Photographs and Memories, part 6

West Virginia in winter. [CC BY-SA 3.0 us (, via Wikimedia Commons

December 28, 1918

Racine, WV

Dear Wes,

It is wonderful to be home, back among friends and relatives and the snowy mountains. Empires rise and fall, wars are won or lost, but the mountains are eternal.

Caroline loves the little tractor that you sent. I have enclosed a thank-you note from her, in holiday red and green crayon! Yes, my little girl is writing sentences, counting to one hundred, and knows the names of every plant and insect in the woods. She is such a bright little thing. In the evenings we walk together through town and she tells me of her adventures.

I signed my union card yesterday, and will return to work on Thursday. I hear rumors of restlessness in the south of the state, where the union has not yet gained a foothold. All seems peaceful here, however.

Best to Louisa.




Friday, June 17

Thursday passed much as Wednesday had, with everyone but Toni and I leaving the house for various destinations. The swelling in my ankle was diminishing slightly, but it still throbbed if I was on my feet for any length of time.

On Friday morning when I got up I crutched into the kitchen. Tyler was there, poring over a large sheet of posterboard with Toni, Kristen and Val. I said, “What are you all doing?”

“Revising the seating chart for the rehearsal dinner.” Tyler showed me. The posterboard had a diagram of a long rectangle – the head table, I supposed – and a large group of circles, representing the tables for the guests. “We were going to have our families seated near the head table, but that won’t work, and we can’t seat Blair’s parents anywhere near each other.”

Val said, “That problem is easily solved. Put the dads on one side and the moms on the other.”

Tyler frowned. “Oh. But that’s not traditional.”

I said, “Do you want tradition or bloodshed?”


Head Table Seating

Toni looked dismayed. Tyler said, “You have a point. Okay. Dad and Toni will be next to me, and Blair’s dad and stepmom will be on the end of my side of the table.”

Val said, “That way, if Blair’s dad misbehaves, Pete and Kevin can extract him more easily.”

Toni said, “My goodness. You make this sound like a military campaign.”

Kristen said, “Aren’t most weddings?”

I said, “Put Blair’s mother and stepfather next to Blair, and Marilyn and Cliff on the far end.”

“Okay.” Tyler wrote in the names. “What about the rest of the family? They were all going to be here.” He indicated the eight tables closest to the head table.

Val said, “How many seats at each table?”


“And you have twelve groomsmen apiece?”


“So you need six tables for groomsmen and their guests.” Val pointed to the four circles closest to the head table, then two more in the center of the room. “Put the groomsmen at these tables. Will and Henry can be close to you, since they’re among your attendants, and the rest of the family will be separated from the head table by the rest of the groomsmen.”

Tyler brightened. “I like it.” He filled in names. “Okay. Blair is going to want his New York aunt close by.”

“Put her here.” Val pointed.

Finally, we had it sorted in a manner that we hoped would reduce conflict. The Brodies would flank the left side of the room, nearest Tyler. His brothers Will and Henry would be at a table with two other groomsmen and their dates. The next table would hold Sarge, Dad, Doug, Linda, and two sets of Dad’s first cousins who were coming up from South Carolina. Jeff, Val, Kevin, Kristen, Pete, and I would be at the next table, with my cousin Shana from Germany – Doug’s oldest daughter – and her husband Stefan. The next table would hold Doug’s other two daughters, Lindsey and Carly; their husbands, Jake and Mike; and two sets of third cousins, the offspring of Dad’s first cousins.

Blair’s other aunts, uncles and cousins would be arranged along the wall opposite from us, in the formation that Tyler thought would be the least dangerous.

Tyler was happy, chattering to Toni, Val and Kristen about his other groomsmen. I fervently hoped that Tanner wouldn’t show up and wreck Tyler’s happiness.


Rehearsal Dinner Seating


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