Shannon here: You’re cordially invited to attend the wedding of Walt and Jan Staples. Every time you comment, your name goes in the drawing for 3 Heartsong Presents titles including my latest, Rodeo Dust, A Promise Forged by Cara Putman, and Clara and the Cowboy by Erica Vetsch. Deadline: Jan 14th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Walt:
Part 3: Wedding Day by Walt Staples
Had I had one of those bachelor’s parties that feature shimmying, unclad women, I’d like to say I wouldn’t have looked—I’d be lying of course, but I would have liked to say it anyway. Happily, I was saved from this by a combination of poverty and good friends. Instead, we chased street cars.
My half of the wedding party; Morley, my Best Man, Caroline, his wife, and Vicki, their daughter; and Steve, the guy next door at the Bachelor Quarters on base, who would be doing the wedding pictures, had never been in the big-city north. Morley and Caroline are from Nitro, West Virginia, and Steve is from the small farming community of Tempe, Arizona—I’m from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Having been up twice to Pittsburgh, once in the summer to meet Jan’s family and at Christmas, I played tour guide.
At that time, Pittsburgh had streetcars running down a number streets. As I was the only one to have ever witnessed such a thing in Washington, DC, toward the end of the Eisenhower–beginning of the Kennedy administrations, it was decided we would spend the morning of the wedding observing this unique fauna. It was quite educational. Following one streetcar across the Monongahela River, Morley, an engineer, pointed out that the bridge we were on was the only example of its type in the world—all the others fell down.
With the bachelor party out of the way, on to the wedding breakfast; we repaired to O’Leary’s Donuts. On my two earlier forays to Pittsburgh’s South Side–J.E.B. Stuart called them “raids”–I’d discovered a northern delicacy called “kielbasa” at O’Leary’s. Big chunks of this delectable sausage were kept sizzling on the spokes of a hotdog rotisserie. I’d regaled my compatriots with tales of this example of haute cuisine and its proper presentation–on a hotdog bun with yellow mustard.
We settled onto stools at the counter about ten a.m. Like I said, we’re hicks—we get up early. As each adult ordered kielbasa, the counter lady’s expression changed from mild surprise to outright fear. Happily for her peace of mind and world-view, Vicki, the seven-year-old, restored balance by piping up with, “I’d like a glazed doughnut, please.”
I looked forward to our nuptials in a generally relaxed mood. As an example of this mature calm, the following: I was a smoker at time as was my mother. She had made it up to the wedding, and was at my future sister-in-law’s house, marveling at the ability of the various adults to transit a living room occupied by crawling babies with no damage to either parties. She was from a small family.
When I arrived to dress for the wedding, I asked her for a cigarette to calm my nerves. She gave me a pack and I headed up stairs carrying my rented tux. After returning to the living room, I felt for the cigarette pack and—nothing. Apparently, I left them upstairs while dressing. I asked to bum another cigarette off my mother; she handed me another pack–the lady was nothing if not prepared. Some three hours later, having survived the coming debacle, I found both packs of cigarettes, one in each jacket pocket. Yeah, ice cold and together—that’s me.
Things continued in their traditional manner later at the church, as we stood at the front awaiting Jan’s appearance. The music started and…nothing. No Jan. No Jan’s sister, Barbara, the maid of honor. No Jan’s oldest brother, Mike, who was to give her away. Nothing…just…tumbleweeds.
I flashed a look at Morley, then Steve, then Bernie, one of Jan’s other brothers, who was performing the wedding. I see my horror reflected. I think the situation through coolly and calmly— Maybe she took sick?! My hysteria builds. There was a car wreck coming to the church?!! Full-throttle panic. She’s run off with some Frenchman to Tahiti!!!
The music stops, then starts at the beginning again. Barbara comes sailing down the aisle with a huge smile—I ain’t marrying her! Then Jan appears on Mike’s arm—the world clicks back into place. They join us at the front of the church and matrimony is committed.
The reason Jan missed her cue is that, after being told that the organist didn’t know Wagner’s “Here Comes the Bride” and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” she naturally launched into them instead of our second choices–Jan made me put this in.
About Walt: Walt Staples spent far too many years thinking the unthinkable for a living. He maintains this has had no effect on him though he admits to a predilection for collecting odd people and an inordinate thirst for Dr. Pepper. While his physical position is generally indeterminable, his heart is firmly located at 38.9N, 78.2W. His work appears in a number of online publications. He is a member of the Catholic Writers’ Guild, the Lost Genre Guild, and the Marine Corps Association–much to the chagrin of each.
Come back Jan. 16th for Romantic Suspense author, Lillian Duncan.
Update: Walt Staples passed away in March 2012. I’m honored that he shared his real life romance on my blog and hope his family finds comfort in reading his words.