Saturday, April 18, 2015

What I Never Knew About My Parents' Wedding

At the start of it all, Mom knew Dad was a night owl when she married him. For weeks leading up to their wedding in 1944, Dad would visit her at 10 o’clock at night. Mom lived miles away in Doland, South Dakota. She worked at the Northwestern Public Service office and had graduated from high school the spring before in 1943. 

Mom, 18-years-old, on her
wedding day when Dad, 19, came to pick her up

My dad’s dad, Grandpa Pete, had died a month earlier (I’ll explain more in future post) on March 18, so at the age of 19, my dad became the man of the farm near Hitchcock with plenty of work to do. Grandma Elizabeth, Dad’s mom whom he lived with on the farm and whom I wrote about here, didn’t like the late night visits, so she encouraged them to get married.

Stella & Waldo's wedding portrait

The ceremony took place on a Sunday morning after the main church service on April 16, 1944 at Ebenezer church. It was the custom for the woman to go with the man, so that's why the ceremony wasn't at Emmanuel, Mom's church. Dad drove to Doland during the Sunday school hour to pick up Mom, her mother, and one of her sisters. They had no car.

Back in the day, men and women sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary in the Mennonite Brethren Church, but for this occasion, the bride and groom sat up on stage in front of the minister, Reverend DJ Mendel (Smoky Joe's dad), with their backs to the congregation. It was just a regular church service until the end when a short marriage ceremony was performed.

Dad said he has no idea what the sermon was about that day. The entire service was in German and rather than say “I do,” they said, “yah” to commit. And there was no kiss-the-bride announcement either. Dad doesn’t remember where their attendants, Aunt Bina and his cousin Miller Glanzer, were during the ceremony.

He does recall; however, tears rolling down his cheeks when my mom's other sister, Aunt Grace, and neighbor lady Ruth Decker sang "Blessed be the Tie that Binds." Click here to hear the lyrics and various renditions of the old hymn.

Dad & Mom with their wedding cake on the south side of the house

So the ceremony was simple and short without a lot of hoopla. In fact, his sister Mary Ruth and mother just made sure all the important parties were in church that day.

Grandma Elizabeth invited the minister and his wife Katrina and other close family members to the house then for a celebration dinner of noodle soup. Dad remembers my cousin Judy running around and estimates she was around 3-years-old. Cousin Cynthia was there too, but younger. Maybe my cousins can fill in some blanks here by commenting on the blog as to what they remember.

Mom's family makes a visit.
Aunt Bina, Aunt Grace with Cousin Judy in front, Grandma Katie, and Mom

What about the opening of gifts? Dad doesn't remember that part. Seems Grandma Katie, my mom’s mom, gave Mom a wardrobe for a wedding gift, but it was too tall for the room, so they had to take it back to Doland. Dad doesn’t know about any replacement gift. He doesn’t remember how the item was transported either or when the exchange was even attempted.

There was no honeymoon. Dad said the next day Mom was on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor in the front room upstairs. Sounds like Mom. Work before play. Always. I am a lot like her.

Sure wish I’d have talked with Mom more about this sort of thing when she was alive because she had a photographic memory. But I’m glad that on his 71st wedding anniversary, Dad still remembers a few precious details of the day he married the only woman he'd ever kissed.

Any interesting wedding details in your families? How about the circumstances of your parents' wedding?


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