A “Great Depression” Wedding …

1932 Mother & dad

The Great Depression, Marietta, Oklahoma, a big city, and a red dress — what do they have in common? Nothing at all, except it was when and where my mother and dad got married.

On August 26, 1932, eighty-three years ago, my parents Alice Bernice Davenport and Homer Edward Hayes were married in the middle of the Great Depression.

Here’s what was happening then  —
The Great Depression lasted from 1929 until 1941.
1929: The stock market crashed.
1930: Severe drought and dust bowl conditions lasted until 1935.
1931: Food riots broke out.
1932: Stocks reached their lowest level.
In November Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President.
1933: More than 11,000 of the nation’s 25,000 banks had closed.
Unemployment reached its highest level.
1935: The Works Projects Administration (WPA) was formed to employ
8.5 million people on public works projects across the country.
The Social Security Act was signed into law.
1936: FDR was elected to a second term as president.
1938: FDR asked Congress for $3.75 billion to stimulate the
still floundering economy.
1940: FDR was elected to a third term as president.
1941: World War II began and the Great Depression ended.
1940: FDR was elected to a third term as president.
1941: World War II began and the Great Depression ended.

Times were hard in 1932 — and weddings as we know them today were practically non-existent in the dust bowl economy of Texas.

During the recent move to my new home, my daughters and I were sifting through boxes of stored memorabilia and we found a treasure! Mother's wedding notebookIt was a small notebook telling the story of my parents’ wedding, and I want to share that story amidst the fancy and incredible weddings that happen today. So in my mother’s words:

“Homer and I decided on Sunday, August 21 to get married Friday August 26. After church on Wednesday night we told mama. Thursday Homer, mama, and I went to Dallas. Homer gave me my diamond. I went to church Thursday night.

We left home about 10 o’clock Friday morning, Johnnie, Homer and I. Mrs. Sims was home with mama. We stopped by Markaletas and we got to Denton about 11 where we met Lorraine and J.T. Then we started for Marietta. We stopped and ate dinner in Gainesville. After cleaning up a bit, we were on our way again. Johnnie did most of the driving.

At 25 minutes after 2 o’clock, I became Mrs. Hayes. … We were married in the courthouse in Marietta, Oklahoma by Rev. Stewart, a Methodist preacher.

We went back to Gainesville where Lorraine, J.T. and Johnnie got in J.T.’s car and went home. Homer and I got a room at the Turner Hotel in Gainesville and spent out first night together. We were up and to breakfast by 6 the next morning. Neither of us had slept a wink. We then rented a cabin in a tourist camp and stayed until about 10 o’clock Sunday. We got home about 12.

… Thursday Homer and I went to Dallas and bought our furniture – all but the stove. We went to Denton Saturday and bought it on September 2. We stayed all night in our new home on Friday night September 2 for the first time. Homer cleaned and fixed the bedroom while I worked at telephone office.

Mama brought us 30 announcements and we mailed them … Ruth Witt gave us a shower party on Wednesday September 7.”

Mother and dad’s new home near Little Elm was a two-room apartment above a garage where the local mechanic worked on cars. In the little notebook, mother also tells the story of how a group of their friends “abducted” her from their new home, poured food coloring on her then hid her in a ditch from my dad. This was known as a shiveree—by definition, a mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; an informal elaborate, noisy celebration. Evidently a popular occurrence in the 1930s but can you believe food coloring …!

1935 Mother-daddy-BettySo here’s to my parents who were married for 55 years before dad died in 1987. Here’s to the two young people who fell in love and were brave enough to marry during those rugged years, and who always remembered them with a smile on their face. Here’s to the picnics at Lake Dallas and sitting in the front yard after dinner on hot summer nights. Here’s to the stories they told me, and to the simpler life and times they lived in. And most of all — to the love, commitment, and values they shared and modeled in front of me all my life.

And yes – my mother wore a red dress at their wedding.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!!

About Betty Kerss Groezinger

Betty Kerss Groezinger, a native Texan, was born in Dallas. She was a legal researcher for President Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri, taught business courses at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri, and on her return to Dallas, she worked for more than a decade with advertising agencies. She has been a resident of Irving, Texas, since 1965, and is now working on the sequel to The Davenport Dilemma.
This entry was posted in America, Dallas, General, Great Depression, marriage, Memories, Time Capsule, Wedding and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A “Great Depression” Wedding …

  1. Jim Montgomery says:

    Family stories are the best. What a blessing and treasure to uncover this record of your parents, Betty. Thank you for sharing this gem!


    • Thanks for your note. I love it when I hear from everyone!! It was quite exciting and fun to find the little notebook! Moral of the story — don’t throw away old papers until you look through them. You never know what you might find!


  2. Mary Jo Ferril says:

    Hello, Betty! I loved reading about your Mother and Dad! I always enjoy reading everything you have written! I loaned my copy of your book, “The Davenport Dilemma”, to a dear friend who has to spend an unfortunate amount of time in doctors offices with her ailing husband. She loved it nearly as much as I did! I sure wish there were another book somewhere in you. Maybe it’s a pipe dream, but I still dreaming! The Kerss family reunion was a good one this year! Most of the younger generation were there. I think there are five or six elders remaining. It is so sad for me as I married into the family. I remember the very first reunion I attended. It was at Lake Sam Rayburn, in Far East Texas. There were probably fifty or more of us there! I was learning to cut hair then, and was just out of Beauty School. I bet I cut thirty of those heads of hair that day! whew, was I ever tired!? Anyhow..best wishes to you, happy Day!


    • Our side of the Kerss Klan is so small that we have a reunion every time my daughters ad I are together! I am finally moved to my new home, and my old house will go on market next week so I’m looking forward to working on the sequel again. I’m about 1/3 through at this point since I trashed close to a 100 pages last Spring. It just wasn’t going the way I wanted! I’m excited to be able o write again — this is so what makes me happy!! Thank you so much for liking my stories– this is encouraging!


  3. cherryjac10@bellsouth.net says:

    Beautiful tribute to your parents. I guess we went thru a “shiveree” sorta, when our kids and grandkids literally covered us with silly string the night of our rehearsal dinner at our house. Silly string was everywhere and we were covered but lots of laughs. So I’m glad there’s a tradition and a name for our initiation into our marriage!! We are leaving tomorrow about 5:30am. Flight leaves at 10. We have hurricaned proof the house and yard the best we can do and just pray over the rest. Right now the storm looks like it’s taking a path which would skirt our coast but not give a direct hit like it was going to do yesterday. Even if it’s overkill, Tom won’t be stressed during our trip. We pray for you everyday. Your family too. Pray for traveling mercies. I will stay in touch. Love Connie

    Sent from my iPad



  4. lindathompson7@verizon.net says:

    I love reading your writings, Betty. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.Linda   


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