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Golden Moments at Silvermine

Golden Moments at Silvermine (The Howards' 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration)

    Last August (2004) in a Vermont reverie Barbara and I decided to take into our own hands the celebration of our 50 years of wedded bliss.  "Let's throw a party for family and a few close friends," we thought and agreed.  Barbara recommended the Silvermine Tavern where we have through the years enjoyed several Sunday brunches, a recent Mother's Day feast, and my Dad's 90th birthday party.  The Tavern also has an Inn, with eleven rooms, decorated in Victorian Yankee, some of them with balconies overlooking a picturesque pond,  many with canopied double beds.  So we not only reserved a large room in the Tavern; we also reserved every room in the Inn, to provide overnight accommodations for guests traveling considerable distances... like from Tallahassee FL.

    After months of Emailed messages to and from the celebration hostess of Silvermine, invitations mailed hard copy, and plenty of behind the scenes conspiring and collaborating by our daughters, the appointed day and hour were upon us.  The HHH weather of a week earlier had departed, the sky was mostly blue, and the temperature in the high 70's as the guests arrived.  Barbara bought a new pink dress for the occasion.  I bought a new blazer, Irish linen slacks, and a blue-pink tie.  The front room of the Inn provided the stage for the cocktail hour and the program for the evening, a surprise prepared by children and grandchildren for the golden couple.

    Son-in-law Steve Curtis, an elementary and middle school instrumental music teacher, composed and arranged a jazz song for the occasion, with lyrics that captured the details and spirit of Bob and Barbara's first meeting (see below).  Jessica Mahoney sang those lyrics; brothers Craig and Jack and cousins Henry and Robert did riffs on their respective instruments; Ellie Tener played the drums; Ben Mahoney added the bongos; Alanna Curtis tooted the slide trumpet; Betsy Carnes was at the keyboard; and Gwen Mahoney, in a departure from her usual classical repertoire, played the harp. Steve conducted the band and made Tommy Dorsey envious with his trombone. 

    Harpist Gwen also provided background music during those moments of the cocktail hour not occupied with program.  

    Bob and Martha Spivey, friends from Union Theological Seminary, a golden couple themselves (51 years this August), wrote new words for "The Whiffenpoof Song":   

    Ellie Tener presented a clever poetic retelling of the Bob and Barbara story focusing on the "B's" with which their romantic narrative is saturated.  Here, following a photo of the poet, is the alliterative text!

    Barbara recovered hundreds of photos from ancient albums and I selected a hundred for a PowerPoint presentation, entitled "The Way We Were (and Are)."  A laptop computer was purchased (as a very early Christmas present for grandson Henry Carnes), the slide show installed on it, and the computer placed in a corner of the room during cocktail hour so that guests could view its continuous running at their leisure.  Herewith are a couple of the many slides, with one of recent posing:  

    Daughter Gwen put together a booklet on the theme, "When I think of Mom/Grandma/Barbara, I..." coupled with "When I think of Dad/Pop-Pop/Bob, I..."  Herewith is a sampling of its pages:

    Barbara's creativity was also put into service for the occasion. She put together a photo album of the 1955 wedding, along with many nostalgic pictures of the family down through the fifty years since the wedding day.  Here's the cover:

    Guests and celebrants moved from the Inn to the River Room in the Tavern promptly at 8 PM.  A champagne toast was raised by the groom to the marriage and the bride.  After an appetizer of sorbet and fresh fruit, table grace was given by The Rev. Dr. Robert A. Spivey, ombudsman at Florida State University and former president of Randolph Macon Woman's College. 

    Then we settled in for a couple of hours of good food and good conversation, the tables more or less arranged by cousins, the older, the younger, and the youngest, with the bride and groom's table filled with high school and seminary friends and the maid of honor.  Surf and turf, jumbo shrimp and miniature filet mignon, was the main menu; but the children and the vegetarians had choices of pasta, fries, and chicken.  Strawberry shortcake finished the meal, along with the rest of us... while outside the door to the room a jazz band held forth in the Tavern's customary Friday night fashion.

    The following morning the Inn guests - Settes, Mahoneys, Matthys, Carnes, Curtises, Teners, Bell, Spiveys, and the hosts - gathered for a continental breakfast in the Tavern, complete with their famous sticky buns.

    "Let's do it again," Bob and Barbara said as family and friends departed, "but let's not wait another fifty years."


Many thanks to Lee Matthys, cousin-in-law, Steve Davis, nephew, Bob and Martha Spivey, golden anniversary alumni, and Barbara Howard, bride, for most of the photos.

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