Wedding receptions are grand celebrations, although they have changed a bit over the years. When my mother married on December 7th, 1941, she had a football wedding. That didn’t mean it was held on a hundred yard field or a pig skin was prominent during the affair.
A football wedding was a party in honor of the bride and groom held in a rented hall. The bride, her mother, and sisters, if she was fortunate enough to have any, carried fresh-baked rolls up from the bakery. Hundreds of them. On the night before the wedding they made tons of cold cut sandwiches, wrapped them tightly in wax paper, and prepared buckets of salads. A good friend would carry all the food to the reception and place about 30 of these sandwiches, salads, etc. on each table of ten guests.
The wedding party, bridesmaids, would also wrap confetti (sugar-coated almonds) in bits of tulle, tie a tiny tin wedding ring onto the tulle and stuff it all in a small plastic high-heeled shoe. This was the favor that every wedding guest would receive for a memory of the happy event. Not at my mother’s wedding, but when I was finally born and old enough to attend a wedding I loved getting these favors. I thought they were the most beautiful and delicate things. Later they made them out of China.
The groom was responsible for red wine, beer, and pitchers of soda. Always dessert was a tiered wedding cake with a tiny bride and groom embracing on the top tier beneath a plastic arbor, and the ever-present cookies. Children were always invited to weddings. In those days, it would have been a true insult to ask parents to leave their kids home.
Now for the reason it was called a football wedding. When it was timed to eat everyone would take a sandwich from the pile, if they got a meat they didn’t want they would yell out, “I got a salami for a roast beef.” If the yeller got a taker, he would re-wrap the sandwich and it would go sailing across the table, or to the next table, or across the room. No punting though. This all happened much more than one would expect. Perhaps they just liked throwing the sandwiches around. It was always done with good humor, clapping, and laughing.
Although they followed all the rules, my Mother and Father’s wedding was not as joyful as it should have been. While she dressed in her beautiful wedding gown,( a long ivory satin, slip, gown with a heavier satin, coat dress atop. The coat had puff sleeves to just below the elbows, then tightened to the delicate wrist. It closed with small pearl button from beneath the bust to the waist, then split open, fell to the floor, and ended in a long flowing lace trimmed, train in the back. I still have this gown and its aged to a rich cream), something was happening that changed her life and the life of everyone she knew.
My Mother was just putting on her head-piece and veil when they heard yelling in the streets. People were frantic. Men and women were running and shouting. The Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. We were caught unaware on a peaceful Sunday. So many Americans were killed; our ships sunk right in the Harbor. The USS Arizona went down with over 1000 hands onboard. President Roosevelt had declared War!
December 7th, 1941, the day that would live in infamy.
The wedding went on as planned. Sandwiches were eaten, wedding cake was sliced and favors were handed out. But not many felt like dancing. The young men all huddled, talking about going down to enlist in the morning, as did the young groom, my Father. The pretty young women were afraid, and the older people who had lived through World War I cried. My Mother in her lovely wedding gown knew that her new husband would be off to join up that very week.
As young men will do, since the beginning of time, they talked excitedly about where they would go, and what they would do to those dirty SOBs. Patriotism ran high.
Many of those young men didn’t come home from the War they so eagerly enlisted for. But many did. My Father, Petey (as my mother called him) did, and so did my Uncle Christy, his brother.
They were surely Heroes – all those that came home, and all those that didn’t. Thank you, now and forever.