THE PHOTO FROM FIFTY YEARS ago is priceless. Six cousins, all nieces of the groom, step ladder lined up on the steep steps of Rock Dell Lutheran Church, rural Belview, Minnesota.
I’m third from the top in this 50-year-old image tucked into a photo album.
I wish I remembered that moment when newlyweds, Merlin and Iylene Kletscher, descended the stairs. But I was only eight then, snugged between cousins, on that beautiful early November day in 1964. Or at least I assume the weather was unseasonably pleasant as we’re dressed like it’s summer.
Historic Odeon Hall in Belview.
Fast forward fifty years and I’m back in Belview, this time at Odeon Hall, an historic 1901 community center next to city hall and the fire department and within a block of my aunt and uncle’s home. They recently moved back to Iylene’s hometown.
The crowd dwindles as the 50th anniversary party comes to a close. The honored couple are to the left front.
I am there with my husband and hundreds of others celebrating the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary several months early.
Merlin and Iylene’s wedding photo served as a table decoration.
And I wonder, as I reconnect with cousins and other aunts and uncles, how fifty years have passed.
Dyed bridesmaid’s shoes from the November 7, 1964, wedding.
It seems only yesterday I was an 8-year-old wearing cat eye glasses, hair pulled back with a barrette, dressed in my Sunday best button back green corduroy jumper and white blouse perched on those steps in my shiny black patent leather shoes.
Iylene’s wedding dress (which she sewed) and veil and Merlin’s suit.
Cake to celebrate 50 years of marriage.
But yesterday was fifty years ago, when high school sweethearts Merlin, 19, and Iylene, 20, pledged their love to one another before family and friends in a small country church. Within six years, they had four children.
Merlin and Iylene today.
What a blessing to have a half century together.
A little lunch was served at the anniversary party.
Fifty years are worth celebrating.
Guests linger as the party ends.
And I was delighted to be there, as I was on November 7, 1964, to congratulate my aunt and uncle, this time fully appreciating the depth of their love for one another.
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling