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A 50th wedding anniversary is a special occasion, so for the past year this columnist has been planning a celebration of this milestone in our lives. After our children surprised Jim and I with a 40th anniversary party 10 years ago, I knew I wanted to be in charge of our 50th, so picking the venue was first.
Harbor Pines Golf Club was chosen and booked for Sept. 15. Working with Sharon Ireland, special events and banquet director, was a dream as we chose our menu, and she suggested disc jockey Jimmy Lamb, photographer Greg Alber and Amanda Scamoffa-Dyas at The Bake Works to make the cake. Of course it was Mark Videtto at Spinning Wheel Florist who had to do the flowers as I knew they would be spectacular. My son and daughter-in-law, John and Dinieth, created and sent out the invitations while son Jimmy coordinated and handled reservations for out-of-town guests. That left nothing for Jim to do except pay the bills.
The out-of-town guests began to arrive Thursday. First, Jim‚Äôs sister, Suzanne Ahnell, and her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters, Lief, Michelle, Ashley and Emma, flew in from Boca Raton, Fla. and stayed in the presidential suite at the Biscayne. Cousin and best man Bob Wummer and wife Linda flew in from Riviera Beach and took up residence at Caesar‚Äôs in Atlantic City. My brother and sister-in-law, John and Fran Maberry, drove up from Elkton while cousin Joan Garrigan and her daughter and son-in-law, Marthanne and Greg Gershman, and son and daughter-in-law, Ed and Madeline Garrigan, drove down from Albany, NY. The weather was picture perfect and for the next couple of days, the Finnegan‚Äôs entertained family who had lots of fun in Ocean City.
The big day arrived and I awoke to a beautiful morning with clear blue skies, bright sunshine, no humidity and temperatures in the 70s just like our wedding day, only a little cooler. While our kids entertained family, Jim and I enjoyed a leisurely bike ride around the island before getting ready. Jim looked as handsome as he did in his tuxedo at our wedding when he stepped out in his new black custom made suit by Raffaele, while I traded in my white wedding gown for a black tea-length sleeveless dress and stole by Komarov from Donna/Gay Dillon Boutique. When we arrived at Harbor Pines, I pinned Jim‚Äôs white rosebud boutonniere on his lapel and picked up my bouquet of white roses with gypsophilia, and we were ready.
The family arrived early for pictures and Greg Alber took plenty in the lobby and outside on the golf course. The dining room looked spectacular with black linen tablecloths topped off with white napkins and white chair covers with large black bows. The lavish table arrangements of white roses, white hydrangeas and white Siberian lilies accented with white dendrobium orchids arranged atop a tall clear cylinder-style vase with black gems and a floating dendrobium orchid were breathtaking. Dinieth made sure the black and white packages filled with Hershey‚Äôs kisses for each guest were in alphabetical order and 50th anniversary gold wine stoppers with gold bow were at each place setting. Pictures from our wedding and the past 50 years created by son, John, rotated on four television screens in the lobby, bar area and veranda. Lenore and Craig Brady, who drove up from their farm in Georgetown, Del. were one of the first to arrive. Alice Wolf took over with my camera to snap pictures for my anniversary column.
While everyone enjoyed the social hour, Jim and I caught up with family and friends and posed for pictures. Nancy Bird looked elegant in a pale aqua lace cocktail dress. Linda and Rich Dientenne, Charlie Colella, Janis Harris, Jane and Rich Lindley, Al Windish and Pat Patton staked out a table on the veranda to relax, enjoy the delicious hors d‚Äôoeuvres and spectacular view overlooking the golf course. When Harry Klause arrived with wife, Maureen, I told him his crew was outside. My nephew, Jeff Maberry, who was only 2 when he attended our wedding, traded in his short pants for a dark suit and bright print tie. Ralph and LuAnn Tridico drove up from New Bern, N.C. for their annual week in Sea Isle City with friends ,so we were glad to catch up with them at our party. Angie Psaltis also enjoyed catching up with Ralph who he hadn‚Äôt seen for years. Alice and Bill Crockford sat at a tall table in the lounge and talked to everyone when they passed by. I was glad Jean and Harry Lord took time out from the Red and White Weekend to attend our party. Beech Fox and I joked about cleaning up well as we usually see each other at barbecues where he is cooking over a hot grill
As soon as everyone was seated in the dining room DJ Jimmy Lamb introduced the wedding party, who made a grand entrance followed by a champagne toast by our sons, Jimmy and John, who thanked their parents for their love and instilling their caring, compassion and work ethics in them as we led by example then Jim and I had our first dance to ‚ÄúTill There Was You‚ÄĚ just like 50 years ago. My brother gave the blessing and while everyone enjoyed their fruit cup and salad I took the microphone and recalled leaving guests waiting two hours when our kids surprised us with our 40th that rendered me speechless. Now I had 10 years to prepare and I regaled everyone with tales from that fateful day in Atlantic City when I first met Jim in September 1960, through our courtship, wedding, births of our sons and the many happy times in our lives.
‚ÄúThrough The Years‚ÄĚ was the next tune and everyone joined us on the dance floor before dinner. After dinner and a couple of slow love songs, the DJ picked up the tempo and Carol Heenan, Marie Hayes, Alice Wolf, Winnie Piriano, Marlene Sheppard, Linda and Curt Gronert, Maribeth Neall, Pete Martucci and Peggy Doyle kicked up their heels on the dance floor while Joanne Budnick took pictures. I caught Dick Wagner standing in front of the video taking pictures with his camera. Carole Martucci and I have been friends since we were toddlers and Carole got a kick out of a picture of her and I in ‚Äô63 when we were pencil thin. When Jim and I cut the cake we decided not to smash it in each other‚Äôs mouth like 50 years ago. The DJ finally played my granddaughter Sara‚Äôs kind of music and she joined her cousins, Ashley and Emma Ahnell and Taylor Serrano, and friend Nikki Fox as they took over the dance floor. I spotted Paul Chilla dancing with my sister-in-law, Suzanne Ahnell, both former educators. Son Jimmy took the mike and his strong baritone voice resonated throughout the room when he sang a Frank Sinatra favorite ‚ÄúMy Way.‚ÄĚ All too soon the celebration was coming to an end, but I was happy as it have been a perfect evening and everyone had a great time.