Roy and Mae picked a day for their wedding in mid August. Roy found a small house to rent. It contained a sitting room, kitchen, one bedroom and all the furniture needed to start married life.
When Mae’s parents had brought her to Lead to take a look at it. She had thrown her arms around him. “Oh, Roy I love it. It’s a storybook house.”
Her mother had nodded in agreement. “It’s a perfect starter home.”
Roy had hoped his parents and sister would come to witness the occasion. His mother had written back that she didn’t think his dad was up to the long train trip and Lida had upped and eloped at the end of May just before her eighteenth birthday. Neither the newlyweds nor his brothers could spare the cash to make the trip.
He and Mae decided to keep the ceremony small. Just some members of Mae’s family, able to attend a Wednesday wedding.
When the day of the wedding arrived Roy laid down his new dark suit, white shirt, and dark blue silk tie he’d purchased for the occasion on his bed and went downstairs for breakfast and to bid his fellow boarding companions goodbye. Afterwards donned in his suit he bade goodbye to Mrs. Olsen.
“We’re going to miss your face at the dinner table tonight,” she said. “I wish you and that bride of yours all the best. And don’t forget to bring her around so I can meet her.”
“ Will do,” said Roy as he bounded down the steps of his boarding house in a rush to catch the train to Belle Fourche and his bride. He couldn’t be late today of all days.
At a quarter of three he stood inside the vestibule of the Belle Fourche church with his best man and the minister. Butterflies danced in his stomach. Somewhere else in the church he knew his bride waited. Is she as nervous as I am?
Out in the main church area he spotted his soon-to-be brother-in-law, thirteen-year-old Daniel, seating the guests.
At last, the moment came, an organ began to play music. The minister beckoned Roy and his best man to join him in front of the alter.
Mae’s sister walked down the aisle, and then came Mae looking more beautiful than ever before. She wore a long white dress which danced at the top of white ankle boots. The elbow length sleeves of her dress met long white gloves. Her slender waist was accented by a wide band above which revealed a bodice trimmed with a white caplet. The heart necklace he’d given her on her birthday graced her throat and in her hands she carried a bouquet of white flowers.
At the altar they locked eyes on one and other.
“You look beautiful,” Roy whispered. And at last they began to exchange the words he’d waited so long for.
“Roy,” said the Minister, “Will you take Mae to be your wife to love and cherish until death to you part.”
Mae handed her glove to her sister and he slipped an engraved gold band on her finger.
She the repeated words and slipped a gold band on his finger.
“ I now pronounce you man and wife,” said the minister.
Arm and arm they made their way down the aisle where they were soon encircled by the family wishing them congratulations and well wishes.
The minister directed him over to the parish office to sign the register. Roy dipped the pen in the ink well and signed his legal name William Roy Caple upon the certificate. He handed the pen to Mae. Her her face radianting like the warm summer sun. She dipped the pen into the ink and signed Mae Edith Phillips, then passed the pen to her sister and the best man to sign as witnesses. Then the two of them returned to the church to have their formal wedding photo taken.
Outside they joined the group waiting and strolled the few blocks to the Phillips house where a celebratory dinner had been made. Afterwards they checked into the Belle Fourche Hotel to spend their first night as a married couple.
Six months later, a blast of frigid air hit Roy’s face as he emerged from the homestead mine. What, he wondered, had happened to the warm start of the day? Why the thermometer on the front porch had registered sixty when he’d headed off to work. Now it felt cold enough to be zero.
He huddled his chin into his light jacket and hustled home.
Mae opened the front door as he reached for the handle. She threw her arms around him in a warm embrace. “Goodness, you must be half frozen to death. This morning felt like spring and now it’s winter again.”
He nuzzled himself inside her warm arms, “I didn’t take the time to notice the temperature before I came in. Did you look?”
“I did, it’s twenty. That’s South Dakota for you spring one minute and winter the next.”
He shivered, “I believe that’s the biggest temperature change I have witnessed, in all my life, in such a brief time. And here I thought I thought I’d relish a warm stroll in sun on the way home.”
Mae took one of his icy hands in her warm one and led him into the kitchen where a pot of soup bubbled on the stove.
She put a blanket around his shoulders and poured him a cup of hot coffee. “This should warm you up.”
Roy greedily sipped the warm coffee as the warmth of it and the cook stove gradually unthawed him. He observed his wife as she stirred the pot of soup. She looked as beautiful today as the day they’d wed. Had it really been 6 months since that day? He glanced at the room; Mae had added touches to make it feel like home. A picture of her old homestead hung on the wall along side a photo of his parent’s house in Puyallup. Red gingham curtains framed the windows reminding him of the ones his mother had hung in their Oklahoma Soddy as did the big, braided rag rug under table. The only difference was here a crocheted lace cloth graced their table where they’d had a piece of old oil cloth instead.
He sniffed the air. “Something smells delicious.”
“I thought you’d need something to warm your innards tonight so I made potato and bacon soup and crusty wheat rolls.”
She ladled the soup into two bowls and placed them on the table along with a basket of hot rolls. Then she joined him.
Blowing on a spoonful she set it down. “It needs to cool to cool a bit. Just think, next March we’ll be in Puyallup. I doubt we’ll find it so cold there.”
Roy reached for a roll and slathered it with butter. “Warmer, but wet. Are you positive you’re okay with leaving your family.”
As much as he longed to return to Puyallup and leave the wretched gold mine behind, his wife needed to be content too. They’d talked of moving ever since they got engaged last May.
She got up to pour him some more coffee. “I’m positive. I can’t wait for you to build our dream home.”
He swallowed a spoonful of soup. “I’d feel better if this blasted war would end. There’s talking of upping the draft to include my age bracket. ”
Mae reached for another roll, “Surely it won’t come to that. And if it does, your parents would be next door to help if needed. I’d be fine, it’s you I’d worry about.”
Roy reached for another roll. “Are you sure you are okay with moving?”
“Roy, I will miss my family but I don’t like you working in that gold mine any more than you do. There is no future for us here. Besides, I have family in Puyallup. Maybe not Mama and Papa, but they’re family just the same. And your brother said he could you a job at the shipyards in Tacoma. You’re better suited for that work and it’s safer too.”
Roy looked into her determined eyes. “That settles it. What do you say we leave in May just after your birthday?”
She smiled, “That’s a splendid idea. We can throw a birthday-going party at the same time. She got up and went to the stove. “Let me refill your bowl. Stop worrying about taking me away from mama and papa. I’m not a kid anymore, I know moving to Puyallup is the right choice for us.”
My grandfather often mentioned the sudden temperature drop he experience while working in the gold mine in Lead. He worked deep in the mine and was surprised when he emerged at the end of the day to find it well below freezing when it had been a warm spring morning when he had left for work. I chose to include it in here in this story.
I am not sure when they moved to Puyallup but a local South Dakota newspaper mentioned they had gone to visit Mae’s aunt Sadie in late april of 1918 most likely to say good-bye. By September when Roy had to register for the draft he is working in a Tacoma Shipyard. So it had to have been sometime in the late spring or summer of 1918.