Short Stories by Pat Nelson

Just for Fun

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By Pat Nelson
Freelance writer living in Woodland, WA

There were more poodles at the Kelso Elks Saturday than you'd see at a dog show…poodle skirts, that is. Felt skirts in all colors, but predominantly in red and purple, swished and swirled as 200 members of the Red Hat Society celebrated its ninth birthday. Ladies attended from Longview, Kelso, Woodland, Portland, Scappoose, Rainier, Shelton, Yelm, Olympia, and Tacoma.

The Red Hat Society is made up of women aged 50 and over, plus some wanna-be's under 50, so it seems fitting that these girls chose to celebrate with a 1950's theme. Black-and-white- checkered tablecloths stretched across the tables. Centerpieces of bears dressed in red and purple sat atop old records. Musical notes on the walls of the room seemed to sing out the tunes of proms past.

With the handiwork of Darolyn Brown and others, the stage was transformed into Ruby's Malt Shoppe, complete with rich-looking malts and chrome-trimmed bar stools. You couldn't miss the painted form of Red Hat Ruby lying on her stomach on the malt-shoppe counter, chin in hands, one high-heeled leg kicked sassily up in the air.

Birthday cake and punch were served, but the real highlight was the entertainment. There were readings and jokes, poems, and stories. A group of ladies performed with decorated stick horses, and another group performed to "Splish Splash." Jo Anne Conrath played so many tunes on her kazoo that her musical talent left the audience breathless. Hilarious skits were performed, causing hat feathers to wave in the air as heads were thrown back in laughter. Tapestry, a local group of tap dancers, most members aged 50 and over, entertained with two energetic numbers.

Many ladies won baskets in prize drawings, and Andy Dickey (Miss Mousey) of the Red Hat Tamales won the raffle prize, a beautiful red hat quilt.

Before the party was over, Elvis made a surprise appearance. Hips gyrating, he moved across the stage singing the songs that memories are made of. Red Hat Ruby looked on from her spot on the malt shoppe counter. I could imagine her saying, "Elvis lives, and so do you. You're never too old to have fun."

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