Today would have been my parents 66th wedding anniversary so it seemed fitting to tell the story of their wedding. It is actually the story of a wedding that never happened but I’m getting ahead of myself…
Doris and Charley met in 1946 at a “Welcome Home” party celebrating his brother, Jimmy’s return from WWII. Charley had been medically discharged from the service the year before because of stomach ulcers and was working as a truck driver for Schmidts Brewery. Doris had come to the party with her friend Gertie who was Charley and Jimmy’s cousin. My mom was 16 at the time. My dad was 23! The first time I heard this I said to my parents,
“You would never had let me date a 23 year old guy when I was 16!” Mom’s answer was that times were different then and she knew the family and so did her parents. Anyway, they were instantly smitten and three years later Charley bought Doris a diamond ring on the famous Jewelers’ Row in Philadelphia. They both wanted a small family wedding and set a date in October. The ceremony would be at the courthouse followed by a party with family and friends at the local VFW hall. The food would be homemade by my grandmothers, good wholesome food! Doris purchased a white suit to wear.
That was the plan, however best laid plans sometimes go awry!
The story is that even though they were very much in love, my father was a bit reluctant when it came to marriage. On the evening of September 2nd he and mom were at a local bar with a group of friends when conversation turned to the upcoming wedding. Some of my dads buddies were kidding them, saying that my dad would never go through with it. Well my father, who was the better (or worse) for beer wanted to prove them wrong and said to my mom,
“Come on Dar’! Let’s go somewhere and get married tonight!” According to my mother, he had his mind made up and wouldn’t budge. She figured if she didn’t go with him he would wake up alone and hungover in another state! She told him she would do it but only if they could find another couple to come along as witnesses. There was also the added bonus of having someone as their designated driver! Mom’s first choice was her best friend Tillie who was suppose to be the maid of honor but when they woke her and her husband up they weren’t too thrilled about taking road trip in the middle of the night. Go figure. They ended up with a cousin and her husband.
They needed to drive four hours to Virginia, the closest state that didn’t require a three day waiting period for a wedding license. Charley could get some sleep on the ride down and hopefully once he was fully sober, he would still be ready to elope! Another cousin was enlisted to break the news to my mom’s parents so they wouldn’t worry.
So on the morning of September 3, 1949 Doris Mae married Charles William in Alexandria,Virginia-the first town they came to across the state line. Doris wore a navy blue skirt and jacket and Charles, a slightly wrinkled grey suit. The lady clerk in the courtroom scraped up a bouquet of flowers. The next month, on the originally planned wedding date, they gathered with their family and friends for a belated reception. The rest is history!