Hats on for high tea celebration of women of Oak Creek
Oak Creek — The women of Oak Creek and South Routt probably never held a high tea event within their 100 years of history.
“You don’t have high tea in a mining town,” said resident Marilyn Goggin. “You have it in England.”
Donna Peters and Carol Villa from the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg organized Sunday’s high tea event as part of Oak Creek’s centennial celebration.
It was a time to recognize the women of South Routt from then and now.
Women may not have bonded over tea, but they did gather over the years in clubs that included the Eastern Star, Oak Creek Women’s Club, American Legion Auxiliary and Ladies Aid.
For Sunday’s event, more than 100 hats and boas were collected by Peters, and they were mandatory attire to walk into the pastel decorated room where women of all ages had time to sip tea and reminisce.
“We didn’t have high tea, but in those days there was no TV, so everyone visited with each other,” said long time Oak Creek resident Mary Lou Lombardi.
Her family moved to Oak Creek when she was 5 or 6 years old, and she remembers not being allowed to go downtown alone when she was growing up.
“It was a boom town and full of miners,” she said. “There were a lot of saloons and the guys worked really hard and partied hard.”
When Lombardi moved to Oak Creek, her family and many others had a hard time finding a place to live.
“People lived in chicken coops or garages. There was nothing to rent,” she said. “But you could sleep with the windows open and the doors unlocked.”
Other festivities of the event included a fashion show of women’s clothing styles from the 1800s to 1980s, modeled by Soroco High School seniors. Everyone also sang along to verses from 17 classic songs in Oak Creek’s history.
Joann Lombardi treasures her experience of living in Oak Creek. Her family moved there from France when she was 18 months old.
“It’s nice to grow up in a small town where you know everybody and everyone says ‘hi’ to their neighbor,” she said. “And that’s kind of what it still is. The times are changing, but we still pick up our mail at the post office.”
Peters thinks it is the magic of a small town that makes everybody feel like they automatically belong there.
“You meet these people and it’s like you’ve known them forever,” Goggin said. “That’s what’s special.”
There is one other thing that defines what life in like in Oak Creek.
“This is the only place I know where I can dial a wrong number and carry on a conversation,” Lombardi said. “Because you always recognize the other voice.”
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