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 Texas : Features : Columns : History by George
by Louise George

In their own words some of yesterday’s brides tell about their weddings and the early days of their marriages.
Louise George
According to old newspaper society pages, there were some lovely weddings in and around the Texas Panhandle during the first half of the 1900s. At one of those events, guests were ushered into an elaborately decorated church to witness elegantly gowned bride’s attendants precede an even more elegantly gowned bride down the aisle to meet her tuxedoed groom and his groomsmen waiting at the altar. After dignified and solemn vows were spoken, a festive reception honored the newlyweds who would soon be off to some distant and exciting destination for their honeymoon. Such affairs were, of course, only for the wealthy.

Personal interviews with brides of that time period revealed details about the weddings of couples with more modest resources. A few couples chose a simpler version of a church wedding, but more often they married in the bride’s parent’s home or in the home of a family friend with only members of the immediate families in attendance. Some went to the parsonage with a witness or two, and others eloped to avoid even that much formality. In many cases the costs for the entire affair included the license fee, the price of a new dress and maybe a tank of gas if there was a honeymoon. Few couples even considered a honeymoon. In their own words some of yesterday’s brides tell about their weddings and the early days of their marriages.

Mable Stockton was an active church member in Amarillo. In fact, she met Roy at a church social. They were married in 1926, but not at the church.

“I had a pink chiffon dress that I bought. It was at night, so I didn’t have a hat. We just went to the pastor’s parsonage and got married. We didn’t have a wedding; we just went and got married. I really didn’t care if I had one or not. Not too many people had big weddings back then.

“We built our home before we got married and moved right into it. We never did have to pay rent. Roy was having the house built while we were engaged, and it was ready to move into.

“Roy’s mother lived with us all the time from the time we first married. She had no income whatsoever and her other boys didn’t help at all at any time she was with us. That was difficult, for her to be with us all the time, but she wasn’t the kind to interfere. It was just the third party there more than anything else. Finally we moved a little house in on our lot and that’s where she lived until she died.”

Nola and Charlie Sheldon married in Texhoma, Oklahoma, and moved to a farm east of Dumas, Texas a few years later. Nola told about her wedding.

“We got married at the parsonage on March 30, 1930. We didn’t have a big wedding. We just went and got married. I did have a new dress though. I can remember my mother took some hens to town to sell to buy the new dress. The one I bought was one of those that were longer in the back than it was in the front. That was the style back then. My sister went with us, but we had to have two witnesses, so the preacher’s wife witnessed. Her four year old son sat in a chair and watched.

“After we got married we moved in with his parents. My sister and me were talking about that not long ago. Fay moved in with her in-laws when she was first married too. That is a heartache both ways. I mean, for the in-laws and for you too. Of course, back in those days you had so much to do; you didn’t have time to fuss or anything. And too, it’s like Fay said, it wasn’t that you fussed or anything, because back then you didn’t fuss with older people. You just took it and went on. The kids nowadays would probably have blowed up. But we just got along fine in everything. The idea was though, you just didn’t feel like it was your home.”

Ruth and Grover Furr were married in 1936 at a small Lutheran church near Olney, Texas. She said about her wedding, “Elsie, my second oldest sister made my dress. I had pulled bolls and bought material. My dress was just a plain crepe, and it had a veil and a train.

“We had a pretty big dinner when we got married. It wasn’t my idea. Elsie was kind of big on having things like that. We all pitched in and worked and got everything going. We cooked some turkeys and a goose or two and baked some pies. I don’t remember what kind of vegetables we had, but we had all kinds of stuff. They said we fed about a hundred, but I don’t think we had quite that many.

“There was no honeymoon. We spent the night there at my mother’s and the next morning we went out to Grover’s daddy’s. He was right in cotton season, so we just went to work. We never had a honeymoon. You didn’t take a honeymoon or vacation. If we had went on a honeymoon, there wouldn’t have been any need in us coming back. That’s just about the extent of it.”

Cindy Kennedy, of Amarillo, met Carl at church one Sunday evening in 1929. After all these years, she still calls him a prince.

“We went together about a year before we got married. Mostly what we did was church things. After we had gone together a few months, one day we drove out, and it was a beautiful sunset that day, just beautiful, and he asked me to marry him. I didn’t turn him down. We didn’t have a big wedding. We just married very quietly at my mother’s house on December 20, 1930. We went to the Capitol Hotel to spend the night.

“The next morning we had breakfast and started down to Carl’s home near Fort Worth to see his family. We had been saving nickels and dimes to buy gasoline to go down there. It wasn’t easy times. Carl had a shoe box in his car, and we would put our coins in there to save up for our trip, and that’s what we had for our honeymoon. We’d stop and get ten gallons of gas and give them $1.90 in nickels. We went out to the edge of Fort Worth and stayed all night at a motel there and paid them in nickels and dimes. I think it was four dollars and something.”

Ada Hutton was born in 1897. She lived in Dalhart, Texas for eighty-two years. She was one-hundred and one when she shared these memories of her wedding.

“We got married in April in 1915. We didn’t get married in Dalhart. We ran away. They suspicioned that we were going to get married, but we didn’t tell it. Raymond hated a show. We got married in Clayton, New Mexico. It was just a little ways over there and lots of people went up there to get married. There was a gravel road that was a part of that highway that goes up to Denver. They got it paved later. We went in a Ford car, a model T. The Fords were coming in by the time we got married. When we got enough money we had a Ford too. Everybody had a Ford.

“My mother didn’t like it much because we ran away and got married, but as time went by, she learned to love Raymond. Sometimes I didn’t know why in the world I married Raymond. At other times, I was just real glad I did. That’s like everybody else, I guess.”

Chances are that all the women wondered “why in the world” from time to time, but none of them mentioned that they ever considered divorce. Mable was married nearly seventy years before she became a widow, Nola fifty-nine, Ada fifty-three, Ruth fifty-two and Cindy thirty-nine. The simplicity of the wedding ceremonies evidently had no effect on the longevity of the marriages. But, it seems the vows they said to each other had everything to do it. In that day and time when brides and grooms said, “I do,” and “I will” they must have really and truly meant “I do” and “I will” – no matter what.

© Louise George
History by George
November 1 , 2004
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