Immediately after our engagement, and with full approval from both our families, the date for our wedding was set for September 4, 1937. Needless to say, our minds were filled with the many tasks which were yet to be taken care of before the big day. We proceeded to execute the necessary plans and details during the time that still remained without too much difficulty. Of course, both our families were ready to pitch in whenever and wherever needed.
Although the wedding expenses were to be borne by Dad as was agreed, my mother nevertheless wanted to do something for us to lighten our load financially. Accordingly, she agreed to buy our living room curtains and drapes, bedspread, and a generous supply of towels and bed linen. It was greatly appreciated by both of us, and was put to good use immediately.
My brother Julie bought my wedding gown and accessories. On this score, it was my sister Rose who spent hours with me to help me select my “dream” gown. It was made of off-white satin, and had a long train attached to it. It was just beautiful. Julie also agreed to sing at my nuptial mass. Among the selections that we chose for him to sing was Schubert’s Ave Maria. We were all moved by the beauty of his voice, and it was remembered for many years by all who attended.
My brother Tony furnished our kitchen with a lovely maple kitchen table with four matching chairs. It was just the right size for our kitchen.
Our big gift form Grandpa and Josie, besides a monetary gift, was a complete four piece mahogany bedroom set. It was gorgeous. I could not help compare the size and accommodation of this spacious bedroom in our new apartment with the tiny bedroom and its small inadequate dresser which Rose and I shared at home. This all seemed like living in luxury as far as I was concerned.
Now the only thing left for us to buy was a living room set. Fortunately that was taken care of a month before our wedding. We were lucky enough to find an ad in the classified section advertising a ten piece living room set priced at $110. It was a steal and in excellent condition. The lady we bought it from was in dire need to sell in a hurry, as she had already purchased a new ultra-modern living room suite that was scheduled for immediate delivery. We were more than happy to take the used set off her hands, and so satisfaction was felt and appreciated by both of us. The wood trim on the chairs was rather ornate, but the furniture was solidly made, and it took care of our needs for many years, despite the hard use our kids administered to each and every chair!
Since Dad and I both wanted to have a full group of attendants to witness our wedding, we agreed to have four ushers and four bridesmaids in addition to our Best Man and Maid of Honor. After the selections were made, sufficient notice was properly given to each involved, and all gladly accepted.
Our attendants were:
In addition to the plans for the wedding itself, it was important for us to find an apartment. There were some questions which needed answering. Where should we locate? What size apartment should it be? How much rent can we afford to pay? These were questions that had to be carefully considered before making any rash decisions.
After much discussion, Dad and I finally decided we would prefer to live near both our families. This pleased me very much, as I felt the need to be as close to my family as possible. Living within a two mile radius of one another was ideal for all of us.
Fortunately, after scouring the newspapers, we succeeded in finding the apartment we were looking for. We located a newly decorated, upper floor, three room and bath apartment at 25 Aberdeen Street in Malverne, for $40 per month. The apartment was adjacent to Malverne High School, where I had formerly attended. The location was ideal, as it was within walking distance of church, stores, railroad station, doctors and professionals. The neighborhood was very nice; all the houses were well taken care of, and lawns were well manicured. The owner of the house was a widow, Mrs. Madeline Warreng. In the three years that we lived there, we developed a very close relationship, and remained good friends until her death.
Our apartment consisted of a large living room, a large bedroom, a bright kitchen, and a full tile bathroom. Imagine having a bathroom for just two of us, compared with one bathroom which the eleven of us shared at home in Lakeview!! Quite a big improvement for me. In addition, our apartment had hot water all the time. At home in Lakeview, we heated water as needed on top of the stove for such things as washing dishes, shaving, etc. We only lit the gas water heater for baths or some special reason. I was beginning to see a whole new world of space and comfort.
Our wedding was almost at hand, and we were kept busy with the details involved with the reception following the wedding. Marrying off a daughter can be very costly for those parents who have the financial means to supply a lavish reception. Such was not the case as far as our wedding was concerned, as we planned it on a minimal budget.
In addition to our large families, Dad and I had lots of friends. As we prepared our guest list, the roster seemed to grow and grow. Among those included, besides family, were my former schoolmates, members of the Legion of Mary, the church choir, the Malverne Fire Department, and both baseball teams (the Lakeview Ramblers and the Malverne Club). In addition, Dad and his brother Joe had developed a close relationship with the mayor of Malverne, Bill Gaddis, and his son Bill Jr. Both Bills were active members of the Malverne Club, as were Dad and Joe. In order to accommodate everybody and avoid slighting anybody, we planned what was identified as a “football” wedding – a far cry from today’s standards.
The refreshments we chose consisted of an endless number of ham and cheese sandwiches served on rolls, plenty of beer on tap, Italian cordials (liqueurs), a large tray of Italian cookies, and of course, a beautifully decorated wedding cake.
My oldest brother Charlie agreed to purchase the huge quantities of ham and cheese that would be needed to make the sandwiches. He had a friend in New York City who had a butcher shop near where he and his wife lived. The cost of the entire bill was remarkably low. Charlie also offered to buy the necessary alcohol and flavorings to make the cordials. As agreed, Dad reimbursed him for the cost of all the items.
We hired a five piece band to play for us on the evening of the reception. It was led by Maurice Pearsall, the brother of one of my wedding attendants. The cost was $50 for the entire evening, for as long as we wanted them.
The social hall we chose for our reception was brand new – the American Legion Hall on Franklin Avenue and Legion Place in Malverne. The rental cost was $25 for the evening (with no restriction on closing time), plus a $10 fee for janitorial services. We put a quick $10 deposit on it, in order to seal the bargain!!
In reviewing the arrangements we had just finalized, we were very pleased with the economical package we put together. The extra bonus was that everybody could attend, and no one would be slighted.
The day before the wedding was to take place, the hall was ornately decorated, the tables were conveniently set up, chairs in place, everything was in readiness.
On the eve of our wedding, all of us who were to participate went to the church for the customary rehearsal. As soon as rehearsal was over, we proceeded back to my house to join the rest of the family, who already had their sleeves rolled up and were busily stuffing the fresh rolls with generous slices of ham and cheese. There was no doubt in our minds that this wedding was definitely a family affair.
The morning of September 4, 1937 was finally at hand. Our nuptial mass was scheduled to begin at 11 AM at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in Malverne. Father Lynch (the pastor) was delegated to marry us. Very early in the morning, by arrangement with my hairdresser, my sister Rose and I had our hair beautifully styled and set for the big occasion. We returned home in plenty of time to begin to dress, and to get into our gowns. Some of our attendants dressed at their homes, but those who lived out of town dressed at our house (all of this with one bathroom at our disposal!!!). We were to be dressed and ready to leave by 10:30 AM.
For some weeks before the wedding was to take place, there was much concern and discussion among those of us in the family as to the advisability of my father escorting me down the aisle as is traditionally done. All of us had noticed, as the time for the wedding neared, that my father was showing more evidence of withdrawal, with little desire to be tied down to any set formality. He did express his approval and enthusiasm for Dad and me, concerning the event that would soon take place, yet he preferred not to be in the limelight – center stage, so to speak. Instead, his preference was to be a proud spectator on the sidelines.
For this reason, it was agreed by all of us that my oldest brother Charlie would be the one who would fulfill my father’s obligation. He would and did play the dual role of loving father and oldest brother. This was the perfect solution to avoid any unwanted emotional stress or anxiety.
The hour had arrived. We were dressed and ready to enter the special cars lined up outside in front of our house, which would take us to the church. The day was sunny, and very hot.
As we, the bridal party, arrived at church, we assembled in the vestibule in proper order, ready to open the ceremony that was about to begin. Meanwhile, my father and family members and Dad’s family were properly escorted to their designated seats. The seating for all the arriving guests proceeded without flaws. After the guests were all seated, as tradition dictates, my mother was the last to be escorted down the aisle, next to my father who was already seated in the front row. This was the signal that the nuptial mass was ready to begin.
As the organ softly played the traditional wedding march, our wedding party walked deliberately and carefully, in step with the rhythms that accompanied us in our walk. My brother, in his special assigned role, carefully held my arm as we walked down the aisle together, and I cautiously held on to my beautiful bridal bouquet of fragrant white gardenias. The church was filled with sweet odors coming from the many floral arrangements. As I looked ahead toward the altar, I saw Dad anxiously standing with his brother Frank, waiting for his bride to join him.. With the traditional kiss, my brother gently led me to Dad. At that moment, our anxieties had vanished. Smiles of happiness were in full view to each of us and to all who were watching us. Our life together was about ready to begin.
The mass was beautiful, and the entire wedding party added much color and beauty to the entire ceremony. I spoke earlier of the beautiful music which my brother Julie agreed to sing at our wedding. His voice was so clear and so beautiful, and all of us who heard him that day agreed that his singing made the mass very special – particularly his rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria.
But good humor always seems to fit into many varied occasions, including weddings. By mutual agreement among all the members of the Malverne Fire Department, they had plotted to pull a false fire alarm during our nuptial mass. As Dad and I solemnly knelt at the altar, we suddenly heard the loud siren going off. We immediately looked at each other in astonishment. He smiled at me, evidently sensing that this was one fire he was not about to go to. But truthfully, I was a bit shaken, being caught “off guard”, so to speak. In a joking but audible command, I said to him, “Don’t you dare leave!!” At this point we both grinned at each other and grasped our hands tightly together, which was our reassurance that we were definitely staying to get married. We could not and did not turn around to view our friends and family seated in the pews, but we could feel and almost hear their quiet chuckles as they witnessed the big joke the volunteer firemen had just executed, It was talked about and remembered by all of us for a long time.
With the completion of the mass and the beginning of the musical strains of the recessional, our wedding party proceeded to go up the aisle to the vestibule in back of the church. There we greeted all our guests, and sometime later proceeded to get into our cars to get the wedding photos taken at the photographer’s studio.
It seemed to be getting hotter and hotter as the day wore on, but we took it all in good stride. On arrival, we all got out of our respective cars and started walking toward the photographer’s studio. But true to form, my brother Frank was up to one of his unpredictable tricks again. Without any warning, Frank grabbed both Dad and me, one in each arm, and ushered us into the butcher shop next to the studio. Just picture, if you can, me carefully holding my train and my floral bouquet, and Dad trying to figure out Frank’s plan. We were firmly ushered into the shop, which was filled with the usual Saturday customers. By this time, our wedding attendants had followed us inside, and the customers were as confused as we were. After our grand entrance, Frank blurted out loudly, “It’s too hot outside. The bride and groom both need to cool off.” Frank continued his hold on Dad and me and led us to the large meat cooler, brushing aside the butchers who were busy cutting meat on their wooden blocks!! Needless to say, there were howls of laughter from everybody witnessing this farce. While the laughter was escalating, Frank gently led us inside the cooler and shut the door. There we were, the two of us, surrounded by hind quarters of beef, pork, long links of sausage, etc. It was hardly a nuptial setting, but in truth, the lower temperature felt great. After two minutes in the deep freeze, we were released from captivity. As we all left the butcher shop, we heard rounds of applause from the customers. They enjoyed it all, and so did we.
We soon composed ourselves, and proceeded in earnest to the photographers next door to get our pictures taken. The photographer sensed that this wedding party would be a bit unpredictable, and might perhaps pose a few problems. But we soon calmed down and cooperated fully with the man in charge.
Immediately following the photo session, we all proceed to Niederstein’s in Rockville Centre, where a wedding breakfast was awaiting us. The breakfast was just for the wedding party and our parents. The tables were beautifully decorated, the breakfast was nicely served, the musical background was softly played and in good taste, and generally the atmosphere was perfect.
Following the breakfast we all left to go back to my house in Lakeview. By that time it was mid-afternoon. Our house was already filled with our family members as well as some out-of-town guests. They were all busy reviewing the day’s events that had taken place thus far. Lots of coffee and cake was available for everyone to enjoy. There was music playing on the radio which added to all the conversation going on.. Everybody was keyed up and looking forward to the big reception yet ahead.
By 7 PM we all left in the designated cars and proceeded to the reception. As we had done for the church ceremony, our wedding party lined up in proper order, ready to make our entrance into the hall, which was already filled with guests. As soon as we filed through the doors, the band played “Here Comes the Bride”, and immediately there was a big ovation set in motion – applause, whistles, cheers, etc. The festivities had just begun.
Our wedding party began to proceed to our special table where we were to be seated for the evening. It was a slow process, as we were greeted, hugged, kissed and admired along the way by everyone. The hall was full of excitement, happy guests, good food, good music, and lots of camaraderie.
The band provided all of us with a full evening of good lively music and lots of fun. It did not take long for the floor to be full of dancing couples. There were lots of fast feet and a variety of rhythms in motion. As the evening progressed and the music continued, I was suddenly handed the baton by the band leader Maurice, so that I could continue leading the musicians!! With full confidence in myself, I accepted the honor presented to me, and played the role of musical director. I used very exaggerated arm movements to impress my musicians with my musical abilities (minimal as they were), and proudly swung the baton in every direction imaginable. It was funny to watch, as I was told by everybody who saw me swinging my arms non-stop, in my long bridal gown, train and all!! Weddings like this don’t happen every day.
As the evening continued in full tempo, Dad and I realized that everyone was having a wonderful time, including the Mayor. We felt grateful to know that our efforts and plans for this happy occasion had worked out so well. Dad and I, meanwhile, made it a point to go to each table to personally thank each guest for coming to our wedding reception and for sharing this special occasion with us.
The time came for the cutting of the wedding cake, and according to tradition, we served each other the first piece, after which the guests were properly served. The music and dancing continued, as the hours passed by. Before leaving the hall, my bridal bouquet had to bee tossed to some eligible young lady who was still a candidate for marriage. My flowers were caught by my bridesmaid, Lillian Rainey. However, the flowers were not very instrumental in her getting married right away; as it turned out, she married five years after our wedding.
Dad and I finally left the reception hall around 11:30 en route to my house in Lakeview, where our bags were already packed and ready to go with us on our honeymoon. Dad and I were upstairs getting dressed and ready to leave. Meanwhile the rest of my family left the reception hall and slowly began to return home. Needless to say, with all of us together again, Dad and I were delayed from leaving for another hour, as there were just so many things to talk about and to share with all of them. It was, in essence, a replay of our wedding in its entirety.
At last it was time for us to take off. Just as we all had imagined would happen, it was a send-off of mixed emotions. My mother and my sister Rose were having a hard time trying to hold back tears as they watched Dad and I getting closer to the door, ready to leave. But somehow they managed to recover their composure, smiled broadly, hugged us both, and wished us well. The rest of our family followed suit with a litany of good wishes that almost sounded like a chorus in unison. But the final farewell which my father gave us has always been remembered and never forgotten. True to his role as a loving father, he approached Dad and said to him as he shook his hand, “Take care of our daughter. She has always been close to us. And now that you are her husband, we have made space for you too. You are now part of our family. Welcome and good luck.” What a beautiful message. I held up stoically without tears, but I was filled with so much love and admiration for this wonderful man, my father. Dad and I both grabbed our bags and left, as we waved goodbye.
Our car was in the driveway, ready for our getaway. But now a problem arose – where we going to spend our first night together, and where would we spend our honeymoon? Ironically, neither one of us had given this any prior thought or consideration. And to make matters worse, how foolish could one be, considering that this was the Labor Day weekend!!
As we backed out of the driveway, it was almost 1 AM, and at that point Dad immediately headed for New York City. He decided on trying for a hotel in Brooklyn, since he was very familiar with that area, having lived there for many years as a boy and a young man. Lucky for us, we pulled up to the Hotel Granada at about 2 AM, and were able to get a room despite the holiday. The first dilemma in our married life had been solved satisfactorily.
Before leaving the hotel the next day (almost like obedient children!) we sent telegrams to my mother and father, as well as Grandpa and Josie, informing them that we were leaving New York City that day and were on our way to “parts unknown”. We truly had no idea where we would spend our honeymoon. We both decided to get into the car and just drive until we found something we liked. The second night we stopped at Darien, Connecticut, and from there we continued until we found the place that attracted us. It was actually a sports camp that happened to be closing up for the winter. It was situated on Long Lake, near Naples, Maine and Lake Sebago. It was owned and operated by Arthur C. Trott. It was a beautiful spot with lovely grounds and lots of trees. There were many separate cabins overlooking the lake, and the lake afforded everybody good fishing, boating and swimming. It was quiet and restful, and just a perfect place to spend a honeymoon. The bonus for us was that we were the only guests there, and so had the entire place at our disposal. The cost for Dad and me for one week was $40 per person, including meals, private cabin and all recreational facilities.
Our week there was filled with so many interesting things to do and see. We took many side trips by car to enjoy the beautiful Maine countryside.
On Sunday after going to mass, Dad and I decided to get in the canoe and go for a little sail on the lake. We did not bother to change into comfortable clothes, but instead we went into the boat in our church finery. The lake was like a mirror – very still, and the entire scene was like a picture post card. But almost in an instant, a squall came up. Now waves seemed to surface everywhere, opposing each other with extreme rhythms and movements. I had heard the word squall mentioned many times, but now we were in the middle of one actually happening. Dad appeared calm, but I sensed that he was aware, as I was, of the danger we were both facing, and without life jackets besides. Dad rowed the canoe with extreme caution, carefully avoiding any confrontation with the angry waves that were all around us. After a half hour had passed, and already late for lunch, Arthur Trott set out in his motor boat to search for the missing honeymooners. After spotting us, Arthur carefully guided us the rest of the way. We reached shore safely, and after getting ourselves out of the canoe, we thanked Arthur for all his concern and assistance. We proceeded to our cabin to freshen up before going to the dining room, where a delicious hot New England Sunday dinner was waiting for us, ready to be served. We were thankful for the food, but most thankful that we were there bodily to enjoy it, after escaping the ravages of the squall.
The night before our departure from Long Lake, we packed the car and telephoned our parents that we would be arriving home in a few days. We planned on doing the trip home in two days. We knew there would be a big welcome waiting for us, and we were right. When we arrived at my parents’ home in Lakeview, they were all on hand awaiting our arrival, including Grandpa and Josie. The dining room table was set for all of us, and it had all the makings of a real feast. Of course, everybody wanted to hear about our trip, and in addition, more talk and discussion about our wedding continued as well.
After a wonderful homecoming, and as the evening wore on, Dad and I thanked everybody for all their love and interest. At that point we were ready to leave the Vecchio household, to begin our new life together as Mr. and Mrs. Salvatore Pappalardo, address: 25 Aberdeen Street, Malverne.