Ann Blalock didn't ask for the title, but she was dubbed Queen Mother.
Ann Blalock, the Hardy Hearts of Harlem Red Hats queen mother, gave a presentation at a Red Hat grand meeting in Washington, Ga., in February.
"There's not ladies in waiting that come with that (title)," Blalock jokingly said of the title bestowed on her as the leader of Harlem's Red Hat Society chapter.
The Hardy Hearts of Harlem Red Hats began when four Harlem women, including Blalock, went to a grand meeting in Washington, Ga., which included 150 red hatters from a 75-mile radius.
"I had been talking about having a Red Hat in Harlem," Blalock said. "I know lots of people that would do good in a Red Hat Society. ... The next thing I know, I am the Queen Mother."
After an informational drop-in earlier this year, the Hardy Hearts of Harlem had 25 members and expected as many as 30.
The original Red Hat Society began years ago in Fullerton, Calif., with Sue Ellen Cooper and her kinship to Jenny Joseph's poem Warning, which described an older woman in a red hat and purple clothing. Cooper urged other women of a certain age to gather for tea in full regalia as described in the poem.
From there, the group blossomed with chapters throughout the country.
The only rule is simple - have fun, which is what Cooper did with titles such as Queen Mother, Vice Mother, Anti-Parliamentarian and Mistress of Anxiety, whom Cooper said worries about other members' problems for them so they don't have to.
Blalock and many other Harlem women are involved in city organizations and projects such as the library, the Laurel and Hardy Museum, Historic Preservation, the Harlem Women's Club and so on.
In the Red Hat Society, women are required to do nothing but have a good time and wear red hats and clashing purple outfits.
"The fun thing is you kind of get into the competition about the hats," Blalock said.
Blalock attended a Washington meeting early this year to help get the society started in Harlem. Anyone interested in joining the Hardy Hearts of Harlem can call 556-0043 or Kathy Ham at 556-0401.
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