Met and Married

How Katy and Josiah met and married
many, many years ago.

Josiah and I met at a Sunday School picnic. I'd been teaching district school and had stopped to visit Aunt Mary's family on my way home. Cousin Sarah wanted me to stay long enough to go to the Sunday School picnic with her and George. They weren't married yet and Aunt Mary's younger children were just getting over the chicken pox so Sarah'd had to stay home without me to chaperon.

We set out from the church early in the morning, most of us in hay-wagons but some older folks drove their own rigs. A nearby lakeside picnic gounds with tables, fireplaces and room for games was our destination. Everyone belonged to a Sunday School class in those days, adults as well as children. Some men even closed their stores in order to attend this favorite function.

Once we'd arrived the children set out exploring with their mothers admonitions to not fall in the lake ringing in deaf ears. The men marked out a ball diamond and the women tended to the food. Tables were covered with cloths and benches with blankets. One fireplace was set alight to heat coffee and milkcans of lemonade were set in the shade in hopes the ice wouldn't melt too fast.

Those women must have been working on the food for days for I'd never seen such an array of salads and baked beans and platters of sliced ham and fried chicken, all kinds of preserves and pickles, cakes, pies, cookies...... why it makes me hungry just to remember it all.

Someone had brought a cow-bell to ring, calling the scattered children and adults to eat. After Pastor said a long grace, we all sat down and selected from the steady stream of dishes being passed along from hand to hand and table to table. It was just like home to hear folks saying: "Miz Jones, I just got to try your beans." "Nobody makes potato salad like you do, Miz Smith. I wish you'd tell me your secret." "I'm keeping room for Miz Lizzie's chocolate cake. Cain't miss that."

When everyone was too full to eat another bite it was time for games. The men played baseball while the young folks had potato races, sack races, and other games.

Sarah, George, and I watched the games for a while, then decided to take the excursion boat ride. George spied Josiah and invited him to come with us. Jos and I discovered we had a lot to talk about. We were still talking on the way home while the others sang hymns and the other sweet old songs everyone knew. Fact is I stayed another week with Aunt Mary and Jos visited me at home that summer. With my parent's permission, he also visited me at my school the following winter and we were married the next June.

In those days church weddings were uncommon and I planned to be married in the garden with the rose arbor for a background. There weren't many roses in bloom at the time so the day before, my cousins Sophronia and Artie drove with me to the Big Farm where we spent hours in the woods gathering ferns and branches of dogwood still blooming in a hollow where winter had remained trapped late into the spring.

Cousin Juliette came back with us and the next morning she, Sophronia and I in gingham wrappers, banked the arbor with fern and dogwood. Pa, Artie, and Uncle Art carried the parlour organ outside while Aunt Min supervised the neighbor ladies who were spreading damask cloths and laying silver on trestle tables under a big tent.

By eleven thirty all the guests had arrived from Grandma and Grandpa to a couple of school chums. Juliette and Sophronia helped me dress, or rather we helped each other. My dress was of white India mull which is a soft silk fabric. There was a high wrap-around collar of mull pinned with a pearl-studded heart Jos had given me, above a square lace yoke. The wide lace ruffle around the yoke fell softly over the shoulders. A deep lace ruffle ran around the gathered skirt, dipping slightly in back to lay along the tiny sweeping train. I wore white lace stockings and beautiful white dancing slippers with tiny Baby Louis heels, a gift from my Pa.

Also from Pa came the silver filigree bouquet holder, a souvenir of his passing through some mansion in the South during The War. In it I had arranged lily-of-the-valley and white rose buds to match the coronet of flowers which encircled my crown of red braids. Veils weren't the custom in our town so I never thought of wearing one.

As the great bell in the town clock struck high noon, Miss May began playing the music we had selected while family and friends gathered on either side of the aisle we had made by winding white ribbon around stakes driven into the ground. Huge flower-trimmed bows held loops of ribbon running between them. I was the only child, a late born chick, and my parents were determined to make mine the most elegant wedding our family had ever known.

Juliette and Sophronia moved off ahead of Pa and me. Their white lawn dresses swayed over lace-trimmed petticoats and the sprays of flowers in their high-coiled hair trembled as they walked. They gingerly clutched bouquets of white roses and ferns with streamers of ribbons tossing in the light breeze. Then I felt the close-mown grass dragging at my skirts as I clung to Pa's arm and saw a blur of faces as I passed through the center of my family.

Josiah and his brother Henry stood waiting for me by the rose arbor. I saw Pastor Williams smiling over his book, waiting to say the words that would make us Mr and Mrs Josiah Eldwood. Dimly, I heard scattered sniffs as the ladies enjoyed a good, happy wedding cry. Even Miss May had to wipe her spectacles before she could peal out the gay music that signaled the end of the ceremony.

Then everyone descended upon us, laughing and kissing, and beating poor Jos on the back in congratulations. Later, under the shade of the tent, sixy people sat down at tables decked with lily-of-the-valley and ferns to eat a hearty Wedding Breakfast.

In the middle of the brides table stood Aunt Min's masterpiece, a white cake three tiers high, decorated with spun-sugar doves and roses and topped with a spun-sugar arch on which stood two doves holding a bell in their claws. That, with homemade ice cream made the dessert.

I wore a blue satin trimmed gray challis going away dress when Josiah and I stepped into Pa's flower bedecked buggy for the trip to the railroad station. All the young folks walked with us, Henry and Artie lead Sassy and Prince by their flower trimmed halters. You can imagine the looks we got as we passed through Main Street. Folks waved and called out good wishes and little boys and dogs ran along beside us.

The cinder-belching iron horse soon carried us out of sight on our way to Buffalo. We spent three days visiting the sights of the big city. Even if it had not been our wedding journey, it would have been a most exciting trip.