My Grandma Nanny wore hats. She had a closet full of them, all packed in hat boxes from various Dept. stores, milliners and dress shops. I remember lots of feathers, fabric flowers and french-netting. The hats were worn along with high heeled pumps chosen from her vast collection, incredible clip-on earrings and beautiful diamond estate jewelry, to accessorize well tailored suits and dresses. Of course, underneath it all was a sturdy girdle, whose clips held up fine silk stockings and a lacey, albeit sturdily constructed, brassiere.
These were donned for occasions that, now, would warrant the most casual of attire: Dr. visits, shopping, hair appointments and CLUB. Nanny belonged to the El Monte Women's Club and the Garden Club. Membership in both came with the bonus of luncheons, many luncheons. Being Nanny's eldest grand-daughter came with the bonus of occasionally accompanying Nanny to these soirees, I likewise dressed in my Sunday best.
I remember the Garden Club luncheons as a collage of flowers, compliments, food and proper femininity. Round tables, with white linens fluttering in the breeze, were crowned with beautiful flower arrangements. The ladies sitting around the table were all adorned with lovely, colorful hats perched on their stiff, gray coiffures. From high overhead it would have seemed many giant, white centered, flowers had been strewn across the lawn.
The luncheon served was usually an array of beautifully prepared salads such as; Jello, fruit, chicken, tossed-green, pasta, potato... Warm, yeasty rolls and iced tea were a given and it was all topped off with delicious dessert.
There are two luncheon foods that I still "get a hankerin' for"; Garden Club Salad and Chocolate Oatmeal Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting. Although it was a favorite when I was a kid,I know that the appeal of the Garden Club salad may have much to do with the occasion of its being served. I actually haven't made or eaten it for many, many years. I am including the Garden Club Salad recipe but I've lost Nanny's recipe for the cake. Anyone out there have one?
Garden Club Salad
1 sm. "red" jello
1 sm. can crushed pineapple. Drain and save juice.
1 sm. can grated(julienned) beets
1 Tbl. vinegar or lemon juice
Make jello using pineapple juice for part of liquid needed.
Add pineapple and beets when jello is partly set.
Serve with small dallop of sour cream.