Linda and Paul’s Wedding Story
Plans were made well in advance. We were to be married on Thursday November 25th, 1971 at 10:30 a.m. on Vesper Hill at Camp Mench Mills, by Reverend “Bob” West. We chose the camp because Paul had spent summers there and thought it was a beautiful spot. Vesper Hill is where the camp kids would go to meditate. To get to Vesper Hill you had to walk through a tunnel of pine trees. At the top of the hill was an open area of grass surrounded by trees. From there you could see down into the valleys for miles, a beautiful sight. The minister was suggested to us by Paul’s niece Robin. She had met him at the camp that summer and liked him because he was young and asked the kids to call him Bob. Since we had chosen the camp as a chapel and decided not to use the standard vows, we thought Rev. West would be perfect. We met with him the week before our wedding at the camp to show him our vows. He brought along several poems to read at the ceremony that he thought we would like. Everything was set up for our perfect wedding day; however, on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving and the day before our wedding, our luck changed and it began to snow and rain.
We both had to work on Wednesday. I had ordered our cake at an Italian bakery a block from where I worked. I asked the baker to deliver the cake to me at work. He did. What a mistake. As he walked the cake to the beauty shop where I was working it began to snow flurry; unfortunately, he hadn’t bothered to cover the cake. The icing got a little wet from the snow. When it dried, it was just ugly. I hadn’t wanted the usual wedding cake, so I had ordered a sheet cake. I wanted it decorated in autumn colors but he decorated it for Halloween, or so it seemed. That same day, Paul got a call from the car dealer saying that the Vega we ordered in August had finally arrived. Paul was so excited about it and he decided to pick it up right after work to surprise me with its arrival. It must have been hard for him not to tell me when he called me at work earlier that afternoon. After he picked up some of the food for the wedding lunch reception, which was to be held at our home in Hyde Park, he picked up me and the cake. When we got home, I found that a tea kettle that I had ordered about the same time as the car had also arrived. While it wasn’t as important as the car, we should have known then that tomorrow, our wedding day, would be filled with lots of surprises.
November 25th, our wedding day had finally arrived, but without any sign of the beautiful, sunny day we had hoped for. The week before when we met with the minister at the camp the weather was like a beautiful Indian-Summer day. Our special day was rainy and cold, so much so we needed our winter coats. Our friends, Chuck and Linda Fister, had arrived at our house at 8:30am to pick us up. They were going to be our witnesses and thought they should drive us to the wedding in their car. We took a few pictures, checked to see if we had everything, and then left for Mench Mills. The rain had melted the snow in the city, but as we got closer to the camp it was snowing and there was quite a bit of accumulation. Our journey was half way over when the real trouble began. The country roads were windy, hilly, and, of course, unplowed. At the first hill, Chuck decided to get a “runny” in an attempt to make it up. Well, the car slid off to the side of the road and got stuck. We all got out to push it. Even Linda Fister, who was 3 months pregnant at the time, insisted on helping. When the car was finally freed, we tried another road, but that led right back to the same hill, only this time there were several cars trying to get up. One of which belonged to my brother, Russell. In his car was my other brother, David, Russell’s daughter Janie, my mother, and a friend of the family. We watched several cars go over the hill. They had made it, so Chuck wanted to try it again. Russell decided to take another road, which would take him longer but he was sure it would be plowed. We made it over that hill successfully, only to find another hill. We got to just about the top when we slipped into a snow bank. Again we tried pushing, but it was too far into the bank, so Paul ran to a nearby farm house we had passed to see if he could get some help. While he was gone, several cars stopped at the top of the hill because they could not chance getting past our car. One was a jeep, and several of the men waiting hooked up chains to use the jeep to pull us free. While all this was going on, the Fisters had told one of the men helping, Donald, where we were going and why. Donald said he knew of better roads to get to the camp, and had a station wagon that would get us there. So, we had Donald take us. First, Chuck drove his car to the farm and asked to park it and he asked if we could use their restroom. Fortunately the bathroom was inside, much to my surprise. Walking through the house, we encountered women getting the holiday meal ready. The house was filled with a wonderful aroma. When I went back out to join the others, Donald said he needed gas. Fortunately, the farm had its own gas pump. We were saved again. Donald’s station wagon was weighed down by several tires in the back. There was also a black girl sitting in the very back with those tires. You could hardly see her. She was sort of hiding behind the tires. In the front seat was an old woman, who Donald introduced and said she was going to his house for the holidays. He never mentioned the black girl, which we did think a little strange. Donald finally did get us to Mench Mills; however, it had all been in vain, because no one else was there and we didn’t know if they had already come and gone or just never made it. You see, by this time, we were an hour and a half late to our own wedding! What were we to do next?
We decided to head back to the farm for our car. On the way to the farm we saw my brother Russell driving by and we stopped to explain what happened. We told him to follow us back to the farm. We thanked Donald for being so kind and got into our car to head for the New Jerusalem Hotel, hoping that it would be open so we could make some phone calls and decide what to do next. Getting there wasn’t so simple. To this day we don’t know how it happened, but our car went off the road again into a ditch just short of hitting a pole. No one was hurt, but we needed a wrecker to pull us out. The Fisters stayed behind to wait for the wrecker while the rest of us drove to the hotel in Russell’s car. The New Jerusalem Hotel was open. While powdering my nose, Paul jokingly asked if there was minister in the house. Believe it or not, there was. His name was Amos Seldomridge and he was the minister from Old Gossenhopper U.C.C. in Woxoll. Unreal as it seems, he agreed to marry us, after he finished his Thanksgiving meal. The wait was fine with us, because the Fisters, our marriage license, and our wedding rings were all back in the ditch. Russell and Paul drove back to tell the Fisters the good news and to bring them, the license, and the rings back for the wedding. While they were gone, I had to make a few phone calls. The first one was to Paul’s parents. I got no answer, which upset me because I had visions of them stranded on one of those roads we slid off of. The next was to the Fisters’ home because they were expecting Linda’s family from Chicago. Chuck’s mother answered and said that Linda’s parents still had not arrived. I filled her in and said not to worry.
Finally, everyone was ready. The minister even had a chance to look over the vows and poems we planned to use because my mother had a copy of them with her. We would not have needed the vows because Paul and I memorized them, but we didn’t know the poems as they were to be read by the minister. The manager of the New Jerusalem Hotel kindly gave us a private dining room to use for our ceremony. At 2:00 pm we were married.
After the ceremony we shook hands and gave our thanks to the minister and the hotel staff. We exchanged hugs and kisses with the family and friends who made it there. We took pictures, which unsurprisingly were not very good photos. We thanked the minister again and paid for his family’s Thanksgiving meal. Chuck and Linda drove us to our home to prepare for our guests who were scheduled to arrive at 3:00pm.
We had everything we needed for our celebration except for ice to chill the magnum of champagne, so Paul went for some. I began to worry when after a while Paul hadn’t returned with the ice. I remembered that just before we got married, Russell asked Paul if he still wanted to go through with it after all that had happened that day. Paul said he did. So I ruled out that he ran away. Eventually, he did return. The reason for his delay – a flat tire, on a brand new car. What else?!
When the guests arrived we began telling the story over and over, which by then seemed quite funny and promoted a good bit of teasing. Paul’s parents, his sister, her three children, our friends, Dave and Elaine Lykens, and Bob and Kathy Deim had all tried to get to the wedding site at the camp, but because of the road conditions they had to give up, which was just as well, since they would have missed it. That evening Paul called the minister, Rev. West, and found out that he had never left his home that day because his driveway was full of snow and he thought that if we really wanted to get married we would find a way. I guess he was right! The rest of the day was much better, except for Paul’s nose bleed and a few other minor things that could have happened to anyone at anytime . . .
There was a honeymoon trip. We had won two round-trip tickets to fly from Reading to Washington DC playing the Roulette table at a Casino Night with the Flying Dutchman Ski Club. We had a great time at the Casino Night and on our trip.