In 1965, in a small town in northern Minnesota, Diana Parker, a girl with bowl-cut blond hair, wore a little red plaid dress for her kindergarten class photo.
A year later, Diana’s next-youngest sister, Lana, wore the same dress for her picture day. Then Lynell. Then Liza. Then Corrine, and finally, the sixth Parker sister, Sarah.
It’s been 51 years since that first kindergarten picture day — and in that time, the original six sisters have passed the little red plaid dress down to their own daughters.
Last week, at Elk River Elementary School, 30 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Aubrey Brandt became the 17th girl in the Parker family to wear the dress for her kindergarten class picture.
“Each year, it got put in a cedar chest with my mom’s wedding dress,” Liza Parker, 50, told The Post by phone. “And then it didn’t get taken out again until the next one in line was ready for it.”
“We always just called it ‘the little red dress.’ ”
The dress is in remarkable shape, given all it’s been through.
“It’ s cotton, and my mom just kept it in really good shape,” Liza said of Janice Parker, 82, of Mora, Minn.
Still, there have been some mishaps.
“It did get ripped when Aubrey’s older sister was swinging on the monkey bars at school a couple of years ago,” Liza said. “My mom just put it back together again with two-way sewing tape.”
The tradition has suffered other close calls. When the sixth and last Parker sister, Sarah, reached kindergarten, she refused to wear the dress at first.
“My dad was always hoping for a boy, and then she came along, and she was a little tomboy and didn’t want to wear the dress,” Liza remembered of Sarah.
“My mom put her foot down. My mom said, ‘After five girls, you really need to wear this.’ ”
The family joked at the time that Sarah might someday have a daughter of her own who would balk at wearing it, too, and sure enough, Sarah’s youngest, Aubrey, also tried to break with tradition last week.
“She was a tomboy like her mother and said, ‘Nope, I’m not wearing that thing,’ ” Liza said of her niece.
But with a 51-year tradition at risk, Sarah devised a compromise: If Aubrey wore the dress on picture day, Mom would get her monster-truck-rally tickets.
It worked, though Aubrey, too, negotiated hard.
“She wore little pants underneath the dress and little tennis shoes — and a Twins ball cap,” said Liza.
The dress is now back in storage, waiting for Aubrey’s cousin Parker, now 1 year old.
“Parker — she’s the daughter of Keri, who’s the daughter of Lynn — will be the first of the third generation to wear it,” Liza said.
“So it will come out of the chest for her in four years.”