May 23 and June 10, 1919

May 23

Woke up feeling bad of course after such a night I spent. Got ready and went to Harriet’s shower. Wore my pink dress. Harriet certainly is happy and she got beautiful presents. The “four girls” served.

June 10

Harriet’s Wedding Day. I was “bridesmaid” and wore my pink dress. Went down at 10 o’clock. Willis was sure fussed. I nearly had to cry during the wedding but I did hold up until I got home. I feel so lonesome. don’t know what I’ll do without Harriet.


Harriet’s and Willis’s marriage license, signed by Rev. Sheldon

We begin with Harriet’s shower, only two and a half weeks before her wedding on June 10, 1919, oddly enough, a Tuesday. Clara doesn’t have much to say about the wedding other than that she is feeling like she has now lost not only Edgar but her friend. As all of us know who have witnessed our friends get married before we do, relationships inevitably change.

But I have a copy of a newspaper article reporting on the wedding. It’s difficult to read, so I will also transcribe it here.

The marriage of Miss Harriet Elizabeth Potter to Mr. Willis Clifford Stone took place at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Potter, at high noon, Tuesday, June 10, 1919, Rev. L. J. Sheldon officiating.

The bride was beautifully gowned in beaded white crepe and carried a shower boquet of sweet peas. The groom wore the conventional blue serge. They were attended by Mr. Gerald Pershing and Miss Clara Horen, who wore a beaded pink crepe gown.

Following the singing of Loves Old Sweet Song and Love You Truly by Mr. Fayette J. Meade, cousin of the bride, the bridal party descended the stairs to the strains of Lohengrin’s “Bridal Chorus,” played by Mrs. Fayette J. Meade and took their places under a beautiful arch of green foliage backed by ferns, palms, and geraniums where the ceremony was performed.

Immediately following a four-course dinner was served to thirty-five guests. Only the immediate relatives of both families were present. Shortly after dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Stone left amid a shower of rice and old shoes for a trip. They will be at home on their farm seven miles east of Cresbard after July 1.

The out of town guests were Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Culling, Mr. and Mrs. Fayette J. Meade and son, all of Alexandria, Minn.; Mrs. S. H. Jarvis and daughter, little Nettie Jarvis, all of Faulkton; Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Gange, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Gange, Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Gange, Mrs. Geo. Palmer and daughter Isabelle Gange of Melette.

Mr. and Mrs. Stone were the recipients of many beautiful presents.

Harriet carries a shower bouquet of sweet peas. A shower bouquet “is in the shape of a trailing waterfall and are typically threaded with long-stemmed flowers and green foliage such as ivy.”  She looks beautiful in a beaded crepe dress while Willis wears a blue serge suit, something the newspaper labels “conventional.” And it was.

“Serge is a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great coats and trench coats.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serge_(fabric)

After the war, people looked to simplicity, and this suit was one that fit the bill. Irving Berlin wrote of how people felt in a song titled “Just a Blue Serge Suit.”  

Just a blue serge suit and a bright new necktie,

A room of his own with a door,

Just a bed with sheets and a home-cooked dinner –

That’s what he’s been fighting for.

“Just a Blue Serge Suit” performed by Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra

Cab Calloway also wrote about the suit, poking fun at someone wearing one in his song “Blue Serge Suit” written in 1946. 1946 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdQCaciBTFk

He isn’t hep to jive, he’s only half alive
Hep cats call him square
You won’t believe this jack
All his clothes date back
To ’29 I swear

He wears a blue serge suit with a belt in the back
No drape, no shape, just a belt in the back
Strictly calm and he’s off the cob
Wears a pocket watch with a pearly fob
He’d be just as sharp in a sack
As in the blue serge suit with the belt in the back

He isn’t old and grey but he’s so passé
Swing bands make him frown
He don’t get no kicks
From boogie-woogie licks
Oh he’s dead but he won’t lay down

He wears a blue serge suit with a belt in the back
No flare, so rare, just a belt in the back
He thinks a cat is a household pet
His favorite dance is the minuet
Maybe one day he’s gonna crack
And burn that blue serge suit with the belt in the back

He’s got a gal named “V”, she’s twice as square as he
What a gruesome pair 
The way they fuss and frown
When gators strut on down
Is more than I can bear

He wears a blue serge suit with a belt in the back
A pip, a zip, a belt in the back
He wears high shoes and a pair of spats
If you dig that junk it’ll drive you bats
Maybe some day he’s gonna crack
And burn that blue serge suit with the belt in the back

1956 Blue Serge album cover – Serge Chaloff,

The article then goes on to discuss the music at the ceremony.

Fayette married Harriet’s cousin, Lillian Cullings, and they live in Melette, SD, where they farm. He sang while his wife played piano. 

The first two songs were considered parlor songs, which were songs that were distributed as sheet music and were meant to be played at home. These were most popular in the late 1800’s, when more and more people could afford pianos or organs, until the early 1900s, before record players became more widely disbursed.

Bingham

The first was “Love’s Old Sweet Song” the lyrics written by G. Glifton Bingham and the music by James Lynam Molloy in 1884.

Molloy

Once in the dear dead days beyond recall.
When on the world the mists began to fall,
Out of the dreams that rose in happy throng
Low to our hearts love sang an old sweet song
And in the dusk where fell the firelight gleam
Softly it wove itself into our dream

Just a song at twilight
When the lights are low,
And the flickering shadows
Softly come and go
Though the heart be weary,
Sad the day and long,
Still to us at twilight comes love’s old song
Comes love’s old sweet song.

Even today we hear love’s song of yore
Deep in our hearts it dwells forever more
Footsteps may falter, weary grows our way
Still we can hear it at the close of day
So till the end when life’s dim shadows fall
Love will be found the sweetest song of all.

Just a song at twilight
When the lights are low,
And the flickering shadows
Softly come and go

Though the heart be weary,
Sad the day and long,
Still to us at twilight comes love’s old song
Comes love’s old sweet song.

The second is “I Love You Truly” written by Carrie Jacobs-Bond in 1901.

Carrie Jacobs-Bond

Carrie Jacobs-Bond is an interesting woman, so I thought I would take a moment to share some information about her. I especially like to highlight women who don’t feed into the stereotypes. “I Love You Truly” became the song to give her the title of the first woman to sell over a million copies of the sheet music of a song. But her success came with a lot of suffering.

As a child, she possessed a recognized musical talent, demonstrating the ability to play the piano by ear as early as four years old. When she married E. J. Smith at 18 in 1880, the couple had one son, Fred Jacob. But by 1886, she was divorced. She then remarried a physician, Dr. Frank Bond in 1889. 

The marriage was reportedly full of love but also full of hardships: her debilitating illness (rheumatism that plagued her for her entire life) and his sudden unemployment. But unfortunately,

One snowy day, in 1894, Dr. Bond left and encountered some children throwing snowballs and roughhousing. One of the children shoved him, he slipped and fell, striking his head on the frozen ground. According to Carrie, his last words to her were “My darling, this is death. But, oh, how I want to live.”

http://parlorsongs.com/bios/cjbond/cjbond.php

Completely broke, after her husband’s death, Carrie and her 12-year-old son moved to Chicago, where she moved into a house and sublet rooms to make money. Eventually, she sold off most of her possessions. But she did hold on to her piano, and all the while, she continued to write songs. 

A series of chance encounters gave Carrie the opportunity to share her music with the world. The first was

When a neighbor was expecting some callers and had asked Carrie to receive them till she arrived home, the callers spotted Carrie’s piano and the manuscripts upon it. The callers happened to be a performer and his agent. One of the men, Mr. Victor Sincere, went to the piano and began playing them. The first song he played was I Love You Truly and he was quite impressed by it. He asked Carrie for copies of her works and promised to help her sell her songs. At around the same time, Carrie had also been holding recitals in people’s homes of her songs so was beginning to have a small following. 

http://parlorsongs.com/bios/cjbond/cjbond.php

That was just the beginning. Carrie published her first book of music, Seven Songs, that included “I Love You Truly.” Soon after, she created her own publishing house with her son, Carrie Jacobs-Bond & Sons, also known as Bond House.

The publishing house and Carrie grew to be very successful. She even sang at the White House twice, once for Theodore Roosevelt and again for Warren Harding. Around 1920, she and her son bought a house and established a Hollywood office in California and also bought a cabin in Grossmont, near San Diego.

In California, Carrie suffered perhaps her most painful tragedy, the loss of her son Fred to his own hand. In perhaps the most dramatic, almost cinematic ending, Fred Bond Smith who was described as being depressed over a severe illness went to a cabin at Lake Arrowhead in 1932. There he killed himself. His body was found in a room where two candles were burning and his mother’s song A Perfect Day was playing on the phonograph. 

http://parlorsongs.com/bios/cjbond/cjbond.php

After the death of her son, Carrie continued to write, publish, and perform. She died in 1946 at her cabin, at the age of 84.

I love you truly, truly dear,
Life with its sorrow, life with its tear,
Fades into dreams when I feel you are near,
For I love you truly,
Truly dear!

Ah, love ’tis something, to feel your kind hand,
Ah yes, ’tis something, by your side to stand,
Gone is the sorrow, gone doubt and fear,
For you love me truly,
Truly dear!

Bing Crosby sings “I Love You Truly”

Then it was time for the bridal party to make its entrance. Gerald Pershing, Edgar’s good friend, served as best man, and Clara served as maid of honor. The entrance was accompanied by Lohengrin’s “Bridal Chorus,” from the 1850 opera Lohengrinby German composer Richard Wagner. Everyone who has ever been to a wedding will recognize this song. 

Chris Fletcher playing “Bridal Chorus”

After the thirty-five guests enjoyed a four-course meal, the newlyweds said their goodbyes, as rice and old shoes were thrown at them. Old shoes? At first, I thought I must be transcribing the article wrong. But it turns out that throwing old shoes was actually a thing. In fact, in September 1895, the periodical Folklore published a 24-page article written by James E. Cromby titled “Shoe-Throwing at Weddings” (p. 258).

Apparently, throwing of old shoes has a long tradition, and not just from weddings. When guests threw shoes at Harriet and Willis, they were doing so as a means of wishing them luck. The belief is that the exchange of shoes originated as an ancient custom signifying the exchange of property. An example comes from the Bible in the story of Boaz. 

“Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel.Therefore the kinsman said to Boaz, Buy it for you. So he drew off his shoe. And Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people, You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.”

Bible Ruth 4:7-9

The newspaper article includes a list of out of town guests. I have seen this reporting of those out of town before in newspapers from the time. For example, on September 25, 1914, the Aberdeen American (of Aberdeen, South Dakota) ran the following:  “Mrs. H. J. Seeman, who has been visiting her parents in Litchfield, Minn., during the last two weeks, returned on the noon passenger Tuesday.”

For the Potter-Stone wedding, the Meade family, who were providing the music for the ceremony, travelled with their 14-month-old son (Mrs. Meade would be three months pregnant with her second at this time – I wonder if she had made the announcement yet) and Mrs. Meade’s parents, Jerry and Elizabeth Cullings, all from Alexandria, Minnesota.

The rest of the guests are the siblings of Harriet’s mother, Nancy June Gange, and their spouses. The only one missing is her older brother William, who passed away in 1911. But his daughter Isabelle, the same age as Harriet and her first cousin, did show up. The siblings are Mr. and Mrs. George Wilbert Gange, Mr. and Mrs. Albert J. Gange, Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas Gange.

1934 photo of the groom’s family. From left to right, Mr. Stone (Willis’s dad), Mina (older sister), Preston (older brother), Weston (oldest brother), Steese (older brother, also called Lincoln, who Mabel Williams marries) Willis (the groom)

Mrs. Samuel Hall Jarvis (and turns out she was two months pregnant during this wedding) and her daughter, “little Nettie Jarvis,” 14 months old, from Faulkton, SD. 

I am a little confused about the last two. Lillian G. Gange is married to George Palmer and lives in Mellette, SD. But her daughters are 4-year-old Myrtle and a seventeen-month-old Grace. The previously mentioned William Gange, who died in 1911 does have a daughter named Isabelle Gange, 18-year-old and living in Mellette.

As an aside, Willis’s older brother Lincoln, who was sometimes called Steese, marries Edgar’s older sister, Mabel Williams, in 1922.

As Harriet left her parent’s home with her new husband to live at their farm, she was just embarking on building a life with all the excitement and optimism of any newlywed. She had her whole life to look forward to. I have no idea if it unfolded as she had hoped and if she was fulfilled in her relationships.

What I do know is that she had two sons. The first, Fred, was born in 1922. The second, Jack, sadly died at ten years old in 1935. Around that same time, it appears the three left in the family left Cresbard and moved to Watertown, about a hundred miles east of Cresbard, where all three of them lived out the rest of their lives. The 1940 census states that Willis completed one year of college, so he must have left college when he married Harriet. While he did some farming, he ended up spending most of his career as a salesperson. Willis died too young in 1948, at the age of 50. But Harriet lived to be 81, long enough to see her son Fred marry and have her only grandson, John. Fred’s second son died before his first birthday. Since they all lived in Watertown, I imagine that Harriet had the pleasure of watching her grandson grow up, play ball, graduate, maybe go away to college, marry, and have children of his own. I imagine her bouncing him on her knee, taking him to the park, feeding him candy. 

I hope she was as happy as I see her in my mind’s eye. As happy as she was wearing her beaded white crepe wedding dress and running out as she gripped the hand of her high school sweetheart, dodging rice and old shoes.

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