A Publication of WTVP

Draw a fan across your cheek to say, “I love you.” Draw it across your hand: “I hate you.” Carry it in your right hand in front of your face to invite a gentleman to follow you. Put the handle on your lips: “Kiss me!”

“The language of the fan is very subtle,” said Sharon Atteberry, who will demonstrate the fan’s ubiquitous signals at the Peoria Historical Society’s Salute to Women style show and luncheon on November 3rd at the Hotel Pere Marquette.

Atteberry, a writer researching the life of a Peoria Civil War nurse, is one of 26 models who will represent women in Peoria history at the style show. She plays Sarah Easton, who built the Edna Home for working women and girls as a memorial to her daughter, who died in infancy.

Now, whether Easton used a fan or not, we don’t know. Yet she lived in an era when fan language was one way to get a man’s attention. And that is especially appropriate since this year’s historical fashion show takes a look back at our wise and wonderful womanly wiles.

“Throughout every age, women have figured out how to get meaningful things done,” said Channy Lyons, event chair. “No matter what challenges they faced, they collaborated and strategized, outwitted, cajoled and simply worked hard to accomplish what they needed to.”

Peoria Historical Society Executive Director Amy Kelly adds, “Our style show offers a unique opportunity to learn history through the experiences of the women who lived it.” Early Peoria women had strength, courage and determination. They achieved things we take for granted—not just the right to vote, but also schooling for girls as well as boys, parent-teacher organizations and teaching music in public schools. They memorialized soldiers and sailors, founded two Peoria hospitals, created jobs for women, erected homes for the elderly and opened a center for the blind.

With narrator Rebekah Bourland telling the stories, the show will celebrate 26 women in Peoria’s history while entertaining women who currently reside in Peoria. Models will wear period costumes from bustled dresses to aesthetic movement gowns, office suits from the early 1900s to Jackie Kennedy formal wear.

Models for this year’s style show are: Duffy Armstrong, Sharon Atteberry, Cheri Beever, Suzette Boulais, Odell Burns, Karen Calder, George Ann Danehower, Patti Edwards, Joan Ericksen, Cindy Fischer, Beth Gehrt, Marcia Henry, Beth Khazzam, Rebecca Knight, Esther Knott, Kristan McKinsey, Maryann Morrison, Gina Morss, Mary Muir, Bonnie Noble, Amy Paul, Crystal Radee, Sharon Reed, Stacey Robertson, Jennifer Towery and Carol Warren.

The third bi-annual historical style show will be held at 11 a.m. in the ballroom at the Hotel Pere Marquette. Following the show, guests will enjoy foods based on menus of Peoria’s foremothers— updated for contemporary tastes, of course!

Luncheon organizer Mary Beth Buck says, “We’re planning a dessert sampler that includes a Peoria favorite—Ruthie’s old-fashioned English toffees.”

At the luncheon, the Peoria Historical Society will present the third Guardian Award to a woman from the Tri-County Area who has made an outstanding contribution to the preservation of local history. Past winners were Gloria LaHood and Alice Rossey in 2003 and Marilyn Leyland in 2005. The award is sponsored by the Core Construction and Otto Baum Companies.

For reservations, call the Peoria Historical Society at 674-1921. Tickets for the style show and luncheon are $27. TPW