Sunday, November 20, 2011
November 21, 1951. The day my parents married. It was an interesting day from all the accounts I've heard of it. They married in the Methodist Church (father's religion) in Wattsburg, PA, and had their wedding dinner next door in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church (mother's religion). These two churches looked basically identical except for the sign out front.
They chose this day because it was the day before Thanksgiving. My mother was a teacher and my father was doing his student-teaching. Therefore, they would have the next two days plus the weekend off for the holiday. So they worked all day and got married at 7pm. That in itself would make it an interesting day for me. I can't imagine working all day the day of my wedding. That, however, was just the beginning of a very interesting evening.
There was a blizzard that night and the minister who was marrying them lived in another town. He was worried about being able to make it home as the storm worsened. He basically bailed as soon as the service was over. It wasn't until the next day when my mother asked to see the license that they realized he hadn't signed it before he left so they weren't legally married yet. They were married in the eyes of God on November 21, 1951 but it wasn't legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until November 26, 1951.
Another funny story from that night was Uncle Seth and the potatoes. He got caught by a mobile weigh station carrying about a half-ton overload. He had two choices: dump them and get to the wedding on time but probably get fired by the farmer he was driving for OR stand out there and try to sell about a half ton of potatoes by the side of the road. He chose the latter. He didn't make it to the wedding but he made it to the dinner. Not sure if he managed to sell all the potatoes or not but I do know that later when he had his own farm he and the farmer he had been working for opened a potato chip factory together so it must have had a favorable outcome.
The funniest story I've heard from that day was told to me by my cousin, Ronald. He was considered by my father as his baby brother rather than his nephew--I didn't even know he was actually my cousin until I was about 10 or 11. So here's the wedding day story. I'm not sure how old Ronald was at this time. I'm guessing he was maybe 11 or so. After the wedding dinner when my parents were getting ready to leave on their honeymoon he threw a royal fit and insisted that he was going with them. He was afraid that my father would never come back because the last time he had left he went to fight in Korea and was gone for a year. Ronald didn't want to take any chances on his big brother disappearing again. Nobody could get him to stop. His mother couldn't, my grandmother couldn't, my father couldn't. So, Ronald and my grandmother wound up climbing in the car with them and going with them to the hotel where they spent the first night of their honeymoon. He told me that he wouldn't even stay in a separate room from them. So their first night married was spent with mother and younger brother in the same room. The next day my uncle picked them up and my parents continued on their honeymoon. I truly can't imagine Ronald pulling something like that because he is so calm and laid-back but he told me that's what happened and I have no reason to doubt him.
The saddest thing about this day that I've heard was from my mother. She got scared in the bride's room and told her father she couldn't go through with it. She was 24 and she was used to being alone and she didn't think she could handle it. He told her she wasn't going to shame the family by standing her groom up at the altar and led her out there and marched her down the aisle. Of course, it turned out well but it could have been a disaster.
They were married just a few weeks shy of 54 years when my mother passed away six years ago. They had their ups and downs like most couples do but I think for the most part it was good. I know that I, for one, am extremely glad that my grandfather marched her down the aisle when she was having her doubts because if he hadn't done that I wouldn't be here.
Happy Anniversary, Mama and Daddy! I hope you're having a nice celebration today. I'll be thinking of you. I do that every day but today I will be remembering it as your special day.