Flowers, Feathers, and Fedoras

Dec 19, 2018 | 2 comments

You seldom see umbrellas here on the Peninsula.  It’s just a fact of life.  On the days when you’d really need one, the rain is coming sideways and the winds would blow any self-respecting bumbershoot inside out in a trice.  Or more likely, right out of your hand and down the road. We who live here are at two (or maybe three or four) with umbrellas.

I think it’s always been that way here at the beach. But it’s not necessarily a northwest thing.  Nyel says that when he first arrived at the ‘U’ in the early sixties, one of the things he noticed was that everybody on campus carried an umbrella.  So why there and not here?  And why in my girlhood did my mother carry an umbrella in California but not when we were in Oysterville, even in the wintertime.

I have been pondering these somewhat drippy thoughts intermittently (like the rain these last few days) since the phone call I received asking about a golf umbrella left in the vestibule of the church.  “My husband used it the day of the Christmas Program to help people get into the church without getting drenched,” the caller said.

I knew exactly what she meant.  The gutter over the small porch roof has given way and the raindrops line up there so that they can rush in torrents down your neck as you enter the church.  It’s a problem that’s being taken care of but, in the meantime… an umbrella is the only answer.  On Sunday afternoon the man with the golf umbrella (like the doorman at a fancy hotel) helped many of us arrive at the program comfortably dry.  A hero with a golf umbrella at the Oysterville Christmas Program!  Who’d a thunk it?

I wonder if the use of umbrellas is dependent upon how we are dressed.  I don’t remember my mother wearing fancy hats with feathers and flowers here in Oysterville when we came for visits.  She left those “dress-for-the-city” outfits (including hats) behind right along with her umbrella when she came here during vacations.  No feathering or flowering headwear to protect.  And, in the London of my younger days, when every businessman wore a fedora or a bowler, an umbrella was insurance against having to take the hat for re-blocking at the haberdashery.  But are bowlers and brollies still de rigueur on Fleet Street?

Here, where slickers and sou’westers were the uniform-of-the-day, maybe umbrellas weren’t considered necessary.  And nowadays, dressing up isn’t likely to include a fancy chapeau for the ladies or a fedora for the men.  I wonder how many ‘locals’ even own an umbrella… or, if they do, where and when they last used it.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t going to the Oysterville Church last Sunday!


  1. Bruce Jones

    My Mom, growing up in Ilwaco, said she was 12 before she learned that rain could fall straight down. She had never seen it do so and never bothered with umbrellas.

  2. Dian Schroeders

    I actually have two umbrellas, one lives in the front foyer closet – the other in the way-back in my car … don’t think either has ever gotten wet. But they remain, each in their place “just in case”.


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