Friday, September 28, 2007

No Dates, No Honeymoon

Harvey Berry and Phyllis Carlisle both joined the navy in 1945. In 1946 they were both stationed at Whiting Field, near Pensacola, FL. Harvey worked in the air traffic control tower and Phyllis worked downstairs in the weather office. They would talk on the phone as necessitated by their jobs. Soon there were phone calls that had little to do with work. Harvey would visit Phyllis in her office, especially when she was working alone. She visited the tower only once, just to see where he worked. He would occasionally bring her food from the mess hall when she couldn't get away. She remembers that he once brought her cold pancakes because they were easy to carry. They never went to the mess hall together, they didn't have leave to go into town at the same time. All of their courtship took place in the weather office.

Harvey never "popped the question." Instead their conversations just somehow turned to marriage and they considered themselves engaged. They were discharged in the fall and Phyllis returned to her family in Buchanan, Michigan and Harvey to Syracuse, New York. He made a trip to Michigan to visit her family and later she traveled to New York to visit his. He found a job while she made wedding plans.

They were married at her parent's home in November of 1946. His mother, Mary (Kelly) Berry was the only relative that accompanied him to Michigan so Phyllis' brother, Bill, was his best man. Her best friend, Barbara Hausman, was maid of honor. Phyllis wore a wool pink suit and Harvey his best suit. They were married in the front parlor by the minister of the church the family attended. The ring had been his grandmother's. There were no flowers. Cake and coffee were served to the guests. The size of the parlor dictated the number of guests so the others in attendance were her parents, Daniel and Pearl (Camfield) Carlisle; her aunts, Ruby Camfield and Tamerson (Carlisle) Binns; and her cousins Clem Binns and wife Pauline, and Vera (Marsh) Edmunds and husband Tom. Her sister and brother-in-law, Vivian and David LaValle, were unable to attend.

After the wedding they took the train to Lyons, NY where Harvey had found them furnished rooms in a hotel. He worked nights as a switchman for the railroad and she found a job in Newark, NY in the accounting office of a mail order firm. They remained there a few months until Harvey's father was able to get him a position at the Staightline foundry in Syracuse, NY. At that time they moved in with his parents.

They lived off and on with his parents for several years. At one point Harvey left her in their care when he traveled to Vermont to attend photography school. From school he was recalled to active duty. Eventually they did purchase a small home of their own in Nedrow. After several years they were told that they could not have any children. The doctors were wrong and they ended up with a son and two daughters.

Harvey left Phyllis after 26 years of marriage. He moved to another state and quickly remarried. She struggled to raise her children alone. True to her original wedding vows, she never dated anyone else.

When I first saw that the topic for this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy would be weddings I was quite excited! I love weddings. My brother, sister and children all had nice church weddings followed by lovely receptions and I have albums full of pictures. But when I stopped to think about it, I realized that I knew very little about my parents wedding. My mother is more than willing to answer questions but she doesn't volunteer very much about her life. What I learned made me sad but now this chapter of her story is recorded.


Janice said...


Many people had simple weddings during and after World War II. That is ended in divorce is a sad fact, however I'm sure that she feels it is worthwhile since she had such a lovely daughter because of it.


CountryGirl said...

I knew Mom & Dad were married at her parents home but I didn't have all the details you gave. I was suprised Grandma Berry was there for some reason. Thanks for putting it all together.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

The sad thing for me is that my mother never had any romance in her life. I can't recall ever seeing my parents kiss and they never left us with a sitter or our grandparents so they could have a night to themselves. There were lots of trying times but there were good times too. I had a very small wedding that was wonderful in it's simplicity. In talking to my mother I don't get the sense that she had a happy day.

Janice you make me blush. I hope that these days I make her proud but there were those teenage years of mine that she would rather forget!

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Apple,

The way you wrote the story it seems like a screenplay for a movie - one with a realistic but bittersweet ending. I'll bet your mom was really glad to be able to get the details recorded for posterity.

My parents married a little earlier, while WW 2 was still in progress, so their wedding story also involved uniforms and a simple wedding with only a few guests.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose