“I’m gathering proof of my family lineage to apply to the Daughters of the American Revolution,” my friend Connie said a year ago.
I wasn’t surprised. Throughout our long, intermittent friendship, I’ve observed her zeal for family history and community service. What little I knew of the DAR, the organization seemed a good fit for her.
Women of like minds, I recalled my McCoy family history, the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud – not as honorable as the George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson legacies.
With these national leaders and literature like Andrea Wulf’s “Founding Gardeners,” my interest in the history of the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, and Constitutional Convention grew.
However, without my forerunners’ birth and marriage certificates, how could I obtain proof of an “ancestor who aided in achieving American independence”?
I had little time to pursue such documentation. Sustaining my household, writing, life, gardens, a few memberships in those categories, and friendships, consumed my personal resources.
What would I choose to exchange for achieving proof of my lineage for service in the DAR?
None of the above.
I forgot the Daughters. Months later, opportunity knocked again when Connie emailed.
“My Nipissing DAR chapter is hosting a fashion show in Metamora’s historic town hall this Saturday. I’ll be modeling my wedding gown. Would you like to join us? The theme is 400 Years of Fashion.”
Well, Connie may not enjoy catching and cleaning fish as her husband and boys do, but she delights in baiting me. My Saturday afternoon was free. I’d complete my household chores before I left.
“I’ll save you a front row seat. Gail’s coming, too,” Connie added.
Gail, Connie and I go way back to the sixties at Redeemer Baptist Church in Warren. Within three years in the early seventies, we married the man of our life and promptly went our separate ways.
Until Connie reconnected us last summer.
Gail sat next to the chair reserved for me. Daughters, Sons and Children of the American Revolution milled around the room dressed in fashions spanning four centuries. They chatted, laughed.
Gordie Yax wore a Vietnam War military flight suit. His twin, Ethan, represented the Revolutionary period.
Meanwhile, Connie strolled in her bridal attire, held a bouquet of silk flowers, and smiled as wide as the Mackinac Bridge. She posed by her mother’s wedding dress and veil displayed on a form. I remembered her mother’s beautiful red hair.
Berlin Mattila, granddaughter of the chapter’s Registrar, Judy Mattila, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our United States. Veneita Chapin, the chapter’s Regent, offered a prayer of safekeeping for all present.
Judy, also the show’s articulate narrator, began with a women’s garment representing the 1600-1650 Jamestown Settlement. My favorite fashions included the gorgeous Civil War ball gown, the hilarious 1950’s ladies’ housedress, and Connie’s 1973 lacy gown.
Dear Reader, as if planned to conclude the show, Marsha Jewett tripped and lost her Revolutionary War wig and hat. She plopped both back on her head and brought the house down.
Today, I contacted Judy Mattila.
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