Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — This past weekend, my wife and I attended my cousin and his wife’s 50th wedding anniversary in Geneseo. Jim and Shirley McNally were married in April of 1963 in the village of Gouverneur, N.Y. (My twin brother, Tim, and I served as altar boys at that ceremony. Please, hold your applause until the end of the column.)
We met up with my other brother, Mike, and his wife, Debbie, before the celebration began — they were staying at an adjoining motel. I’m not good at remembering names so I brought along a wad of one dollar bills and made a deal with him (Mike) to whisper names to me, so I wouldn’t appear as dumb as I look. I said I’d slip him a buck every time he told me who somebody was. Mike — unfortunately for me, by contract — took advantage of the situation and introduced me to the parking lot attendant, every maid and waitress employed at the facility and a passing hitch-hiker. (How he knew that guy’s name, I have no idea.) I was 48 dollars lighter in the pocket before the party even started.
My cousin, Jim, is special. Part of his charm stems from his self-deprecating wit which humbly belies his scholarly essence. Youthful-looking and playful, he’s the relative that the rest of us are proud to introduce and have around. And still, his wife, Shirley, is his finest attribute. Daughter and son, Laura and Andy, round out this distinguished foursome. They are the classiest act on the bill.
When we walked into the reception room, I quickly greeted my other cousins Mary Ann and Susan — Jim’s sisters. (My brother argued only slightly that he’d said their names before I did.)
We mingled for an hour or so, before eating. What a feast! My wife was right — I shouldn’t have stopped twenty minutes before we got there and eaten two hot dogs at the Mobil gas station. (I can’t help it — but when I have to go inside these grease pits to pay, the ambiance is so inviting and the compulsion to microwave one of their two-week-old, shrink-wrapped specials is absolutely irresistible. Try the month-old macaroni salad sometime — you’ll never forget it.)
Back at the party, I slow-danced with my wife for the first time in ages. I’m not much for ‘tripping the light fantastic’ — and so, as much as I was delighted to be smoozing with my wife, I was just a tad uncomfortable. And ‘slow-dancing’ wasn’t easy considering the song was “My Baby Does the Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells. (I’ll give you a moment to ponder that scenario.)
I did, however, set a record in the process. I was made aware by the disc jockey that I’m the only person ever, to have been booed off the floor at a family gathering in Livingston County. As the DJ informed me of this, my brother rushed forward and whispered his (the DJ’s) name in my ear. Thank God Mike takes MasterCard, I was now 180 bucks in the hole.
The event was a nice tribute to a great couple. And it was put together by a pair of loving and appreciative children. I can honestly say I’m proud to be related to such a family. (Look for part two of this column — 50 years from today.)
You may now applaud.
That’s the way it looks from the Valley.Tom Valley is a Medina resident. His column appears every Thursday. Contact him at email@example.com.