Southern Hospitality: Saint Louis, Missouri


Although Ferguson, Missouri may never 20150620_154137be the same, the much publicized incident was a wake up call to the world that the state of Missouri is another U.S. state that has problems with racism against black Americans. Ferguson is not the only city in Missouri that has problems with racism. Saint Louis, Missouri is another place that has problems with racism against blacks. The first time I visited Saint Louis was back in the early 2000’s. Two of my sisters lived there at the time. To me, that town looked divided. One part of the town seemed to have a majority of blacks in some areas. Another area was predominantly white, another neighborhood seemed predominantly hispanic, Italian, and so on. This time around(2015), I was invited by my baby sister to attend a wedding, where I filled in for another sister of mine and author Virginia Johnson Lee. Although neither person could attend, it was all good, anyway20150620_155801. Apparently, racism against blacks continues in Saint Louis, Missouri. I just had to ask some of the residents who live there. Although, this ugly side of St. Louis and the entire state of Missouri remains this way, my baby sister and I had the chance to experience « the brighter side » of Saint Louis, Missouri. We were going to attend a wedding! 20150620_17415420150620_214339Eventhough my schedule was not really open, I agreed to go. It sounded like everything was going to perfectly well(sort of). Although the back of my mind told me to prepare for the unforeseen(just in case), I decided to just « throw caution to the wind », because I was just too tired from prior activities that were done just days prior to this. O.K. Now to the road trip:

We traveled through Calera, Oklahoma and finally arrived in Macalester, Oklahoma. Once we arrived in Macalester, I had to go inside of Braums Ice Cream and Dairy store. I just had to get myself a banana split featuring my favorite butter brickle ice cream. Yes, Lawd! After that, we continued through Checotah, Oklahoma and decided to stop in my birth town of Muskogee, Oklahoma. I decided to go to a former employer ‘s business to eat my favorite treat there: calizone! Yep! The estaurant is called Pisano’s Pizza.

I absolutely love the place! The calizone tastes better when the owner « Ray » makes it. He puts everything in the calizone that is supposed to be in it. Next time I am going to have to return to Pisano’s so that I can enjoy Ray’s famous rigatoni, too! Anywho, after chowing down on Ray’s calizone, my little sister and I continued our trip to Saint Louis, Missouri. Finally! after 1:00 A.M. we arrived in Saint Louis, Missouri! Anddddddddddd……….we were fucking stranded! Our first several hours in Saint Louis really sucked! The plans to crash at the house of one of my sister’s friends fell through.

Man, this was fucked up! Anyway, I remained awake the rest of the night, until it was time to get ready for the wedding. Hours passed and now it was time to get ready to go to the wedding(marriage ceremony) of:

Deanna        Nejuan        Graham

and

Dennis  Fitzherbert   Wilson

The date was now Saturday, June 20th, 2015. We finally made it to the Friendly Temple M.B. Church, located at 5544 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, in Saint Louis, Missouri, 63112. Yep, we made it to the wedding. Finally! We arrived a little after 11:00 A.M. Pastor Michael Jones officiated the marriage ceremony. Two of my sisters and author Virginia Johnson Lee were invited to this lovely event by my baby sister’s friend, the lovely, honorable, and outspoken mother of the bride: Reverend Doctor Doris Ann Graham!

Yes! Reverend and Doctor! What a hell of a great combination! The bride to be: daughter Deanna Graham briefly attended Spelman College before returning home to graduate from another college back in St. Louis. To continue, let me give you a proper introduction to the parents of the bride!  :

The Parents of the Bride Are:

Mr. Jerry Graham and Reverend Doctor Doris Ann Graham.

The parents of the groom are Mrs. Cynthia Wilson and Mr. Stephen Wilson(In memoriam).

There you go! These people are the parents of the bride and the groom!

Now, back to the Reverend Doctor Doris Ann Graham:          Reverend Doctor Doris Ann Graham is very well known in Saint Louis, Missouri and the entire state of Missouri. And, she made history, too! You can read more about this amazing woman at: http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/cco/ords/data/resolutions/res140059.html   Yeah!

Now! On to the wedding! It was like returning home for my little sister. I didn’t know anyone there. However, she knew a number of people who were in the wedding and some who sat in the audience to watch the wedding. It was all good, though. I sat back and chilled, eventhough I felt a little out of place for not dressing for the occasion(Very late notice for me). At least I had business clothes on(I guess). I love a good wedding and could not wait to hear « The Wedding March » song.
This wedding was totally amazing!

It was well planned! And, I loved knowing the fact that I could see what was next by reading the individual program that was handed to me(before the wedding started). The entire thing was soooooooooooooooooo professional! It was the most different of all weddings that I have attended throughout the years.
There was even a « prelude » before the wedding ceremony. Twinda Murray did a wonderful violin solo. Christopher White was the accompanist. Next was the seating of the aunt of the bride, cousin of the bride, and finally the  mother of the bride, Reverend Doctor Doris Graham. The Lord’s Prayer was sung so beautifully by Leslie Johnson. Man, that was powerful! I was deeply moved by this. Roland Smith did the lighting of the candle. Pastor Michael Jones did the greetings. Leslie Johnson performed a wonderful solo. There was also reading from the old and new testament.

There was even praise dancing. Interesting. Although I am not into that kind of stuff, the praise dancer named Jasmine « Tish » Ford did a beautiful job. She danced so gracefully. It was kind of comical though, because she has a son, who is a toddler. And, he kept crying and calling « mama » throughout her entire dance routine. It was precious though. Jasmine did a great job. I mean great. After the praise dance was the blessing of the bride’s parents(Mr. Jerry Graham and Reverend Doctor Doris Graham).

Next, the exchange of the vows and the rings happened. There was also the lighting of the unity candle and a presentation of a rose to the parents. Futhermore, Pastor Michael Jones did the Declaration of Marriage, presentation of the couple, and the Holy Communion. Guess what? After this, the couple(Newly married Deanna Nejuan Wilson and Dennis Fitzherbert Wilson)jumped the broom! Hot damn! I never thought in a million years that I would ever see the « jumping of the broom » in a marriage ceremony!

Wow! From what I have read in historical stories, a lot of « jumping of the broom » ceremonies took place outside years ago. Neat! Really neat! After this was the recessional. There was a lot of pictures that were snapped videotaping of this wonderful ceremony that was done by people(with various types of electronics). When the wedding was over, the bride and groom stood as long as they could to meet everyone who attended the wedding. After the wedding was a dessert reception. I thought this was totally cool as shit, man.

I loved it. There was tasty punch, cookies, cake, chocolate candies, and cupcakes of various sizes. Also, there were bite size cupcakes and a number of giant size cupcakes that were big and wide as the size of a big hand(almost). Some of the cupcakes were vanilla. Some were chocolate with different colors with real icing. I definitely NEVER DO WHIP CREAM FROSTING! EVER! WHIP CREAM FROSTING SUCKS!

A lot of people came to this wedding. Well, after getting our fill of some of the tasty desserts from the dessert reception(and tasty punch), my sister and I returned to the car, where I finished my breakfast that I barely had the chance to nibble on before I attended this lovely wedding. It was soooo hot outside that the sun reheated my food. It was pipe and hot when I returned to that car! My sausage gravy, sausage, hash browns, and buttery biscuits were absolutely DEVINE! Now, there were a few things that I did not yet mention concerning the wedding:

The maid of honor, matron of honor, bridesmaids, junior bridesmaid, best man, groomsmen, bride’s escort, flower girls, and ring bearer. All of these people were there. However, I feel that I must mention that the bridesmaid dresses were unique. The style of these dresses was totally sexy. The dresses were chocolate brown, sleeveless, off the shoulder, and had a low neckline(if I remember correctly). Yep, the bridesmaids wore sexy dresses. That was really neat. Also, it was neat seeing the bride’s escort escort the bride Deanna down the aisle. Not only was this Deanna’s first marriage, she is also a mature woman. And, to be married for the first time!

This means that it was a blessing that this bride’s aging father still lives to be able to walk her down the aisle! I think the bride is 51 years old. This is to be commended! These days it seems like most men bypass getting married and play house instead, living life as a common law partner. And, liking it! Sad. But, not in the case of newly married Mrs. Deanna Wilson and her husband Dennis Wilson! They crossed that bridge, did the responsible thing, and got married! Deanna was a very happy, blushing bride, too!

There were no tears. There was nothing but big smiles on the bride and groom’s faces. Furthermore, the flower girls and the ring bearer were truly adorable. Moving right along, now it was time to go to the wedding reception. I was very impressed. It was held at the big Marriott Airport Hotel in Saint Louis, Missouri. It was nice inside. I loved the ball shaped chandeliers. After a while of waiting, my sister and I talked to various family and friends of the bride. Then, we congratulated the bride and groom.

After that, my sister and I walked through the Marriott towards the reception. The reception building was cool as shit! Damn! What a cool ass idea! The reception building itself was inflated and had air conditioning! Wow! We were like inside of like a gigantic bouncy house with air conditioning! Wow! The ceiling was inflated and everything!
There were windows, too! This whole entire reception was the shit! It was on point! My sister and I began to approach the main table before entering the reception hall. There were ladies at the table who had us announce our names. After we announced our names, the representatives at the table checked to make sure that we were on the wedding reception invitation list. My little sister’s name was on it. My name was not on the list. Because of that, I was not allowed entrance into the reception. As a result, I had to sit outside of the reception until I had clearance to go in by the bride’s mom: the Reverend Doctor Doris Graham.

I was impressed even more! This is the first wedding reception that I have attended where you had to be on a list before being granted entrance into a wedding reception. After a moment of waiting and gaining permission into the reception, finally, I was allowed to enter the reception and enjoy the night’s festivities. Once almost everyone(some dragged in later) was seated, the wedding participants were introduced and seated. Next, speeches were given, there was a lot of reminiscing from friends and loved ones , who shared memories via microphone about the bride and groom.

There was toasting after this. I believe we all toasted the bride and groom at least three times. My food was O.K. I had baked chicken, potatoes, and asparagus spears. I also had a salad and a few rolls. The asparagus was just too undercooked for me. As a result, I ate only the head off of the spear part. For such a splendid reception, I felt that the food should have been like buffet style or something. Or, at least several meats, vegetables, and stuff. Otherwise, the food was decent. We had a choice of baked chicken, baked fish, or a vegetable platter.

There was more toasting in between our meal, followed by more speeches. Also, there was a pretty good wet bar off and on throughout the celebration. I had a fruity concoction, a long island ice tea, and a Shirley Temple. There was cake, too. And, we all received a sliver of lemon cake, followed by cups of coffee. You know, this kind of pissed me off! Why? Because I am a kid at heart and there was no ice cream, damnit! I have to have ice cream with my cake! Shit! There was coffee instead. I was thinking: This coffee and cake thing must be a Saint Louis, Missouri thing.

I was definitely not in the mood to drink any damn coffee. This whole reception and everything in it was pretty neat, though. However, I do think that the bar should have just remained open, also. Some receptions are different. I went to one years ago where there was a delicious, cold champagne fountain. Now, this reception had a wet bar that closed at intervals. There was also a d.j. There was music there that was played that was from the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, and the 2000’s. That d.j. did a damn good job, too! People got up and danced. Some of that music was so good that I had to stop my chattering and start singing, especially to songs such as Heatwave’s « Always and Forever. »

To add, there were a lot of sisters from the Delta Sigma Theta chapter that were there(both mother of the bride and the bride are also Deltas). A little while after the dancing and stuff, the most anticipating event arrived: the throwing of the bridal bouquet and the garter belt throw. My little sister caught the bridal bouquet! Oh, my God! That was totally cool! The cutting of the cake happened and the bride and groom fed each other the cake and stuff. Last but not least, after the d.j. got done, the Love Jones Band came and sang a lot of old school favorites. They were pretty good, too. All in all, it was all good. It was now fast approaching 11:00 P.M. and the party continued on.

Well, our stay(me and my sister’s)in Saint Louis ended up turning into a pleasant surprise! We ended up sharing a room with the bride’s mother! It was wonderful at that Marriott. Yeah, buddy. Never in my life did I ever think about how busy a bride’s mother would be! Oh, my God! I had no idea! Reverend Doctor Doris Graham didn’t return from the party until after 1:00 A.M.! Damn, what a busy woman! This experience taught me something: The mother of the bride a lot of times is busy! Busy as hell! Hell! It almost seemed like Rev. Dr. Graham was getting married!

She also made sure that the bride and groom received their gifts the very next day, too! I also be

gan thanking my lucky stars that I have never been a bride. There is just too much to do to have a smooth and spectacular wedding. Whoo! Good Lord! The very next morning(Sunday June 21st, 2015), the gifts were counted, a list was made of who gave gifts so that thank you cards could be sent out, the gifts were passed out to the married couple, and everything miscellaneous was completed after breakfast before we all departed for Sunday’s church service(the bride and groom had to attend their bride and groom duties).

Me, my little sister, and Reverend Doctor Doris Graham made it to the church(not before I cut a nice slice of that delicious vanilla marble cake). Church service was nice. It was about Father’s Day. And, for females like me who had a father who was not instrumental, nor had a great whatever in our lives(mostly absent,womanizers,etc.), the speech/talk was done in taste for a person like me. And, my father is gone. The Sunday talk covered that, too.
Yeah, my father died before Memorial Day in 2011. Church service was nice. Some of the groom’s family attended church service, too. After church, everyone(almost everyone except one visitor from Texas)greeted one another. After that, Reverend Doctor Doris Graham, my little sister, and I went to mingle a little bit with others from the wedding and reception. It was totally old school and I loved it. Gad damnit, the fucking salad at « Big Momma’s house was off the fucking chain! Ooh, shit! The shredded cheese, fresh lettuce, big juicy tomatoes, ranch dressing and shit! Dayum! It was on that day!

We went to a loved one’s home, mingled, and ate a hearty meal of a lot of stuff, including: pound cake! I had about ten different foods on my plate! It was all good. I also got full really fast. And, I could not eat everything, either. Before leaving Saint Louis, Missouri, my sister and I visited more of the bride’s family. The new Mrs. Deanna Nejuan Graham and her husband made it to the family home, too. I finally got a chance to ask the bride how she felt about her special day and how it felt to be a new bride.

She let me know that she was trying to take everything all in and that she was pretty much « on cloud 9 ».

Congratulations to the bride Deanna Nejuan Wilson! I hope that all goes well.

The visiting was over and goodbyes were said. My sister and I was back on the road, again. However, we had one more friend to visit. It was all good. We chilled, spent the night over their house, said our goodbyes, and left Saint Louis, Missouri with great memories.

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