Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a memoir piece written by Writers Forum member Jo Ann Perkins. Jo Ann read this piece at June’s read Around. Welcome Jo Ann!
I was working in Denver, Colorado for United Airlines as a Stewardess, when George Perkins asked me to marry him. This was in April of 1955, and the Wedding was scheduled for September 10th. My mother demanded that I come home in June to prepare for the event. I had some trouble with this: why was it going to take so much time and what was I going to do about it? All I thought I had to do was purchase the wedding dress. I had never spent any time thinking about my wedding because I always thought I would be an old maid with a cat farm. I was unaware that my mother had been thinking about it for years.
Well, I came home at the end of June and actually didn’t do much about the wedding because my mother was into high gear on the subject. I spent a lot of my time on Battle Creek at the local swimming hole. In fairness to my mother, she did have a lot to do to prepare for the event. Because we owned Mineral Lodge, the reception would naturally be there (we had the cooks and plenty of help for this), but Mineral had no church, so there was no place for the ceremony except our front yard. The yard was big enough, and it was mostly lawn, but it was not as fancy as my mother would have liked it. It was hard to have flowers in Mineral, because of the black tail deer that loved to eat anything. My mother had cages built of chicken wire that she put over her flower beds every night to keep the deer from destroying everything. She had this problem licked, but the even bigger one was the land behind the house. It had been used to store auto wrecks from the Mineral Lodge Garage for several years. My father had promised her that these unsightly vehicles would be removed by the time of the wedding.
Well the summer went on and the vehicles did not move. To add insult to injury, a few more of the same were added to this menagerie. My mother almost killed the poor tow truck driver who delivered the last items. My father, bless, his soul, kept assuring her that they would be gone by September 10th. I am not sure what his plan was, but by the first of September, all the vehicles were still there, including the newest arrivals. As you can imagine, my mother was quite upset. She could not physically remove the unsightly items herself. What could she do? Bill Bruener, a close friend, came up with a solution. He put two strands of rope to screen off the offending items, then leaned cut Christmas trees against the ropes. This took some 50 trees which came from our own land. The cars could hardly be seen and peace was restored. I am sure that most of the guests never realized what was behind the trees.
Then there were the flowers for decoration of the lodge and reception area. Mrs. McQueen, who lived in the little fairy house on Scenic Ave spent all summer making imitation carnations out of Kleenex tissues. At the time I did not see anything unusual about this, I even helped sometime to make them and delivered all the Kleenex to her. I am sure the guests were not aware of these fake carnations either because they were backed by fresh evergreens from the forest.
George, the groom, was not planning on any wedding guests. He came from Chicago, his parents had retired to the Virgin Islands, and his one brother was overseas in the Air Force. Unannounced, the day before the wedding his cute blonde cousin Barbara* from Sacramento arrived. My uncle said he was there in quality, not quantity. So it was a great wedding. All my family’s relatives and friends from everywhere were there. The cake was the biggest cake the Red Bluff Bakery had ever made, and my mother could relax, she didn’t have to do it again, because I was the only daughter!
*Barbara Musler and her husband Jay retired to Mineral several years later. There is a plaque on the Mineral Lodge porch in his memory. He flew B-24 planes in World War II.