January 2, 2021

A family picture

The bride turned 39 the day after their January 2, 1937 wedding; the groom was 47.  He had three sons, a daughter and two grandsons.  She had one son.  His first wife had died two years earlier—her first husband about fourteen years ago. And now—at the beginning of a new year—they are ready to start over again.

There are no wedding photos.  Their honeymoon was driving 60 miles to Chattanooga to spend their wedding night at the Read House Hotel downtown. It was probably the only night they ever spent together at a hotel. There was no big celebration—but Harriett and Arley were happy to have found each other after years of heartache and loneliness. Now they could face life together.

Their new marriage was often complicated.  Imagine his 17-year-old daughter Tootsie adjusting to having a stepmother and her 18-year-old son Glenn move into her house!  And the most surprising development was that another daughter Sally was born two years later!  Harriett persuaded Arley that her childbearing options had ended far too soon—and she wanted another child.  Skeptical at first, he was delighted with their baby girl. By that time his daughter had had enough—and she eloped with her high school sweetheart and began her own family. 

And so today, a toast to the happy and brave couple! I am grateful that Harriett Cate Hurst and John Arley Eaves took this bold step to establish a home together. It was far from perfect—but it was filled with hope and love.

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