#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Wedding

This is a story of three weddings, inspired by this week’s topic in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge.

The first one took place on May 20th, 1933. It was a Saturday, and school teachers Hoyt Cook and Willie Stevens had the day off. It gave them time to drive four counties over to get married. You see, they were getting married in secret. At that time, in Escambia County, Florida, women teachers who got married couldn’t teach for the first year.

I guess the school district leaders thought that a new bride would get pregnant right away, and they also had rules about new mothers not being allowed to teach until after their child’s first birthday.

I don’t understand why Hoyt and Willie couldn’t get married publicly just a few weeks before school was out. I mean, if she did get pregnant right away, she certainly wouldn’t have been showing before the last day of classes.

But that’s the way the story was told to my mother and to me. They got married in secret so Mam-ma could finish the school year.

Hoyt and Willie Cook

Hoyt and Willie Cook

They drove over to the courthouse in Bonifay, in Holmes County. Today, according to Google Maps, the trip would take two hours and 18 minutes via U.S. 90. I’m not sure how long it would have taken them then, on the fairly new Old Spanish Trail highway. I’m sure the traffic wouldn’t have been as heavy as it is today.

They drove to the courthouse and told the clerk they wanted to get married. Pap-pa, the story goes, pulled out a $20 bill to pay the fee, but it was early in the day, and the clerk couldn’t make change. Mam-ma had some smaller bills, and she never let Pap-pa forget that she paid for the wedding.

On the way back to Pensacola, they stopped for a picnic, getting a drink and washing up at a nearby creek. Once they were on their way again, they looked over in time to see a dead cow lying in the same creek – upriver, too.

They had no ill effects, or if they did, they didn’t talk about it. Mam-ma didn’t stay home from school in the fall, either; she drove across the state line and taught in Alabama. And she didn’t get pregnant until three years later – but that’s another story.

The next wedding is their daughter’s – my mother’s.

Zenova Cook’s road to the aisle was a little rocky. She agreed to marry my dad, then he went off to sea in the Navy. While he was out of town, his sister – according to mama – talked her into going on a double date with her. Her date shared a car with another boy – they were both cadets in flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola – and he could only get the car that night if he found a date for his friend.

So, mama went out with Tommy. And she liked him, even though he was Catholic and a Yankee. Daddy came home for a visit, and mama was supposed to give daddy his ring back, but she didn’t, and Tommy didn’t like that (of course). One thing and another, and she ended up breaking up with Tommy and calling off the wedding with daddy.

Bill and Zenova Wedding Postponed - 20 April 1956 - Pensacola JournalLucky for me, she and daddy patched things up and a few months later, they were married, in a gown she made herself.

It was supposed to be the first marriage in the still-fairly-new Brentwood Methodist Church. Her family had been charter members of the church. (It’s owned by a different denomination now, but a table in the entryway bears the plaque saying it was donated by her grandmother, Mollie Stevens.) All these many years later my mother still

Bill Hahn and Zenova Cook - August 11 1956

Bill Hahn and Zenova Cook – August 11 1956

harbors the grudge that a couple passing through – who didn’t even go to their church – stopped by the week before my mother’s wedding – the very week before! – and asked the preacher to marry them. (Gee, if she hadn’t broken up with daddy, she would have beat that other couple by four months.)

She wasn’t happy with the wedding photographer, either. He missed some of the important shots, and she’s pretty sure he was drunk. (Sadly, her wedding album is missing, and she thinks it was in some things that were stolen during a burglary. We got this copy from her cousin’s collection.)

Other than the photographer issue, I think everything else went well with their wedding, and she and my dad celebrated their 50th anniversary a few months before he passed away from cancer.

The final wedding story is mine. I met my husband on either Wednesday or Thursday night at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. Long story short (Ha!), by Monday morning, I knew I’d found my soulmate. We got married on May 16, 1992, in a dress my mother made. She said mine was a lot harder than hers, but it was exactly what I wanted. This photo is actually from a few weeks later, at a reception we had for his extended family in Missouri, but it shows off the train nicely. (It could have been just a little bit longer.)

Tim and Auriette

Tim and Auriette

I had a few things go wrong that day. My bouquet didn’t have the long trailing part that I wanted, but mama used a few of the flowers we’d bought for decorating the church and fixed it up. The person who was supposed to start the video camera in the back of the church showed up late, and there was some confusion over who was supposed to start the other video camera in the choir loft, and it didn’t get turned on at all.  The marriage stuck, 28 years and counting, and that’s the important thing.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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