Recalled As a ‘Modest Affair’
that I’ve ever heard of a couple living that long
in double harness, but today would have been my parents’ 85th
It was, from all accounts, a modest affair. Had it been celebrated in the Cathedral
downtown, there might have been a sizable throng, but under the Catholic Church’s
strictures of the day—my father was not, as they say, of the faith—the
wedding vows be spoken only in the parish rectory of the bride’s home.
Now I remember my grandparents’ parlor from my childhood, and I find it
rather miraculous that a bride, bridegroom, two witnesses, two sets of parents,
a priest and a piano plus someone to play the wedding march could all fit into
that minuscule space. In fact, the wedding “march” itself couldn’t
have been more than six feet in distance.
But the hitching, I was told, went off without a hitch and the happy couple went
off for a brief honeymoon to Richardson Springs, a Butte County resort better
known in those days as a spring training site for the Sacramento Senators baseball
However, while my father could not have cared less, having been shut out of a
church ceremony always was a sore point with my mother, and she always recalled
the young firebrand priest who told her they were “no better than animals” and
predicted the union would not last two years.
So she bided her time for two decades. By then rules had been relaxed. In 1939,
when they had been married 20 years, she thought it would be a nice touch for
them to repeat their wedding vows in church. For frosting on her long overdue
wedding cake, she asked that fiery young priest, now older and more tolerant,
to officiate. He graciously acceded.
When the date arrived—65 years ago today—her only son, Yours Truly
here, politely declined to participate.
She couldn’t understand, so I had to explain: “This is fine for you
and Dad, and I’m happy for you. But I just don’t want to be sitting
there in church while you’re both saying, ‘I do,’ with some
friend looking on and thinking, ‘Holy smoke! Stan’s folks are finally
By the time they celebrated their 50th in 1969, I was past such concerns and
happy to take part, even if someone did think, “Well, Stan’s finally
• • •
marital matters are the subject, I must admit that I pay
scant attention to window displays of bridal attire, although
I must admit my eye is usually caught by that sweeping
staircase down which models sweep in their white gowns
There’s another that really grabbed me the other night in a smaller establishment
in an old home at 28th and J. I really wasn’t paying much attention until
someone in our group exclaimed, “Did you ever!”
Well, no, I never, as a matter of fact. There in the window were three mannequins,
two of which were dressed as either brides or bridesmaids. I say either because
I found my eyes riveted on the third, who was wearing nothing. And in the half-light,
she did indeed look quite nude.
Apparently the window dresser did return to his chores the following morning,
because all were fully and appropriately clad the next day.
• • •
person—at least this person—doesn’t expect
to get into a philosophical dialogue in a grocery checkout line,
and I didn’t envision
starting one when I replied to a clerk’s query about something, “Oh,
I don’t think so.”
His response was, “As Descartes said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’”
A bit stunned, I answered, “I believe in Latin that’s, ‘Cogito,
ergo sum,’ isn’t it?”
And he agreed. He also agreed when I added, “This is the damndest conversation
I’ve ever had while in a grocery checkout line.” He agreed on
• • •
Sanchez felt a bit shortchanged when, in writing about
the changing face of Sacramento, I overlooked the long gone and
pretty much forgotten—except
by Savino—Western Union office at 1109 9th Street.
Those who do recall it may also remember a flock of bicycles parked outside,
one of which may have been Savino’s. For 75 cents an hour (“two hours
weekdays, eight Saturdays, up to 16 a week”) he and his cohorts
pedaled around town delivering messages in the pre-electronic days of
the mid 1900s.
Do people still send telegrams? Do they still paste those narrow strips
on yellow sheets? Is there still a rate for “10 words or less” (I know it should
be “fewer” but they didn’t)?
Just judging from the phone book, it looks to me as if the only thing
Western Union is involved in these days is the transfer of money. That,
is what I last used it for—to transfer $25, when that was considered a substantial
amount, to a friend in San Francisco who was in dire need—and that
must be 40 years ago.
By the way, whatever happened to Western Union’s rival, or has
everyone forgotten Postal Telegraph?
• • •
getting under way for the school year is the estimable Renaissance
Society, offering low cost educational experiences at the collegiate
level to all ages
at California State University, Sacramento.
While the initial meeting was last week, with information reaching
this corner a little late to include sooner, Rita Gordon says questions
at the society office in room 234 Foley Hall — (916) 278-7834.
retiring from a long and respected career with The Sacramento
Bee, Stan Gilliam found that he just couldn't stop writing. So
his "Stan's Sacramento" column to the Spectrum, where
it has been a favorite of readers for 15 years ... and counting.
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