He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord…
I told you my role was peacemaker. One of the first things we had to do was pick out a church. Mom didn’t have a “parish,” although she lived up the street from St. Mary’s on Union Avenue. The pastor there was nearly impossible. Before he would allow a wedding, Mom would have to enroll in the parish and actually participate in parish life. Then, maybe, just maybe, he would schedule a wedding.
The heck with that. I don’t remember exactly how we ended up at St. John Cathedral, although I think because it was the cathedral, you didn’t have to belong to a parish. They had Aug. 31, 1968 open and we took it.
The other thing I remember is the photographer we chose. His office was in the darkest bowels of Newark, under an elevated train track. I remember going there vividly because I really feared for our lives. It was that bad. But, stupid as we were, we not only picked out our package but went next door to a Chinese restaurant to eat. And it was quite good.
The DJ was another memory. We chose True Love from the movie High Society as “our song.” The only problem was, nobody knew it or had the score. We must have gone through a half dozen DJs before we found one – I don’t even remember who – who knew the song. It happened to be one of the photographer’s friends. He came up with the music and the deal was made.
In case you don’t know the song, the lyrics go like this:
Honeymooners at last alone.
Feeling far above par.
Oh, how lucky we are.
Well I give to you and you give to me,
True Love … True Love
So on and on, it will always be
True Love … True Love.
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do,
But to give to you and to give to me
Love Forever True …
Love Forever True …”
The other aspects of preparing for the wedding were pretty much a blur. I know we (Mom and I) had disagreements, especially with my Mom – on the reception hall (Brownstone), an open bar (we didn’t want one), the guest list (we wanted it small), whether kids should be allowed at the reception (we didn’t want them), even who was in the wedding). We (me) gave in. A real sore spot.
But there were other “events” during this getting to know you phase you probably should know about.
First and foremost is family. Mom really didn’t associate with her Dad and hadn’t for a number of years. In fact, she wasn’t going to invite him to the wedding. I didn’t think that was right. I have always felt family was the most important thing in the world … regardless of history. I’m proud I played a part in reconciling Mom with her Dad. It wasn’t easy. She felt abandoned. But I got them talking. She told him how she felt; he explained his side of the story. I think she finally forgave him.
Then there is the driving. Believe it or not, Mom didn’t have a license until she was 20! And, was your Grandmother Simpson mad at me for teaching her how to drive! Actually, I didn’t teach her, my father did … but I encouraged her and let her drive my car whenever she wanted.
Which brings us to her first car … a sleek, black, solid four-door tank, a/k/a a 1950 Dodge. It was a beauty. I found it listed on the bulletin board at Manhattan for 25 bucks. The little old lady said her husband had died and she didn’t drive. So I bought it, drove it back to New Jersey with a cloud of smoke, threw in a couple of cans of Risolone and never had a problem again. It was cool with, I think they called it DynaDrive. You shifted through the gears once then never had to shift again unless you came to a complete stop. It downshifted automatically. How cool was that?
Welllll, not too cool for Mom. She hated that car. And I guess it was a little tough to handle for a skinny little kid like her. I loved it, though, and usually drove it while Mom went back and forth to work in my Corvair.
We had the car for about eight months before the cam wore down and I had a hard time finding a new cam. So I junked it for $25 and bought Mom a 1959 Mercury convertible … only the roof was ripped so I had to attach an – honest – red and white checkered tablecloth to the canvas to keep out the rain. But it did come in handy when we went to pick up Christmas trees. We just took off the tablecloth and stuck the tree in the back seat. She was mortified as we drove through Paterson with a Christmas tree in the back seat. And it had some brake issues as well, but it only cost $35 and I junked it for $25 after driving it for a rainy late summer/fall/early winter!
To be continued …
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: What other people think of you is none of your business.