Gail and Denvy
45 Years and Counting
Year Zero - 1969
 



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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 in Ayr.
     Everything seems routine, and perhaps a bit rigid 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 side.
     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 way.



Hebron Reception

     The 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.