Sgt. Pepper X 1.8

Guitarist, Joe Craig, groom and Buster await the bride.


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.


Cousin Martha putting the finishing touches on the bride.


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.

Maid of honor Martha Ruffle followed by the bride and her late father James Hills.


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.

Got chicken?


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.


The illustrious A. Carman Clark with Kate Flora and husband Ken in the background.


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4 Responses to Sgt. Pepper X 1.8

  1. Gram says:

    Happy Anniversary. May you have many, many more. Dee

  2. Barb says:

    What a beautiful wedding! It’s almost exactly the kind of wedding I wanted but had to give up because my husband wanted to appease his mother who called it a “do-it-yourself-hippie wedding.” I’ve never figured out what was so wrong with a “do-it-yourself-hippie-wedding anyway.” A wedding should reflect the personalities of the bride and groom, not just be full of pretend pomp. It sounds as if your wedding was very personal to you and your wife and that’s the way it should be. Congratulations to both of you on your anniversary.

  3. Nancy Miller says:

    What a lovely wedding! I remember my friends’ in 1975. It was outside also (Athens, W.VA) and the bride picked wildflowers in the morning for her bouquet. Special memories and no extravagant cost. Congratulations on your anniversary.

  4. Brenda Buchanan says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary. Wedding pictures are so sweet – thanks for sharing these.

    I’m officiating at a wedding on Peaks Island this coming weekend, having known the groom since he was about nine years old. Seeing photos like this make you realize the timelessness of love and celebration of love.

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