A Story of A Hood

I came across this passage in Peterson’s that I just had to share. Not only does it talk about a type of hood, it says a bit about society and fashion in a small town. The article is called “A Story About Peterson’s” by “A Minister’s Wife”, from the November, 1862 edition.

“Rigolettes, as they are called, were not in fashion: that is, they had not penetrated to Woodstock, there being as I have hinted, only one Peterson in the place, and that was mine. When the women did not wear their best, they generally came out in homely cape-bonnets, which, if they were plain, did not improve their looks, and, if they were pretty, almost deformed them. I saw a beautiful pattern in Peterson, and, as I always considered it a duty to look as well as I could, I forthwith devoted my spare time to manufacturing one of the aforesaid rigolettes. (By-the-way, that isn’t a pretty name for them.) I knit it in plain colors, blue and drab, I believe, and, when it was finished, it was really an exquisite thing, at once convenient and becoming.

“What! Are you going  to dare wear that to the prayer-meeting?” asked Ward, after he admired it sufficiently to suit even my fastidious taste.

“To be sure I am. What could possibly be neater?” was my reply.

“Nothing – if you are prepared to be victimized. It is new, and the Woodstockers resent every innovation. Besides, you look so provokingly pretty, that they will be jealous, even of the minister’s wife!”

“Let them say and think what they please,” was my rejoinder. “I shall not care. When I put my dress on, whatever it is, there is and end of it – it never enters my mind again. If they are weak-minded enough to allow distracting thoughts of any kind to disturb them in such a place, that is their fault, not mine. To be sure, I shall wear my new, pet head-gear.” And I did. Some were foolish enough to stare – no doubt others made invidious remarks, but it did not vex me in the least.

The next day, pretty Annette Sawyer, one of the sweetest girls in the church, came over to the parsonage.

“I must see that beautiful hood, – no, not exactly hood – you wore last night, “ she said, after her good-morning kiss. I brought it for her inspection. She tried it on, and had enough human nature to be pleased with the sweet pink and white face, whose freshness was enhanced by the rich shades of the rigolette.

“It’s just the thing. Where did you get it? If I only had the pattern, I’d make one right off. Haven’t you the pattern?”

“My dear, I paid two dollars for the privilege of using it.” I said, quietly.

“You did? Oh! Dear me; then I can’t have one!”

“Oh! yes, you can. Come over here with your materials, and I’ll show you all about it.”

“Thank you – how kind you are! the best minister’s wife I ever saw.” I knew by the emphasis on the I, that she had heard some disparaging remarks about me, but forbore to question her. She was a constant visitor for the next week, and there were soon two rigolettes to be seen in Woodstock. From that time they multiplied. Cape-bonnets were discarded in summer; and in winter, pumpkin hoods were replaced by warm, thick, but lighter and more convenient wool.


Published in: on September 27, 2011 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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