Ida May Jenkins

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What we know

1867 - 1941
Worked in a mill in Ipswich Falls, Massachusetts, from the age of eleven to supplement the family’s farm income. When her father died, she took her legacy to go out West with Penny. Ran the millinery with Penny for Matthew Cole. Moved to her nephew’s home in Kansas after Penny died in 1930.

Red Ribbons

Ida always clucked when
Penny tried to pin
bright red berries
onto summer straw hats.

For pins of jet and
ropes of pearls
were de rigueur
for members of the Ladies Aid.

And girls at the White Owl
wanted ostrich feathers1 or
pink glass beads—anything
shiny and cheap.

Ida always waited
to take Penny’s colors off,
laying them carefully in her chest
by the window.

And then just before
opening, she'd rearrange
the scatterred ribbons
into dark somber rows.

After church, they'd go
for long drives with Millie,
clasping soft sweaty hands
under bright crazy quilts.






Davray, Piekolek.Femmes Fin de Siecle 1885 - 1895. Palais Galliera: Muse de la Mode et du Costume, 1990.

Schroeder, Joseph J.The Wonderful World of Ladies Fashion, 1850 - 1920. Chicago: Follett Publishers, 1971.

Portal caption and links

A drawing of a brace of woman's hats.
play "flute" tempo 200 d g b d d b


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