Celebrating National Hat Day Chicago Style

It was January 14 and tomorrow was Madge’s favorite holiday, National Hat Day. Her Mad Hatters Society Facebook group would be celebrating the day with a virtual tea party on Skype at 2:00 pm central time.   It was well into the second week of cold, gray days in Atlanta. Mr. Madge was on the road and the weather had Madge feeling very grumpy. Two of our Mad Hatters, Mary and Iris had started the tea idea since they planned to meet at the Palmer House in Chicago to celebrate the occasion.

Now Madge loves a grand old hotel and there are few grander than the Palmer House, which has held court on State Street since 1873. Madge also loves Chicago and it had been well over 15 years since she had been back to Chi town. The weather for Atlanta next day – 40º with more rain. Madge checked Chicago.  It would be 32º and sunny. There was only one thing to do.   After a nod from Mr. Madge, she traded in some Delta points and was on a plane at 8:00 am the next morning.  There was a tea party to attend.

historic palmer house postcard, chicago

This was a special trip.  Mary was the very first customer at Madge’s Hatbox. The shop had just opened and Madge was debating about listing a damaged but beautiful G Howard Hodge hat. In the end she decided to list it on the off chance someone would want it. It was just too pretty to toss.  Well by the next morning, it had been purchased by Mary, which started a wonderful online friendship. Even though Madge and Mary were fast friends they had never met. This would be the day.

G. Howard Hodge hat

Madge arrived at O’Hare and it was indeed glorious Chicago weather. Madge cabbed it and was whisked away to the Palmer House.  The room wasn’t ready so Madge ensconced herself in a high-back lobby chair to scope out the scene. Madge was incognito, hoping to surprise her fellow mad hatters but it was going to be a bit tricky. Since neither lady posted their photo on Facebook, Madge did not know what they looked like.

About an hour later, with Madge’s nose in her laptop, two elegant ladies walked into the lobby.  Madge threw a sideways glance. One was wearing a teardrop fascinator and the other was in a dark brown pillbox with a veil and a lovely full-length mink.  Just then the front desk buzzed that Madge’s room was ready. It was perfect timing. She would repair to her room while the ladies settled into the restaurant. 

15 minutes later, Madge strode through the lobby in her fabulous Giles Paris chapeau and made a beeline to the Lockwood Restaurant. There’s no better feeling than striding through a grand hotel lobby in a hat! Well, the ladies were completely surprised and we had a delightful lunch. It was wonderful to finally meet Mary and Iris and we swapped hat stories for several hours. Between the two of them, they must own over 500 hats! At 2:00 pm Madge fired up Skype and we toasted our fellow mad hatters worldwide. We ogled all the wonderful hats everyone posted as the party unfolded around the world. What Fun!

Celebration national hat day in Chicago
Iris in her lovely "New York Creations" hat; Mary, center in her teardrop fascinator and Madge in her Giles.

All in all, there wasn’t a better way to celebrate National Hat Day.


Coming up:  Iris Shows Madge the Town!

Love & Hats Madge
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Adrienne LaCava
10 years ago

I love this story! You’re such an adventuress, Pam. Palmer House made me smile really big too Would have loved to seen you strut through that lobby!

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