THIRTY-NINE YEARS AGO on May 15, Randy and I were married at St. John’s Lutheran Church in my hometown of Vesta. The church sits about a half-mile north of the crop and dairy farm where I grew up. Since few people have a clue as to my hometown’s location, here are general directions: Go west of Mankato, west of New Ulm, west of Redwood Falls and follow Minnesota State Highway 19 half-way to Marshall. Vesta is a short distance from the first curve curving south.
When I reflect on that Saturday in 1982, I remember how the morning began with light rain, how I worried about my $82 wedding dress from Maurice’s getting dirty on the gravel farm driveway. Photos from that day show the sidewalk to the church dampened by rain before the 2 pm ceremony and after, when guests lined the walkway to toss rice.
That exit photo is perhaps my favorite from our wedding day. The joy on our faces and that of our guests is in-the-moment natural. Journalistic style. Slice-of-life. While I value the posed professional portraits, I especially value this celebratory image. When I study it, I see loved ones who are no longer living. My Grandma Kletscher back in the corner, daisy corsage pinned to her dress, snow white hair spilling from her red scarf. My bachelor uncle, Mike, dressed to the nines in a suit and tie and smiling broadly. And then my Aunt Sue, the beautiful and classy aunt of Italian descent, fashionably dressed, clutching rice, smiling. I miss all of them.
Detailed memories fade after nearly 40 years. But the highlights of that day remain. The joy in marrying the man I loved, and still love. The congregation singing my favorite hymn, “Beautiful Savior,” during the ceremony. The joy of celebrating with all those friends and family, including two of Randy’s soon-to-give-birth sisters. The joy of dancing across the old wooden floor inside the Vesta Community Hall. And, if Randy, could insert his memory here, he would remind me of the awful green hue of the punch my mom made. It was tasty; but he’s right about the color.
Our colors were green and yellow. Not John Deere green and yellow. Just green and yellow, my favorite colors. Randy didn’t care much about color choices, as I recall. I even stitched aprons for our waitresses from green and yellow gingham. Oh, how I’d love to have one of those ruffled aprons my younger cousins wore as they waited on tables.
I appreciate that we were married during a time when weddings were simple. Simple as in twisted crepe paper streamers running the length of bare wooden banquet tables. Tables where locals piled corn kernels to mark BINGO cards once a year during BINGO Night. Tables that were pushed aside to open dance floor space for the Bunny Hop and the Chicken Dance and modern dancing. Dances, too, with the bride and with the groom. Randy would insert his memory here of dancing with a cousin who asked if he was sure he really wanted to get married. We still laugh about that question. But then the liquor store was just a half-block away.
May 15 is certainly a day of reflection. But more important, it is a day of honoring our vows to one another. Of pledging to be there for one another. Always. Through the good times and the challenging times. And we’ve had plenty of both. It is a day also of celebrating what brought us together—love.
To my dear husband, Randy, thank you for loving me and for always being here for me and for our family. I appreciate you, cherish you, love you. In 40 years of knowing you and in 39 years of marriage, those feelings have only deepened. Happy anniversary! And I’m sorry about that green punch.
© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Happy Anniversary – Enjoy Your Special Day 🙂
Thank you so much, Renee.
Sent from my iPhone
Thank you. Valerie. Enjoy your day tomorrow with your family.
Happy Anniversary Audrey and Randy
Lovely tribute Audrey and you both bring such joy to those around you
Thank you, Sue, for your wishes and kind words.
All of us of a certain age can look back on those days with loving pride and a bit of cringe worthy embarrassment over the styles of the times.
Though your pictures reveal pretty good taste for the era 🙂 🙂
One sad note is the demise of all the grand dance halls We remember with fondness those vast wooden floors and tables jam-packed with relatives and kids running everywhere.
My favorite memory rises from 1970 when “the boys” were all instructed to be on their best behavior. So there we were, half the cohort in buzz cuts and military uniforms while the other half wore shoulder length hair and beards – all glaring in silence at each other.
It would have remained that way but for my “Arsenic and Old Lace” great-aunt from Chippewa Falls who wandered into the room and exclaimed, “Goodness, don’t you boys discuss politics?”
The night ended at the White Castle on University Avenue at about 3;00 am with the cops busting up our fistfight.
My cousin Mike who was a marine at the time, still claims he got the better of me. I disagree.
Oh, those were the days!
I love this story. You are an incredible storyteller. I’d almost believe this was fiction if I didn’t know better.
Lovely post, Audrey. Congratulations on your anniversary! ❤
Thank you, dear Penny.
I got married in 1974 at St. Anne Catholic Church in Wabasso—not far from Vesta. I agree with you about missing the days of simple weddings—when perhaps more thought was given to the marriage than to all the expensive decorations and clothes.Our reception was in the church basement with friends of my family preparing and serving a simple meal. I also cringe at the very revealing wedding dresses that are so common today.
Lynette, thanks for sharing your wedding memories. I agree that the focus back then was more on the marriage than the “show.” And I agree about the revealing wedding dresses with brides hiking up their dress tops all day.
I graduated from Wabasso High the year you were married.
My sister, Sharon Eisenmenger, is the one who introduced me to your blogs. I think she said you were in her class.
Oh, you’re Sharon’s sister. We were good friends in high school. Lots of good memories with Sharon, Margie and Janette. I need to get to the next class reunion as I missed the last one. It would be so good to see all those WHS class of 74 grads.
Congratulations on your Wedding Anniversary! I love reading your stories! Makes me feel like I am back home. I know exactly where Vesta is since I have been there many times since I grew up in Morgan where my Dad was a HS teacher and announced all home football and boys basketball games. I live in NC now but miss MN, especially when I read your stories. I graduated from Morgan High the year you were married and joined the Air Force that fall. I eventually met my husband in Holland. We now have 4 boys with three either currently in the service or now out. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Lisa, thank you for the anniversary wishes and for appreciating my blog. I always enjoy hearing from readers who grew up in Redwood County or any part of southwestern Minnesota. What a legacy of service in your family.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I often comment on your articles regarding Vesta. I enjoy your photos of Vesta landmarks—reminds me of my years there. (It was definitely a simpler time, yet a good time).
Congratulations on your wedding anniversary, and God’s blessings for many more happy years together.
Laurine, it’s always good to hear from you. It’s been awhile. But it’s also been awhile since I’ve been back to Vesta. With no family reunion last summer and Mom living at Parkview, I didn’t have a reason to return to my hometown. Maybe soon.
Happy Anniversary. You looked lovely in your pretty dress. You both looked so happy.
Thank you, Judy.
Happy anniversary. I loved your pictures. You both looked so very young and happy. My wedding reception almost 68 years ago consisted of cake and punch. That was the days before extravagant dinners were served. I still have my wedding dress. My oldest daughter wore it 46 years ago. We served food at her reception. Although it wasn’t a sit down dinner. Pleasant memories.
Thank you, Norma. And thank you for the lovely anniversary card. So sweet of you. Sixty-eight years ago…what a blessing. I love that your daughter wore your dress.
Awesome post! Congratulations and respect on your 39 years!!!
Thank you, Paula.
Another beautiful post! Congratulations on the anniversary — hope your day was wonderful!
It was an absolutely wonderful anniversary. The weather in Minnesota this weekend was “perfect.”
Such sweet and cherished memories you have of that special day 39 years ago. God certainly knew what he was doing when he brought you and Randy together. It’s pretty obvious the deep love you have for each other. Happy Anniversary dear friend, my wish for you is to have many many more.
Thank you, Jackie.
39 yrs. Wow. Congratulations! In ’82 my oldest was getting read to graduate h.s. Love the glasses, remember them well. No one does weddings like small, rural communities. Filled with “special” that last as long as yours have. 40 is big, 50 even bigger. Start planning something really special! Love this blog, you did it all justice. God bless!
Thank you, Sandra.
Hope you had a lovely anniversary, Audrey! Love the pictures of you and Randy from 1982. 🙂
It was an absolutely wonderful anniversary celebration as we re-entered the world post vaccine. Flea market. Farmers’ market. Food Fair. Up to Northfield. Out to dinner. And an armful of lilacs from my groom.