The Longest Day of the Year
Sitting around and waiting for the wedding
ceremony scheduled for late afternoon could create the longest day of the
year. Instead, there were so many things to do, it was probably one of the
shortest. Unless you're looking at the time from sunrise to sunset. It was
the longest day of the year--the first day of summer, June 21st 1969.
The wedding was held in Buffalo
not far from the Cameron farm or Ayr, Gail's hometown. The ministers were
Ralph Weeks from Alaska, a minister with whose family Denvy lived in Alaska,
and the minister of the local Presbyterian Church which Gail's family attended
Everything seems routine, and perhaps a bit
in retrospect from the groom's point of view. Denvy's two brothers, George
and David, and his friend and now brother-in-law stood up with Denvy. Gail's
friends Freddie Chase, Betty Jo Sylvester and Bonnie Moxness stood on Gail's
All of Gail's brothers
and sisters came for the wedding including Betty from Connecticut. Marilyn
just lived an hour or so south and provided some of the comic relief as
her husband Jim forgot his wedding pants. Oh well.
After the ceremony, which now is an uneventful
blur, the photographer lined up family members for family pictures. While
the Cameron clan stood still for the camera, Denvy;s brother announced that
watching this event was like going to the zoo. After the shutter clicked,
Gail's three big brothers had George on the ground. The beating was more
ceremonial than threatening.
The reception was
simple with finger foods, a punch and the cake. After forty years it's hard
to remember the toast, bouquet or the cake cutting. After the reception
Denvy and Gail took Gail pink Nash Rambler
back to the farm. Just moments from the church, cars with Gail's brother
sped up behind in three cars. They were not there as an escort; they were
going to follow tradition and steal the bride from the groom so they couldn't
be together on their wedding night. Denvy sped up but soon they found themselves
boxed in on the three sides. This part of North Dakota is laid out like
a table with a flat horizon in all directions and ditches along the roads
were gentle and equally flat. So Denvy merely drove into the ditch and continued
evasive tactics. The brothers pulled back and the couple continued on their
first compromise is a marriage is keeping both sets of in-laws happy.
Since the wedding was on the east side of North Dakota, the next day,
Sunday, a reception in honor of the couple was held on the Saxowsky farm
on the west side of the state. Grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends
from the community showed up. The flurry of greeting everyone and introducing
the bride is blurry but it was blurry even on that day.
As the evening came near, Gail and Denvy
packed their last minute items into the pickup, parked the pink Rambler
for the last time and headed to Alaska. An evening start found them driving
all night and coming to the Canadian border at dawn. Similarly equipped
with a homemade shell on the pickup to protect Gail's belongings, bulk
groceries and a side of beef in a homemade freezer, with three riverboats
and canoe on top and trailer with six riverboats and a canoe hooked behind,
were Denvy's sister and her husband of six months. They were starting
a new life and decided that Alaska might be a good place to start.
The Trip North
This probably was not your routine honeymoon
drive. The drive was 3000 miles and over a thousand were gravel. The shaking
and rattling damaged several boats as they rubbed against each other.
Once a canoe blew off the top of a pickup but fortunately backtracking
about a hour
found it in the ditch. Eating was on the drive with homemade sandwiches.
One time Gail decided to shave Denvy as
they drove, which may have been unusual in itself but it was enhanced
by flashing lights in the mirror. They had to quickly wipe the shaving
cream off a half-shaven face before the trooper came to the cab. Apparently
there's a tax for transporting commercial goods through Canada and they
weren't convinced that the 21 boats and canoes were for personal use.
There are no pictures of these events.
The tires on the homemade trailers were
old farm tires typically used on rigs going short distances slowly around
the farm, and the pickups were overloaded. The result was many flat tires.
There are warnings
about flat tires on the AlCan even with standard loads and good tires.
One evening Ruth and Tom decided they needed some sleep and so we said
we go on ahead. In the middle of the night, which was a bright as midday,
another flat, probably about the sixth one, occurred. Because the pickups
were the same and the trailers were the same there was always at least
on good spare tire in one of the rigs. In this case it was not in the
rig that had the flat tire. So Gail and Denvy rolled their flat tire down
the road, which was in the middle of a reconstruction process, until a
truck gave them a lift. Finally a remote service station was found but
they didn't open until morning. They fixed the tire, the couple caught
a ride back to the rig where Ruth and Tom were waiting by this time.
Probably the most romantic moments of the
trip were sleeping under the trailer, so bears couldn't reach them and
walking down the desolate highway, pushing their flat tire as the sun
rose over the horizon. Later that day, a Friday, the entire party arrived
in Anchorage, Alaska. They were home.