Caroline Hirt was probably the only kindergartner wearing a 67-year-old dress on her first day of school.
Caroline's mom, Jenny Hirt, also wore the dress on her first day of school. And so have 17 other women in her family. In fact, this handmade dress has been handed down for three generations, and worn in seven different states.
Hirt's older daughter Ally also wore the dress on her first day of kindergarten, and loved it, according to her mom.
As for Caroline? Well, as Hirt told Parents, "She wasn't terribly thrilled to wear the dress." But then Hirt's mom sent her photos of other girls in their family wearing it. "After seeing the photos, especially the one of me, Caroline thought it was pretty cool." She did however refuse to wear her hair the pigtail braids that are also part of the family tradition.
"My niece Sylvie had a little bit of ice cream bribery involved," Hirt also confessed.
Bribery aside, the kindergarten dress has come to mean a great deal to Hirt's family. Her grandmother made the dress for her aunt, Martha Esch, to wear for her first day of school in 1950. Today Hirt says, "Tradition and handing things down has always been a part of our family. I have several items from my mother and grandmother that have been handed down to me. It is a way to carry on the memories of family members, try to instill pride of tradition in our kids, and bind us together as a family."
Sixty-seven years later, one has to wonder how the dress is in such good condition. "For many years, the dress was cared for by my grandmother, Helen, who did the embroidery on the dress," Hirt told us. "The girl would wear the dress and ship it back to my grandma. Now it will be shipped back to my mom, Katy, so she can hold onto it until the next child can wear it. We also pack a spare set of clothes on the first day, and let the teachers know if they are going to do something super messy, she can change. This year Caroline got strawberry juice on the dress."
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But Hirt reported that after a gentle wash, all was well! The dress in now on deck to be worn by three more little girls, now ages 4,3 and 2, on their first days of kindergarten.