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Please accept our apologies for the missing post. The software, WordPress went a bit haywire and it took several tries before we uncovered the problem. So, while this post is now considerably late, we will post just a short note.  At Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens up above Bilpin in the Blue Mountains, a very interesting exhibition by artist Mel Jones is about to wind down. If you can make a trip up, it is well worth it. Remember, no longer is there an entrance fee to the Gardens.  Mel's specialises in Pochoir -- a French hand cut stencilling technique. The colours are so bold and her work is often landscapes of mountain gully Blue and Grey Gums. The exhibition is on through Sunday, 14Aug. Write comment (1 Comment)

Today, June 6th, I would like to share a story of human kindness that was overlooked, or perhaps ignored by local press. Not a mention nor a photo of some young women whose lives were touched by the generosity of a few mature women on a small island on the coast of North Carolina (USA).

You may ask why would readers of the Villages of Hawkesbury blog be interested in a far away island on another continent? It is not the location, it is the love and caring of a few who move our hearts and our emotions.

I have not before revealed that I am an American living and writing about the beauty of  the Sydney area (The Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains) as this did not seem pertinent. However, I returned to the States for my son’s wedding in mid-May and on this trip, I travelled to the North Carolina island — Roanoke Island — where I am a 9th generation islander. I grew up and spent my public school years in the island’s largest town, Manteo. My grandfather was the local judge for 35 years. You may notice that these are Native American names, Roanoke and Manteo. This island was the birthplace of the first English child born on the American continent – Virginia Dare whose parents were among the early settlers from Elizabeth’s England in 1587.

Okay, enough history and on to my story. While on the island in May, I dropped into a local hair salon and as islanders (and Southerners) are quite friendly, the owner told me of a recent event and how she and the women who work in her shop participated. The high school Senior Prom. Many Senior girls were not attending — the economic downturn has all but killed the construction business and this area is perhaps the most visited summer destination in the whole of the East Coast. Construction of some 30,000 cottages over a 25 year period has been the mainstay. With the housing market fall in early 2000, most families in this area have been affected. Senior girls (Year 12) were not going to attend — the strain on the family budget was too much. A tradition was falling victim to economic times.

Sissy Rule, owner of the salon was not about to sit by idly. In 2010 and again in 2011, she jumped into action. An open invitation went to the Principal of the high school — any girl who wanted her hair styled and makeup applied could make an appointment on the day of the prom — FREE of charge, just sign up and show up on time. The salon would be closed to all others for the day.

Sissy purchased make-up, food and flowers in prep for the Prom day. She rose early, drove 60 miles to the flower market — the girls would have wrist corsages for themselves and boutiniers for their dates — all made by the hair dressers in the salon. The night before the big day, the women prepared a “southern” continental breakfast (ham biscuits, fruit, yogurt) for the Seniors who had signed up for the morning session. “Big” 3-ft sub sandwiches and fruit lunches for the afternoon session.

A local charity — Hot Line — brought shoes, dresses and jewelry from its Thrift Stores located in Manteo and on the beaches of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and Duck. These were quality items so the girls would feel good about how they looked.   From 8am to Noon, half of the 50+ girls showed up for their assigned appointments and breakfast. From Noon to 6pm the final half were served lunch and “made” gorgeous. Dresses and shoes were chosen, flowers distributed to each and all headed for the Prom that evening.

Sissy told me smiles and giggling literally filled her shop all day – along with loud music and loud singing from the Seniors. So, for two years now, Sissy Rule has helped keep the tradition of Senior Prom alive. So this blog post is dedicated to Sissy who cares for her community in good times and bad!

P.S. There are two local newspapers (The Coastland Times, The Sentinel) and one regional newspaper (The Virginian Pilot) and none reported on Sissy and her beauticians’ generosity and loving contributions. Perhaps the Police Blotter and fishing results are the important stories in this locale, but the ”story” of girls who could not afford to attend the big prom night is the story that Sissy Rule and her beauticians averted.

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