Like many women, Merle Thomas was of the mind that her age was her own business.
And so a few years back when she received an invitation from the Soroptimists International of Hamilton for that organization’s annual tea party that honors women over the age of 90, she wasn’t quite sure what to think.
Her neighbor, Mary Lyn, remembers the day.
Thomas came over to her house to talk with Lyn’s mother, Betty Bailey, about this invitation she had received.
“She said, ‘Betty, I got this invitation. They think I’m 90 years old,’ ” Lyn remembers her neighbor’s words, with a smile. “And then she said, ‘I think I’ll go anyway.’ ”
Next Saturday, when the ladies gather again in their finest clothes and favorite hats, Thomas will most likely join her neighbor again for a nice cup of tea, a tasty lunch and some wonderful conversation.
This year will be the seventh time the Hamilton Soroptimists have hosted the annual senior tea at the Sapphire Lutheran Home in Hamilton.
The core group of organizers mailed out 115 invitations this year, but they’re worried they may be missing a few.
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“There are so many people living independently any more that we are worried that we may have missed a few,” said Kathleen Graler, the event’s chairperson. “Those people who are living on their own are a little more difficult to reach.”
And so they’re reaching out the community for help in finding those few who might want to join the expected 50-plus women who will attend the event that features doormen, fine china and a meal that will begin with fruit kabobs and end with chocolate tarts.
“We have cloth napkins, fresh flowers and real china,” Graler said. “It’s an upscale event for sure, as it should be. These are very special people.”
None of it would be possible without the generous support of the Sapphire Lutheran Home, said Brenda Von Brach, past chair of the event.
“We have such wonderful support from them,” she said. “They have been donating the food as well as providing the venue. We can’t really thank them enough.”
This year’s tea will be held Saturday, June 23 at 2 p.m.
A local women’s barbershop quartet, “By Design,” will provide the entertainment. Everyone over the century mark will be provided a corsage.
“The ladies really do love being greeted at the door by a man,” Lyn said. “This has really turned into a major event. We all hope that they’re still doing it when it’s our turn.”
Attire is Bitterroot formal – which basically means anything goes.
“A lot of them dress up to the nines,” Lyn said. “They were from a generation where that was really important. Some wear hats. For those who don’t have a hat to wear, we’ve gathered together our own boxes of hats to share.”
“If they don’t want to dress up, they can do that too,” Graler said. “We just want to make sure they come.”
The group offers transportation for people living in or near Hamilton. People interested in taking advantage of that can call 360-8594.
Anyone interested in just learning a bit more about the event can call Graler at 369-0786 or Von Brach at 381-8222.
No need to RSVP. Anyone interested can just show up and take a seat at the table.
“We plan to fill the room,” Graler said. “If it’s not totally full, then we get to sit down too.”
Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or email@example.com.