Chapter 12: Wedding and Honeymoon

Our wedding was a fairly large one. It was held at the Figueroa Boulevard Christian Church at 57th and Figueroa in Los Angeles, California. At the front of the main sanctuary, there was a wide platform, and behind it was a large choir loft with room for 100 people. My friends and I put up a little picket fence in front of the loft which we decorated with daisies and ferns. In the middle was a tall gate which was also decorated with ferns and white daisies. On each side was a large basket of flowers, and there were two candelabras which two ushers lit at the beginning of the service. The minister stood at the gate, and Chuck stood beside him along with his best man, Clair Powell, and Ralph Maier and one other man. The minister who officiated at our wedding was Brother Bill Jessup, President of San Jose Bible College where Chuck had graduated that June. It was now July 19th, 1949.

Since Marian Pennington was one of my best girlfriends at the Figueroa Christian Church, her little girl, Diane, was our flower girl. As we were getting ready to go into the main sanctuary before the wedding, all the guests were already seated, and Marian and Diane were standing with me at the rear of the auditorium. My father was there, too. Marian knew that I was still a little hesitant to get married, and she jokingly said, “Mickey, there’s still time for you to go out and take a bus and get out of the area!” (There was a bus stop right in front of the church.) What she didn’t know was that I actually gave it some thought, but only fleetingly, because I was committed, and this was what I wanted to do. So, when the music started to play for our entry, I took my father’s arm and we went down the aisle together.

Chuck was standing up in the front looking at me with a very solemn look on his face! I thought he should have been smiling with joy, but he said he was impressed with the solemnity of the occasion. My youngest sister, Edith Mae, was my maid of honor, and others in the bride’s group were Dorothy Gustafson, one of my best friends, and my sister, Midge.

Virginia Fleenor sang “O Jesus, I Have Promised,” and Midge sang “Love Shall Abide.” As part of the ceremony, the two of us took communion, and Bob Pennington sang “The Lord’s Prayer.” He had a very deep bass voice which we all loved. One of his ministries was to sing at the L.A. County Hospital on Sundays on their loud speaker system which went to each room.

Our Wedding Picture, July 19, 1949

Our Wedding Picture, July 19, 1949

After the wedding, we stood at the rear of the auditorium greeting the guests as they filed out, and we met them again downstairs in the dining room for the reception. We opened all the gifts that were piled on the large table there, so it was late when we left the church, but we were both very happy. I felt sort of like I was going around in a dream. That night we went to the home of Charles and Alene Sherwood.

They had loaned us their apartment for the first night of our honeymoon. Charles and Alene were members of the Montebello Christian Church where Chuck had gone during the summer of 1946 to serve as an intern in a program their minister, George Russell Barber, was starting that summer. Chuck was the first student from SJBC to participate in the program, and during that summer, he made good friends of the members. In fact, because Chuck was not able to have his family at our wedding, he invited the Montebello Church brethren to be his family at our wedding. His mother came, but no one else was able to be there from their home in Omaha, Nebraska. We appreciated their letting us have the use of their apartment, but that night I cried myself to sleep after consummating our marriage vows. (Chuck here. As I express it, she cried herself to sleep because she had actually married me.) The next day we met Clair and Helen Powell at Knott’s Berry Farm and spent the day with them going over the whole ‘farm’ and enjoying ourselves immensely.

Before the wedding, Chuck had started out from San Jose headed for Los Angeles in a 1932 Plymouth convertible. Clair and Helen Powell were right behind him in their car. Just before they got to King City, Chuck’s car threw a rod right out the side of the block—about midnight Saturday night. They transferred Chuck’s stuff to their car and towed his car to a junk yard where they left it with a note saying he would come back later and take care of it—which he did. When he told Russell Barber about his plight, Russell interceded for him with a used car salesman friend of his who let Chuck have a car, no down payment, pay for it when he could. Great! We thought. It was a 1937 or ’38 Buick Special.

Now we had a car for our honeymoon, which we planned to spend visiting some of the national parks in the western states. After leaving Los Angeles, we were on our way up the hill east of Riverside when the car blew a gasket! We had to turn around and go back to Riverside and have that replaced. We left it at an auto shop and went to a park nearby to wait. The day was very hot, and it was dusty. However, we were young and full of vim, vigor and vitality. We found that there was a swimming pool at the park, so I suggested we go for a swim. That sounded good to me. However, Chuck said that he didn’t believe in mixed bathing. What a blow! Being from Omaha, Nebraska, he did not know how to swim, and in fact, once when he had gone swimming, he would have drowned had his mother not seen his terrible situation and come to rescue him at the very last minute. To me, a girl who had grown up just seven miles from the ocean and practically lived in the water most of her life, this was almost the worst scenario possible! It is still entirely possible that, if I had known this just a few days earlier, I would never have married this man. Later, Chuck was to say this was not so much of a “honey” moon as a “sorghum” (molasses) moon! With things that happened as we went on our way, his statement became more and more true.

As we went along, we realized the car was constantly overheating, and we had to stop at every place we could to get water. Later we found out why. Some former owner had put ethylene glycol antifreeze in the cooling system, which turned to marble when the engine got hot and coated the system, thus greatly reducing its cooling ability, resulting in the overheating. We filled every container we had with water we had so it would last as long as possible.

I guess this is the time to share some points we learned about honeymoons, for those considering going on one. One thing is, don’t take a vehicle with which you are unfamiliar. Get one you know will be in good working condition. Also, don’t go to the desert in July. Of course, if you have a good car that is air-conditioned and have enough money to go to nice hotels or motels, then that might be all right. However, if you don’t, and you are getting along on the least possible amount of money, stay home. No matter how beautiful Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are, the consequences are not worth it. Another point I’d like to make is to not do the following: in the spirit of honesty, we agreed to tell each other each day one thing about the other person we didn’t like. Don’t do this. Be positive.

We got to the Grand Canyon after dark and found a campground. We got out our tent that my parents had let us use, and put it up, but it was our first time to do this, and in the dark, it was almost impossible. Another tip is to test your equipment beforehand so you know how to handle it.

The next day we drove along the rim of the canyon so we could see what it was like. At one point, we decided to hike down into the canyon. Surely, we would enjoy this. As we walked along, a mule train passed us. We learned that it was seven miles to the floor of the canyon, but by the time we had reached the two mile mark, our feet were already full of blisters. We had worn our tennis shoes thinking that since those were all we had ever worn on hikes before, they would be perfectly good for this. No, that was not right! Another tip is to purchase good hiking boots if you plan to do any good stiff hiking. That’s the only way you will be able to come back with feet feeling as good coming back from your hike as you felt going out on your hike.

We stopped at some souvenir shops by the Grand Canyon hotel and saw some Indians dancing nearby in colorful costumes. We got some good pictures of them as well as other pictures along the trail earlier and the mule train. We eventually got back to our campground.

The next day, at Bryce Canyon, Utah, we got some excellent pictures of rock formations along the trail there. Again, when we were at Zion National Park, we got some good pictures of rock formations, and went on a hike that took us back to a beautiful river with gorgeous greenery and rapids glistening in the sun. This part of the trip was truly worth the problems we had had earlier on, and I take back what I said before about the beauty of the national parks not being worth the car problems. It is wonderful how God takes away the memories of the painful times to leave the memories of the good times. In fact, from the time we got to the parks, I don’t remember the car giving us any more problems, though it probably did, and I don’t even remember the long trip back to San Jose.

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