Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My mother's story: Wedding Day, Depression style

It rained all through December and stayed above freezing, and our day came: We were going to be married! I had bought blue satin material and made my own beautiful wedding dress. Everett had bought a suit from his cousin for $2 and we were all ready for our big day. Just one catch: the rain had stopped, but with dirt roads, the mud was almost impossible to get a car through. Everett had asked a friend to take us to Bethany to get married. The friend had an old Dodge pickup truck, so Everett walked six miles to my home and the friend got there about the same time to pick us up; but we didn't get far!
The mud rolled up on those wooden spoke wheels. We all three punched mud. With me in my blue satin dress and with Everett's second-hand wedding suit, you can imagine what we began to look like. We'd punch mud and go a few feet at a time. We finally got about two miles from my home and got stuck again. The two men kept working away. I walked to a neighbor's house ahead and called the judge, who was also a preacher, and asked him to take a marriage license home with him, telling him we'd be too late to get in the courthouse, so we'd come to his house.
The pickup finally was so buried in the deep ruts of that mud road, we knew we were as far as we could go in it. So we left it in the middle of the road and walked on three miles, to 69 highway, which had been paved.
Some folks I knew lived there, the people who operated our lumber yard in Eagleville; so I went to the door and told him our hard-luck story, and asked him if he would take us on to Bethany. By then, it was five o'clock and dark. By the time we got to Bethany and got the ceremony over with, it was seven o'clock. Everett's friend and Mr. McElhiney were our witnesses. I was 20, Everett was 25, and we were the muddiest bride and groom you will ever see!
After the ceremony, he took us back to his house and fixed us something to eat, and he and his wife insisted we spend the night there; you couldn't travel anyway, except on foot. The wind had changed and it had gotten cold, so we all three stayed all night. By morning, winter had arrived with a vengeance. We watched the little McElhiney girl, four years old, open her presents under the evergreen tree they had decorated for her before we left to walk to my sister's. They also gave us breakfast; no nicer people were ever known.
Then we started walking the three miles to my sister's home. The rain had finally been replaced by zero weather. The mud was frozen solid, and the mud hunks we had left in the road were like rocks. We got to my sister's about 9:30 A.M. on Christmas morning, a Sunday. My brother-in-law had the horses harnessed up and hitched to the high-wheel cart they went to church in when the roads were bad. The cart was full, but we got to church on time. The friend walked on to his house, but we attended church, mud and all, then went to my mother's for our Christmas dinner with all my family. After dinner, we all opened our gifts. Everyone had something to open, and we had candy, nuts, and popcorn balls. In those days a pair of nice argyle socks for men were a dime; a nice white handkerchief was a nickel... but a dime or a nickel was hard to find then!
We spent a day or two with my folks, then spent three or four days with the friend with the mired-down pickup, our getaway car that had been supposed to carry us to our wedding. Then we spent two or three days with the cousin where we had met. In those days a shivaree was the usual thing, so we were shivareed three times... at my home, at Everett's cousin's, and at Everett's Dad's house! We had to treat all of them with cigars and Christmas candy.
After about two weeks, early in January, 1933, we found a little old run-down shack we could rent for one day's work a month. So we were happy to be moving into a home on our own. It was a three-room house, and I loved unpacking things I had collected in my hope chest so I could start using them.
In those days there was no electric bill, no water bill, no telephone bill, and no fuel bill. Kerosene lamps were our lights, and kerosene was 9 cents a gallon. It would last over a week. Water was pumped from a deep well and carried in buckets. On occasion, we had to draw water from the well in a gallon bucket on a rope. For heat everyone cut and sawed their own wood to burn in old wood-burning stoves. Life was simple, with no money and no bills. Telephones were battery operated, and 15 or 20 people were on one line. You turned the crank on your phone to call your neighbor. Everyone had a different ring: two shorts and a long, two longs and a short, two shorts and three longs, etc. If a doctor was needed, someone closer to town was called, and they'd go get a doctor. Doctors always made house calls.

Mother, Daddy, and Maxine
Oh yes: This nice guy I married had been married before. His wife had died giving birth to their second child; their little girl was thirteen months old at the time. (Everett's mother had died five years before this, giving birth to a baby who also died.) A nearby aunt had come to help with the baby's delivery and she wrapped the baby up and carried it through knee-deep snow to her house. So when we got married, we planned and hoped to have Everett's two children, almost four and five, with us; but the aunt refused to give him up. But we had Maxine, and she was a precious little girl. We went on, the three of us, and she was the pride of my life (and still is, in 1996). She is 69, and has celebrated her golden anniversary with my son-in-law, who has been the perfect choice Maxine made. They also have one son, 48 now, with his lovely wife, Debra, a 19-year-0ld son in college and a seventeen-year-old son.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Times were simpler and less expensive but boy they were hard ones. How things have changed over the years.

RickyB said...

I had a picture in my mind of the mud covered wedding

Debbie said...

The old saying,"Where there's a will, there's a way", can truly be applied to their wedding day. Your Mom wrote this in such a way that I could easily visualize the mud and the determination they had to become man & wife. What a joyful Christmas that must have been for them.

ingasmile said...

Truly fascinating!!


Paula said...

This is just great, I remember my Mama talking about shiverees. I wish she had recorded her life as your Mom did. Her family moved here to south texas from Okla. and lived in a tent on the Atasacosa river until the men got jobs.

Anonymous said...

Great story, I don;t want it to end. Mom, Dad and Maxine are so well dressed, you'd never know how hard the times were. Vicki

Anonymous said...

Oh Donna...I am so enjoying all of this journal...and the pictures are precious...life was simple..and good...even with all the trials...your Mom was a determined young lady LOL...I see alot of her in you...maybe not in the housecleaning gene...but in other ways...LOL...hugs...Ora

Lori said...

You have such a precious thing here from your mom!

Sharon's Cottage Quilts said...

Bless their hearts!! What a wedding day! What a Story!!

Mary Degli Esposti said...

The Bride-zillas of today are put to shame by your mother. Your parents worked for their marriage license. Did you keep a good relationship with Maxine into adulthood?

Donna Wood said...

Yes indeed, Mary, we see one another once or twice a year.