Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March 4, 1961

Forty-seven years ago today, my mother announced to her parents that she was getting married. She was a high school senior a month past her eighteenth birthday in Danville, Virginia. She had been dating a college boy from the University of North Carolina, 55 miles away in Chapel Hill, for the previous year-and-a-half. She had even set a date, she informed her parents.

The wedding would happen later that day.

"The relationship had grown quite intense," she remembered in late 2004 when I interviewed her for a family documentary, but "there was no shacking up in those days." Sex before marriage simply was not an option.

So they got married. They had made arrangements for a ceremony at the Presbyterian church in Yanceyville, about 14 miles south of Danville on Route 86, the winding country between Danville and Chapel Hill road the college boy drove to visit her.

My mother photographed the church on a visit back to the area a few years ago, which no one thought to do on the occasion of her marriage there in 1961. My maternal grandfather, who owned a color movie camera as early as the 1940s, must not have thought enough of the union's prospects to snap even a Polaroid. There are no photographs from the event.

Forgive my mother's parents for their lack of enthusiasm. St. Clair Frederick and Greenhow Winiker liked to think of themselves as high society people. They had a maid when money permitted and S.F., known familiarly as "Bud," bought a new car every two years whether money permitted or not. Their only daughter was supposed to marry, of course, but only after they had properly debuted her to society.

And now she had ruined all those plans. On top of that, the inconsiderate girl had to run off and marry a Yankee from Pennsylvania!

It was not a perfect match. It rarely is when people 21 and 18 years old marry. The would-have-been-debutant probably wondered at times why she ever did such a foolish thing as marry so young.* And that college boy, who admitted later that his plans for married life the day he married my mother didn't go any farther than their wedding night, how long did he stick around?

We're still not sure yet. But so far it's up to 47 years.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

*Truth told, so did he. They probably still do sometimes.


Gwen said...


My grandma agreed to let my mom get married when she was 16. Last year I asked her why, and she said she figured Mom would run off and do it anyway, so she might as well let her and get it over with.

A Girl From Texas said...

What a sweet story.