In 1952, Conshohocken native Marie D’Alessandro married Ambler native Anthony James Donato at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish in Conshy and the couple then took a train to New York City for their honeymoon. D’Alessandro was 22 and a graduate of Conshohocken High School. Donato was 27 and had graduated from Ambler High School. He then served in the military during World War II.
For the honeymoon, the now Marie D’Alessandro Donato packed her favorite outfits in a green suitcase and enjoyed the rainy trip to the Big Apple. After the honeymoon she had the outfits cleaned and repacked them in the same green suitcase. Her suitcase and clothes have now gone viral on TikTok thanks to her granddaughter.
But first, why did she put the clothes back in the suitcase? In an interview with Insider, D’Alessandro Donato explained:
The 91-year-old grandmother told Insider that she decided to create a fashion capsule of what she wore because it was one of her favorite memories and she wanted to preserve that.
“The excitement of the future ahead was what my honeymoon meant to me,” she said. “I guess, in a way, I wanted to save that feeling in the suitcase for my daughters and their daughters.”
After the honeymoon, the Donato’s moved into a home in Plymouth Meeting, where they raised four children.
The suitcase was passed down to daughter Marie who never opened it. She married her high school sweetheart Jeff Bill. The pair attended Plymouth Whitemarsh High School together. Marie and Jeff Bill then had three children, including the suitcase’s current custodian Maddy, who grew up in the Ambler area and graduated from Wissahickon High School in 2013.
Maddy Bill was especially close to her grandparents because she would spend each day with them while her parents worked at their landscaping business. When she was old enough she worked at Coneheads Ice Cream, Massa, San Marco, and Lower Gwynedd Day Camp.
She is now living in Philadelphia and working as a social media specialist and has inherited the suitcase. After 70 years she was the first to open it.
Maddy Bill was surprised to find the clothes in really good condition and decided to share her grandmother’s fashion sense on TikTok. She is trying on the clothes and showing photos from the honeymoon of her grandmother wearing the same outfits.
The best part, Marie D’Alessandro Donato is alive and well at 91 years old. While she doesn’t fully understand TikTok, she gets a kick out of seeing her granddaughter in the outfits and knowing so many people have watched the videos.
You can watch the first three videos below. You can read the entire Insider article (which has more detail) here. You can follow Maddy Bill on TikTok here.