Sally's Prom Dress

By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on June 22, 2011

Not very many girls keep their prom dresses for 50 years, but some of us do. Mine is still wrapped in tissue paper in my cedar chest, but Sally...oh just wait till you hear what she did with hers.

It was the fifties and time for the prom in high schools all over Utah. Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Elvis and Chuck Berry dominated the air waves. Sally was going to the prom; her mother told her so. She was, after all, a senior. Sally was the youngest in her class. Back in those days it was uncommon to double promote a smart little girl who could work circles around her classmates. That sounds like a good thing. I happen to know a little bit about it myself and I can tell you it wasn't always good. 

Sally was double promoted; she remembers the day during first grade when she was marched into the Board of Education building and when she left, everything had changed. She had no idea what being double promoted meant but what she found when school started again in the fall was that she was not going into second grade with her friends, she was entering third grade with strangers!  

Not only was she then the youngest in her class, but years later she was not allowed to date even though all her classmates, who were at least a year older, were dating. She also was not allowed to drive when those all around her were driving. Her parents were strict and Sally, being the good girl that she was, followed all the rules. 

It's tough on a child being the youngest in a class, it's tough being brainy, and sometimes it leaves us with very few friends. That's what happened to Sally all through school. 

But she survived and finally when she was a senior in high school, it was time for 'The Prom'. Sally had absolutely no desire to go to the prom. She'd never dated, had no boy friends, couldn't drive, and belonged to no close knit group of girlfriends because they were all older than she was; she was NOT going to 'The Prom'. 2011-06-22/Sharran/1d6c74

But Sally's mom had other ideas. Her daughter was a senior, senior girls went to 'The Prom'. Her mom set about making prom plans. She had a friend who had a son. The son was only a sophomore. She talked her friend into talking her son into taking Sally to 'The Prom'. How humiliating for Sally. But remember, Sally followed all the rules. 

So Sally's mother arranged a date for Sally. Now Sally needed a dress. Sally's mother found the dress, too. It was made of a sheer organza over taffeta, not of one color, but of several colors: gold and green and yellow, and nothing like Sally would have chosen for herself. It wasn't like a dress any of her classmates would have chosen either. Sally was not fond of The Dress.  But remember, Sally followed all the rules. 

She went to 'The Prom', wearing the dress of her mother's choice, with the boy her mother had chosen. How humiliating! 

She survived that prom and went on to college in Ohio. The dress was packed up and went with her. She married and moved into a home with her husband and the dress went with her. She eventually had three children, moved to Kentucky, got a divorce, remarried and chose to remain in Kentucky. And the dress remained with her. 

Often she wondered why she kept that humiliating gold, green and yellow organza and taffeta dress, but it seemed to always be wherever Sally was. 

In 2004 she retired and moved to a lovely farm. The dress moved with her. The day came when she was cleaning, redecorating, ridding herself of unnecessary items and she ran across the box that had traveled the same roads Sally had traveled. She opened the box and looked once more at the 'Prom Dress'. There it was in all its glory, gold, green and yellow taffeta and organza. The dress was 50 years old, surely it no longer had a purpose.

The 'Prom Dress' had other ideas. It had been attached to Sally for all those long years, it wasn't about to let go now. There was a man who custom made lamp shades in Lexington, Kentucky. Sally took the dress out of its box, shook off the dust, cut off the skirt and took it to the lamp shade maker. If the dress was going to remain in her life, it needed to have a purpose. 2011-06-22/Sharran/7ed50e

Soon after, she brought home a lovely lamp shade. It was made of fabric, yellow, green and gold. It remains in her house now, a topic of conversation, a memory, a reminder of the child she once was, a reminder of the road she's traveled.  She tells me it's much prettier as a lamp shade than it was as the 'Prom Dress'.

Why did Sally keep the prom dress for all these years? It surely was not a reminder of happy times. But perhaps it was a reminder to be strong, to make her own decisions, to be her own person, perhaps it is yet a reminder that sometimes it's best to choose the road less traveled.

It's my pleasure to tell Sally's stories, each of them leaves us with a message. If you'd like to know more about Sally Ramsdell, one who has always chosen the road less traveled, you can read about her life here.

Dancing in the rain with you, Sally...always. 


*****9 October 2011

I had a message tonight from Sally's husband, Richard. I thought it appropriate to share this with you:



The remainder of the prom dress is now another lamp shade.  I had taken the material and the shade to be used for the size, ... to my office in preparation to have Shannon Lamp Service in Lexington make the second lamp shade.  My car was in for long-past-due service on the day that Sally had the first seizure, and my manager kindly transported me home.  The material and old shade remained in my office for the two months that I was away from work.  The new prom dress lamp shade was completed this past week.  I have attached image.


Related articles:
fashion, memories, prom

About Sharon Brown
I am a retired arts and humanities teacher who grew up in the Appalachian mountains of southeast Kentucky. I taught in Louisville, then eventually moved to far western Kentucky where I retired 4 years ago. I am an artist and a writer, and my favorite subjects to write about are the mountains and wildflowers of eastern Kentucky. They are very nearly my favorite subjects to paint, too. Truth is, I left my heart back in those mountains.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Sally's Prom Dress Ledgegardener Mar 1, 2014 12:32 PM 24
A touching story rannveig Oct 11, 2011 8:38 AM 11
The Box of Rocks sunfarm Oct 9, 2011 7:37 PM 11
Wonderful story Seray Jun 24, 2011 6:58 PM 1
loved the article kaglic Jun 24, 2011 2:15 PM 1
The wide reach of love... Sharon Jun 24, 2011 8:54 AM 5

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