I passed the time by perusing the program that had the names of all the wedding participants (which I found interesting), and also panning the church interior with its soaring arched nave and beautiful stained glass windows, resembling a small-scale Gothic cathedral. St. Joseph’s was erected in 1862 by Catholic immigrants. The grand finale of the ceremony was the presentation to the bride and groom of a good-size plaque with personalized well wishes from Pope Benedict himself. Can you beat that? I figured somebody must have had to “grease the Pope’s palm” in order to get such a prize. In layman’s terms, that meant a “paid-for favor”.
Instead of the usual post-ceremonial mass exit after the newly-weds made their way up the aisle, a majority of the guests along with the wedding entourage were still lingering around, like a post-game crowd hanging around Wrigley Field savoring a Cub’s win. It was an appropriate ending to a beautiful ceremony. I met up with Corbin who offered to drive me over to the hotel, but after some logistic haggling, we decided to simply walk it over to The Menger. As we strolled along the sidewalk, I couldn’t help but notice the throngs of people milling about on a Saturday afternoon right in the center of town. Of course, the incomparable River Walk was the main attraction, but I thought it ran deeper than that – people loved coming downtown to shop, eat, and be entertained. In stark contrast, on any given weekend, downtown Dallas would resemble a World War II air-raid zone.
Even though we were attired in coat and tie, the walk was relatively pleasant temperature-wise, taking a spontaneous short cut through Nordstrom’s department store. As we navigated through the aisles, I said to Corbin, “I can’t believe there’s so many shoppers in here. I’d bet you Nieman Marcus in downtown Dallas would have barely a smattering of patrons compared to this.” After numerous twists and turns, we finally exited the store a block from the hotel.
Once inside, we approached the reservation counter and asked for directions to the “Early Reception” gathering. It was a short trek to the reserved room(s) where we first entered a confined area with no tables or chairs, just liquor-laden bar counters. I said to my new friend, “Corbin, I believe we’re in what is known as the ‘Hospitality Room’. There’s got to be more to this reception than meets the eye.” A set of double doors obviously led somewhere, so we swung through them and were slightly taken aback by the huge Banquet Room, replete with a sea of dining tables, a dance floor, and a small bandstand, set up for the disk jockey’s musical selections. I said to Corbin, “I believe this is the place, ace.”
Franz finally caught up with us, and since we were among the first to arrive, we commandeered the closest round table (to the entrance) to give us a chance to pan all the arrivers. Doug and Sue Ward soon joined us along with three guests on the groom’s side (I can’t recall their names, either). Initially, the recorded music emanating from the bandstand was low-keyed, allowing us to have pleasant conversations in a normal tone of voice. However, I leaned over to Franz and said, “These DJs have a propensity for turning up the volume, making it almost impossible to hear what anyone’s saying.” He definitely agreed, and with that, he strolled across the dance floor and had a brief encounter with the DJ. Franz returned with a smile and a thumb’s up sign, assuring me that he had successfully appealed to the DJ to tone down his musical selections. I thanked him for his diplomatic action.