As an Army wife, I served in many capacities as a volunteer. The one that stands out as the most enjoyable was that of Wedding Hostess at the Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity at West Point.
Mrs. Jinnie Pollin (wife of the head of the Math Dept.) was in charge of this ministry. We incoming hostesses received training at a luncheon held by Mrs. Pollin in her beautiful quarters in the Lusk Reservoir Housing Area. The gracious Mrs. Pollin regaled us with many delightful stories of the weddings she had served. What fun we had! We couldn’t wait to start our “ministry”.
My friend, Kathy, and I decided we would co-host. She lived in Grey Ghost, and we lived in the “Lonely Old Brick” on Merritt Rd.
That made it easy for us to walk to the Chapel most of the time. Parking was tight, and we didn’t want to add an additional car to the mix.
Most of the weddings were small to medium in size. One of the most memorable weddings stands out because it was the largest and because the weather was the worst. It was every bride’s nightmare. It was hot and humid with a severe thunderstorm booming and crackling overhead. Inside the Chapel,
there were 6-8 excited little flower girls and an equal number of squirmy little boy attendants. Add bridesmaids, and we had quite a crowd. Ordinarily, the hostess prepares the attendants to walk down the aisle. We remind them to hold their bouquets at waist height, straighten dresses, and with the bride, fluff her veil and train. We also cued the bride and her attendants when to walk down the aisle. For this particular wedding, the bride’s father took over all the hostess duties. I stood aside as he did everything. He was darn good, I might add. Most Holy Trinity was not air conditioned. The Chapel was so stuffy and so hot. One of the attendants passed out at the altar. Guests started getting up in search of a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to go onto the portico because of the downpour and lightning. It must have been disappointing for the newlyweds to have their arch of sabers held indoors. It was still a beautiful wedding, and I’m sure the bride and groom have many happy memories of their wedding day despite the mishaps.
Then, there was the “Crisis in the Choir Loft” wedding. Before this particular wedding, I went up to the choir loft, as usual, to check in with the organist. The organist told me he….ummm… had “the runs”. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was to get that wedding going promptly and to get the wedding party down the aisle ASAP. He didn’t know how long he would last. He also told me he had talked to Father. Father would keep an eye on the choir loft and add special blessings and prayers as needed. As promised, during the ceremony, Father would glance up at the choir loft and add whatever flourishes needed to work around the organist’s absences. To this day, I’m sure that couple doesn’t realize how many extra blessings they received on their wedding day.
Kathy and I always arrived early for the weddings. We were in the Chapel making sure everything was in place for a wedding when a young man walked in and took a seat about halfway down the side aisle. He wasn’t dressed as one would expect for a wedding, but we thought nothing of it. Probably a relative or friend who had just arrived from out of town and didn’t have to time to change clothes. It didn’t take us long to figure out this wasn’t a regular, run-of-the-mill guest. As the ceremony proceeded, this man started making comments. You could call it loud mumbling under his breath. He also made some comments out loud. The priest would say something, and he might comment, “yeah, right”. Kathy and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. This must have been the bride’s disgruntled boyfriend. Mrs. Pollin’s instructions did not include a chapter on, “Disgruntled Boyfriends”. We sat in the back quietly trying to figure out what course of action we should take. Was he going to escalate his disruptions? We nixed the idea of asking him to leave. It wasn’t likely that he would agree to do that without a scuffle. Should we call the MPs? We hated to cause a disturbance at this otherwise beautiful wedding by having the MPs remove this gentleman, possibly by force. We decided we would call the MPs and ask if they could at least have a presence in the back of Chapel. There were no cell phones back in those days, so Kathy got up to go to a phone to make the call. Thankfully, just as she was doing that, the man got up and stomped out the door. Phew! Crisis averted.
All in all, it was a great honor and delight to serve at weddings. When I meet someone who was married in the Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity during the early 80s, I always wondered if I might have been their hostess.