bride

When my parents moved to Superior, Wisconsin, which is where my older sister, Cheryl Masterson and I were born, my mom was a young bride, who was experiencing the first days of marriage and the first time away from her family. I’m sure that was not really an easy time for her, but when she arrived in Superior, she was greeted by my dad’s family, who were the only people she knew there. If you have to move to a new city and state, it is nice to at least have someone that you know and can call family, as well as friend. My dad had a large family in the area with whom my mother became quite close, one of whom was my Aunt Doris Spencer, her sister-in-law, and my Uncle Bill’s wife. They spent a lot of time together, and really, had a number of “adventures” together.

As young women, they were always weight conscious, and always on the latest diet. I’m sure that they thought it would be easier to diet with a buddy, and many of us have thought the same thing, but as we all know, dieting is never ease, and inevitably, they found themselves starving!! So, as a way of easing the cravings until they could eat something again, my Aunt Doris handed gave each of them one kernel of puffed wheat and said, “Here, this will tide us over until dinnertime!” Now, as we all know that would be like literally eating air, and it would not ease hunger pains in any way, but as every dieter knows, it was worth a try, because they didn’t want to mess up their diet.

When we moved to Wyoming when I was a little over two years old, it was hard on a lot of people, but I think it was especially hard for my mom and Aunt Doris. While their “adventures” were sometimes silly and sometimes almost crazy, they always had a great time together, and they had become almost like sisters, not sisters-in-law. Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill visited us in Wyoming and we visited them in Wisconsin, but it was never quite the same. Then a few years ago, my sister, Cheryl and I took Mom to Wisconsin for a visit. it was so amazing to see the two sisters-in-law/friends together again, and I know they felt like it was an amazing reunion too. It was the last trip my Mom would make, but my Aunt Doris is still alive and going strong. Today is Aunt Doris’ 94th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I was a little girl of three in 1959, when the Barbie doll came out. Every little girl old enough to understand what these dolls were, wanted one…me included. There was one little problem. I just couldn’t seem to get the name right. I told my parents that I wanted a Bride doll. In fact I think I told them that every day for the three months before the arrival of Christmas. Advertisements for the Barbie doll did nothing to deter my quest for a Bride doll. I just didn’t understand that there was going to be a problem.

The Barbie doll made its first appearance on this day, March 9, 1959 at the American Toy Fair in New York City…just like any other supermodel, I suppose. The doll was just stunning, and over the years has been at the center of the self esteem controversy, because some people felt like she gave girls a misguided view of what their bodies should look like. I suppose the doll could have done that, but it certainly did not affect her popularity. In retrospect, I don’t recall that I ever once looked at the doll and decided that I was fat. It was a doll after all, but somewhere along the way, someone must have, so the controversy continues to this day.

At eleven inches tall, Barbie had beautiful blond hair. Barbie was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. It makes sense. A baby doll can’t play the part of the mom, so if girls were to continue to play with dolls, they had to have a mom…reasoned Ruth Handler, who came up with the idea. Ruth co-founded Mattel, Inc with her husband in 1945. She saw that her young daughter, Barbara ignore her baby dolls to play make-believe with paper dolls of adult women, and realized there was a niche in the market for a toy that allowed little girls to imagine the future. The line has grown to include Ken, Midge, and Skipper.

Over the years, Barbie generated huge sales. On the positive side, many women saw Barbie as providing an alternative to traditional 1950s gender roles. She has had a series of different jobs, from airline stewardess, doctor, pilot and astronaut to Olympic athlete and even United States presidential candidate. Despite the criticism, sales of Barbie-related merchandise continued to soar. The line topped 1 billion dollars annually by 1993. Since 1959, more than 800 million dolls in the Barbie family have been sold around the world and Barbie is now a bona fide global icon. Eventually, I did get my Barbie doll, and for some reason, I never told my parents about the mix-up. I guess I couldn’t let them think that my Christmas gift had not been what I wanted. Besides that, the Bride doll was very beautiful, although I never played with it as much as I would have played with the Barbie doll.

As I was going through some old pictures, of some family members who I don’t know, I came across some very old style wedding dresses and veils. The thing I found rather odd is that while the dress seemed overly simple, the veil and especially the head piece were overly elaborate. It almost seemed to me that what cost they didn’t put into the dress, they instead put into the head piece.

When my girls got married, the wedding dress was the biggest part of the wedding planning. The veil carried a close second to that, but the dress was really what you noticed. Pearls and sequines, and satin and lace were the bling of choice. The head piece was floral, but not nearly as big as the ones from years gone by.

I have begun to wonder about the history of wedding attire, so I did a little research on it. I found that in the early 1800’s, Weddings were very simple. The dress was often just their best dress, and believe it or not, was often black, because that best dress also doubled as a funeral dress. The other thing about that dress was that it was not kept in pristeen condition, but rather, it went back to normal use right after the wedding.

The white wedding dress was not the normal attire until 1840, when the newly crowned Queen Victoria of Great Britain wed Prince Albert. Unlike the monarch before her, Victoria chose to be married in a splendid, white satin gown. In reaction, young women in England and America, fascinated by the newly married queen’s style, immediately began insisting on white wedding dresses of their own. A new style was born. Our fascination with royalty seems to affect style quite often. Personally, I like this style change, because I think a woman looks beautiful in a white wedding dress. Of course, I have also seen beautiful brides in other colors or in embellished white dresses too. I’m sure the joy of the day plays a huge part in the beauty of the bride.

The symbolism of the bridal veil is as varied as the culture it comes from, ranging from protection from wind and sun, to warding off evil spirits. The most common is to symbolize modesty and purity, indicating that only virgins should wear them, but that is probably not followed much these days. The one I like best is that the veil is lifted by the husband to symbolize his acceptance of his bride…like accepting a gift. He unwraps his bride as he takes her as his own. Of course, with women’s lib came equal rights, so many women lift their own veil to symbolize their equality. As for me, I personally like the idea of the groom unwrapping his bride like a gift, for that is really what she is to him, as he is to her. The gift of love.

Through the years, my Aunt Bonnie has made dreams come true for many brides in the family. I know that might sound odd to many people, but my Aunt Bonnie made wedding cakes, and cakes for many other events. Her creativity was amazing, and her cakes beautiful.

Aunt Bonnie made my wedding cake, and my 25th Anniversary cake. She also made the wedding cakes for both my girls weddings. These were exquisite cakes that would have cost a fortune anywhere else, but she wouldn’t take payment for them. She said it was her wedding gift to the couple. And what a wonderful gift it was. Her cakes tasted wonderful, so they made the party a great success, but that isn’t all they were. The cake is the central focus, other than the couple, at the reception. The pictures are taken around it, and it is always featured in the photographs. So it was a gift that is forever treasured, and never forgotten.

As I said, Aunt Bonnie is very good at making cakes. They are truly a work of art, as you can see. She takes the design the bride picks and the ideas in the brides dreams, and turns them into a stunning reality. It is one part of the wedding day the bride can completely relax about, and just leave it in the capable hands of my Aunt Bonnie. She always has the bride’s interests foremost in her mind, and because she has such a sweet heart and spirit, the cakes she creates simply shine on the special day.

While she doesn’t make the cakes anymore, the memories and happiness she gave to those who were blessed enough to receive them will last a lifetime. You have given more than you will ever know Aunt Bonnie. Thank you. I love you more than words can say.

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