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Wedding bells call Grandpa to go West

Why would anyone who has lived in the St. Petersburg area for 42 years get in the family Volkswagen one February day and take off on a 2,300-mile ride to Phoenix?

To attend a funeral, we probably would have flown, but to take part in the wedding festivities of our first grandson to marry, we decided to take an unhurried, pleasant drive cross-country, winter's perils notwithstanding.

We set aside eight days for the drive, to get to the wedding on time. And, yes, the song I'm Getting Married in the Morning from My Fair Lady stayed with us mile after mile.

We made it in six days with overnight stops in Ocala; Pensacola; Natchez, Miss.; Dallas; Pecos, Texas; and Willcox, Ariz.; then into Phoenix and the home of our son, Paul.

He lives in a growing town called Paradise Valley, on the rising outskirts of Phoenix, far enough out that wild rabbits are plentiful and occasionally coyotes come to dine on them.

From Paul's residence, Camelback Mountain lies in the near foreground. To the southwest on level high ground is the home of Barry Goldwater, the icon of Republican icons, now in his 90s.

The age gap between bridegroom and grandfather _ Chris Marston, 30, and his grandfather from Florida _ exceeds five decades.

I remember World War I as it neared the end because I had an uncle involved in it. As for Chris, at best he might recall Archie Bunker and World War II, or at least Archie's version of it.

The wedding and reception were in the old Kennilworth grade school attended by Barry Goldwater long ago. On a wall was a picture of student Barry, clad in knickers, class of 1923, along with others who went on to successful careers.

Ruth Ann Marston, mother of the Marston children, is now the principal at Kennilworth.

The age range of the bride and groom's friends appeared to be the late 20s and early 30s, obviously leaving us grand-somethings out of sync with the majority.

At the point in the ceremony when the exchange of vows had ended and the extended ritual kiss (someone timed it at 10 seconds) had melted away, their contemporaries jumped up and began shouting, clapping and whistling with all the din that would be expected at a school football rally.

After the traditional first dance of the bride and groom, followed by members of the wedding party, the Macarena began _ that weaving, rhythmic combination of gyrationsand all along I thought the Macarena was a cookie.

One of the old folks, an 85-year-old grandmother, actually got up and joined in some of the less acrobatic routines.

An 84-year-old man watching his 30-year-old grandson being married is moving enough, but my granddaughter and other grandson had better make their moves pretty fast or it will really be too late for me to get to their weddings on time.

_ You can write to Red Marston c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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