I presume that it’s because I’m a marriage therapist and a writer that I was asked by a family member to pen a humorous tribute to a couple (whom I’ve never met) on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. This is probably not what my step-sister had in mind and I wish I could be there to see the elderly couple’s faces when this piece is read aloud to them.
In 1968 when Steve and Betty married, the #1 song in America was Hey Jude by the Beatles. Other songs popular during that year were Born to Be Wild and Little Green Apples. That those two polar opposite tunes shared time on Top 40 radio in the same month is like trying to imagine Ozzy Osbourne sharing an apartment with Mr. Rogers.
1968 was year of experimenting with drugs so it’s not surprising that a number of hit tune titles were clearly drug inspired such as Stoned Soul Picnic, Grazing in the Grass, and Magic Carpet Ride. Being high in the late ’60s was so common that when Betty’s grandmother received the news that
Betty and Steve were engaged, she said, “What?? Is that girl on drugs??!!”
Most of the top songs in 1968 were about love such as The Look of Love; Hello, I Love You; Love Child; This Guy’s in Love With You; and La-La Means I Love You … which gives a whole new meaning to the Christmas lyrics “Fa-la-la-la-la, La-la-la la.”
Steve and Betty included a popular 1968 song in their wedding, Yummy, Yummy, Yummy by Ohio Express. The song featured profoundly deep and moving lyrics such as “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy,” which was appropriately followed in the wedding by the Mason Williams
instrumental Classical Gas.
Speaking of gas, in 1968 when Steve and Betty drove away from the wedding for their honeymoon, gas was only 34 cents a gallon. A gallon of milk was surprisingly high at $1.07, but Steve’s Aqua Velva cologne was a bargain at 56 cents a gallon.
Two popular movies in 1968 were Romeo & Juliet and The Odd Couple. I’ll let you decide which one best described Steve and Julie as newlyweds.
One of the original zombie movies was produced in 1968: Night of the Living Dead — which Steve says described their wedding night.
In 1968 the Oakland Raiders lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl; the Saint Louis Cardinals lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series; and Betty’s father lost a $50 bet that his daughter wouldn’t actually go through with the wedding.
1968 was a year of unrest and protests with civil rights marches and protests against the Vietnam War. Protesters often showed up at the most unlikely places, including weddings. In fact, during Steve and Betty’s ceremony, when the minister said, “If anyone here has a reason why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace,” Betty’s mother stood up and shouted, “Free the bride! Free the bride!”
There was also an awkward moment when the minister asked, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” and Betty’s father replied, “I feel like I’m about to place a priceless Stradivarius violin in the hands of an orangutan.”
But Steve eventually won over his in-laws… after he sold his first car at the dealership … after working there for 3 years. It’s true what they say: behind every successful man is a surprised mother-in-law.
Recently when asked to comment on the milestone of being married to Steve for 50 years, Betty paused and said, “Wow. 50 years. That 5 decades. But I swear it feels like it’s only been 5 minutes …underwater.”
That Steve and Betty are here celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary is a testimony to the resilience of love and commitment, a tribute to the power of grace and forgiveness, and a reminder to us all of the benefits of having short-term and long-term memory loss.
P.S. I just got word that the couple loved the “tribute”. Everyone thought it was hilarious, and my step-sister took complete credit for writing it.