“This is tradition,” Burton said, smiling and clapping as his cousin walked toward the stage wearing an orange, wide-brimmed hat with a matching orange and cream dress.
Burton was attending the annual hat show, sponsored by the Pandora Art and Social Club, where about 60 people came to help the club raise money. Proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club at the Carver Center, several local food assistance agencies and to the Anniston Foundation in support of the city’s school system, said Georgia Calhoun, who coordinated the event.
Calhoun said the practice of wearing beautiful hats has roots that go back to slavery.
“That was the thing. You didn’t go to church without a hat,” Calhoun said. “It’s a part of our heritage. Right after slavery, when they went to church they would wear a bandana and put a flower in the bandana.”
The show gives them a chance to show off their hats and for a good cause, Calhoun said.
Last year about 200 came to the show, but banquets and football games may have taken a bite out of this year’s turnout, Calhoun explained.
Geanne Collins Williams, 73, bought her hat – purple and white with ribbons of silver running along the edges of a large bow — in Atlanta, but she made the dress to match.
“Sometimes, when I walk into a store and see something, it just seems like, that’s mine right there,” Williams said, speaking of selecting her hat among the many in the store.
Bettye Zeigler White, 70, said the only time she doesn’t wear a hat to her church, 17th Street Baptist in Anniston, is when she’s singing. Otherwise, she’ll have a hat on just like she’s done for many years.
Linda Louvenia Suttle’s hat was made in England. She bought it through a catalogue. The gold-trimmed hat with a tall brim and cream accents wasn’t cheap, she explained, and it’s not the only hat she owns.
“I’ve got one for every suite I’ve got,” Suttle said.
Richard Jackson played saxophone at the show, and explained women’s hats, and the way men dress up a little more for Sunday church, is about more than showing off.
“Your spirit and your being, it’s come as you are,” Jackson said, speaking about attending church service. “But traditionally, Sunday was the day that you did your best. And doing your best includes how you look.”
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.