The Elopement – Part II

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2003

Eleanor got me into South Station in Boston. She would leave me and all the luggage on the train bound for Geneva, N.Y. I was looking forward to the trip, never having spent the night on a train. What thoughts were going through my mind! Foremost I didn’t know this man and here I was marrying him. One date!

Now I began to get cold feet. So many crazy things I had on in my life. I was 26 but had done enough to be 50. I had a good life: I was educated, I was cute, I was smart, never lacked attention from the males – so what was I doing? All these thoughts, now it’s bedtime. As always my mind works in strange ways because I was wishing someone would ask me where I was going so I could say, &uot;I’m going to Geneva to get married to a doctor.&uot; The last part being important as I could then use, &uot;Dr. and Mrs.&uot; – let anyone top that. Since it was wartime, how about &uot;Lt. Commander and Mrs.&uot;? All these exciting thoughts night before my marriage.

Train ride easy and pleasant – so was breakfast and finally got to say where I was headed and why. Waiter asked me. Outside of Eleanor only he knew. Arrived. Frank so excited it had to be contagious so I’m at ease with the marriage idea.

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Staying with a fellow officer and his wife till marriage next day. It would be Dec. 28, 1942 when I would become Mrs. Francis J. Arena. Frank had made the arrangements for a nuptial Mass at St. Stephen’s church. No problems on the horizon all clear sailing (got to get some Navy atmosphere here).

Wake up to nine of inches of snow and all I cared about were my expensive bridal shoes at $39.95. Clear sailing? You’re forgetting the first mate of the ship – me! Remember the pianist for the recital. All I could see when the wedding made the paper was, &uot;The bride wore boots.&uot; And my $39.95 down the drain .We solved it. Frank drove his car right to the back door and carried me to the car – $39.95 saved.

Mass beautiful, church decorated by Frank’s corpsmen. (I rewarded later with a dinner – I could cook.) Organist played &uot;White Christmas&uot; through the Mass, as it was our song. Lovely ceremony, church filled with Navy personnel and actually cheered at the end. We deserved it. Telegram to tell folks I was a Mrs. (and not pregnant.) Dad asked Mother if she knew who Dr. Arena Was. She answered, &uot;No, why?&uot; He said, &uot;Well, he’s your son-in-law.&uot;

Florence Arena is a resident of Hillcrest Retirement Center and a regular News-Herald columnist.