Fifty Years and Counting

Published 7:45 am Saturday, July 30, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

   A few friends from 50 years ago still remember our wedding day–August 12, 1966. The occasion is a conversation starter when we gather.

Brenda and I smile, our memories quickly rekindled by unlikely occurrences at the ceremony.

Friends and kin remember it for obvious reasons. It rained hard in Alpine, TX, that day. Gullies gushed through the arid land, where ranchers joke about occasional six-inch rains–when drops land six inches apart. During the storm, lightning danced across the sky, one bolt striking First Methodist Church.

When the organist started playing Here Comes the Bride, the instrument emitted only groans and shrieks. Yep, the sky bolt had done a number on the organ.

And, Brenda’s aunt, an accomplished musician, had traveled almost 300 miles to play the wedding march. It was not to be. Instead, sounds wafting throughout the sanctuary seemed more like screeches and whines of hyenas frolicking across a steam calliope keyboard.

For Brenda and me, memories center on the lightning strike, and her late mother’s admonition at the reception.

It was held, of course, in Fellowship Hall. I’ll not forget those standard 4×8 folding tables, their leg joints creaking after many years of placement for punch, mints and whatever.

I remember the punch bowl, and my mother-in-law cringing with the ladling of each cup, fearful errant drops might permanently stain the white lace tablecloth she’d found on sale to use at such a time as this.

Remembered most, though, were the instructions to Brenda as she picked up the knife to slice the wedding cake. This single comment shattered my hopes that her mom’s considerable kitchen talents had been passed along to her only daughter: “Remember, dear, use the sharp edge.” Hey, this is the risk a “cradle-robber” takes.

Funny how a half-century seems like a long time from the front end, but glancing back, not so much. Oh, there’s talk about 70 being the new 60. Why not? Clearly, folks are living longer.

Consider Delmon and Vida Hodges of Fort Stockton. They’ve been married 62 years, having lived there since unpaved streets. Serving 16 years in Pecos County elected offices, Hodges, now 89, still conducts oil “bidness” daily.

Friends know they’ll ignite fires of extended conversations when they mention the Lions Club. He’s been a member since all the Lions were cubs.

He and Vida keep their strength up to show up where they’re expected to show up. They were 100% faithful to attend grandchildren’s graduation exercises a few weeks ago. On the face of it, we might consider this “ho-hum” stuff.

But wait. During a span of less than two weeks, they drove almost a thousand miles to attend ceremonies for FOUR of their 13 grands.

They couldn’t get Pomp and Circumstance off their minds for a week or so. Thankfully, musical numbers wafted as planned, and I’m guessing reception cakes were pre-sliced.

Honorees included Macy, 25, Texas Tech Law School; Katy, 23, UT-Permian Basin; Gage and Natalee, both 18, Midland and Fort Stockton High Schools, respectively.

It should be noted that the Hodges have always loved being with others. They attended our wedding, and in their youth, they’d walk 4-5 miles barefooted just to hear the “pitch” from guys selling magic elixir at medicine shows.

We’ve been friends across the miles for a spell. Nothing we wouldn’t do for them, and nothing they wouldn’t do for us. Consequently, we’ve done little for each other. Whatever, they deserve special recognition for perfect attendance at ten grandkids’ graduations to date, with three more to go.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.