Dress survives 50 years to appear in its second parade


In the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time clearing out my mom’s condo. This involves filtering through A LOT of old photos..literally, tens of thousands of them. I’m not making this up. There are far too many photographers in my family’s history.

Anyway, when one sorts and re-sorts so many slides, photos, albums, etc., one sees certain photos that spark a memory. So there amidst all those photos was one taken 50 years ago during Bluffton’s centennial. This particular photo is of our church’s float which featured two families — ours and Fred and Mary Amstutz and their four boys. On half of the float, sat my family, dressed in clothing of the 1860s. The Amstutzes sat on the other half, dressed in modern (1960s) clothing.

In that photo, I’m almost 5 years old, wearing a yellow calico dress and sun bonnet (think Little House on the Prairie), and sitting in a miniature rocker. Looking at the photo reminded me that the dress, apron and bonnet were stashed somewhere — probably at the bottom of my cedar trunk. I finally located the dress, but by then had lost track of the intial photo.

It seemed appropriate that since the dress had survived 50 years and several wearings by my own daughters, that someone should wear it for this summer’s sesquicentennial. But who? What distant cousin was about the right size?  Would she have any interest in giving up her comfy shorts for a dress AND apron AND sunbonnet — all of which combined, would make her a bit toasty by the of the day?

Ellie Hartzler sitting on Shelby Cluts' lap

There are some advantages to growing up in a small town where one is often related to a LOT of people. One can usually find a relative without looking too far. Sure enough…there was little Ellie Hartzler, my first cousin, thrice removed. Ellie’s mom promised to ask Ellie whether she’d like to wear the dress and — maybe — ride in a float.

As it turned out, Ellie loved the dress and, in fact, put it on early Saturday morning and wore it all day while they attended various events related to the sesquicentennial. She even got to ride in the parade on a float carrying some high school graduates (one of whom is her babysitter).

When I found her mid-parade, I thanked her for wearing the dress. Ellie grinned and held up her prize of the day — two pieces of candy she’d managed to snag from some passing float.

Eventually, the dress will find its way back to the trunk. Despite my vow to spend this summer getting rid of things, I’m not sure that dress will make the cut. Or maybe…let’s see….which daughter’s car trunk can I hide it in?

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4 responses to “Dress survives 50 years to appear in its second parade

  1. I would enjoy seeing both photos, side-by-side!

    • Pannabecker Steiner Mary

      That makes two of us! Finding the old photo is a bit challenging, since all of the photos, slides, albums, etc. have been moved to Mother’s storage unit at MC. Some day…

    • Pannabecker Steiner Mary

      That makes two of us! One of these days I’ll locate the other photo at the bottom of Mother’s storage unit at MC. 🙂

      • John and Julie Mackey

        Thanks so much for giving Ellie the chance to wear your dress. She does look like a “Little House on the Prairie” child. We are so proud of her.
        Grandma and Grandpa Mackey (John and Julie Mackey)

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