Monday, May 22, 2017

Hats on parade at "Tea With Lynn"

Last Thursday at the McRitchie-Hollis Museum in Newnan, I had the pleasure of attending a program and tea sponsored by the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society, "Tea With Lynn." The speaker was Lynn Smith, a renowned local hat collector and beloved Newnan figure. I am quite pleased that Lynn also happens to be our longtime State Representative from Newnan. She works hard, doesn't seek the limelight, quietly reads bills and studies the issues, is well-respected for her leadership on environmental stewardship, and has never embarrassed us. I hope she serves forever.

Because Lynn donated her collection of 500-plus hats (many with hat boxes) to the historical society, they have a special exhibit of her hats on display. When I was a newspaper reporter many years ago, I actually interviewed Lynn about her collection, so I've followed with interest her adventures in hat collecting. Her display at the museum chronicled some of her collection, and this laminated feature page from 1990 looked familiar—and that's because I took the photos!

I was intrigued to learn about Lynn's early hat-collecting influences, such as her "Aunt Rosemary," who used to sweep down from New York, swathed in mink from head to toe and making an impression on her young niece. Lynn said she learned about fashion from her aunt, and she learned how to shop the great New York department stores—you shopped in the basement where things were more budget friendly.

Lynn's husband was in the military, so as a young bride she learned to stretch a budget. She said she visited estate sales and garage sales to find items for her home, and it was there she began to notice old designer hats for as little as a dollar. By that time few women wore hats anymore, so she started collecting them. And as we all know, one collection leads to another.

Lynn also collected magazines and books featuring hats.

And even some artwork of hats and hatboxes.

One of the most special "hat stories" she told was of one I knew about but had forgotten. In 2000, Lynn was chosen to greet Prince Philip when he came to Newnan to open the Slumberland USA mattress manufacturing facility. As the highest-ranking elected official in town, Lynn was contacted by the British embassy, and someone politely suggested that it might be appropriate if she were to wear gloves and a hat when she greeted the Prince. The gloves were actually pretty easy to find, she said, and she eventually found a hat that matched the suit she had chosen to wear.

Beautiful, isn't it?

After her program, the several dozen women in attendance got to ask questions, tour the house and hat collection, and partake of teatime treats courtesy of the historical society. We got to enjoy selections of Twinings Tea along with chicken salad and cucumber sandwiches, mini eclairs, delicious scones served with jam and cream, and some shortbread.

What a great way to celebrate an afternoon with a lovely woman and her lovely hats!


  1. Oh, my word, what a wonderful post, Angela!!!!!

    WOW! what a gal - what a fabulous history (and collection!)

    And what a treat that day was for you all.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. I completely with Michelle!

  3. WOW! What a great collection. This is so interesting,thank you sharing.

  4. I wish more women would wear tea hats - I have 3 and seldom get a chance to wear them unless I want to draw attention to myself. lol

  5. I wish hats would come back in fashion. Thanks for sharing your day with us

  6. What a great event to attend. Wish Newnan was closer [for more reasons than one!].


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