“I love you truly, truly, my dear,
Life with its sorrow, life with its tear,
Fades into dreams whenever I feel you are near
For I love you truly
Truly, dear.” —– Words and music written by Carrie Jacobs Bond
After my parents Mary and Ted were engaged on Valentine’s Day, 1948, and they set their wedding date for October 16, less than one year from their first date.
Mary chose a simple, elegant satin gown with a long train and decided that her bridesmaids, best pals Pat Hennelly and Peggy Tennereli, and her cousin Margaret Bushbacker, would wear hunter green gowns and carry bouquets of rust and gold chrysanthemums. The wedding would take place at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church at ten a.m., followed by an evening reception at a local banquet hall. Just before the wedding invitations were sent in the mail, however, plans changed.
One Sunday in August, Mary and Ted invited friends out to Grandma and Grandpa Wolf’s summer home on Sand Lake in Lake Villa. After a day of fun in the lake, the group grilled hotdogs and hamburgers on the stone fireplace that Grandpa had built down near the lake shore. After dinner, while Mary and Ted were up at the road saying goodbyes to their friends, they heard screaming from the lakeside yard. They hurried around to see Mary’s little brother Bobby, eight years old, running around the yard, the leg of his jeans in flames. Grandpa ran after him to try to tackle him to the ground, but he couldn’t catch up with him. Everyone was screaming — Bobby, Grandma, Grandpa. “Jump in the lake, Bobby! Jump in the lake!”
Finally, Bobby did just that, and the flames went out. How had he become engulfed in fire? He’d wanted to cook one more hot dog for himself, and when he saw that that the fire was only embers, he impulsively picked up a gasoline can used to fuel the motor boat’s engine and doused the ashes. The gasoline burst into flames that traveled up his pants leg where he’d dripped gasoline.
The little boy was in terrible pain. His parents rushed him into Lake Villa to see a doctor. There, the doctor looked at his burns and inexplicably coved his leg with a cast, and sent him home.
The family returned to Chicago, and days went by with Bobby reeling in agony. By the end of the week, his parents realized that he was not healing and took him to their physician in the city, Dr. Rose. This doctor removed the cast and recoiled at what he saw. The leg was infected, on the brink of gangrene. Bobby was immediately admitted to the hospital, where Dr. Rose performed a skin graft, saving the little boy’s leg and probably his life. Of course, the excitement of planning a wedding was overshadowed by Bobby’s accident and his recovery.
Mary and Ted cancelled the reservation at the banquet hall and scaled back on their list of invitees. Instead, the wedding would go on as planned, but the reception would be at the Wolf home.
On October 16, Bobby was well on his way to a full recovery, and was even able to wear a pair of pant for the first time since the accident.
The wedding was beautiful… a pretty bride, a handsome groom, surrounded by friends and family.
After the traditional throwing of the rice, the wedding party headed to the photographer’s studio for formal pictures. That evening, about one hundred people celebrated in the Wolf family basement.
Grandma Wolf’s lady friends from the old country made the dinner, as was the tradition for any wedding. The main course was turkey followed by plates and plates of homemade sweets, kipfuls, apple slices, and plum cake.
After dinner, the tables were pushed back so that the dancing could begin. Mary’s younger brother Jack, who played the guitar as well as the accordion with his band, provided the tunes – everything from country-western, to polkas, to popular songs. Grandpa Dineen surprised everyone by hiring a concertina player to arrive and play some Irish tunes as well. Grandma Wolf was less than enthused, since she’d been at a wedding where the Irish music had “taken over” and left the polkas aside. But this didn’t happen. Music from both cultures, German and Irish, blended together in a great American melting pot so that everyone were pleased. After the traditional cake cutting, the throwing of the bouquet, the tossing of the garter, Mary and Ted changed out of their formal wedding clothes and said goodbye to one and all. Their married life was about to begin.
But first, they had to appease Mary’s little sister Kathryn, her four-year-old flower girl.
Kay adored her new big brother-in-law Ted, who showered her with attention. He had even promised her that she could go on the honeymoon, too. But now, Mary and Ted were leaving her behind. His “I was only kidding” made no sense to her. Why couldn’t she go along? He’d promised! The newlyweds left the forlorn little girl sitting on the basement steps weeping as they made their exit.
Not so fast, though. “Could you give Mrs. Rice a ride home on your way?” asked my grandmother. After all, they were going right past Mrs. Rice’s home on Damen on their way downtown, and she would have had to take a bus otherwise.
So, Mary and Ted and Mrs. Rice climbed into the car Ted had rented for their honeymoon, and on their way to the LaSalle Hotel, they dropped off Mrs. Rice, saving her bus fare.