Victorian fans brush up on protocol

PORT TOWNSEND — In Victorian times, shutting a hand fan slowly could lead to a breach of promise.

Fanning quickly signaled would-be suitors that the lady was spoken for.

And if the lady you fancied was fanning slowly?

“That means she’s already married,” Pat Durbin said.

Victorian customs and fashions will be on display at this weekend’s Victorian Festival.

Events that epitomize the Victorian era include the Grand Ball at 8 p.m. Saturday at the fairgrounds and high tea at Manresa Castle on Sunday starting at 1 p.m.

Last week, Durbin and three generations of the DeLong family — Mary Ann DeLong, her daughter-in-law, Sue DeLong, and granddaughter, Savan DeLong, paid a visit to Kah Tai Care Center, where they previewed their dresses and feathery bonnets and showed that there’s more to wielding a fan than meets the eye.

“The Victorian lady used her fan not only to cool herself, but also to heat up a romance,” Durbin said.

The women, members of the Victorian Society in America, were invited to Kah Tai by activities director Doug Taylor as part of the program for the residents’ weekly ice cream social.

The residents were first offered a choice of a red or white feathered fan, then shown the variety of messages that could be sent with it.

Some obvious

Some were obvious, like a fan placed on or near the heart to say “I love you.”

Others were more subtle, like touching the right eye with the fan, which meant “When may I see you?”

The time of an assignation could be indicated by opening that number of sticks, Durbin explained, while placing a half-opened fan on the lips was an invitation to a kiss.

But male admirers may have found it hard to remember whether placing the fan on the left cheek meant yes or no.

Or if twirling a closed fan in the right hand, drawing it through the hand or dropping it was a good sign.

“It helps if your boyfriend had the same list,” Durbin said.

The festival schedule for Saturday includes a presentation by Tames Alan on formal Victorian dining.

Called “Trial by Fork,” Alan, a living history presenter, blends humor into her demonstration of the proper use of silver and china for a 12-course dinner, along with manners and suitable topics of conversation.

Fashion show

Also on Saturday is the Victorian Fashion Show, starting at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

Admission to the show, put on by JoAnn Bussa, is by donation and benefits the Jefferson County Historical Society scholarship fund.

Historical society docents in costume will lead walking tours of the downtown and uptown historic districts during the festival weekend.

For more information, go to www.jchs.org.

Victorian Festival events include a guided bus tour and a Victorian homes tour. For tickets, go to www.victorianfestival.org.

The festival is sponsored by the Northwest Chapter of the Victorian Society in America, with proceeds benefiting preservation, restoration and education on the heritage of the 19th century.

________

Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at jjackson@olypen.com.

More in Life

A GROWING CONCERN: Cutting the American lawn down to size

IT’S TIME TO free ourselves from the grueling and extremely harmful task… Continue reading

The Rev. Glenn Jones
Unity in Olympics program scheduled

The Rev. Glenn Jones will present “Celebrating the Papa… Continue reading

Unitarian speaker scheduled

Vivian Mulligan will present “Unitarian Universalists — Who Are… Continue reading

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith.
Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Divine Father Embodied”… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Honoring parents a complicated command

FATHER’S DAY IS this Sunday. It will be the first Father’s Day… Continue reading

Daria Hunt of Beaver designed this year’s Summer Reading Challenge T-shirt. Participants can read for 30 days to earn a free shirt.
North Olympic Library System’s summer reading program begins Friday

The North Olympic Library System will begin its Summer… Continue reading

For her “Oceans” music video, Jennifer Thomas, her husband Will and son Preston set up a grand piano and light display at Bullman Beach in Sekiu. (Jennifer Thomas)
‘Oceans’ provides escape for Sequim composer

New album produced with orchestra at Abbey Road Studios

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News
Spectators watch as a parade of boats passes by at the start of the Pride event at Pope Marine Park in Port Townsend on Saturday.
Proud parade in Port Townsend

Spectators watch as a parade of boats passes by at the start… Continue reading

Submitted photo

Photo: Bottom left to right, Coach Natalie Blankenship, Paige Reed, Libby  Swanberg, Joanna Seelye, Katelynn Middleton-Sharpe, Kennady Gilbertson, Coach Katie Newton. Top left to right, Taylor Lewis, Lily Meyer, Asha Swanberg, Sydney Hutton, Coach Ady Crosby and Coach Misty Gilbertson.
HORSEPLAY: WAHSET state finals

SEQUIM’S SMALL YET mighty equestrian team gave a dazzling display of finesse,… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Don’t let insects bug you

DO INSECTS IN your yard and garden give you the creepy crawlies?… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Salty language can leave bad taste in mouth

A MEMORABLE SCENE in the iconic movie, “A Christmas Story,” is with… Continue reading

The Rev. Cindy Akana
Program scheduled for OUUF on Sunday

The Rev. Cindy Akana will present “The Freedom of… Continue reading