Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday Voice: 50 years ago

An adventurous new life started

By William Silveira

Fifty years ago last Friday, Marylin and I were married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia, California. We were married at 1:00 in the afternoon on a hot day (about 102° F.), much like today. In terms of Catholic practice, the wedding broke new ground. It was in the afternoon; previously, all weddings were scheduled in the morning. And we were permitted to have a lector to explain the Latin parts of the mass to the guests in attendance. The men in the wedding party wore white dinner jackets and the women were in formal attire.
    Paralleling the modernist shift in practice, the church had also made the decision to provide more physical comfort for its parishioners by air conditioning the church building. I was particularly impressed by this physical accommodation inasmuch as I recalled then, even as I do now, being told by Sister Agatha during a catechism class on one hot afternoon that we should not complain about the heat but rather offer our discomfort up to God for our sins, for the fires of hell were much hotter.
    The priest performing the wedding was father Charles Dorn – a very earnest young priest who was given to uncharacteristic flights of Pentecostal fervor (uncharacteristic for Catholic priests of that era). He had been quite disappointed I could not leave Los Angeles and law school on a weekly basis to receive the required premarital counseling and instruction jointly with Marylin in Visalia. (But I was quite relieved to have the instruction from the Paulist priests at St. Paul’s in West Los Angeles instead.) I had a priggish Catholic kid’s dislike of Pentecostal fervor from the pulpit and lumped it mentally with religious practice in what we called “holy roller” churches.
    But Dorn turned out to be a good friend. The night before the wedding, a practice session had been scheduled around 6 p.m. But some well meaning buddy had sent a fifth of Scotch to my parents’ home so that my friends and I could give one last toast to bachelorhood. Well, you can imagine how that went! We arrived over one hour late to the wedding practice and, to make matters worse, a little tipsy. Marylin was quite unhappy with this display of irresponsibility, but good old Dorn kept his cool and helped smooth things over.

    Jim Rix and Carol Sue were at the wedding and took some 8-millimeter film of the event, which we now have stored on a DVD.
    Stan Saude was in the wedding party. I called him yesterday to inquire as to his memories of the event. He remembers being sick from too much champagne at the reception after the wedding.
    Our wedding reception was held at the Veterans Memorial Building in Visalia. My father-in-law purchased several cases of good champagne and it kept the party going long after we left for our honeymoon in San Francisco in my new Chevy Malibu – new, but without air conditioning. But we were on our way to new adventures and a new life together. The ride had only started.

Copyright © 2015 by William Silveira