Sanders has head for 'Hats'

Jocelyn Sanders' mother grew up in the tradition of wearing hats to church, and she thought she would raise her only daughter the same way.

"I don't think I have a hat head," said Sanders who will direct Trustus Theatre's revival of "Crowns," a musical play about the hat-wearing tradition. "I think I have a big head that doesn't lend itself to hats."

As a little girl, Sanders was repulsed by frilly hats. But her mom kept trying to put them on her head - until one memorable Easter Sunday.

Sanders was in the back seat of the car with her brother as the family rode to church. As they drove down Harden Street, the then 8-year-old Sanders did something that mortified her mother.

"I rolled down the window and threw it out the car," she said.

When her mom asked her what happened to the hat, Sanders said she didn't know. Her mom knew it was a tale, so she asked Sanders' brother.

He said, "Well, mama, Jocelyn threw it out of the car."

Her mother was upset, but her father pointed out that they had been arguing about the hat all week. "I guess this will teach you to listen to her," he said.

Sanders found a hat she liked when she was 12, a black beret her mother bought at the Tapp's department store on Main Street.

"It was the first hat that looked good on my head," she said. "I wore that little black beret until it fell apart."

A few years ago, there was a cold snap and Sanders went searching for a hat to wear. She found one of her mother's berets. And that's the hat Sanders wears during the winter.

"I'm sure my mother's up in heaven laughing, having a chuckle because she got the last word," Sanders said.

It's stories like these that make "Crowns" such a compelling production.

"Crowns" opens at 8 tonight at Trustus, 520 Lady St. $25; (803) 254-9732 or http://www.trustus.org

- Otis R. Taylor Jr.