BETTER OR WORSE|
by Louise George
their own words some of yesterday’s brides tell about their weddings and the early
days of their marriages.
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. |
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
“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.
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.”
Kennedy, of Amarillo, met Carl
at church one Sunday evening in 1929. After all these years, she still calls him
“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.”
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.”
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