Thirty-six years ago today, Beth and I got married under a giant oak tree on Sennebec Hill Farm. We worried about the possibility of rain, but the skies cleared and we had a perfect September day. Ours was a small and somewhat unconventional wedding. Like many who got hitched in those days, we wrote our own vows. Beth made her own wedding dress and the Nehru jacket I wore.
We were married by Joe Craig who was the librarian I succeeded a few years later at the Augusta Mental Health Institute. He was an ordained UU minister and was paid for his services in the form of a brand new ceramic bong. A young man who worked with Beth on the psychiatric Unit at Thayer Hospital provided music while sitting under another oak tree and playing his acoustic guitar. Guests sat on the hill overlooking Sennebec Lake and during the ceremony we were watched by four loons who swam into the cove, waited until I kissed the bride and then swam off. Their appearance saved my sanity which was in jeopardy because the throttle on our Datsun 210 had stuck in the wide open position just before we all went down to the lake, leaving me a nervous wreck. Seeing these wonderful birds helped me chill and remember my vows. Since it was the Saturday before Labor Day, we didn’t think anyone would be available to fix it, but small towns are amazing when it comes to pulling together and a phone call resulted in one of the Barker Boys arriving to fix the problem while we opened presents.
Beth’s cousin Martha Ruffle was maid of honor and Buster McLellan who worked with me at AMHI was best man. The wedding dinner was delivered on the back of a fire truck by members of the Appleton Volunteer Fire Department in return for a donation. It was barbecued chicken and wicked good.
We took the ferry from Bar Harbor to Halifax for a planned week of camping as we drove around the island. When we started the car to get off the ferry, it was apparent that in the process of unsticking the throttle, dirt had clogged the carburetor, resulting in a top speed of 25 miles an hour. It was also a national holiday weekend in Canada, but Beth had an elderly cousin who lived about 20 miles from Halifax and she treated us like royalty, even pulling some strings so we could get the car fixed first thing Tuesday morning. The remainder of the honeymoon was flawless and we enjoyed viewing the ocean, eating plenty of good food and browsing through numerous craft shops and museums.
Our wedding cost about $270. We joke with our daughters about the annual cost based on how long we’ve been married. It comes to about $7.50 a year. Our kids will need to stay married several hundred years in order to achieve a similar cost ratio.