It was a sleepy, warm Saturday night in the Kentucky counties immediately south of Cincinnati. Friends and family from across the area gathered at the church on the southern corner (yes, the roads run SW-NE and NW-SE right there) of Graves Ave. and Home St. in Erlanger to bear witness to a third-grade teacher living in Fairborn, OH, and the minister at Bromley Christian Church (situated just a few miles north of the evening’s festivities) becoming united in holy matrimony.
The two had met a little over a year earlier, when her father, the minister’s physician, decided to visit the church in Bromley one Sunday morning with his wife and middle daughter. They took the minister out to lunch afterward, and sufficient sparks flew between the two younger folks that they soon arranged a date. Things became serious quickly enough, and before you knew it, Caroline Houston and Richard Harris, who were to become my parents, were making plans for a wedding, one which occurred sixty years ago tonight.
Someone–though I doubt it, maybe my grandmother Harris?–added watercolor to one of the invitations and gave it to Mom and Dad. I remember this sitting on an end table during my youth. The service started plenty late in the day, 7:30pm.
I fortuitously stumbled across my parents’ wedding album this past weekend. If you’re willing to stick around, I’ll share a few moments from the event. The picture at the top is obviously from after the ceremony; Martha and I have a photo analogous to it in our album.
Mom’s two sisters were already married. That’s younger sister Nancy next to her, serving as matron of honor. The two flower girls are my cousins Carol (on the right) and Diane, the third and fourth daughters of older sister Sue. In between is Mom’s best friend from high school and college (and fellow elementary school teacher), Betty Jane Webb.
The sanctuary in the original Erlanger Christian Church was unsurprisingly not air-conditioned (it was demolished in 1976, the replacement building erected adjacent to it). I’m digging the white tux jackets. My grandfather was four weeks away from turning sixty.
The happy couple, now husband and wife.
My paternal grandfather had passed away the previous November–my mother never got to meet him. You can tell that it’s already (mostly, at least) night in these outdoor photos. Initial research indicates that Kentucky may not have been observing Daylight Savings in 1962, in which case sunset would occur a little after 8:00.
The reception was held at my maternal grandparents’ house in Union, several miles to the south and west of Erlanger. It was a grand old stone house, well over a century old even then. My cousins and I have so many happy childhood memories being out at “the farm.”
That’s a pretty impish look on Dad’s face, but it’s looking like he suppressed any impulse to misbehave with the cake.
View of the front of the house (not the side we usually entered–the driveway wound around from U.S. 42 on the back). Mom is visiting with guests, while Dad seems to be chatting with two of the groomsmen.
I love the kinetic energy in this one, an artifact of photographic technology of the time; you sure can sense their happiness as they jog toward the car. The honeymoon took them to Niagara Falls (my wife and I found two commemorative painted plates of the falls among their belongings when sorting through things after they both had passed).
Mom and Dad made it to anniversary #51. I imagine both would acknowledge it wasn’t the happiest marriage ever. As the years passed, though, each came to depend on the other, to be grateful for the other, in their own way.
The last good photo of my parents together was taken in 2009, when the Erlanger Christian Church member directory was undergoing one of its periodic updates. I’m sure I received a framed copy that Christmas. It resides on a shelf in our basement.