Warning – When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
By Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
and learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Jenny Joseph’s poem has become an anthem for the largest women’s group in the world, which a bunch of rambunctious, rowdy, but very classy ladies of Nederland joined last year. On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Nederland Red Hat Ladies, Joseph Chapter, celebrated their one-year anniversary at the Pioneer Inn. They were red-hatted for the most part except for Marilyn Fagerstrom who wore a straw-colored hat because she didn’t have a red hat.
Ned’s Red Hat ladies are the Joseph Chapter because they are the coat of many colors group and will accept what anyone feels like wearing. After all, the point of the group is to be individual and to have fun and to put some color into life and living.
The founder of the Society, Artist Sue Ellen Cooper, Orange County, California, gave a friend a 55th birthday gift consisting of a red bowler purchased at an antique store along with a copy of Jenny Joseph’s poem “Warning” in 1977. The idea spread like wildfire and societies sprung up in towns all over the country.
Last year, Nederland’s senior event shaker Jan Tofoya realized there was a need for women 55 and older to get together just for fun, to support each other without the ties of a formal organization. In Dec. 2011 she registered the group with the formal international society and Nederland became official.
They started with 10 people and had their first luncheon at the Pioneer Inn. Since then, they have dined at local restaurants once a month to support the local economy. They have also attended concerts, museums and supported Theresa Bradley’s benefit with the Boulder Big Band at the Stage Stop last spring. They have had up to 25 people, but average about a dozen for each meeting.
Their next outing will be at Connor O’Neill’s Irish Pub on St. Patrick’s Day. Watch out, Boulder. Ned Reds are on the loose. Later in the month, the ladies will get together with the Allenspark group, to spread the joy of spontaneity and color.
On Tuesday, it was all about the Nedhead Reds.
Rosalie Bargmann said she enjoyed the bawdy times. Linnea Girovon said the group tells the world that the ladies are never too old for silliness.
“It shows all of us old birds can still cackle together,” said Judy McDougall. “We try to make up for the sobriety of youth,” said Anne Snow.
“I’ve worked in two tearooms, and what I’d experienced with different hat hatters is they just come, gather, laugh, love and share stories. I never thought I’d love it so much myself.”