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The First Snow: The Wedding Cake Reward

I like winning the annual family bet—except for that one year.

My family always bet on the date of the first snow. The winner received a favorite dessert.

There had been a blizzard in southern Ohio in late November 1950, but 1951 blew in with some unusually warm days. On the last weekend of January, when the brother of one of my best friends, Lois, was scheduled to get married, it was 62 degrees and sunny. All the guests stood outside the church without coats and congratulated the bride and groom on picking a perfect day. I remember Lois, who was to be a bridesmaid in my upcoming wedding just days away, looked at me and said, “Wow, can you believe this?”

Fast-forward to Jan. 31, my wedding day. Mid-morning rain turned to ice by noon, making roads almost impassable. Then came the snow. As our 8 p.m. wedding ceremony approached, buses had stopped running, airports had shut down and cars were decorating ditches. My brother, who was to give me away, was stranded somewhere between Dayton and Hamilton, I would later learn, and there were no cellphones in those days. Would he make it to the church on time? Would I?

We did. So did the groom. And so did almost 100 of the 250 guests. So what if I punched a hole in my veil trying to keep it out of a snowdrift as I got into the limousine? Who but us knew that the rip heard as I stepped up to the altar happened because my brother was standing on my train? At least he—and I—had made it to the church!

In that year’s bet for the date of the first snow, I had picked Jan. 26—the day my bridesmaid’s brother got married. Though the snow had waited until my wedding date to make its appearance, I still won. At my reception, my mother whispered in my ear that the celebratory dessert would have to be my wedding cake.

The AARP Bulletin's "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Dorothy O. Kraus is a reader from Columbus, Ohio.

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