I have a lot of memories of my youth and, by far and away, the good ones outweigh the bad. And, some of my best memories revolve the weddings of my brothers. When I recently glanced at the calendar and noticed that December 17th was about upon us, I allowed myself to stroll down memory lane (I know, I know … it’s a cliché!), and, if you continue to read on, I’ll let you take that little journey with me!
The first thing that came to mind was the trip to the wedding. We lived in a little burg in upstate New York called Hadley (not to be confused with Hadleyburg, Massachusetts), which is about fifty mile north of Albany on the Hudson River. Barb’s folks lived in Ellicottville, which is out near Buffalo. Inasmuch as it is traditional to be married in the bride’s home church, it was up to us make the trek out to Buffalo for the big doings.
Anyway, on the way out I experienced my worst “water thirst” ever!!! An avid PEPSI drinker my whole life, Mom had made sure we had laid in a goodly supply (she was an avid PEPSI drinker, too!) with us, and off we went on the New York State Thruway. Well, at about Rochester I started getting thirsty – – water thirsty! Pepsi just wouldn’t cut it! This took place in 1960, and, as a result, before bottle water was an item. While there might have been plastic bottles we could have filled with water and taken with us, we didn’t!
Anyway – – we’re tooling along on the Thruway, and I am spending my time praying for a Hot Shoppes. At the time, Hot Shoppes had the franchises that operated the gas station, gift shop, and restaurant stops along the way. I’m not sure, but I think we must have just passed one when the dire thirst began, and the distance between it and the next one, I believe, was the farthest between any two Hot Shoppes on the entire Thruway! Anyway, we finally made it to the next one, and choking to death was abated!
Finally arriving in Ellicottville, we were dispersed to various relatives for housing during our stay there. I ended up at the house where a couple of young lads about my own age (eleven) lived. We got to visitin’, of course, and one of the topics was our new president elect, John Kennedy. Being from a staunch Republican stronghold, and not being particularly bright (some things, apparently, never change!), I voiced some somewhat less than complimentary comments about JFK. Their reply was not overly defensive, they just pointed out that Kennedy had promised that he would help the farmers. With rapier-like wit I replied, “Yeah, that’s what he said.” Ugh.
I don’t remember a whole lot about the wedding itself. I do remember that I was the ring-bearer, and that I was wearing a suit jacket that was way too small for me – – and that I was embarrassed by that fact! Now, if you know me at all, you will know that a fashion plate I’m not! However – – my clothes are always clean and fit me! My situation at the wedding is best explained by two facts – – a reflection of our financial status and where the priorities were for the money Mom and Dad did have!
Once the gala event was over it was time to head home. And, it was snowing. Hard. And, because we were ahead of the snowplows and the snow was a really wet one, the roads were very slushy. My brother Bernard (Ace) was driving, and to say he was driving safely was an understatement!
What Ace did was tuck himself in behind a Semi. Not just any Semi, the slowest moving Semi on the east-bound lane of the Thruway. As a result, every other Semi on the road passed us, hosing us down with a spray of slush that was so thick that it almost stalled out the windshield wipers. And, we would no more get the windshield clean than another Semi would go by and the whole process started all over again!
Finally, after about thirty grueling miles of this, we came to a Hot Shoppes and pulled over for a little refreshments. When we came back out, brother Clarence got behind the wheel and we had a whole new ballgame! Unlike Ace, Clarence got in the passing lane and the “being slushed” came to an end. Instead of crawling along at a snail’s pace, we were more like the pace car at Indy! Instead of constantly battling gallons and gallons of the wet slush, we only had to contend with the snow as it fell. Needless to say, the trip was a lot quicker and a lot more enjoyable.
You may wonder why I took the time to share these memories with you. Well, I think it is because that, for the most part, memories are all I have left of Paul and Barb! The youngest of six brothers, I am the only one of the six that has not gone to be with the Master. And, as a result, I take great joy, and pleasure, from recalling those things from the past that we often spoke about and enjoyed whenever we all got together.
Being the Christmas Season, I am more apt to be led to thinking of loved ones I can no longer enjoy being with. However, rather than becoming depressed and or filled with remorse, I find it quite comforting to think about the good times and laughter we shared, thus allowing myself to share them again! If you find that you are feeling a little down this Christmas Season, take the time to stroll down your Memory Lane and enjoy everyone you encounter there! After all, enjoying loved ones is always GOOD NEWS!