When this picture of my father and my niece was taken before my grandparents’ 50th anniversary party in 1970 we all believed that what was iconic was the shot of a grandfather and granddaughter. I remember how we tried to replicate the charm of this original photo with all the subsequent grandchildren. Of course it became problematic; some children, like mine, lived across the country from their grandfather and the timing seemed off so the toddler was too old or too young when grandpa was visiting; some kids were less than camera friendly when the moment seemed right; and nothing captured the same feel of that unplanned original.
But something unexpected happened and a tradition did start from this original image. The red dress became the iconic piece, with seven little girls taking their turns in it. The dress itself was quite a splurge when first purchased for $8.99 in 1970 ($56.00 in today’s dollars). That was a lot of money for my young stay-at-home sister and her gas-station attendant husband during their early years of marriage. My sister walked to the newly built Fred Myers across the street from the apartment where they lived in Salem, Oregon, pushing my niece in a stroller. She fell in love with the dress and bought it, and considers it one of her best purchases ever.
So what will become of this family treasure in the future? Well, at this point in time it still has a lot of life in it. The last few little girls have worn it fairly briefly, primarily for the photo op. It is lovingly stored away when not in use or transit. I just recently brought it from Oregon to Vermont for my granddaughter, little girl number 7, to have her turn in it. Now I’ll keep it safe and sound for the next little girl, whoever she is and wherever she’ll be. And someday when it gets too threadbare to continue as a real garment, it can be enjoyed in all the photos, and possibly refashioned as part of a new dress or wall-hanging that will continue its journey, and carry on this family story, for generations yet to come.
Here are five more of the seven: