Bits 'n' Pieces: Vancouver woman wears many hats

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Vancouver’s Gretchen Moats-Gross likes to say she was born in the wrong time.

“I should have been born in the Victorian era,” said Moats-Gross, 63, citing her affinity for the feminine attire of days gone by.

Moats-Gross has turned her love of dressing up into both a business and two social networks.

Eleven years ago, Moats-Gross started the Vancouver Belles, a local chapter of the Red Hat Society, a worldwide social organization for women. As the name implies, members — called hatters — wear red hats to events, along with purple attire.

Shortly after starting the Vancouver Belles, Moats-Gross began selling clothing and accessories, specializing in Victorian-style apparel.

Vancouver Belles doesn’t offer the freedom to experiment with colors, but about six months ago Moats-Gross started another group that celebrates all hues. Over the Rainbow Girls, a local chapter of Ladies of the Hat, has 12 members. Earlier this month, they took a brunch cruise and everyone wore black and pink.

Over the Rainbow Girls is open to all women.

’61 Corvette to head out on cross-country journey

It takes an especially handy guy to keep a car running for 50 years. In the case of Doug Slack’s 1961 Corvette, you’d better make that two handy guys.

Slack, 64, inherited the car from his longtime friend Bob White, who died three years ago.

White gave it to him with two conditions — that Slack drive the car until it reaches at least 500,000 miles and that he finish White’s goal of taking it to all of the lower 48 states.

“It’s been in all of the lower 48 except for the half-dozen New England states,” said Slack, who lives in Kalama.

Slack is a certified master technician and taught classes at General Motors in Tigard, Ore. before retiring. White, who was a community college auto shop instructor in California, was once Slack’s student.

“If we need to replace a part, we do. If we can’t find it, we manufacture it ourselves,” Slack said.

Slack and his wife, LaDonna Slack, plan to take a six-week cross-country tour to New England starting in September to honor the car’s 50 years on the road and to finish its tour of the continental U.S.

It currently has 467,000 miles, Slack said.

Before heading out for the big trip, the car will be on display at the Vancouver Concours d’Elegance show at Officers Row, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 7.

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Courtney Sherwood 360-735-4561, or e-mail features@columbian.com.