In the 1860s wreckers brought a shipment of red merino wool cloth to Key West, salvaged from a wrecking operation. The town ladies went wild. They purchased all available material, and set about cutting and sewing shawls, the fashion statement of the time.

Red shawls appeared everywhere. The men smilingly dubbed any gathering of gossiping ladies as “red shawling it.” One hundred years later in the 1960s the Old Island Restoration Foundation adopted this fashion to identify some of their volunteer workers.