Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Mennonite Carmen Rose

I just posted this photograph on Facebook without comment, I'm really curious how my friends will respond.  I do hope that my conservative Mennonite cousins are not offended by it.  I grew up Mennonite and though my Mom and Grandmother wore a cape dress and covering, I never have.  I don't know what got into me lately, I ordered a covering online.  When it came I looked at it with interest and then packed it away.  Today I pulled out the dress I wore back in 1986 and 1987 when I was in Touring Choir and Chamber Choir at Eastern Mennonite High School.  I was surprised that I could still get into the dress, but that fabric is pretty forgiving.  There were about 40 of us in Tour, the women all wore matching dresses though they had a little lace collar which I turned inside for the photo.  After a while of wearing that dress for many performances, we ended up calling ourselves "the grapes" which we all thought was funny, but not flattering.  The men wore dress pants, a vest and a dress shirt.  I can't remember if they wore ties, I'll have to go back and look up my old albums that were recorded in those days. 
I went back to look up a photo of my Mom from the old days, cause when I look at this photo that's who I see.  Although after looking at their wedding photograph, I'd have to say I favor my father.  I've also been told I look like my grandmother Shenk, I need to find some photographs of her.  She was a gentle spirit with a beautiful alto voice and she played hymns on an old pump organ beautifully.     

Is it a costume?  That dress is mine, one I wore many times, and it makes me feel like singing to be honest.  The covering is perhaps the most "costume" aspect, I wore a lace covering when I was baptized but don't recall wearing one since that time.  It was *really* difficult to get my ultra short hair up in any sort of convincing way, but I managed it with *lots* of bobby pins!  I know that many of my friends will see this as a costume, and certainly there is that quality to it, but I don't feel that way about it.  I look at it more as showing a side of myself that exists somewhere out of sight.  So, I suppose I'm exploring my roots, in my own way.

And just for the record, I've taken off the covering and packed it away... washed my short short hair and am wearing completely "English" clothing.  I generally clean up to look a little something like that photo top right on the side bar.  And yes, I was a professional jewelry designer for years, there is  no turning back.  =)  

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose 


  1. Thank you for sharing this. My husband is PA Dutch. He grew up surrounded by Amish and Mennonite. I just love the whole culture. His mom speaks PA German. I love the sound of it. Are you from PA originally?

  2. Carmen,

    Even though I'm not Mennonite, I have dear friends who are and I have found parts of me that are very similar to the Anabaptists. I can really appreciate your pictures.

    I have begun to cover most all the time in the last few months and I must say that you don't have to wear a kapp or a cape dress to do that. There is a whole world of covers and a whole continuum to what is modest.

    Just be open to whatever messages God is whispering in your ear,

  3. uhmmm, seems the Mennonite Order differs a bit from the Amish in that you took photographs of yourselves.

    I think you look just like your mom.

    Thanks for sharing, I am very curious about the rituals and cultures of both Orders. I did ask you once to write about it. Highly interesting, thanks!

  4. You have your mom's smile for sure.

  5. Go back to your Mennonite roots. You are more beautiful in the purple dress with the headcovering. Obey the Holy Spirit and the direction He is leading you. Your heart cries out for direction. I agree, you look like your mother.

  6. You do have a lovely smile and I can see how the shape of your face favors your father...


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