Through Any Given Door

1.99.2 A Wedding and Graduation, 1953

March 1953 • Sonora ~ During Mom’s return she didn’t cook or clean, didn’t wash dishes or clothes or windows, she didn’t do anything. But she didn’t do much before she left home anyway, other than fix dinner and sew our clothes. Dad always did the laundry, stripped the beds, and mopped the kitchen floor. Carleen filled in with the rest of the household chores. Mom hung a curtain across the living room and no one was allowed to go in there; she stayed behind her curtain and cried.

A few days before her wedding, Carleen drove to the Fouchs in Yuba City and picked up our cousin Shirley to help my sister get everything ready. They were six months apart, good friends, and Shirley was to be her maid of honor.

On March 13, 1953, Carleen turned eighteen. Two days later, three months before her high school graduation, and nearly four months pregnant, in front of two hundred family and friends in St. Patrick’s Church, Carleen married Charles Evans Albertson. My sister was happy she was getting married and going to have a baby. The vow that weighed heavily on her was forsaking all others. She was worried about what would happen to me. Who would comb my hair, button my shirts, and Band-Aid my scraped elbows and skinned knees? You could see the concern on her face as Chuck escorted her down the steps of St. Patrick’s. Holding her in the crook of his arm, Chuck sweetly protected her from the rice thrown by well wishers, but like Dad and God, he too would be unable to protect us from what was to come.

Carleen with Cathy

Betty, Claudia, Cathy

Forsaking us was the only wedding vow Carleen wouldn’t keep; over the next thirteen years, Betty, Claudia, Mother, and I would end up under their small roof at one time or another. My sister stayed with Chuck through for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, till death do we part, until the end, when there would be little sweetness left between them.

The wedding party and guests paraded down the hill to the reception in the Indian Room of the Sonora Inn. Things were going pretty well until Mom leaned into Shirley (who was to be married in October) with, “I hope you don’t do this to your parents. It’s just a big waste of money that could be better spent.”

Carleen, Velma, Shirley shopping in San Francisco, circa 1951

Shirley was upset that Mom was so selfish and jealous and had to air it at the wedding.

Aunt Velma overheard the comment. Not one to mince words either, she snapped at Mom, “Shut-up Babe. Carleen has earned every damn dime of it, staying home and taking care of your kids when you weren’t around.”

Mar 1953 • Union Democrat, Sonora newspaper
Carleen Clemens and Charles Albertson Exchange Wedding Vows
Miss Carleen Barbara Clemens changed her name to Mrs. Charles Evans Albertson during a double-ring ceremony performed in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Sunday.

The bride, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Clemens of Sonora, was escorted to the flower-decked altar rail by her father. Her floor length gown of white satin and lace was styled with a lace shawl collar and matching lace apron and her knee length veil was held in place by a lace calot. Lace mitts and a single strand of pearls completed the ensemble. Her bouquet consisted of white gardenias and streamers countered with baby orchids and she carried a crystal rosary as her keepsake.

The matron of honor, Mrs. Thomas Treto appeared in a yellow net gown with matching shoulder-length veil. Mr. Albertson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Albertson of Sonora, was assisted by Mr. Wayne Johnson of Los Angeles as best man. The 200 guests were seated by Mssrs. Thomas Treto, Virgil Pinnelli, Odin Albertson and Larry Clemens. Mrs. Hilda Rocco provided the organ music.

Sonora Inn was the site for the following reception, attended by guests from Los Angeles, Yuba City, San Francisco, Fresno, Stockton, and Modesto, as well as Tuolumne County. Mrs. Clemens appeared in the reception line wearing a white wool dress with navy blue accessories and the groom’s mother was attired in a navy dress with white accessories. Both wore pink camellia corsages.

Soon after cutting her four-tiered wedding cake, the bride changed to a grey going-away dress with white accessories. The newlyweds spent the week-end out of town, but plan to depart on an extended honeymoon trip later this month.

The bride is a senior at Sonora Union High School, where she holds the office of Commissioner of Publications. Mr. Albertson, a 1949 graduate of SUHS, is currently employed at the National Guard Armory.

Dad, Carleen, Chuck, Mom

After the wedding, Mom returned to San Jose where she was now living. Aunt Velma and Uncle Charlie drove Shirley back to Yuba City and then on to their home in South San Francisco, and Larry went back to college. Chuck and Carleen moved into a small one-bedroom apartment on Shepherd Street to start their own family, leaving the rest of us without a queen bee.

June 9, 1953 • Sonora ~ In the school stadium with ninety-three green cap and gowned classmates, Carleen Barbara (Clemens) Albertson, eighteen-years and one-month old, six months pregnant and two months married—with head held high and diploma in hand—graduated first in line from Sonora Union High School.

to be continued…

© 2017. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

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  1. Very touching. You are a very talented writer. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Janet Sasaki says:

    Reading this reminds me of how a dysfunctional family, like mine, managed to get through life, so uncomfortable for me to read, so many similarities.

  3. Oh I do enjoy your stories. Thank you.

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