That’s what the headline for my parents’ 1961 wedding announcement should have said. Instead, it read, “Homer City Girl is Bride of Pittsburgh Man.” That statement certainly isn’t untrue. However, it communicates nothing of what my mother was up against, since unbeknownst to her, my father had invited a member of the Pittsburgh crime family to be part of their wedding party, someone with whom, a decade later, Daddy would be arrested.
Remember, my father had declared he would marry my mother on what my mother still describes as their “first date”—even though she was already engaged, for the second time, to another man.
My father proposed to my mother on their first date. A former model, who epitomized tall, dark, and handsome, he didn’t so much ask, as declare his intention. That night, over what Daddy called “Scotchie wotchie on the rocks,” my father set aside his after-dinner Pall Mall, leaned back in his chair, and insisted, “I’m gonna marry you, Judy Kunkle.” He knew my mother was already engaged. Mommy merely rolled her eyes at Daddy’s audacity. “Yeah, right, Tyce.”
While I continue piddling with a chapter that tells the story of their wedding day, I thought I’d share the documents and images I have to work with in my efforts to reconstruct that event. (To read a draft of chapter 1, click here. To read a draft of chapter 2, click here.)
Take a look. Tell me what you think.
First, I was charmed by a letter my maternal grandmother wrote to my mother—one that included a partial list of wedding guests and a bit about the details my Nana was handling from Homer City, while my mother continued to teach Kindergarten in the big city. Tucked inside I found–in addition to a copy of the invitation itself my mother had saved–a second list written in my father’s hand, perhaps, one he had sent my grandmother and one she mailed back to Pittsburgh with names crossed off, indicating their invitations had been sent.
I especially love the parts where my grandmother asks my mother to call but to “reverse the charges” (Can one even do that these days?) and where she refers to my paternal grandmother as “Mrs. Novak.” This was, of course, her name, but the formality amuses me–again, evidence of an era long past.
Though earlier I had shared the text of my parents’ wedding announcement found in an online newspaper archive, now I’ve got my hands on an actual clipping that my mother had.
Next—a photo of the wedding cake taken in the basement of the Homer City Methodist Church. Rather modest, don’t you think? Or were cakes back then less elaborate than contemporary ones, produced in an America that now consumes more sugar than it did more than 50 years ago?
And finally, I’m happy to share the wedding photos themselves. Aren’t they fun?
What stands out to you as potentially significant about this material?
Have any photos survived from your parent’s wedding?