An annual December repost
St. Bernadette’s R. C. Church, Brooklyn
….so I had just turned 21 and in basic training at Ft. Dix N. J. and she was 18, fresh out of high school the previous June (I took her to her Prom) and working at Ma Bell.
We were in love. Jeez were we in love…and I was coming home for 10 days leave over Christmas and New Years.
“What are you doing this weekend?” asks I. “Why? What have you got in mind?”
“Want to get married?” says I. “Oh yes!” says she.
Well needless to say our very Italian parents had a fit. Her mother was screaming and ready to literally kill me. My mother kept repeating “You know, you don’t HAVE to marry her!”.
There was an immediate family “get-together” at her house – the four parents sitting around a dining room table over a jug of Villa Armando Vino Rustico discussing all the reasons we needed to wait. We sat on a couch together while our parents were deciding our lives.
Jacking up all my new found Army confidence I gently reminded all present that “I’m 21 now and she is 18 – we don’t need anyone’s permission to get married. We would simply like you to be as happy as we are”.
My love was very proud of me. The mothers glared. The fathers relented.
“OK – you can get married – BUT you have to get married in church!”. “Church” of course meant the local Catholic church.
So off went my baby and me to see our local priest. “We want to get married!” “Oh! Bless you! and when do you want to get married?” “This weekend”
See, the marriage had to be announced to the congregation for 4 Sundays in a row before the ceremony. “But Father!; if you don’t marry us we might live in sin!” We couldn’t have two good parish kids living in sin now could we? Not in 1963.
We needed to get a waiver from the Archbishop – so off we went sealed letter in hand from our parish priest to the Archbishop’s office.
The Archbishop’s office was run by nuns whom we couldn’t see behind opaque glass. We were simply told to slide the sealed letter through the slot and sit. Eventually we received a sealed letter through the slot in return and told to take it to our priest.
Our parish priest opened the letter and we waited for his answer.
“Well you got the waiver. When would you like to be married?”
“No. Sorry. Can’t do it Sunday I can marry you this Saturday, December 28″.
My brother was the best man. My love’s cousin was the Maid of Honor (“are you pregnant sweetie?”) We bought our rings together. Her dress was made by a dressmaker – originally for someone else – but was now “available”…..it was beautiful and with some alterations, fit perfectly. I wore my buck Private’s uniform.
And so we were married on a bright warm Saturday afternoon on December 28, 1963 at the same church where my father and I had been baptized and my parents had been married.
My new mother-in-law hosted the party at her house. We personally called all the invited guests (not enough time for invitations!). We didn’t have a honeymoon – I had to go back to Ft. Dix on January 2. On our 25th anniversary she and I went on the grandest honeymoon money could buy but that’s another post.
We had our triumphs and tragedies. We had four children together and buried two together. We were married for 40 years before I buried her. She was always my lover. She was always my friend. My best friend.
Today on my dresser is our prom picture, our “cutting the cake” shot, a picture of my mom and dad sitting at the dining room table (I forgot that they were ever so young) and pictures of our daughters.
Total time spent on wedding – 5 days. Money? Very little.
We saw Tommy Edwards at the Living Room the night of the Prom