HURRICANE! The Bridegroom Had Not Yet Arrived

...Wedding bells delayed

Natalie Thomson

I hardly knew one day from another in those days ... sixty-two years ago when I was ten years old. But THIS day was important because Miss Bulger, a fourth grade teacher at my Glenwood Elementary School, was being married to Gordon Shaw of Milford and I was the only student she had invited to witness the ceremony at the local Congregational Church.  

The rainy, windy late afternoon was becoming more turbulent and filled with fury, and by the time my sister, Marion, arrived home from work in Boston, she reported that the tiles were blowing off of the Methodist Church roof and were scaling through the air in downtown Malden. My mother doubted that I should go. Marion offered to walk me to the church where the wedding was to take place. It was settled. We hurried through the blustery blow without incident.

I was taken to the balcony of the church sanctuary and left with strict orders NOT to move from there until someone came to escort me home. The other guests, who were seated downstairs, began to fidget as the starting time of the ceremony arrived and nothing nuptial happened. Awhile later, a spokesperson appeared at the front of the sanctuary and announced that, due to the storm and trees falling on the highway, the bridegroom had not yet arrived. It was about an hour's drive from Milford, in good weather. The ceremony would be a starting a little late.

More time passed and my mother arrived, sat beside me and composed herself. I didn't realize the seriousness of the situation. My main objective was to see Miss Bulger get married. More time went by and the minister appeared before the guests. He calmly announced that because of the fury of the storm, there was no way of determining just how late the groom would be. There would be a wedding ceremony as soon as he arrived, but if anyone felt they should go home now, due to the severity of the storm, the bride and groom would certainly understand. The wedding gown had been put on a hanger.

Following that announcement, my mother said "Come with me." We arrived safely at home which, of course, my mother's presence guaranteed.  I was told later that Miss Bulger's fiance had arrived very, very late  and the ceremony had taken place after the disrupted principals were becalmed.

In 1938, women had to leave the teaching profession when they married so I never saw Virginia  Bulger again.  But she and that evening have come up many times in my private thoughts. Our relationship is an unfinished story.

September 1,2000

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