“So Long as We Both Shall Live”

April 6, 2009 - 1,086 views

I drove the new Chevy with Beef following me in the Pontiac and we arrived at the Watts home in time for a chicken dinner with the family and some of the wedding guests. That Wednesday, September 1, 1937 must have been the hottest for that date on record. After dinner I took a tub bath before dressing for the wedding at 2:00 p.m. Reece Burns, my Best Man, was with me when I tried to dry off with a towel after the bath. Several times, before I could dry myself with the towel, perspiration would cover my whole body. I began to wonder if I ever could get dressed. With Reece’s help I succeeded.

The Rev. Lloyd Powers, Madeline’s beloved longtime Baptist Pastor, performed the wedding ceremony in the living room of the Watts home. Madeline’s parents, John and Etta Watts; her brother Ralph and his wife, Susie and their son, Billie, attended. “Captain Jack” and “Mall Tulley with Charlie, Ruth and their daughter, Lenore Phillips were there. Matilda Whitlatch, a sorority sister, played the piano. Floyd Crane attended, too. Brady and Mary were my only family members attending. (My Mother could not cope with highly emotional experiences so she and Dad were not there.) Madeline’s best friend, Ruth Powers–eldest daughter of Pastor Powers–was Maid of Honor. Reece Burns “stood up” with me.

I recall an interesting comment from Pastor Powers during a visit with him before the wedding. He said, “You are going to learn that you have married strangers.” I don’t believe Madeline and I have ever found that to be true.

After receiving congratulations from the guests, and enjoying wedding cake and punch, we left on our honeymoon–not yet knowing where we would stop for the night. Floyd Crane left for New York State driving the Scout Pontiac and carrying a load of Madeline’s possessions. Included was the beautiful American Chestnut hope chest with hammered aluminum trim built by her father.

When Beef got back to Hornell, Chief Dunn asked him what he thought of the bride and Beef replied, “If Randy can’t get along with her, he can’t get along with anybody.”

After a few blocks of driving we stopped to remove the tin cans tied to the back bumper of the car and then were off into Pennsylvania and finally New York and Camp Gorton on a two-weeks honeymoon. Before we reached Morgantown Madeline opened a letter from her Mother and with it was a “keepsake” cameo necklace. Madeline wept softly and I was touched.

Road signs advertising a hotel with “special rates for honeymooners” led us to the impressive Summit Hotel atop a Pennsylvania mountain. Checking into a room we changed into bathing suits for a swim in the hotel’s Cabana Beach. (The pool didn’t live up to its name and we didn’t swim long.) The hotel dining room looked a bit too ritzy for our budget so we drove down the mountain to a restaurant called “Dad’s Place” and enjoyed a ham dinner.

Back at the hotel, it was fun walking around and listening to the orchestra play the dance music of the period in the ballroom. Enough to say our first night of married love was glorious!