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The Personal Histories

of

Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride

 
 

OUR WEDDING AND HONEYMOON

 

My third year of college I attended Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff (formerly, Arizona State Teachers College). Following the completion of the regular school year, I stayed there another five weeks to complete the summer session. Shortly after returning to Thatcher for the remainder of the summer; on August 18, 1933, Josephine and I were married. 

 

Our wedding by general standards of these days, wasn’t much of an affair as far as social clout or impact upon the town was concerned. The write up in the local paper did take up a couple of  columns, but other than that we were just another cute, college couple daring to venture forth against the challenges of life that mating brings. There might have been a broken heart or two left in our wake, for which we have no regrets, for all know the old saying, all is fair in love and war….”

 

We planned on John F. Nash performing the ceremony. He had not only been our teacher in high school but had also been a member of the stake presidency. A bishop and a family friend. As youngsters we loved and honored the man. Unable to do us the favor because of his special calling with the Arizona Temple, we then asked the presiding Stake President, Harry L. Payne to do the honors. 

 

The short affair took place on the Phillips front lawn with foot and highway traffic only yards away; not much of a disturbance, for by eight o’clock in Thatcher sidewalks began to fold up and traffic became a trickle. The guests there on that beautiful summer evening were invited personally-- family and personal friends. Wesley and Zella Taylor, long and close friends of Dave and Nettie were there along with their son Fenton, an old school buddy of ours. Gordon Stowell, another old friend, and acting as Best man, was there all gussied up and ready and willing to do his duty toward me and my beautiful bride.  And would you believe it, he showed up with a box of cigars that he passed out after the ceremony. Most of them went to the noisy bunch of friends and enemies that crowded the front sidewalk just beyond the circle of lights where guests were seated. I don’t think any of the guests ever smoked a cigar in their lives, nor had the uninvited on the side walk. Why nonsmoking Mormons still felt obligated to follow the old established tradition of cigars at a wedding and arrival of the first born, I don’t know.    

 

My mother, my youngest brother Bruce, and Frankie, my youngest sister -- all, from just across the fence next door were there. The others were all in far off places, except for Orlando who I’ll mention later. The same was true with Jo’s family. All were married and lived away from the area except Rodney and Jean, her youngest brother and sister. A sister Blazzard, an old family friend of the Phillips’s, then quite elderly, was there as a special guest. She had been Nettle’s nurse and helped deliver Jo when she was born.

 

Jo was so beautiful in her new wedding dress, many memories of which hold special meaning. Here, she explains how we were decked out on that special occasion: 

 

“My wedding dress was of white satin that my cousin, Phillis Pace, made for me. It had tiny hand-covered buttons she’d done, that because of the time and patience they took, I knew was a special token of her love. Dad had made a special effort to find the satin yardage while in Phoenix on a recent business trip. Sally has the dress now. I haven’t see it for so long that I am unable to describe it in any detail. 

 

“A few scraps of the dress material were left. Jean, only four years old at the time, thought she should have a wedding dress like her big sister. So, in the family there are two prized heirlooms from our wedding day.

 

“Darvil looked so dapper. He had on white flannel trousers with black stripes of different widths that Jay Green had recommended for the nuptial occasion. His coat was a light green with a faint pinstripe that he kept nice for many years and wore on special occasions.

 

“Darvil says he recalls a huge tray being brought from the house with or’duerves, punch and cookies. What it all was I do not remember, but I’m sure cold punch and cookies were there because it was a warm evening.”

 

About the front lawn setting: I especially remember the big oleander bushes in full bloom, one on each side of the lawn. They lent an ethereal air to the balmy, August evening, sort of a backdrop of best wishes and good will. Honeysuckle in bloom grew up around one, adding its perfume blessing to the occasion

 

"Jo continues her comments: In those days receptions were not the big thing, as they are now. But there were always showers for the bride, often more than one, such as kitchen showers, lingerie showers and other kinds. In this respect we were honored with everything friends could do for us. We received so many beautifully embroidered pillow cases that are still usable. Some of them I look at and remember from whom they came. The one special shower I treasure in my memories is the one held at Darvil’s mother’s place. She still lived in the big house next door (her sons later tore it down), so a large number, probably the whole ward, were invited, The shower was prepared by two or three of our friends whose names are long forgotten. Darvil’s mother was at the door graciously greeting and welcoming each guest”

 

After the ceremony, with congratulations, hugs and kisses over, my biggest problem at this time was the rowdy bunch of so-called friends on the sidewalk. The cigars hadn’t done much to dampen their desires to grab me for an evening’s “Shivaree”, they called it in those days. However, they had misjudged the resourcefulness and ingenuity of some loyal cohorts. Between Bruce, Gordon Stowell and Bernice, a parked and loaded car awaited us on the next street, easily reached through the back lots. Jo quickly changed from satin to jodhpurs and boots, and I (Darvil) to Levis and buckskin jacket. With Bruce flashlighting the way, we were soon in the car heading toward our rendezvous with nature in the pines of old Mount Graham.

 

Bruce recounts his part in the getaway:  “Darvil had employed me to help him and his new bride, after their wedding and reception to escape any shenanigan harassment by misdirected, fun-loving friends. Having made a quick change into their grubbies, the newlyweds slipped out the back door. There we met and I helped them make their way to the back fence, helped them slip through it and then on through the back neighbor’s pasture to the automobile with their waiting friends. They promptly disappeared into the night toward their planned mountain haven. I have always enjoyed a degree of warm satisfaction in being a part of a well-devised scheme which assured them of a clean getaway. As far as anyone was aware, they were simply “lost” in the wilds, as well as “lost” in the arms of cupid.”

 

Not until we reached the straight-away and started the long gradual climb up to the mesa did we feel we had successfully ditched the schivareers, but to our consternation, a car approaching at a very high speed was soon on our tail. Convinced it could be none other than our schivaree bunch I held our vehicle to the center of the road not allowing them to pass, knowing good and well what would happen if they ever managed to get around us. They honked, yelled, and even pressed their front bumper against our rear bumper. Soon, the presses became big shoves that began to be dangerous. After several long minutes of this kind of buffeting, Gordon called from the back seat to say he didn’t think it was our would-be tormenters, that he didn’t recognize the car as one belonging to any of the crowd that had assembled during the wedding. I immediately made the decision to pull over and take our chances. The cargo I carried was too precious to risk wrecking the car, which they seemed more and more bent on doing. You can imagine our relief, when given the opening, the car sped by with shouts of anger coming from open windows, epithets I wouldn’t dare to print.

 

Jo and I honeymooned in a six by ten canvas tent at eight thousand feet elevation in the Graham Mountains of southeastern Arizona, about fifty miles from our homes in Thatcher. A secluded and romantic spot, it was not a regular campsite: but a spot a big quarter mile hike from the nearest road. I spotted the place a couple of years before while hiking that high, lonesome area with a group of boy scouts. I went up there the day before the wedding. I packed everything in, pitched the tent and readied the campsite with Dutch ovens and skillet around the new fire pit to make things comfortable and easy for us both.

 

It was well past midnight the next night when we -- husband and wife of four hours or so -- bid friends, Gordon and Bernice Stowell good night, thanking them for the transportation favor. We warned them not to leave us stranded from the comforts of the civilized world (such as they were in those days), for more than ten days, and to bring any frivolous goodies to eat that might come to mind when they returned. What a marvelous place! And the frustrated shivareers without the least idea, knew how a "coachless" couple so completely disappeared after the open air wedding.

 

Well, I wish I had time and space to tell you about the wonderful ten days spent in forest and canyons of that beautiful and quiet area, but that's not the point of my story. How would you like to have your own special place on the National Forest Service maps named in honor of "your" honey moon? It took many years to finally happen but that's one honeymoon caper Jo and I can boast about.

 

Casting about one day for some means of leaving our mark upon the isolated haven, I took ax in hand and strode to a huge slab of ponderosa trunk lying prone only a few feet from our quarters. A powerful bolt of lightning had recently split the giant trunk leaving a three-foot wide white surface smooth and fresh lying there on the ground, tilted at a forty-five degree angle to the horizon. In an hour, with my sharp blade, I Veed-out thirteen huge letters on its virgin white surface spelling out the words, "HONEYMOON CAMP."  Then invigorated from the exertion and radiant because of pleased remarks from my new bride, I gathered bits of charcoal from the fire pit. With them I blackened the grooves until the rough-hewn letters stood out like vigilant sentinels against a dawn lightened sky. The next day I put final touches on the job by cutting in our names and the year -- 1933. The last time we visited the camp, about thirty years ago, a road passed within a hundred yards of our trysting place, where a narrow trail led into the trees. To our astonishment we discovered that the United States Forest Service had accepted the handiwork of my double-bitted ax as authentic. For there beside the trail stood a sign: HONEYMOON CAMP, 100 YARDS  -- and a black arrow pointed up the trail in "our" direction.

 

How many others complimented our hide-away for the same purpose we will never know, probably not too many. Kids afford luxury hotels now-a-days. Do we feel cheated by not enjoying the same, or do we envy them? Not at all, for how many hotels would have ever remembered us enough to name a honeymoon suite after us, even though our names would have been clearly on the register?

 

After the experience, Jo said: "I had never been much of an outdoors girl, but I do remember the beautiful pristine setting of our place. We enjoyed some wonderful hikes, and in silence we stood in awe of so many magnificent vistas. The only hard part wasn't the hike down, but the trudging back up the hill to the road. It was a long way, but worth it, and we both would have extended it, if it were possible."

 

One of Jo's best friends from early childhood, Alberta Craig, and her husband, Earl Hunt, drove up that long winding dirt road to retrieve us after our glorious experience; an experience, now many years passed, but rich with precious memories we still enjoy together.

 

(It happened that my brother Orlando had gone up into the mountain to camp alone, as he was prone to do, and he knew of my plan to be there the day before the honeymoon and the approximate time I would be there. He was there waiting for me on the road, and he helped me pack in the equipment supplies and tent. I much appreciated his help getting it all down the fairly steep quarter-mile hike. Once there, we worked together pitching the tent and setting up the camp site: readying every thing: the campfire place and gathering the wood so Jo and I would have a minimum of chores to do. He was camped just a couple of canyons away, and even though we invited him over for one evening to visit and share our dinner, he said that he wouldn’t, for he had things to do. We never saw hide nor hair of him during our stay, nor did we expect to. Orlando loved to be alone with his thoughts and understood the privacy of a honeymoon.) 

 

 

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