Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy 82nd Anniversary

Mr. & Mrs. James Melton in their NYC apartment c. 1929

My parents’ wedding on June 29th was a lavish affair at the Portage Country Club. It was 1929, that glorious summer before the stock market crash. The long gift tables shone with silver, crystal, china and every lovely thing a bride could wish for. The church was a bower of roses. My mother’s six bridesmaids were dressed in rose-colored gowns, in gradations ranging from American Beauty red to palest pink. Four hundred attended the wedding in the First Presbyterian Church in Akron, and two hundred were welcomed to dinner afterwards. Groomsmen were Craig McCullough (my father’s Vanderbilt University roommate), orchestra leader Francis Craig, old friends Spurgeon Roberts, Lloyd Thomas and William Powell, John Harkrider (Florenz Ziegfeld’s production designer), Elliott Shaw (of The Revelers Quartet, with whom my father sang) and Karnaghan “Karnie” Seiberling (my mother’s Akron pal). Elliott Shaw sang “All for You” and Wilfred Glenn (both of The Revelers) sang “Oh Promise Me.” The Revelers were major participants in the wedding—and as part of the honeymoon trip to Europe in August.

With typical lavish efficiency, my father had arranged their schedule from the moment my mother tossed her bouquet and they dashed from the Club amid showers of tiny tissue rose petals to their new Cadillac for the drive to Cleveland. As they approached the entrance to the Cleveland Hotel my father said, “Let’s be real dignified, like old married folks.” With solemn mien and silent dignity they entered the hotel lobby. As my father leaned forward to sign the register, a shower of pink rose petals fell from behind his coat collar.

My parents’ honeymoon in Europe, in August 1929, a month after their wedding, was shared with The Revelers’ scheduled concert tour to Paris, Amsterdam, Scheveningen, Cologne, Basel, Geneva, Vienna and Salzburg—all in two weeks. A relaxed five-day crossing aboard the Olympic prepared them for a hectic schedule abroad. Not your typical honeymoon, but then my father was not your typical twenty-five year old newlywed. It seemed you could take the country boy out of the country.

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