In early November of 1943, my mother, Frances Marie Leigh, left New Orleans on the Southern Limited for California to meet her future husband and my father, Lt. Giles Wheeler Bryant, USMCR in San Diego to get married. From her accounts, the trip to the West Coast was like a scene from a delightful WWII movie with various travelers getting together to talk, joke, and become instant friends on the way west. My mother was a member of one such group, all of whom were going to California. They introduced themselves and each quickly had a new nickname: "Mississippi" from the serviceman from Mississippi; "Alabama" for the person from that state; Mama was "Louisiana." What each was going to had to do with what was going on in the world: one lady was going to see her husband stationed in California; several men and a couple of WACS were going to join their outfits in California; Mama was going to be married before my father was shipped out; one young man was going to his first chaplaincy assignment at one of the camps, bases in California. His name was Marvin Franklin, Jr. His father, Rev. Marvin Franklin, Sr., my Southern Baptist mother found out, was a Methodist Bishop.
When they arrived in California, Los Angeles I think, they all reluctantly said good-bye and went their separate ways. Mama boarded another train for San Diego where she hoped my future father would be waiting for her. He was there.
Daddy told Mama they were to married in the Chapel at Camp Elliot the next day. A Lady Marine was going to play the organ (Shubert's Serenade, the music Mama was playing on the piano when Daddy came to pick her up for their first date. Note: Mama's children and grandchildren had the same music played at Mama's funeral.), so-and-so would be his bestman and that gentleman's wife would be my mother's only attendant. Oh, and the officer officiating at the wedding was a brand new Methodist chaplain and their wedding was to be his first! My mother turned to my father and asked innocently, "It's not Marvin Franklin, Jr., is it?" My father was stunned. He was marrying my mother right out of two years of nurses' training and always felt she was a bit "away from the world." He finally was able to speak and admitted that, yes, Chaplain Marvin Franklin, Jr. was to preside at the wedding. Mama just smiled, knowingly.
The wedding was held the next day. Mama said the only two people she knew at the wedding were my father and the "preacher." I believe Marvin Franklin, Jr., like his father, eventually became a Methodist Bishop, of Mississippi. My father died of a service-connected death in 1952. Mama never remarried, and she died several months after Hurricane Katrina in June, 2006. She and Daddy had three children, of whom I am the oldest. As we were very young when Daddy died, he never knew how we turned out. Mama raised us by herself. We became lawyers and a university professor/administrator. I think Daddy would have been very proud of us as adults. And, perhaps, Rev. Marvin Franklin, Jr. would have been proud that his "first wedding" turned out pretty well.