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04-01-04 Looking back on love shared

By Margie Wuebker

Memories flowed like nonalcoholic punch from a silver fountain as residents, family members and staff participated in a Wednesday night wedding observance at The Gardens at Celina
   The event, complete with a traditional meal, a three-tiered cake, toe-tapping music and a photographer to capture the moment for posterity, had residents donning their best pantsuits or plaid shirts and slacks for the occasion. Staff members sporting bridal veils rushed about pinning corsages and boutonnieres on brides and grooms from another era.
   “We have a family event at least once each quarter,” activity director Gloria Rogers said as residents found their places at tables decorated in a blue and white theme. “We thought it would be fun to have a wedding theme this time around.”
   Residents John and Ruth Schnack sat across the table from one another recalling another day nearly 42 years ago. She didn’t need medication or a portable oxygen tank then and he took her hand without the slightest tremor.
   “We got married June 26, 1962, at Belleville, Ill.,” she recalled with a smile. “My brother (Lowell Ketrow) was stationed at Scott Field. He and his wife stood up with us.”
   The bride wore a blue dress with a short veil; the groom a dark suit with shirt and tie. A reception with punch and a three-tiered cake followed at the Officers Club.
   “I was 35 and he was 42,” she added with a chuckle. “I told him that one day we would celebrate 50 years of marriage together. We only have eight years to go.”
   There are no secrets to having a long, happy marriage as far as the Schnacks are concerned.
   “Two people are bound to have disagreements along the way,” she said. “You have to make up and go on.”
   Nodding in agreement he added, “You need to talk things over. Oh my, we’ve done a lot of talking in four decades and I expect we’ll do more in the years ahead.”
   Alfrieda Jutte recalled meeting her husband, Joseph, during an outdoor dance at Shady Park south of Celina. They exchanged vows Aug. 27, 1946, during a ceremony at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Coldwater.
   She sewed long floral dresses for the attendants, but purchased her own from a department store in Fort Wayne, Ind.
   “It’s too hard to fit yourself,” she added with a chuckle. “White orange blossoms held my veil. My mom had used the same headpiece and her marriage lasted 60 years. I carried my First Communion prayer book topped with an orchid.”
   The newlyweds danced during a reception for 250 people at the Mercelina Hotel, a popular destination for visitors arriving by train. The couple set up housekeeping in Coldwater, where they owned and operated a grocery store.
   A widow since 1991, Jutte ponders what advice she could share with young people contemplating marriage. “Try to have a good family life and home,” she said. “That is the key.”
   Elma Painter pointed her wheelchair in the direction of a display of vintage wedding gowns following the meal of fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, noodles, corn, coleslaw, homemade rolls and wedding cake.
   She and Paul Madison Painter exchanged vows July 26, 1948, before a justice of the peace in Georgia. They took along his brother and sister-in-law, Fred and Wilma Painter.
   A photograph shows the happy couple — she in a white suit with a blue ruffled dickey and a white hat with blue flowers decorating the upturned brim; he in a dark suit.
   “This event brings back a lot of memories,” she said. “He had been in the war and we eloped the year it ended.”
   At 93, Painter requires no time to contemplate the advice she would share with young people heading to the altar — “Behave yourself and love one another.”
   Irene Ranly Reitz wore a long white gown as she walked down the aisle of Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church in Fort Recovery to join Andrew Reitz at the altar. The 8 a.m. Mass took place April 15, 1944, in the presence of relatives and friends.
   “I discovered later in the wedding photographs that my mother had forgotten to press my gown,” she said. “We had a large family and she apparently ran out of time.”
   The newlyweds “crashed” a dance at Edgewater Park in Celina that evening. They had neither money nor time for a honeymoon. They simply went home when the music ended.
   “We got up the next morning and my husband headed to the store for milk,” she recalled. “I kissed him good-bye and the people at the store teased him about putting his lipstick on crooked.”
   Once dinner tables had been removed at The Gardens, Velma Parent took a front row seat for square dancing by members of the Tri-Squares Dance Club.
   “It seems like yesterday when I was the bride and Roger was the handsome groom,” she added with a sigh. “We got married on the run in 1944 because the big war was going on and you couldn’t plan anything. We spoke our vows in Sioux Falls, S.D., before he shipped out to the Philippines.”
   The new Mrs. Parent returned to Akron and resumed working at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
   “I was Rosie the Riveter,” she added with a chuckle. “I riveted bomb bays on planes at the Goodyear Air Dock. My husband was doing his part for the war effort and I was doing the same on the homefront.”
   As the clock ticked toward 7:30 p.m., Parent sighed heavily and prepared to head toward her room down the hall.
   “This was the nicest wedding even if nobody got married,” she said. “It certainly gave us older folks a chance to reminisce about days when we could kick up our heels and not regret it in the morning.”


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