On my eighth wedding anniversary I’d like to share a little tale about that weekend.
One of my favorite parts about my wedding weekend was the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. The restaurant was in a beautiful spot right on the shore of Lake Ontario. I was surrounded by my best friend, the woman I love, family and my future in-laws. It was a great evening, plus I still had time to change my mind and not get married the following day! Maybe hop a flight to Vegas with my best man and just gamble the drink the weekend away. Ah but then I would have missed a huge party with good food, good drink, loud rock-n-roll and lots of fun.
As we were sitting at our table it was me, my soon-to-be wife Cindy, my best man Dennis, my Aunt Toni and my future mother-in-law Mary Ellen. Aunt Toni would be celebrating her 50th Anniversary with my Uncle Vito in November. They were married in 1956 and there is an interesting story that goes with their wedding. I made sure Aunt Toni told the tale at our table that night.
I was six years from being born, when these events took place, but I had heard the story a dozen times and it still kind of horrifies me and makes me laugh at the same time. This would be the first time the rest of my soon to be family would be hearing the tale.
Turns out Aunt Toni and Uncle Vito were supposed to get married in September, 1956 but something happened. One of Uncle Vito’s uncles got shot and killed so the wedding was put on hold. One story goes that my cousins John and Al, who were seven and six respectively at the time, were sitting on the stoop a few days after the killing and they were quite upset.
“I was really looking forward to Aunt Toni’s wedding,” said Johnny.
“Me too,” said Al, who then asked, “Do you think they’ll ever get married now?
“I am sure they will,” replied John, “I just wished they could have waited until after the wedding to kill him, this really messed everything up.“
My aunt continued telling the story about how she had to go and see about moving the wedding forward a few weeks after the wake and funeral. Remember this was long before the days of “No returns on deposits, all sales final, no you can’t have your money back, tough luck.”
At this point, my future mother-in-law is spying my aunt and myself with this look of total disbelief on her face. She mustered up the courage to ask, “Did they ever catch the guy that shot him?”
Aunt Toni answered, “Oh that guy got shot about six months later.”
I thought my mother-in-law was going to have a heart attack.
My friend and best man Dennis who was sitting there silently listening to the whole conversation finally chimed in with, “So then it all worked out, that’s good.”
I looked at my bride-to-be and in my best Al Pacino as Michael Corleone imitation said, “That’s my family Cindy that’s not me.”
Dennis and Aunt Toni laughed; Mary Ellen and Cindy had these horrified looks on their faces. For a while there I think my mother-in-law thought her daughter was marrying into the Corleone Family.
Fortunately Aunt Toni and Uncle Vito’s wedding finally went off without a hitch in early November. They never had children of their own so all of their nieces and nephews (somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 of us) became their children. There is nothing that either one of them wouldn’t have done for any of us.
Uncle Vito passed away in 2011 and Aunt Toni is now 84 and moving a little slower. She is also beginning to clean out her house and get rid of things she no longer needs. When she asked me what I wanted. I told her I want the phone from Oklahoma and her wedding album.
The phone from Oklahoma has its own story attached to it. As for the wedding album, it’s these slides that you drop into a projector. I am guessing this was pretty state of the art for 1956. The photos are pretty funny as Aunt Toni’s side of the family – that’s my side of the family, as Aunt Toni is my mother’s sister — is looking all happy and dressed in all these vibrant and beautiful colors. That is with the exception of my grandmother who was eternally dressed in black. The old joke went like this, Me: Ma why was grandma always dressed in black?
Ma: In case somebody dies, she’s ready.
Uncle Vito’s family was still in the mourning period so they were ALL dressed in black. Quite a contrast.
The next day my own wedding went off well, it was a hot day and I’m just glad it didn’t snow. Remember this is Rochester, New York we are talking about, where snow in July or August probably wouldn’t shock the locals. I’m just glad nobody showed up in black.