Frilly family favorite

Rare is the woman who doesn’t remember her first party dress, no matter how old she was when she first donned it, complete with petticoat, and transformed into a princess for a day. It’s one of those childhood memories women treasure.

So, Alisha Whetstone knew exactly what 3-year-old daughter Kaylyn’s was going to wear for an outdoor portrait session in downtown St. Francisville with Jane Pendergist of Lillybelle Pixs Photography: the pink organza dress with white lace trim and accented with ice cream cones that Whetstone wore to her own third birthday party.

In fact, Kaylyn was the third generation to wear the special dress. It was originally bought by Whetstone’s great-grandmother, Rosie Wunderlich, at the Famous-Barr Department Store in St. Louis for mom Judy Frederickson’s third-birthday present.

“Most of my mom’s clothes were homemade so this was one of only a few store-bought items she had,” said Whetstone. “She told me she wore it everywhere. She loved it so much that she refused to let my grandmother (Lorraine Fisher) get rid of it.”

That’s how Whetstone came to wear the dress at her birthday party, although you might have trouble envisioning the woman before you in such a frilly dress. Currently a diesel engineer at Entergy’s Riverbend Nuclear Station in St. Francisville, she is anything but a girly-girl. “My grandfather had me turning wrenches as soon as I could pick them up,” she said with a smile. “I was the first grandchild on my dad’s side of the family and the only girl on my mother’s side; I was spoiled by both sides.”

After graduating from high school in her native St. Louis, Whetstone joined the Navy, which paid for her education at Texas A&M. Stationed in Pascagoula, Miss., she desperately wanted to get back to Texas once her obligation was fulfilled. Instead, she found herself working as an operator at Riverbend and buying a house nearby. It had originally belonged to husband Robert’s great-grandmother. “I knew his whole family before I knew him,” she added, laughing.

Whetstone has fond memories of wearing the dress on her special day. “I remember feeling pretty. Kaylyn complained the whole time she was wearing the dress that it was itchy. My mom said I did the same thing.”

When her mother found out she and Robert were going to have a little girl, she sent the party dress. Now, another little girl has special memories of this very special dress.

“I danced and played in the fountain (at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church),” said Kaylyn.

And when asked if she felt pretty in the dress, a big smile crossed her face as she ducked her head, lifted up her sparking eyes and nodded a definitive yes.