Sykesville woman looking for gown used to christen two generations of family White dress, petticoat fell from roof of car Thursday

"Anybody who found [the christening gown] would know immediately that it belonged to a family." Suzanne E. Olden

October 21, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

For the last five days, Suzanne E. Olden has been scouring the countryside for a lost heirloom: a christening gown worn by two generations of her family.

Olden has found a box top and wrapping paper but no dress. The package fell off the roof of her car Thursday evening, between Fleming Road in Winfield and Bartholow Road in Sykesville.

"Every time I see a white piece of paper on the side of the road, I stop," said Olden, a Sykesville resident. "I am praying somebody picked up the dress."

The full-length infant's gown and petticoat were stored at her sister's home in Winfield. Her daughter, Meghan Elizabeth Olden, 4 weeks old, would be the seventh infant in the family to wear the gown when she is baptized next month at St. Joseph Catholic Community in Eldersburg.

Getting two young children into the car for the trip back from their aunt's home complicated the simple errand. Meghan was exercising her healthy set of lungs and her 4-year-old brother was fidgeting in his car seat, Olden said.

Olden placed the box on the car roof while she settled the children and then promptly forgot about it until Friday morning.

"I was being so careful that I put it on top of the car, rather than put it on the muddy ground," she said. "Chalk it up to a new mother's sleep deprivation. I sobbed my eyes out when I realized what happened."

The search started Friday morning, and nearly everyone in the family has joined in.

Susannah E. Smith, Meghan's late great-grandmother, had made the cotton batiste dress and petticoat more than 30 years ago, embroidering white threads onto the fabric and stitching ruffles at the hemline. Age has slightly yellowed the fabric.

The baby's mother, aunt, uncle, brother and cousins have all worn it; their names and birth dates are crocheted onto the petticoat. Sue Reisig, Meghan's grandmother, planned to launder the dress and stitch her newest grandchild's name and Sept. 22, 1998, onto the petticoat before the baptismal ceremony Nov. 22.

"Anybody who found it would know immediately that it belonged to a family," Olden said.

The dress and slip were carefully wrapped in layers of tissue paper and placed in a cardboard box. Olden found the box top and some tissue on Fleming Road near Braddock Road, but there is no trace of the dress.

Olden's advertisements in local newspapers and on the radio have yielded nothing more than friendly suggestions about what to do.

"I will offer a reward, if it's the only way to get the dress back," she said.

Reisig has started sewing a new dress for Meghan, should the heirloom not be found.

"My mom is being really cool about this," said Olden. "She is sentimental, but she said 'It's a thing.' We will have another pretty dress, but it won't be the same."

Information: 410-549-2101.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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