippi wearing hip hugger, patched jeans,  most of the girls at my school were southern belles, perfectly ‘type cast’ , many in the college yearbook wearing hats.  I saw a lot of hats down there in Gulfport and Biloxi and I saw a lot more than that too, a state absorbed by an atmosphere of turbulent social change  like the rest of America,   “the times they were a changin.”
This was an exhibit about how things evolve and yet, in some ways remain the same. It was easy to see how the women who came to support the exhibit  were comfortable wearing their hats,  these beautiful women were used to a culture that included the hat as a social element cementing their lives to their events. It was well reflected in the poem that Valada sincerely spoke: 
I hope you can click on it and read it.  The writer expressed her thoughts so easily, she has that true poetic soul and vision of someone great. You can look at Valada and see she is someone who easily meshes with people, she’s one of those women who embraces everyone,  draws you close as she hugs you tight and is truly is happy to meet you. She loves her life and has the exuberance to push her cause of finding out the real history behind the hats and to share it.   I love her  wall,     a “Hatalogue”, a composition of local people, politicians, police and others wearing a hat and telling what a hat meant to them.  Her goal was to take all kind of photos with people in hats and post to her wall and make it a traveling show – what a great idea.  She could do so much with that, history lessons galore of all types.
There were poems on the wall, one by previous poet Laureate Billie Collins,   The Death of the Blue Hat.  And poems by our own Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright and Langston Hughes and others too..  There were books on the shelves.  
As Valada talked about hats and history and her wanting to find out more about black history as a child while having a hard time finding information, her mother was able to help guide her to a source, Icabod Flewellen who became the father of the African  Museum.  Icabodflewellenhomepage.htm

Bev, my neighbor and another neighbor came wearing their beautiful hats,  Kim Nelson had on hers too, there were people without hats also so don’t think you can’t come bareheaded, Valada is happy to welcome all who come with open hearts and you will learn a lot and wish she had time to tell you much more. Valada Parker Flewellyn is truly  a divine spirit of love. Her words come at you with vivid meanings, she is gifted and we are extremely fortunate to have such a talent right here in Sanford, Florida. I told her she must get a website or a blog, she must appeal to others to get stories and pictures from all over the world of people and their hats.  Her ‘Hatalogues’ should be incorporated into as many cities and countries as she can get, this should have great mass appeal and “coverage”, haha.  She has been a community writer for the Sanford Herald. Come out tonight, Thursday and meet this dynamic woman in person from 5-7pm at the Museum at 300 Bush Blvd in Sanford, call (407)-665-2489  with questions.  She will lift your spirits, she will breathe light into your soul and you will never forget her and her vision, Enter “Colored” Hats – Now dust off that hat and see her!  Thanks to Bev for e-viting me!
Please note that Valada’s daughter is a professional photographer and was shooting photos for this, her business, And I must admit, my digital point and shoot had to go to Atlanta for servicing and I had the DSLR and a small Kodak that Adam lent me, I took horrendous photos last night, I could not get many of the closeup pictures unblurred and Adam’s camera I could not figure out the right settings  or even how to find the settings on that tiny camera that became a slippery fish slipping out of my hands!. I realize I am an advanced digital point and shoot girl!  So bear with me on these blurred images that I have had to ‘rev’ up a bit with photoshop.