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Derby Pie

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1 stick butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

uncooked pie shell

Beat eggs with cooled butter. Add flour and sugar. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool and serve.

My Derby pie is in the oven, even though it won’t be served until tomorrow. This is my grandmother Lulu’s recipe, written in my mom’s handwriting.

Lulu always baked a day ahead. Her reasoning was that if a redo was necessary, there was plenty of time.

Mary B tea biscuits, so-like homemade, are in the freezer, and the ham has been baked. Not many Derby celebrations are without ham biscuits.

Today was the race for the fillies. The first running of the Kentucky Oaks was on May 19, 1875 when Churchill Downs was known as the Louisville Jockey Club. The women spectators will be dressed up with their hats, heels, and fashion dresses today, as well as tomorrow.

The hat fashion started with Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.’s vision for the Derby as an event that the high-class of society would attend, similar to European-style racing events, which mandated full morning dress for men and women. For the first running of the Kentucky Derby, he invited high-class, society women to recruit his target clientele to attend the race. The event quickly became just as much about the fashion as the racing. Going to a horse racing event became an opportunity to show off the latest in spring fashion and women were known to coordinate their hats, dresses, bags, shoes, and even parasols.

The extravagant hats that have become associated with the Kentucky Derby did not really come around until the 1960s, when social fashion norms loosened up and the presence of television gave women a reason to stand out. The hats became larger, brighter, and more extravagant.

Hats at the Kentucky Derby have become even more popular after the royal wedding in 2011, an event that showcased many elaborate hats and fascinators. The headgear of moms and daughters both vie for attention.

Image result for little girl at the kentucky derby

Image result for little girl at the kentucky derby

When it comes to fashion, surprise and awe rule.  Elaborate chapeaus, bright spring silks, pastel linens, feathers, and flowers almost breathe with the wearers. As for the hats, what do you think of this one?

The spectacular fashion often seen at the Kentucky Derby is not solely a product of modern times; rather, opulent feminized dress has played a large role in the history of the Kentucky Derby. What Colonel M. Lewis Clark Jr., (the founding father of the Kentucky Derby), envisioned was a racing environment that would feel comfortable and luxurious, an event that would remind people of the Epsom Derby and Grand Prix  in Europe that attracted an elegant crowd.

This 1920’s picture shows suits and roomy jackets with gloves.

Image result for 1930s fashionThis is a 1930’s picture; silk and larger hats.

For a well-to-do late 19th and early 20th century woman, a day at Churchill Downs, especially on Derby Day was an opportunity to be seen in the latest of fashions. A journalist from a 1901 Louisville Courier-Journal stated, “The seats in the grandstand were filled with gaily dressed women and men. The mass of green, pink, red, yellow, blue, all the colors of the rainbow, blending into one harmonious whole was as beautiful a sight as His Eminence in the lead.”

I can see my dad leaning into the television in high expectation of the beginning of this one race. Yes, he had watched the other horse races during the afternoon of Derby day and the Saturday races the months before, like the Wood Memorial. His blue eyes were twinkling, and a smile was on his face, as he anticipated the Run for the Roses.  I am so grateful he passed down his love for horses, the Derby, and Kentucky. Tomorrow is Derby Day!


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