People were moving slowly today, resting, and reliving the last few days’ activities as we saw our granddaughter Leslie become the bride of Michael Thompson. People have been coming and going here at Woodsong, and Leslie has been the center of much fuss and attention. Many of the far away guests had already left the area last night, and our granddaughter Tara and husband Bryan left Woodsong with their three little guys this morning. Our daughter Mary Ellen came over to drink coffee and talk over all the happenings before I left for Sunday School and worship.
Jeannie and Cecelie came down last Sunday to start preparations, and Leslie late Monday night. The bridesmaids and friends started arriving Wednesday and were cloistered up at Brian and Mary Ellen’s recently purchased house when they weren’t involved in parties and wedding preparations. After the bridemaids’ brunch that Jeannie gave at the church on Thursday morning, they put on their gifts of aprons and pitched in helping make cookies and goodies in our beautiful new church kitchen with its two fine stoves.These were served at last night’s picnic at The Barn.
Jeannie really wanted to have the young women learn to make dumplings there too, which would have been a very practical experience for them and probably a lot of fun. (I would have liked that lesson also.) That did not work out, however, but Jo Barger, one of the best and most knowledgeable cooks in our region volunteered to obtain frozen dumplings from a friend of hers and prepare the large pots of chicken and dumplings for Jeannie. This kind of generosity with her cooking talent is overwhelming to me, but hundreds have profited by the meals she has invited them to or often taken to them down through the years.
Jo always worked full time in the family bookkeeping business (and still helps out at her son’s during tax season), but she and her late husband John gardened and shared produce with their customers—especially the older ones. Jo canned and cooked into the night because she enjoyed it. When she made one of her famous cakes, the understanding was that she had to wake John to lick the pan, and she was careful to be generous there too.
Jo not only published her own cook book, but they built a little cabin just for her with an old-fashioned wood-burning cook stove to entertain with huge country breakfasts. She knows how to prepare anything from a lovely dinner party in her dining room to prime rib for a crowd at a banquet. Jeannie made sure the young women had one of her cook books in the hand crafted monogrammed bags she made for each maid. Before it was over, Jo was helping Jeannie finish up her cobblers and even had the pots of corn-on-the cob ready for Rick to pick up and take to The Barn along with the chicken and dumplings.
While the bridesmaids gave Leslie a shower in their house Thursday night, Jeannie came back to our house along with Rick and Elijah, who had arrived from Freeport. Cecelie, who was designated “Sister of Honor” on Leslie’s wedding program, was deemed old enough to stay there for that all-girl party. Mike and his groomsmen, musician friends, and his parents were in Marion by this time doing their thing.
On Friday, after a fourteen-hour bus trip back from Washington, D.C., Brianna immediately drove with Trent down from the Springfield area to join their cousins here. So, of course, Sam came back out to the farm. Brianna had won this week-long sight-seeing trip sponsored annually by Rural Electrical Association with an essay she wrote. Everyone was wanting to hear about her adventures in the Capitol.
After some road construction on the way, the Archibalds with their three little sons arrived just in time for the rehearsal since Aidan was ring bearer. Geri Ann had afternoon entrance exams for the University of Georgia, so she and Gerry and Vickie did not arrive until long after midnight. (Gerald and I were already asleep, of course.) Rick’s family was also arriving in Marion to their motels there.
Mike’s parents had arranged a delicious dinner at the church following the rehearsal and thoughtfully invited grandparents to join them. Since the new fellowship hall was already set up for the reception the next day, this party was held downstairs in our former fellowship hall. I was somewhat embarrassed since this low-ceiling room looked barren and forsaken when I took the Thompsons and Mike’s grandmother down there Friday morning. But when we arrived that evening, the room was transformed by them to a place of light and beauty. Jeannie said it brought back some wonderful memories to her of all the meals and social times she had enjoyed there as a child. We filled three oblong tables placed in “U,” and the air was electrified by all the youthful energy in the room. We loved hearing the comments and stories when Mrs. Thompson invited guests to speak. Six-year-old Aidan and Jasmine, the adorable flower girl, were quite taken with each other and chose to sit with each other.
Brian and Tara shepherded their three sons through the festivities with grace as always, but the boys were no more eager to get back to the farm than Gerald was because he had the lime pile all ready for their play and they knew daylight was fast fading. Maddux wanted to ride the tractor before bed. Gerald had bought a third little shovel because Payton is no longer a baby but a big boy like his brothers. He caught on in a hurry to this game of lifting shovels of lime from the pile to the little wheel barrel and/or wagon on the toy tractor. He and Maddux tried both toy tractors that are left-overs from Erin’s preschool days. And, of course, there were tractor rides for all on the big tractor long after dark.
Jeannie had been looking all week for a trailer to offer a hay ride at the Saturday night party. She located one at her friend Polly’s parents’ house (more youthful memories), and Gerald started the wedding day retrieving that. He was already scheduled to take me and Katherine to get our hair cut and styled in town, so it was a busy morning that lasted into early afternoon. Somehow we got to the church on time (barely) for the two o’clock wedding, where we were greeted by Brianna at the guest book and grandsons Trent and Sam. I got to walk in on the arm of my handsome Sam in his new suit, since Gerald was going to bring Jeannie in.
I studied again the names of the wedding party and musicians listed on the program printed on the hand-made fans Jeannie had worked on all week, sometimes with Sam and Elijah’s help. Although it was not necessary in the air conditioning, I did use the fan to get in the mood for the vintage theme throughout the afternoon. Colorful potted plants in multiple colors filled the room, and two ivory candles lit up the choir rail.
Soon Mike came out looking handsome in his gray suit and followed by his groomsmen including Les’ brother Elijah all wearing gray trousers and white shirts with colorful ties. (Leslie grew up loving Seven Brides and Seven Brothers, and the bright ties reflected that.)
As we expected, Leslie looked absolutely beautiful in her mother’s wedding veil and remodeled wedding dress. The bridesmaids wore short dresses of lace with different colors beneath the lace. I could not help but notice that Cecelie, our youngest grandchild, could have passed for another college girl. LaRonda had done wonderfully colorful bouquets for Leslie and maids. I loved my bright corsage, which like the others contained left-over lace and ribbons from Jeannie and Rick’s wedding 25 years ago at Center. Aidan and Jasmine did a good job and charmed us with the cuteness.
Jeannie had taken a dress from my college days (that had hung in the kids’ dress-up closet) to Freeport. A seamstress there changed the bodice and sleeves and created a lace top in order to have the 1950s look she wanted. The music was as fine as I expected, and the minister, who had been Mike and Leslie’s Bible professor at Belmont did a good job explaining the love necessary for successful marriages.
Leslie had dried flowers all winter, and the fellowship hall was filled with arrangements from those. By haunting thrift shops and borrowing from friends, Jeannie had turned the room into a lace and linen throw-back to long ago parties. Plates of red strawberries gave just the right accent of color on the white or cream linens. Glassware was the 1950s party plates and cups. Candles beside ancient family Bibles of Rick’s father and grandfather, both ministers, decorated each table. (Jeannie grabbed very old books from the bookcase in our front hall for the tables left after she ran out of Bibles.)
The tiered wedding cake offered chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry choices, and my strawberry was yummy. Lemonade was served in the large punch bowl we used for Jeannie’s wedding. The walls were hung with clothesline filled with many black and white photographs of the bride and groom during their long courtship. I had not seen Rick’s brothers since his wedding, so it was especially fun for me to visit with David from Florida and Scott from Michigan as well as the other guests.
There was a pleasant break with time to change clothes before the picnic and party at Thornfield Barn at Brian and Mary Ellen’s new place. Men had brought the church picnic tables over to the lovely shaded lawn by the barn and we were surrounded there with green corn fields. The serving tables in the barn were loaded with the fried chicken, home-made yeast rolls brought up from Nashville, the chicken and dumplings, slaw, tomatoes, corn and green beans and a variety of desserts Jeannie, Jo, and the young women had prepared. Rick had brought a shiny watering trough down from a Freeport friend, and it was filled with iced colas and sodas.
The original barn owners had been very artistic. Left behind in the barn was a very large circular metal ornament of some sort for some unknown purpose with rows of circles. Gerald had repaired it with his welder and Jeannie had used large canning jars with candles on the outside row and tiny candles in small glass containers towards the middle. This was hung to create overhead lighting and was very pleasing as were all the bright colorful potted plants.
White we ate and visited, kids swung on the tire swing, and young men pitched horse shoes while young women sat on the grass watching as they loved and petted a little stray dog who showed up for the party. Chairs and mikes were set up inside the barn for a group of the couple’s musician friends, and the music throughout the evening was very special. Sometimes we just listened, and occasionally some danced. A special favorite moment for me was when my six youngest grandchildren spontaneously ran up and created a circle to do The Trent, a dance that was originated by him in Vacation Bible School many years ago.
As the evening went on, many crowded on the wagon for a hay ride. Someone built a fire in a fire pit. And most of us just circulated and visited. Then it was time for the Mike and Leslie to leave on their honeymoon. It was dark now, and sparklers had been passed out. The best man yelled out to light them and make a trench for the bridal couple to run through on their way to their decorated car. It made a lovely exit for the new Mr. and Mrs. Mike Thompson.
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