Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ethel Baker and Lloyd Taylor’s Wedding, By Jim Kinsella

As you can imagine, Aunt CB helped Jim along with this ‘take’ on Ethel and Lloyd’s Wedding day—the people, the flower colors, the details are all as correct as they both could make them…

September 30th, 1915—Lisle, NY

Ethel Baker looks at herself in the mirror. She is of average height with clear green eyes and long brunette hair done up in a bun. While she has the wide “Borthwick” face of her grandmother, she also has the light brown hair of her father, a “Baker.” It is her attentiveness that makes her so special, something she learned from her father. While talking to her you feel you are the only one in the world who matters. She smiles as she thinks, “I’m home…and the day has finally arrived.” It is Ethel’s wedding day.

"Breathe in slightly, Ethel," quietly comments her Aunt Florence as she begins buttoning up the beautiful white wedding dress. They are preparing in the bedroom of Ethel’s parents, right outside the parlor where the ceremony would be performed.

“Stay off the bed!” Aunt Florence suddenly says with a stern tone while she continues buttoning Ethel’s dress.

Little Ruth Spencer, only four, immediately pushes away from the bed which she had begun crawling onto and runs over to hug Ethel, her favorite. Ruth is the ring-bearer and flower girl in Ethel’s wedding. Her grandmother was Ethel’s Aunt but she died young so her son, Ed, became very close to Ethel’s family.

On top of the bed are all the wedding gifts which will be shipped home by train in a few days. The gifts, numerous and beautiful, are ones commonly given at such farm weddings, consisting of silverware, china, cut-glass and linen.

Lillian runs to the bedroom door, opens it a crack, and peeks into the parlor. At the far end of the parlor stands an arbor of evergreens with ferns and white asters attached. Their mother, Aunt Nell, and even Grandmother Nancy, are attaching the last decorations of pink and white to the large green board behind this which will serve as a backdrop for the ceremony. "It looks like everyone’s here," reports Lil as she smoothes a fold in her blue crepe de chene dress. "How do I look?"

"You look beautiful," says Ethel softly.

She glances down at the ring on her right hand, a garnet surrounded by seed pearls. Lloyd had given this to her last Christmas after writing her folks and asking for her hand in marriage. Both had been so excited when they finally told her about the letter. She was their first child to be married.

"Is the groom ready?" asks Aunt Florence. She hands Ethel a bouquet of yellow roses. Ethel takes it with a smile; she’s always been close with her Aunt Florence. This is the Aunt who helped Ethel paint her wedding dishes with a gold trim, the dishes they are using today.

Lil looks through the crack she’s allowed the bedroom door to open and beckons Aunt Nell over. "Is the groom ready?" she whispers.

With a smile stolen from a cherub, little Aunt Nell pokes her head in for a moment and replies, "Not yet, but I'll knock when he comes out."

Ethel looks from one Aunt to the other. Aunt Nell, who disappears back into the outer room, is quiet, loving, and married to big, boisterous, good-natured Dell Barrows. Nell, like her brother Byron and her niece Ethel, expresses fascination in anything anyone has to tell her. Her sister, Aunt Florence, who continues to fuss over Ethel like a prize mare, is not the same. She’s direct to the point of tartness and not averse to speaking her mind, though she can also be kind and capable. She’s married to Uncle Frank Young, a man so socially adept that Ethel doesn’t know a soul who doesn’t love him.

Ethel glances at herself in the mirror and smiles. “I’m ready,” she says. Her sister Lil quickly opens the door and walks out into the kitchen.

The guests are arranged on chairs in the next room, the parlor, mainly relatives of the bride but several of the groom’s family had arrived by car the night before. As the bridal party enters to stand in the back of the room, the guests all turn their heads.

Ethel sees her mother, Kate, standing over next to her grandmothers, excitedly talking about something. Probably how much preparation this took, she thinks. Her mother, in a simple white dress which she had bought special for this occasion and with her bobbed hair, looks wonderful to her daughter.

Just in front of her mother stands Ethel’s brother Adin, kind, easy-going, quiet and shy, he’s talking to one of the groom’s brothers. Adin, never at ease in “dressed up” clothes, looks very uncomfortable in his suit and as usual his hair always looks as though he’d survived a hurricane.

Coming towards Ethel now is Byron Baker, her father. Almost sixty, he shows more spring in his step today than he has in many days. He places the pocket watch he was looking at back in its tiny pocket of his pants, pats his vest smooth where it covers the watch, and proudly greets his oldest daughter.

“Hello, Pa,” murmurs Ethel. He leans in to kiss her on the cheek.

“Good afternoon my little girl,” he responds. “Your big day is here.” He turns back to scan the room. Many of the relatives are from his wife, Kate’s side, his own uncles having either died or moved away years before.

Situated along the wall in the center of the parlor, the groom’s older sister, Clara, arranges herself and the music at the Baker piano. Kate Baker, the mother of the bride, sets up the few items needed by the pastor on a small table at the head of the parlor near the arch, the guests seat themselves on the chairs and chests, and Byron Baker, the father of the bride, waits with Ethel in the kitchen.

Byron notices Pastor Prout look over at him so he nods his approval for the service to start. He mentions something to the two men standing near him, the groom and best man, and then the pastor nods to the groom’s sister at the piano. Clara starts up Mendelssohn’s Wedding March.

As they reach the altar, Byron slips his hand from his daughter’s and places hers on Lloyd’s outstretched one. Lloyd, slightly taller than Ethel, was dark haired, blue-eyed, and five years younger than his bride. Together they turn to face the pastor and walk under the evergreen arbor while Lillian and Floyd file in alongside.

The pastor, Reverend Prout, begins the Congregational service. “Dearly beloved, we are assembled here in the presence of God, to join this Man and this Woman in holy marriage…”

“By the authority committed unto me,” booms Reverend Prout, “as a Minister of the Church of Christ, I declare the Lloyd and Ethel are now Husband and Wife, according to the ordinance of God, and the law of the State: in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

“You looked beautiful up there,” gushes Grandma Nancy Baker as she hobbles over to sit at the end of the Bridal table. One of her ankles has been bothering her this fall, not a surprise in a 77 year old.

“Thank you,” Ethel responds with a huge smile to this woman that she loves so much.
Nancy’s eyes twinkle as she adds, “Your grandfather and I also had a fine day like this. I hope you the same joy in your marriage that we had in ours.” Lloyd nods his thanks and she takes her seat.

As the guests find their spots at the tables, some of the neighbors emerge from the house carrying large crocks of soup, the first course of this three course wedding dinner. Once these are set on each table Reverend Prout stands up at the Bridal Table and gives a Blessing.
As the Baker neighbors come to remove the empty soup bowls and large crocks of soup, more come out with the second course; platters of potatoes, squash, spreads of chicken, turkey, and ham, trays of pickles and bread.

After the third course, an assortment of cookies including Kate’s famous lemon sugar cookies, and a number of pies, all served with coffee or tea, the guests get up and visit freely.

Afterward, as Ethel and Lloyd hurry to the car they are bombarded by handfuls of rice handed out by Lloyd’s brother Leon.


Evelyn Taylor said...

What a wonderful account of Ethel and Lloyd's wedding! It was as if we all were there too.

Yes, her "attentiveness" was one of her most endearing charms. I was witness to that in the 1940s when I entered the Taylor family. She listened and you did think you were the only one at that moment.

MOM/CB said...

The work that Jim has done and is still doing on the Baker side, taking it ALL the way back to the Mayflower' is amazing!! In so far as possible he has tried to be authentic! It is being written as tho you were really there with the the family members of each generation! It will take years BUT I am SO proud of him and the job he has done so far!!!

Pat said...


Yes, I agree with Mom and Eveyln--terrific job on this!!

I loved reading it. How strange to feel as if I am watching my grandparents wedding, but yes, I feel like I am peering out from behind a large tree in the front yard, perhaps, seeing all of these people who WERE just names to me...

Thanks, Bo...


Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Great job! I agree, it was like being there - seeing all of the details of the day.
Now I want a lemon cookie.
Jim, keep writing; I want to go back in time more often.

MOM/CB said...

A furthur comment-- when my Mom [ Ethel ] was killed in 1970 by a car while she was crossing the road to visit a sick neighbor, Doris and I went to her home to "keep house " for all who came to her funeral. This was a very sad time! The day after the funeral, when we were picking up the rooms and preparing to close the house for a bit, I went to the back yard with some stuff to be burned. There in the small flower bed behind the back shed was a yellow rose in bloom, one I had never seen there before! I called Doris who agreed that she had never noticed a rose there before. So we stood, hugging one another as we felt that this was MOM, telling us that all was OK and she was with all those she loved.
That is why I wanted her wedding story to be as truthful as possible after all these years!!