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Long ago: A small wedding, and 9 lbs. of butter September 22, 2012

Posted by Jenny in history, Lifestyle, memoir.
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Wells Ira and Sybil Kennedy Bennett, my grandparents, soon after their wedding

This is taken from a memoir entitled “When I Was a Girl” by my grandmother, Sybil Crowninshield Kennedy Bennett. The series starts here and alternates every other post.

[The last post described the courtship of my grandparents during their days as students at Syracuse University. They became engaged after they graduated.]

We weren’t formally engaged until September 1912, in Jamestown, New York, where I was a YWCA secretary. He was working in Greensburg, Pa., in the architect’s office of Paul Bartholemew. That same month he was offered an instructorship at the University of Michigan at $1100 per year. We decided to be married the next year at Christmas time.

I was quite ill for a long time [with a thyroid problem that required surgery] but we kept our plan for a Christmas wedding, December 20, 1913. It was small, only the families and a few friends, about twenty people. We were married in the parlor [at her family’s home]. A cousin from Connecticut sent a large box of mountain laurel sprays which we used to decorate with. It looked very pretty with the green laurel twined around long pier glass and the windows on each side.

Mr. George Nichols was  the minister. His wife sang a horrible solo. We had it to please her. My Uncle Jim’s legs shook visibly in the range of my vision and my sister looked lovely in a mahogany colored crepe with natural brown maribou trimming. I had an embroidered voile in white trimmed with a sash of white chiffon knotted and draped at the side. The voile was very fine and heavily embroidered with a border. Wells had a navy cheviot suit and looked very handsome as he always has.

The luncheon was served at home with help of neighbors—oyster bisque, fried chicken, potato croquettes, with salad, vegetables and home made ice cream and wedding cake. We scooted out the back door ostensibly to see the girl next door, Mildred, who was sick in bed, and didn’t come back. This was bad because they couldn’t decorate our car but we wanted to be off. Mr. Clarence Jones drove us to Fair Haven [where Wells’ family lived] in his car. It was a very pleasant day, sunny and no snow.  At Fair Haven, we took Wells’ father’s horse and buggy left there for us, for the final three miles to his home. They [his parents] stayed away from home several days.

We stayed up there over Christmas, having Christmas dinner at Wells’ sister May’s. For our first supper I made cream of tomato soup with real cream. It tasted delicious to us and we had much nice food Grandma Bennett had left us. They were worried about the butter churning, whether the cream would keep until they returned. We settled it for them by churning it ourselves and made nine lbs. of butter which we took with us when we left. We practiced thrift from the start, if not larceny or something. We came back to Cato, packed our things and reached Ann Arbor on the Wolverine train early in the morning of January 5, 1914, and have lived here ever since.

(To be continued)

Wells Ira Bennett

Long ago: Small-town train service August 24, 2012

Posted by Jenny in history, memoir, railroads.
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My grandmother, Sybil Kennedy, around the time she met my grandfather

This is taken from a memoir entitled “When I Was a Girl” by my grandmother, Sybil Crowninshield Kennedy Bennett. The series starts here and alternates every other post.

Cato village had at its greatest size nearly six hundred population. [The number was closer to 400 when Grandma was growing up. The figure stood at 532 in 2010.] It was on the Fair Haven branch of the Lehigh Valley railroad. There were six passenger trains a day from Auburn to Fair Haven in the summer and four in the winter. The mail all came on the trains and all packages came by express on the trains as there was no Parcel Post even as late as when I was in college [it was established in 1913].

Going to meet the trains was a free entertainment, which we were not allowed to enjoy unless we knew someone going or coming. We did manage to accompany to the train and to meet quite a few people. After the train came in, people went to the post office, where the mail was distributed and put into boxes. Each family had a box and a number, either a pigeonhole where you had to ask for your mail at the window or a lock box to which you had a key.

It took a half hour or more to distribute the mail. The post office was in a large store and became really crowded with people who were usually talkative and full of jokes. We didn’t get to attend this rite very often, either, but sometimes we could, when there were other errands to the store or we expected mail. The Postmaster’s wife usually helped him and she accommodatingly read the post cards to her edification and would ask someone to “tell Mrs. Jones that her sister would be coming Thursday,” or some such message.

[The train trip was an important feature of an annual picnic.] The Cato churches, all three, organized and held a famous Sunday School picnic at the Picnic Grounds in Fair Haven [on Lake Ontario] every year. It was held on the last Thursday in August. The church people took extra food for those who had none and there were railroad tickets too for the people who couldn’t buy them. The big thing was the special train which came at nine o’clock in the morning. It had previously taken on passengers at Auburn, where it started, and at Weedsport. At Cato it really filled up. There were at least fourteen coaches, crowded to the platforms. There were those who sat down on the red plush seats and rode looking out the windows and those who walked through the train locating and visiting with friends. The Cato band always went and gave a concert, playing at the Cato station and the Fair Haven one and at the picnic. You can’t imagine the enthusiasm and excitement of all this and the disappointment if it rained.

Rail service to Cato village ended in 1953.

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Beach at Fair Haven in the present day