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Bodark Creek - 37. Chapter 37

For our thirtieth anniversary, the boys decided to give Martin and me a special present, a double wedding.

“It’s about time,” Martin said, so I guess even he was worried about our grandchildren turning up before the minister.

“It hasn’t been that long,” Del joked.

“You’ve been back from Korea for almost five years,” Martin pointed out. “How long’s a man supposed to wait?”

“Well, it’s not like Susan and I weren’t going to get married. You knew that. We were just trying to get this business started. And to finish college. And to work on the farm.”

Del had started college after Susan, when he saw how much use it could be. But it was harder for him to fit in the classes, with all the work he had to do. So Susan was always helping him write term papers and catch up for tests.

Neal also started college, but it took less well with him. “I understand the business courses all right. And I can see why they’ll be helpful. But I don’t really want to know about biology and chemistry and physics.”

“You can never tell when a block and tackle’s gonna be handy,” Del kidded him.

“Hell, I’ve been using pulleys since I was a kid,” Neal shot back. “And I never needed a scientist to figure them out.”

So Neal was only taking business courses while Del was pushing ahead for his diploma. And Susan finished two years before them both.

“I suppose I should be thinking more about education,” Valerie told us one night, when we were all sitting around the dinner table. “But I never liked studying in high school, and from all I hear you talking about college, I wouldn’t like that very much, either.”

“It’s not for everyone,” I told Valerie. “Martin and I have done just fine. In fact, almost everyone in our families have.”

That was true. Many of the younger people were going to college, and it was beginning to be expected. But none of my brothers’ older children had even thought about it.

“I’m just happy they’re getting married,” Martin said. “I don’t care what the excuse.”

And it’s not like Martin and I ever celebrated our anniversaries. We had a little party for our twenty-fifth, but mainly because Rosalind and Dock had one the year before. “It’s something to remind people about,” she said.

“I’m not sure I’d want to remind anyone that I’d lived with Dock for twenty-five years,” Dougie joked. “But since Rosalind’s having this party, I guess we should all go.”

For their weddings, Del and Neal were planning a bigger party. “Not as big as the family reunion,” Del said. “But we’ll invite some of the same people.”

“A little less family and a lot more friends,” Neal added.

Among the four of them, Del, Susan, Neal, and Valerie knew a lot of people. They were always making more friends, too, because of the insurance business. One of them was always going off somewhere to meet with someone. They never really forced what they had to sell on you, but they did point out how important insurance could be.

“I don’t know,” Martin told me. “My family lived very well without insurance. If something terrible happened, like your barn burned down or your house got struck by lightning, you just went the bank and took out another loan. The bank’s always very happy to lend you money against your property.”

“But that’s costing you,” Del insisted. “You’re paying them.”

“And what am I doing with your insurance company? You want me to give them money every six months for something that might not ever happen. For things that have never happened in the last sixty years.”

“Well, you just can’t tell,” Del said. “You don’t want to be betting against yourself.”

“Del talks a mighty smooth line,” Martin told me, on more than one occasion. “But I hope he doesn’t get himself in trouble.”

“He’s not doing anything illegal,” I said. “He’d never get Susan involved with that.”

“I’m not saying it’s against the law,” Martin admitted. “We didn’t raise our children like that. But I can’t help wondering what the church feels about the insurance business.”

“Since Del just sold them a policy, I can’t see where they’d object.”

Del must have given the church a very good policy, too, because they were more than happy to help out with the wedding. Our family alone could fill a third of the church, and Susan’s daddy’s friends, from all the stationery business, were another good size group. Valerie’s family was smaller, but they still knew a lot of people. And Susan and Valerie were both oldest daughters and the first in their families to get married. So their weddings were something extra.

Del and Neal got new blue suits. “We’re gonna look like twin idiots,” Neal joked. “Except I got a little shortchanged on the size.”

“No one’s gonna mistake you for me,” Del assured him. “You always look better.”

“I say it’s a coin toss,” Susan decided. “From halfway across the yard, I can’t tell the two of you apart. And I ought to know.”

Susan and Valerie both got pretty white dresses, but only down past the knee, not all the way to the floor. And they wore shorter veils, too.

“I don’t want to be spending money on a dress I can only wear once,” Susan told me. “And since this one’s white, I can easily have it dyed.”

“I didn’t care much about the money,” Valerie admitted. “I just want something to put away for my daughters. But since Sue’s wearing a shorter shirt, I figured mine should match.”

And they both looked beautiful. And the boys were handsome. And Albie was the best man, Susan and Valerie’s sisters were the maids of honor, and Patricia carried flowers. Joann and Bobby were just up there at the altar so the family could kind of stand together.

“Since Bobby and I didn’t have a church wedding,” Joann said, “this kind of makes up for that.” She was wearing a new white dress, too.

After the wedding, everyone came back to the farm. Almost everybody we knew was there. People in the family. Friends from church. People from around town. Charley and Faye wanted to come, but it was too much to bring two children, let alone make arrangements for Charley’s three daughters. So Faye stayed in Arizona, and Charley got on a plane.

“I still can’t believe they’re safe,” I told him. “I know what everyone says. But you can’t convince me they’re worth the risk.”

“To tell you the truth,” Charley said, “I always pray a little more on planes. So maybe they’re not all bad. But I wouldn’t fly unless I had to.”

“That’s why you get insurance,” Neal said, overhearing. “It may not save your life, but at least it takes care of your wife and children.”

“I’ve got a Navy pension for that,” Charley kidded. “Government insurance, too.”

“Some people aren’t so lucky.”

The party went on till late Sunday night, though Del and Susan and Neal and Valerie left before then. Del and Susan were only going to Mustang Island, near Corpus Christi, but Neal and Valerie were going to the Grand Canyon.

“I’ve heard about it since I was little,” Valerie told us. “We have an album in my family full of all these black-and-white pictures my great-uncle took. I figured it’s time to get some in color.”

Neal and Valerie would be gone for two weeks, but Del and Susan got back before that. After that, the girls were just moving in with us. They’d been around a lot anyway, and there was no sense paying rent on two extra places when Del and Neal were only going to be working on the farm. Their insurance business had an office in town, too, though it was really only a room over the stationery store. Susan’s daddy was letting them use it for free.

“It’s kind of an early wedding present,” Susan said, when they first set it up. “Daddy said once we started making money, we could pay him, and we will give him something. But once we start being successful, we’ll need a better place. And there are plenty of offices available in town.”

There were a couple too many buildings empty as well. It wasn’t as bad as when the stock market crashed or during the depression. But as people started to move away right after high school, the city wasn’t growing the way it used to. Still, it didn’t look like Del and Neal would run out of customers any time soon, and if their insurance business did fail, they always had the farm to come back to. Right then though, they didn’t have to worry about a thing. They were off on their honeymoons and only had to be happy.

2021 by Richard Eisbrouch
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Sounds like the town I grew up in full of factories.  Now that they have all gone and a highway was build through it, plus all the shopping and restaurant moving to malls a short distance away, beautiful buildings have been abandoned over the years and there are now a lot of parking lots!  Kids went to college, many moved away, and some stayed and have tried to make it while remembering the good old days. 

As for the families, reunions do bring them back, but even they are getting less frequent.    Thank you for sharing this story once again.  It is such a walk down memory lane for me who grew up in the 50's. 

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