A Registered Chapter of the Red Hat Society

Cween Carole

Pull back the sheet, Mother.” asked Jean. Her Mother, thinking Jean was getting warm, did as her daughter asked. Suddenly, screams could be heard throughout the labor/delivery halls of Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio at midnight, August 4, 1943.

Opal DeWitt came running out of Jean's room screaming, "Someone help my daughter!" Back in the labor room, lay Jean and there flailing my arms and legs, I made my debut as Carole Jean Barnes. (I told you all, I've always been a quiet, shy person and that's how I made my entrance.....quietly) The date of my arrival was recorded as August 5 because I was born at midnight.

I already had an older brother Tom, and as the years passed, accumulated two more, David and Steven. Clarence and Jean Barnes lived with their four children in Westerville, Ohio on the same street (Plum Street), as Carole's Great Grandparents in one home, an Aunt and Uncle and two cousins in the next, her maternal Grandparents and Uncle in another home, and next door, a Great Aunt. There were few children with whom to play, and absolutely no girls.

From the time I can remember, all I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother. Hence, my childhood was spent playing with dolls and paper dolls. I also was a surrogate mother to my younger brothers, cousins, and the younger neighborhood children.

I attended Vine Street School (Emerson), Longfellow, back to Emerson, Hanby, Westerville High School, and was in the first class to graduate from Westerville South High School.

Our summers were spent at Glengary Pool, lying on the floor around a circular fan in my Grandmother's living room, band shell movies, and two weeks on Put-In-Bay Island.

Clarence worked at the local Kilgore Company and was a volunteer fireman, later becoming the first full time employed fireman in Westerville. My Mother, Jean, was a stay at home mom until I was a junior in high school and she became one of the work force working in a furniture store, dentist office, and finally, secretary to all the schools in Westerville.

My employment career began at the age of twelve babysitting for seventeen families within the neighborhood and becoming a cashier at the Albers Supermarket. I also worked, unofficially, at a neighborhood grocery with my friend, Patsy, whose family owned the business. We spent many days behind the meat counter stuffing our mouths with bubble gum trying to see who could get the most in and blow the biggest bubbles. We were quite a sight to behold when the customers came in viewing the sticky pink bubble gum hanging from our hair, eyelashes, and patches stuck here and there on our faces. We also ate pounds and pounds of cheese, which I swear between swallowing the gum and eating the cheese has led to my digestive problems today!

I first met Ivan as the elementary schools merged the seventh grades together. He was in my homeroom and very quiet, but noteworthy. As we progressed through junior high and high school, we were always in the same homeroom......you know, Barnes....Brohard. However, I never consciously considered him boyfriend material until, in my junior year, our Y Teens group was holding a girl ask boy dance. My friends suggested I ask Ivan. "He's cute. Why don't you ask him?" I must make note here, that until that year I was very chubby and extremely shy, but due to an eating disorder, I lost a lot of weight. I was beginning to feel more like a real girl and had just begun to talk to people, so you can understand how hard this was to approach Ivan. To make a long story short, he accepted my invitation. However, due to a tragic event, we were unable to attend that event. We did become friends.

Ivan sat behind me in history class and helped me with my geometry homework. Soon, we were dating and had become quite serious. We talked marriage and he even promised me the ruby ring his Grandfather had left him as my engagement ring. Well, we did marry after graduation and people say the first year is the hardest. I surely can attest to that!

We moved to Tennessee with my family and Ivan began work with the transferred company of Kilgore and was soon blown, literally, out of a building on fire, into the gravel parking lot as his shirt, arms, and face were burning. A passerby got him, brought him into town, and took him to a convalesant home. There was no hospital in Bolivar, and the doctor was in
Nashville at the time. By the grace of God, Ivan came through fine and with no scars.

Our first child, a girl, Robyn, was born that first year. We moved back to Westerville with my family, back in the folds of both our large families.

As the years passed, we had three more children, boys.....Andy, Tom, and Aaron.

As a family, we loved to camp. We began by tent camping, progressed to a pop-up camper, and advanced to a full trailer. We made two wonderful trips out West, hitting most of the beautiful National Parks. One of my favorite sites was Mt. Rushmore. I'd seen it as most children do, in books. However, to view it in person is awesome!

We so longed to see bear in Yellowstone, bought bells, etc., just in case.....none to be found. We ended up going to "Bear Country" where there were many fenced up for people to see.

Our son, Tom, became lost in the Grand Tetons. Talk about frightening! At the same place, as we were leaving, we observed many police and rangers with rifles and guns combing the woods off the road. Came to find out, a convict had escaped!

During some of those years, I babysat with lots of children, worked at Sears in the credit department, and at Readmore Bookstore.

As far as my interest go, I love to try all crafts.....not good at any, but can say I've done them.....Ask Ragamuffin Mom about my cake decorating class where as for my final graduation assignment, I made a red hat cake that is to this day being discussed throughout Wilton classes as "The Road Kill Cake" (They gave me a certificate just to get me out, with instructions never to return or let anyone know where I learned cake decorating!)

Ivan and I also do a lot of gardening in perennial flowers. We did win first place one year in the Westerflora competition.

Ivan and I are celebrating our 45th year together and during that time have expanded our family to consist of nine and one on the way, grandchildren, and two and one on the way, great grandchildren. We are very blessed to have our large families, including our extended families close by.

Our nest is empty now, except for two Himalayan cats, Chloe Christine and Cherry Pie, and two Pomeranian dogs, Miggie May and Izadora Belle.

As you read, you can see that I have not led a glamorous, book worthy life. It has been exciting, educational, loving, and fulfilling. I have spent many years assisting family members, babysitting for friends and relatives. I have semi-retired since most of the grandchildren are in school and those that aren't are lucky enough to have their mothers stay home with them. Finding myself with "nothing more to do", I was ready to check into Moreland's (a funeral home in town).....my job was completed. No one really needed me.

THEN CAME THE CALL!!!!......."WE GOTTA START A RED HAT CHAPTER!!!” an excited voice on the other end of the line exclaimed! Marilyn, my sister-in-law (David's wife) could hardly contain herself! After chatting for awhile, the juices began to flow! A new chapter in my life was about to begin...A Red Hat Society Chapter! Marilyn and I became Co-Queens of the Victorian Bouquets, the first official Red Hat Society Chapter in Westerville and in the three and a half years we have been Flowers in the Bouquet, we have met some wonderful, diversified, exciting, loving, new friends!

August 2006 Flower of the Month