Yes or No
With fear and trembling I went in to ask Dad for the hand of his daughter. Alva was waiting to hear the decision with the same emotions. I told him about my job situation and decision to enlist in the army, and that Alva and I wanted to get married before I left. He didn’t seem surprised or act like it was all insane, and said to me, “I just want to warn you that the women in this family never die.” Discussion over.
As I came out the door, Alva burst out with “what did he say?” All I could answer was “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? What is so hard about yes or no?” I told her what Dad had said, so she went in to get a translation. She came out smiling, and gave me a big hug. Everything was a go!
Dad took me to a jeweler friend and helped me pick out the rings: a half carat diamond solitaire and the two plain wedding rings. As I gave her the engagement ring I kidded Alva about the shortness of our engagement!
Mom was overjoyed and she and Alva immediately started to plan the wedding. Alva was not only God’s favorite, but the church’s favorite young woman from one of its favorite families! Her preferences were filed at Glendale’s best stores.
Even Pastor Brougher could not escape. Alva told him she didn’t want his old tired wedding vows, but asked him to use a paragraph from the Bible, Ruth’s commitment to her mother-in-law, Naomi. He agreed, perhaps reluctantly.
I was busy too. I bought her a wedding present, a beautiful RCA radio and record player combination. I sold my car to help with expenses. Alva wouldn’t need it as she would continue to live with her folks, and the army would send the spousal allowance to her so she could pay room and board to her folks. After the wedding and honeymoon she would finish her final semester of high school. We arranged for our honeymoon to be at Mt. Baldy Resort. They weren’t open because of the war, but the three older couples who owned it and lived there said we could come if we didn’t expect them to entertain us. One of my engineer friends and his wife would drive us up after the wedding, stay in one of the cabins overnight and go back the next day. What excitement!
January 29, 1943
Our wedding day! In spite of the hurried preparations, everything was ready. We were adhering to the old custom of not seeing each other until at the ceremony. So the groom’s party arrived at the specified time to change into our tuxes. We entered a room off the platform, and waited for the pastor to come and lead us out to our places to await the bridal party. The usual parade of bridesmaids and groomsmen came by. There I stood, nervously waiting for my bride. I didn’t have any smiling glances from my parents to calm me, for they were back in Iowa, unable to come due to their wartime duties.
Finally, Here Comes the Bride thundered out as the organist pulled out all the stops. I thought it was an awful big noise for such a petite bride, my lovely Alva, coming down the aisle on Dad’s arm. I was sure relieved to grasp her hand so that now there were two of us! We carefully ascended to the platform and the pastor began the ceremony. I remember thinking, Russ, this is really serious stuff, are you sure you want to go through with this? But I pushed the thought aside, and was able to say I do at the proper time. So now we were man and wife! How quickly and how dramatically our relationship had changed!
But now to the receiving line-hundreds and hundreds filed by, Alva knowing all of them, me hardly any of them.
Next came the reception, then the cake. A welcome time to renew our energy. As we ate, we looked out at seemingly endless tables of lovely wedding presents. It would take Dad several loads with his truck to bring it all to their home the next day.
We were finally through with the festivities, and went to change into our street clothes. George and Mary were waiting for us, and we emerged from the building to find it raining cats and dogs. We didn’t care. It was snug and warm and dark in the back seat, as we were chauffered to Mt. Baldy.
We slept in after a strenuous wedding day to find George and Mary gone, and to our surprise everything was covered with about five inches of snow. The dismal downpour of our wedding day turned into glorious snow. It was beautiful!
The owners had slept in also, so we had breakfast with them. The plan was, the women fixed meals for all of us, the three couples ate in the kitchen area by themselves, and we had a table on the side of the dining area farthest from them. This gave us a modicum of privacy. They ate well, thus we did so automatically. Things were looking good!
We went outside and hiked around in the snow, exploring the Camp Baldy facility. The views in every direction were incredible, especially of Mt. San Jacinto to the south!
When we went to dinner that evening we loaded up our plates and sat in our “private” place. We were enjoying our dinner when the owners started an argument. I heard well enough to know they were arguing, but couldn’t understand what they were saying. I looked at Alva with a question in my eyes, and she leaned over and spoke softly, “They are arguing about who is going to sleep with who tonight.”
While this lent a little sick humor to our situation, it was not exactly an inspiring atmosphere for a couple of newlyweds. We enjoyed our few remaining days anyway.
We had arranged with the owners to take us down to San Bernardino the first time any of them went down to shop. On the specified day we were all packed up and ready, and rode with them to the bus depot in San Bernardino, where we caught a bus home. So, we had managed to have a honeymoon in spite of the war!
When we got home, Alva’s room was so full of wedding presents we could barely get in to look around. She knew it would be like this, but I was flabbergasted! We had every conceivable thing needed to start housekeeping and much more.
We enjoyed the few days before I left, but were busy getting everything in order for our separation of unknown duration.