I Do

Wedding rings

I guess I could put this post under ‘Old Stuff ’.  The wife is 65, and I’ve had her for over 47 years but, discretion being the better part of waking up tomorrow without a pillow over my face, I’ll just recount the fateful day.

I was raised as a Christmas/Easter kind of Baptist.  Churches and religion meant little to me.  The wife was raised in a strict Catholic family, but like two older sisters before her, had started ‘questioning’, and soon also left “The Church.”

We had met at an Adult Education retraining course in February, and hit it off right away.  We were thinking of waiting till we both graduated and had jobs.  We spoke of waiting till Sept. 21 the following year – not only my birthday, but also her parents’ anniversary.

I got out, and got a job, and she would soon follow.  We saw no point in waiting.  I told my Mom that we planned to just go to City Hall, but she insisted that we both should have a day to remember.  We talked the Anglican minister in my home town into marrying us.  The guest list was only about 25 people.  All the ‘Good Catholics’ in her family boycotted, although the two ex-Catholic sisters and their husbands showed up.

We chose Dec. 2, 1967, as a mutually agreeable date.  My sister was living directly across the street from Mom and Dad, in the ex-Presbyterian Manse, which had a huge living room/drawing room combo.  She and Mom cooked like crazy, and that’s where the reception was held.

The wedding ceremony was held after the regular 11 AM service, once the minister shooed the parishioners home.  We had bought a wedding license at City Hall, but the church issued another one, so we are twice married.  Perhaps that’s why it’s lasted so long.

The brunch reception started around 1 PM.  We gave the camera to my brother to take a few pictures for posterity.  He quickly got loaded at the open bar.  He remembered to take the shots; it’s just that people have the tops of their heads cut off, or one arm.

Long before the internet, and without phoning ahead, I had hoped to get us to Niagara Falls for a bit of a honeymoon.  About four o’clock, Mom strongly suggested that we get underway.  A freezing rain storm had blown in off Lake Huron.

I checked the car over before we left.  There was some soap on the windows that was easily removed, but no tin cans dragging from strings at the back.  We took the highway south, out of town, and turned off onto the secondary road that headed easterly towards The Falls.  Within a mile we were sliding off the crown of the road on a half-inch of ice.

Do we continue slowly, hugging the gravel shoulder, or take a different route??!  I elected to turn around.  Just as we got back to the main highway, a sander/salter truck rolled past.  Follow Him!!!  He went 30 miles southwest, down the lakeshore, and then turned southeast.

At some point, we began to notice a smell, a definite aroma.  I stopped and raised the hood.  One or more of ‘my friends’ had jammed three small whitefish between the engine block and the exhaust manifold.  Heated up with 30 miles of driving, the hot exhaust was cooking the fish, and burning off the fish-oil.  I managed to remove them with very few burns, but the smell lingered with the car for a week or more.

All plans definitely out the window, the best we could hope for were roads not too icy to prevent us from at least getting back to Kitchener.  Such was not to be.  As the freezing rain abated, it changed to wet, slippery, clingy snow.  The Ontario Works truck ahead stopped seasoning the road, and put his plow blade down and pushed the accumulating white stuff back.

We followed him to the small town of Listowel, which was barely bigger than my stage-coach stop burg.  We hoped that he would continue on through, towards Kitchener, but, just at the outskirts of town, he pulled into his home base, apparently done for the day, or at least his shift.  Now where??!

The town of Listowel was known only for The Blue Barn Inn, a motel with a couple of dozen rooms, an in-house restaurant with food famous for miles, and an entertainment room where B-acts and wannabes played.  Could we get a room?  Since no-one else drove in over the ice, there were rooms to spare.

After settling in the room, we now wondered about supper.  What little we had eaten, was 7 hours ago.  I went downstairs to the dining room and asked if I could get something to take back to the room.  On Sunday nights there was no a la carte – service was only from a giant buffet.

The cooks had worked all day to prepare for the usual huge crowd, and the ice storm had prevented almost all of them from showing up.  When the host found out that we were newly-weds, stranded there, he asked for a couple of dollars, and told me to take as much food and drink as I could carry on a cafeteria tray.  We remembered the place with nostalgic fondness for years, but, about 30 years later, it burned to the ground.

Very little of the day was as we had hoped or planned, and none of it elegant or impressive like a Hawaiian location wedding/honeymoon. It was an adventure, where all eventually turned out well, and set a sort of pattern for the marriage.  If we could survive this, we could survive each other.  We’ve passed 47 years, and are heading for the Golden 50.

Even as a second marriage for my Mom, and a war-delayed first for my Dad, they celebrated their 60th anniversary just before they died.  While we increasingly complain about aches and pains, and various medical problems, I think we’re strong and healthy enough to reach that mark also!     😀

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