Aging & Attitude
Daily Prompt Clothes and toys, recipes and jokes, advice and prejudice: we all have to handle all sorts of hand-me-downs every day. Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life
An Irish Hand-Me Down
Smiles tell the story of joy and happiness in this Baptism picture. My Uncle is holding our six week old son, and my seventy-five year old grandmother, Gertrude, is clutching her purse. Judith Andrea, my sister and baby’s Godmother, is behind them.
It is the best picture I can find of the dress.
My mother, Patricia DeSalvo Boylhart and her sister, Carol DeSalvo Connolly were Christened in it, as well as seven siblings and myself. My son was the first of many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to wear the hand me down.
There is history in this dress.
Still in our possession, it was handmade by my mother’s mother, Mary Ellen Doherty DeSalvo. The fabric is Batiste (Fine Cotton) and Irish lace, that her mother; Myra O’Rourke Doherty, brought from Ireland.
The bodice is hand embroidered, and the seams French to prevent fraying and unraveling. My memory says it is similar to the pictures below.
The mock neckline has no collar and the back is open to allow dressing over the infants head. Numerous round mother of pearl buttons sewn along the passage await to be fastened by silk thread eye loops. I recall a decision to leave the top buttons unfastened, hoping my son would not cry. The dress is sheer, and a full-length slip underneath necessary to hide cloth diapers and mandatory plastic rubber pants of early times. It is a delicate dress and has always been hand washed, rolled in a towel, and then laid out to air-dry.
Katherine Boylhart Ferreira, my sister Abigail’s daughter, was the last child to be christened in the dress in 2006.
I am traveling North soon and hopefully can take a picture of the actual dress that is more than a hand me down.
. . . just saying