A tip of the hat to Alvina Sellers

Dr. Sandra Sellers Hanson speaks about her mother, Alvina Sellers, during the Heartland Museum program on July 29. Photo by Kacey Ginn

A small elderly woman, wearing a lime green dress with matching shoes and a colorful flowered hat, takes the stage in front of an audience of 700. Within a few minutes, she’s captured the audience’s attention with a quip, a joke, and a fun rhyme.

“I think the greatest way to deal with stress is humor,” she announces.

The woman is Alvina Sellers, Iowa’s Hat Lady, a moniker bestowed by Governor Branstad. To wrap up their summer programming, the Heartland Museum chose to honor the woman who helped to put Clarion on the map and brought joy to the heart of thousands with her humorous performances centered around hats. With some commentary by Alvina’s daughter, Dr. Sandra Sellers Hansen, the museum showed a recording of one of her performances on Saturday.

In the video, Alvina recounted the story of how she started giving programs about hats. When a Clarion woman couldn’t find any person to present at a club meeting, she begged Alvina to come talk about her hat collection. Alvina only very reluctantly agreed—but eventually gave more and more talks to different groups until she was performing at the Iowa State Fair every year and was even a guest on “Late Night with David Letterman.”


For the full story, see the August 3 edition of the Monitor.