Des Moines Tribune
Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa
February __, 1951
by Herb OWENS
LEON, IA. – Women’s millinery, flashed before the eyes of many men – mostly husbands – has often brought out a painfully subdued question, “How crazy can they get?” As an unexpected guest at the “crazy hat” dinner meeting of the Leon Business and Professional Women’s club, I can say the possibilities are limitless.

Mrs. Vera MIDGORDEN, jail matron and wife of the Decatur county sheriff, wore a man’s black derby with “four roses” prominent across the front, a miniature liquor bottle dangling in back.

Madeline CRAIG, who operates the Bus Depot café, had assembled two large buns on a paper pie plate, with lettuce ruffles and a “hot dog” feather.

Bonnie McCALLUM, substitute teacher and wife of the Methodist minister, wore a collegiate mortar board formed of diapers, the tassel formed of linked safety pins.
Frances LOVETT, beauty operator, combined bobby pins, hair nets, combs and a commercial waving pad container in a number which would make Schiaparelli blush.

Bertha HIBNESS, former Des Moines decorating expert who now operates a similar business from a farm home, wore a strawfilled basket – with fresh pullet eggs from her own henhouse.

Facing ultimate scorn from the contestants, the Rev. John McCALLUM and Robert BURDETTE, former Decatur county attorney, used all the guiding powers of their professions and blushingly selected two winners.

FIRST PLACE Mrs. Idavee CROSE, news writer, won first place with “The Greatest Show on Earth,” a big top for sure. Her hat, a yard high, was formed of circus posters, plumed white horses circling the brim.

Mrs. Julia STONE, farm wife and former drug clerk, was runner-up with a “farmyard,” complete with fence, straw, windmills and miniature livestock.

When the Rev. Mr. McCALLUM spoke of difficulty because the hats “weren’t much different’ than those the women wore every day, he faced a horrible threat. If so, the women said, they’d wear them to church on Sunday.

Just about the time a visitor was getting the idea that all was insanity at the meeting, the crazy hats came off – and the club dived into a serious discussion of “the problems of normal persons.”

Miss Margaret MEEK, high school principal, discussed the worries, fears, inner conflicts and frustrations of normal students – and explained the many measures taken by teachers and educators to bring about proper mental adjustments.

“PREVENTIVE LAW”BURDETTE, a guest on the panel, explained the use of “preventive law” – as compared to preventive medicine – in eliminating people’s troubles “before they happen.” He said many worries could be avoided if people would seek legal advice before they act.

Mrs. CROUSE, wife of an automobile dealer, relayed highway safety information regarding “Emotional Factors in Driving.” Many discourtesies, tactical errors, reckless actions and other accident causes are the result of “nerves” – emotional reaction to situations not associated with driving.

All in all, it became a very serious session on normal behavior and the problems which best it.

Before the gavel of adjournment fell, I began to feel as if I were the only abnormal guest at the dinner. My emotions were stabilized, however, as all the serious business women broke out into smiles.

You see, they still had to pick up their crazy hats and go home.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker
SOURCE: genealogical and historical clippings of Pearle
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