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  • On Sunday afternoons, that Fall, we took long walks from her home on Duffield Street to Highland Park, usually to the Double Reservoir which was a favorite strolling ground for Pittsburghers those days. We had many evening dates. These were a little difficult because of my job at the steel mill, but love makes it all so easy. I remember one evening coming home at 7:30 p.m., after a 12 hour day of unloading box cars, and finding 10 tons of coal dumped at the curb. Dad had borrowed a wheelbarrow and a shovel so I could bring it around to the side of the house and put it into the coal cellar. I had one of my sisters to call Rosemary to tell her I’d be late for our date. The 10 tons of coal, supper and a shower would wear the evening pretty far away. She walked up to our house (about a mile) to be with me.

    Rosemary always was, and still is, a woman of action. She pressed for an early wedding day. Why not Halloween, or at the latest, Thanksgiving? We compromised on a formal engagement on Thanksgiving and a wedding on January 13, 1945. Even this was difficult, for my very conservative family to accept. Mother was upset that we had no money, no prospects….after all, one should work and save and then marry. How could we expect to have in a moment what others save and plan for years to accomplish?

    She was right. Rosemary had a job. I had a job, but it was only a temporary one. I was “1-A”, to be drafted into the army and the war at any moment. We had no savings, nothing but our love. It was foolish, but we went ahead. We bought a ring at Kaufmans where Fran could get us a discount and help us to pick it out. We charged it to Mom’s account and promised to pay $20 a pay to repay the loan. We had no arrangements of where to live, but hoped we could live with one or another of the parents, preferrably Rosemary’s. They were moving into a new (old) house at 6809 McPherson Blvd by February 1. She would be more comfortable with them than with my family. We assumed, correctly, that it would not be long until I would go into the Army, in any event.

    About noon on Thanksgiving, I borrowed Dad’s ’39 Hudson to bring Rosemary to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. We really planned to make the announcement of our formal engagement and the date of our marriage at the dinner with all of my family present. I just couldn’t wait to put that ring on her finger and I really wanted to do it when we were alone, just us two. I pulled to the curb on Greenwood Street, between Jancey and Chislett. The area was practically deserted. I placed the ring on her finger tenderly, lovingly, making as romantic as possible such a prosaic setting. As I then wound my arms around her to kiss and embrace, sealing the engagement, a little boy leaned into the window to talk with us. “My Daddy has a car….”

    (Photo: Highland Park today - still a great place to stroll)
  • The occasion was memorable to me if not the romantic scene I would have liked to have had. The families accepted the inevitable. After all, it was War time.

    Wedding plans were difficult. Neither family was in a position to do for us. We had no money, really. Very few men were around; they were all in the service at war. Ed Jones agreed to be my Best Man. Rosemary’s uncles, Art and Dick Leibler agreed to be the Ushers. Ruth and Floss were in the wedding party and little 6 year old Patsy. My vision was an informal wedding. Me in a blue suit; her in some appropriatete suit. Alas, it was not to be!

    Aunt Hon had bought a wedding dress at a sale for $2.00. It needed only to be cleaned and altered slightly. Somehow, that got into the works, and with it came a lot of what goes with a White Wedding. Still, we did all we could to conserve our small and limited supply of money.

    I still went for the blue suit and my Dad bought it for me in what seemed to me to be great largess. We now needed crepe fro the aisle at church and that would cost $35 to rent from a florist. Mother bought a roll of unbleached muslin from the wholesale house, saying she could use it over and over for the many weddings that would be coming up for my many sisters. My sister Peggy, who was comptroller at the Hotel Henry, arranged a very favorable deal for us for a wedding breakfast for the immediate family, following the wedding. My parents gave us this as a gift. Peggy bought Sauturn wine to serve at the breakfast. Flowers were a tough item, but we had a florist to provide the party with corsages, etc, and I’m sure Helen, Rosemary’s mother, bought flowers in town, carried them out in a trolley, and used them for the church decorations.

    Early on, Helen said that Pete’s sister, Helen Greenert in Butler, would be very offended if she weren’t asked to bake the cake. She had all the tiers, etc., and did beautiful work. An interesting aside is that when Helen was angry with Rosemary, she would say, accusingly, “You are just like your Aunt Helen!” Well, in truth, there was no one Rosemary would more rather have been like. Aunt Helen had a flair. She was not dull. She excelled as a cook, as a seamstress, she had talent and verve. True, like her brother, Pete, and her other brothers, she did drink too much, but what would a young girl know about the problems that might entail? Her Dad drank too much, too, but she admired him more than her mother, even though they did quarrel quite a bit, especially when he was drinking.

    For a reception, Helen agreed to have a party in her home. This was customary and acceptable in both families. It was understood we’d contribute as much as we could to it, but parties were what the Egan family did very well – no problem.

    There were no cars in the Egan household, so even though Helen’s brothers and sisters all had cars, we agreed that my Dad would pick up Rosemary on the morning of the wedding and take her to the church. Mass was set for 10 a.m. That was absolutely the latest permitted by crotchety old Father Boyle. He would not permit Dad to sing at the wedding, though he sang at many other churches, regularly. Rosemary and I would have Aunt Marge’s ’41 Plymouth. I hired a high school boy to be our chauffeur.

    How did it go? How do you describe bad comedy? (To Be Continued)

    (Photo: A 1941 Plymouth Coupe, like Aunt Marge's)
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