Shared Stories: A Day and a Lifetime

At first glance, Yolanda Adelé’s wedding day might not seem an auspicious start for a successful marriage; but there are lessons to be learned about the importance of love and commitment. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Yolanda Adelé

Vic and I were married on July 2, 1962, while he was on a 48-hour leave from the Marine Corps after completing his boot-camp training at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Calif.

Vic was two months into his 19th birthday and I was two months into my 17th birthday. From the few snap-shots that were taken the day we married, I can see that we looked even younger than our tender years. 

Vic wore his Marine Corp uniform handsomely. When he removed his cap to kiss me, I noticed he had a picture of me taped to the inside of his cap (shown in the left photo). I remember how that sweet gesture made me feel so very special. I wore a white satin suit (size nine). It had not occurred to me to buy or borrow a hat or veil to wear for our wedding ceremony.

Neither Vic nor I owned a car. My father had a car, but he drove it to work that day. Consequently, my mother and 12-year-old sister took the short bus ride with us to South Gate City Hall. 

Only in retrospect does it seem odd to me that I did not question my dad or myself as to why he did not attend our wedding. There were no ill feelings between us for him not to want to be there. I know he liked Vic and loved me, so I can only surmise that dad could not afford to miss a day’s pay. In those days I was good at accepting things as they happened.  

We did not have an appointment with the Justice of the Peace. That was another thing that I did not think of, or knew to do. We were lucky after scouting around to find an official with some time in his schedule to marry us. Also, we needed to have another witness because my sister was a minor. The judge stepped out into the hall and asked a janitor to fill in. 

When I tried to put the wedding band on Vic’s finger I found that his knuckle was swollen and the ring did not slip on easily. I broke out in nervous giggles befitting the child–bride that I was. 

After the civil wedding ceremony my mother treated us to hamburgers at a café across the street from the city hall and close to the bus stop. I was filled with joyous emotion at being a married lady having my first meal with my husband.  Soon, we boarded the bus back to my parent’s home. 

The bus dropped us off on the corner of our street, several long blocks from the house. When I got off the bus I tripped, breaking my little toe. I was in pain as I hopped and limped, until Vic carried me the rest of the way. We never discussed where we would go, or what we would do after we got back from getting married. 

My mother walked to the local market. Within an hour she returned carrying a small white cake along with a little plastic bride-and-groom ornament to put atop the cake. 

Just before Vic and I posed for a picture with the cake, I remembered that my sister had a large bride doll complete with a wedding veil.

“Wait!” I shouted excitedly while I took the veil off the doll and arranged it on my head. It was a perfect fit, and it looked even better on me! I was so happy that the pain from my toe subsided, at least for a while. 

When my father came home from work my mother announced, “The kids are married.” He seemed genuinely happy, and hugged us.     

That night as I soaked my badly swollen, blue toe in a pan of water, my parents, sister, Vic, and I watched a popular suspense program, "Thriller," hosted by the legendary king-of-horror actor Boris Karloff. It was not at all thrilling to the new Mr. and Mrs.!

Neither Vic nor I wanted to go to bed before anyone else. It was our wedding night; we felt awkward spending it in my parents’ house. We did not have any resources to go anywhere else. Still, we were grateful to be together.

Our wedding is not a day that we look back on with the fondest of memories, yet I take solace in realizing that a wedding is only for a day, but a marriage is for a lifetime.

In 2012 we celebrated 50 years – our golden wedding anniversary. I reflect on our blessings, our two beautiful and accomplished daughters, their supportive soul mates, our six loving, talented grandchildren, and our soon-to-be great-grandchild. 

I also reflect on our hardships and trials, as well as the insights that molded our tenacity to weather life’s storms, much like we started out, but this time with the maturity that comes with a lifetime of experience. 

Our love has been, and still is our fortress, our stronghold where we renew the vows we made to each over a half century and a lifetime ago.  That is something to celebrate, on a daily bases. 

Happy 54th anniversary to us, 2016.