The Wedding of the Decade is Copyright Delia R. Duffey 2019. It is the true story of how my parents met. They married on February 20, 1932.
The Wedding of The Decade
Every other Thursday at 4:00 pm the three Thibideaux girls and I walked to Mrs. Weaver’s for tea and crumpets. Nina Thibideaux and I were seniors at Flora High School and best friends. Her two sisters, Dora Mae and Doris were a junior and freshman respectively.
None of us liked hot tea and we had no idea what crumpets were, but we liked to call our get together that because we had seen the fancy people from England in a movie magazine having it. We had lemonade and cookies or cake.
Mrs. Weaver thought it was important girls learn to have proper manners. I suppose balancing a glass of lemonade and a plate of cookies on your lap without dumping the whole thing on the floor was important before going out into the world in 1931.
My Daddy and the Thibideaux sisters’ daddy worked at the Pumping Station in Flora, Louisiana. Mrs. Weaver’s husband, Burton, owned the sawmill. Those two places employed most of the people who lived in Flora.
It was the first Thursday in March and we arrived on time. I enjoyed sitting in the parlor with Mrs. Weaver and the girls. It made me feel grown up.
After we were seated and sipping on our lemonade, Mrs. Weaver asked “Do you girls have dates for the dance a week from Saturday? You know it’s the dance when a girl asks a fellow?”
Nina immediately said “Of course! I ask J.L. Lewis and he said yes.” Everybody in town knew those two were sweet on each other. Dora Mae said she planned to ask Tom Baker and Doris said she intended to ask Tom’s twin brother Edward.
Everybody turned and looked at me for an answer. I took the last sip of my lemonade and said “I am not going. I do not know any boy I would want to go with.”
“Oh, but you must,” they responded in chorus. “It will be your last chance to ask someone before you graduate in May.”
I set my glass and plate on the coffee table. “There is no one in town I am interested in,” I said with a snobbish sniff.
“How about that new bookkeeper Burton hired at the sawmill a month ago?” Mrs. Weaver suggested.
“I heard he has a girlfriend from up around Colfax.” I replied as a matter of fact. “One of the O’Quinn girls,” I added for emphasis.
“Come on Doy, it is just a dance. It’s not like you are going to marry him. Isn’t his name Randall?” Dora Mae said.
I took a deep breath and replied “I’ve seen him, and he is too skinny. No wonder they call him Slates. If he turned sideways, he would be invisible.”
“Sounds like you already checked him out,” Mrs. Weaver smiled. “He stays here at the boarding house and he is very polite. I think you should ask him.”
“He doesn’t know me from a rabbit hole in the ground, and I would be so embarrassed if he said no.”
“But he might say yes. You would never know unless you ask him,” Nina said.
“Well, I will think about it,” I said.
“No, I think you should go down to the Commissary tomorrow after school and ask him. I insist,” Mrs. Weaver said. “I’ll tell Burton to tell him to be up front at 4:00. You can ask him then.”
Nina, Dora Mae and Doris looked at me with demanding eyes. I knew it was four against one.
The next afternoon, Nina walked with me to the Commissary to ensure I would actually ask him. I wore a bright yellow dress with little white daisies, and I let Nina fix my hair in a wave. We were both going to beauty school in Natchitoches when we graduated. I put on some lipstick and rouge, but not enough to look painted. She waited outside on the porch. I took a deep breath, opened the screen door and went inside.
As promised there he was standing behind the counter. He was talking to Mr. Groves and Mr. Weaver. As soon as I walked in both of them went in the back of the store leaving Randall alone. I was certain they were within ear shot.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hello, my name is Doy Faust.”
“I know. You are Mr. Ed Faust’s oldest daughter, right?” He opened the swinging gate that separated the counter from the front of the store and came to stand face to face with me.
He was slightly over six feet tall, with dark black hair and brown eyes with gold flecks in the iris. He wore rimless spectacles with gold earpieces. It made him look very smart.
He smiled a crooked smile and said, “I do not think I have ever heard the name Doy. It is odd.”
“Not as odd as my first name. It is Exa.”
He looked deep into my eyes and said “Exa? I know I have never heard that name before.”
“My father’s cousin is named Doy. Two weeks before he was to get married his fiancée was killed in an automobile accident near Pineville. It was two weeks before I was born. She was named Exa, so I was named after both of them.”
“Hmm. Well, your names are unique. So, you must be unique too.” I did not know what to say to that, so I stammered “I was wondering if you had a date for the dance, next Saturday?” I was so nervous I was about to pass out.
“No,” was all he said, but he smiled, and his eyes twinkled behind the lens of his glasses.
“Well, would you like to go with me?” I could not believe I said it. He did not answer, and I was about to turn and walk out the door, when he said, “I would. I am going to help with the play the Methodist men are putting on, but that is before the dance. We could meet at the church afterwards and walk to the schoolhouse.”
I smiled and said “That will be fine. I am going to the play. I will see you there.”
As soon as Nina saw my face, she knew he had said yes. We skipped all the way to Mrs. Weaver’s house to let her know. I don’t why I was feeling so happy. It was just a date to a dance.
When we got to Mrs. Weaver’s she served Coca-Cola over ice and fresh lemon squares. I told her he said yes but was helping with the play just before the dance.
Mrs. Weaver said “Oh, everybody in town will either be at the play or be in the play. This is the first time the Methodist Men’s Group have put on the womanless wedding It is called The Wedding of the Decade. Burton and I saw one in New Orleans and it was hysterical. All of the prominent men in town will be in it. Burton is going to be the master of ceremonies and Little Burton is going to be the ring bearer. Richard Smith is going to be the groom. I hear the mother of the bride is a big surprise.
Nina said “Richard Smith is the shortest person in Flora at five foot six inches and he has that long gray beard that is almost down to his waist. I heard Swen Johansson is going to be the bride. He stands six foot five inches and has red hair and a red beard. They should be a hoot.”
“What part did Randall say he was going to be?” Mrs. Weaver asked.
“I did not ask him. He just said he was helping with the play. I guess we will be surprised.”
The week before the dance seemed to drag on like the summer heat. I decided to wear the green dress with the white collar I made in home economics class. The fabric color matched my eyes just perfectly.
The parking lot of the Methodist Church was filled with cars and horses and buggies when my family and I arrived about 5:45. We each paid our twenty-five cents admission and went inside the church. With the folks who walked and those who parked in the lot, the church was filled to the rafters. I immediately spied Nina and went to sit with her. We were Baptists and the only times I had been in the Methodist Church was when I sometimes went with Nina and to the christening for the Burnside baby. I really could not tell a big difference between the two churches other than we did a full dunking baptism while the Methodist settled for a sprinkling.
Nina and I sat on the end of a pew near the back. The church was full, and they opened the Sunday School rooms at the back and put up folding chairs for the overflow.
At 6:00, Mr. Weaver stepped to the middle of the alter. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he began. “Welcome to the Methodist Men’s fund raiser – The Wedding of the Decade. I will be your master of ceremonies and announcing the wedding party as they join us. First, let us welcome, the preacher, Flora Mayor and Parish Sheriff, Sam James.”
People clapped and Mr. James took his place at the alter and Mr. Weaver stepped to the side. Mayor and Sheriff James wore a long, black robe he borrowed from a judge in Natchitoches and carried Volume S of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Leona Spencer, the only woman in the play, slowly crept up the stairs behind the pulpit and took her place at the piano just as Mr. Weaver said, “Our music for the evening is presented by Miss Leona Spencer.” A few folks laughed because Miss Leona, sometimes called Leona Spinster because her only beau was killed in the War Between the States, had more years on her than the piano had keys. And with 88 keys, she sometimes got 44 of them in the correct order when she played. She began to play Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Clementine, as Mr. Weaver said “Let us welcome the mother and father of the groom, the lovely Clementine and the handsome Cletus Smith. The groom’s mother was Clem Smith who was foreman at the sawmill planer mill. He had on a bright purple satin dress with a pink flower headpiece that looked more like earmuffs in his brown hair. Clem was short and fat, so he resembled a giant grape with legs walking down the aisle followed by bean pole, Cletus Jackson. Mr. Jackson had on his only suit. He said he bought it for weddings and funerals including his when it happened.
Leona hit about five correct notes in a row switching to On Top of Old Smokey as Mr. Weaver said, “And now here comes the lovely mother of the bride, Mrs. Josephine Johansson.” The crowd went crazy and was hooting and hollering as the very large, very red faced, very old, very white-haired minister of the Baptist church, Joe Thornton, appeared. He was wearing one of the robin egg blue choir robes carrying a bouquet of yellow daffodils. Nina and I could not believe the preacher had on rouge and lipstick. He swished down the aisle causing the choir robe to swing back and forth over his large behind like waves in the ocean.
Above the escalating laughter, Mr. Weaver continued, “Escorting the first beautiful bridesmaid is Tom Baker with Miss Bootsie May Morgan. Bootsie had on a red and white stripped sun dress that showed all of the black hair on his chest and on his forearms. He wore a straw sun bonnet with a red rose attached that belong to his aunt Mildred. He carried a red cali lily.
Tom had on his black suit and he and Bootsie and walked down the aisle. They separated when they reached the alter. Before sitting on the front row, Bootsie May scratched his behind sending the audience into uncontrolled fits of laughing. Tom was laughing so hard he almost tripped when he took his place in front of the kneeling rail.
Mr. Weaver continued “Following Tom is Edward Baker with our second bridesmaid, the lovely Norma Dent. Norm Dent also worked at the pumping station with Daddy. His dress was identical to Bootsie’s except it was blue and white stripped. The two looked almost identical except Norm had a full gray beard. He carried a bouquet of yellow daffodils that clashed with his dress.
Leona changed the music to something almost recognizable when Mr. Weaver announced, “The beautiful maid of honor, Phillipia Youngblood, is escorted by the best man, Tom Duckworth.” Phillip Youngblood, who everybody called Skeeter, had on a rose-colored taffeta and satin ballgown with lace that looked left over from the Confederacy. On his head he wore a large white crocheted doily that fell just below his ears with pink daffodils pinned to it with bobbi pins. The pink made his black mustache look even darker over his brightly painted red lips.
Now comes our ring bearer, Burton Weaver, Jr. Like all of the other true men in the wedding he had on a black suit carrying a pillow. I wondered where the men dressed as women found shoes the size of their big feet. And did every man own a black suit?
Everybody was howling at all of the characters and their shenanigans as each came down the aisle and took their places. Mr. Weaver said, “And last, but before the bride is our precious little flower girl, Miss Randella Duffey.”
Just as Randall or now Randalla, reached the pew where Nina and I were sitting, he stopped and smiled at me. He had blacked out his two front teeth. He was wearing a baby blue polka dot dress that reached only to mid-thigh. His head was covered with a matching blue hat with tiny white flowers pinned to it. He carried a white wicker basket with a pink bow that filled with pink carnations that matched the sash on his dress.
Nina almost fell off the pew laughing. I slapped her on the arm, jumped over her and ran out the door of the church just as the bride was about to walk down the aisle. I ran all the way up the hill and did not stop until I stepped on my front porch. I was glad my family was still at the wedding and I had the house to myself to calm down. How embarrassing. There was no way I was going to go to the dance with the flower girl.
About seven fifteen my parents and my two sisters returned. They were all still laughing as they entered the living room. “How did you get home so fast?” asked my younger sister, Claudia. “Nina said you left early, but we did not know when. You did see Mr. Johansson come down the aisle as the bride? He had on a veil that kept sticking to his red beard. His belly stuck out like he was pregnant.”
“Claudia! We don’t use that word. We say, ‘with child,’” Daddy scolded her. Claudie rolled her eyes in the back of her head.
Marjorie who was ten said, “It was so funny when the bride and bridesmaids picked up the groom and the groomsmen and carried them down the aisle as Miss Leona played the Stars and Stripes Forever. The flower girl picked up Little Burton and tossed him over his shoulder like a bag of flour. Aunt Alice laughed so hard she peed in her pants making a puddle on the floor right next to me.” With that I jumped and ran to the bedroom and slammed the door.
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. Daddy entered when I said come in. He sat on the bed beside me. “What’s wrong, Honey?” he asked.
I leaned into his shoulder and said “I was so embarrassed when I saw him as the flower girl. When I saw those sticks, he calls legs and those doorknobs for knees I ran out of the church. I am not going to the dance with him.”
“Oh, Honey,” he said as he put his arm around me. “It was all in fun. I am sure he did not mean any harm. The Methodist Men probably made over $150. They will use it to do good things for the church and for Flora. With Preacher Thornton playing a part in it I heard the Methodist are going to give some money to the Baptist Church to actually put in a baptismal font so we won’t have to go to Mill Creek and worry about snakes.”
“I don’t care, Daddy. I’m not going.”
Just then Claudia and Margorie stuck their heads in the door. “The flower girl is here to see you,” they cried in unison laughing.
“Tell him to go away,” I said.
Daddy said, “Now, Honey, at least go say hello to him and tell him to his face you do not want to go. It would be the polite thing to do.”
I never wanted to disappoint my daddy, so I took a deep breath, stood up and straightened my dress. I made a quick glance in the mirror and ran a brush through my hair.
I opened the screen door and there stood Mr. Randall Duffey dressed in the most beautiful while linen suit I had ever seen. His white shirt was starched so stiffly I thought it might break. He held a straw hat in his hands with a black satin hatband that perfectly matched his silk tie that boasted a rhinestone stickpin. His black shoes were so highly polished they almost glowed. I was speechless.
He stepped forward and asked with a shy, crooked smile revealing beautiful white teeth, “Would you like to go out with me, now?”
I married him the following February.