© Daily Herald
Members of the Scarlett O’Hatters (left to right) Bunny Tatlow, Jean Alston, Marina Thorpe, and Gail Balone enjoy tea at the Mont St. Joseph home’s Auxiliary tea and bake sale Saturday. Herald Photo by Eric Bell
For the Scarlett O’Hatters, retirement isn’t about trading in a career for an easy chair and daytime television. Instead, it’s all about getting out and doing the things they never had time to do while they were working.
“We’ve worked and done volunteering most of our lives, and now that we are all 50 and over, it’s time to enjoy ourselves,” said retired nurse and O’Hatters member Gail Balone. “So we go to museums or go to shows at the Rawlinson Centre. Basically We have a good time. We love going for luncheons and teas, and we like supporting community events.”
The group of red-hatted retirees met at the Mount St. Joseph Care home Saturday to enjoy tea and cupcakes as part of the home’s auxiliary fundraiser. Laughing and joking in their wild and spectacular outfits, the ladies often tend to become the centre of attention at events like this.
“When people see us, they always stare, they laugh, they honk their horns at us,” member Marina Thorpe said. “They are usually quite amused to see us, they always look at us with a smile.”
It’s hard not to smile when you see them all dressed up. Part of the fun of being a member of the O’Hatters is the clothing.
“We get our clothes anywhere and everywhere, from the best stores, all the way down to the second hand stores,” says Elaine “Bunny” Tatlow, sporting a 25 year-old purple tweed suit jacket, floppy red hat and purple boa. The red clutch she carries is so old that it’s almost back in style again.
The Scarlett O’Hatters came together 12 years ago as a way to get out and enjoy retired life, rather than spending it indoors and letting the years pass them by. They were the first group of hatters in Prince Albert, but several different clubs have formed in the city. The number of red-hatted women in Prince Albert now exceeds 70.
For Bunny Tatlow, the best part of being in the group is the laid- back attitude that everyone has, a symptom of no longer having to deal with the everyday stresses of work and family.
“We have so much fun,” Tatlow said. “We don’t have any rules and regulations, but we do have is a wonderful time. It’s just about getting together with people, most of whom you’ve never met. We end up becoming lifelong friends.”
The group meets a minimum of once a month, for activities that range from having high tea at the Delta in Saskatoon, attending a chocolate convention, or going to a conference featuring other red hat groups.
“We went to a convention in Saskatoon, and there was a room full of about 300 womean all in red hats. It really took your breath away,” Thorpe said.
Though the group is mostly made up of pensioners, you don’t have to be retired to join.
Bonnie Chubak became a member over a decade ago, and just recently earned her red hat when she turned 50 in March.
“People ask me ‘why do you hang out with those ladies?,’” Chubak said. “I answer “because they are fun, they are hilarious!’ We have lots of good laughs. They don’t care anymore. They’ve been there, they’ve done that. It’s just lots of fun.”
The O’Hatters take anyone interested in joining with open arms, and quite often, with a hot cup of tea.
“People ask us how to become members,” Hatter Jean Alston said. “I just say ‘How about I pick you up next Thursday?’”