Steam Whistles Instead Of Wedding Bells

Renee Smart and Stan Cook

The happy couple. Renee Smart and Stan Cook were married during the 1987 show. In center is 'Grandpa' With row, 82 year old lifetime member of the Association who gave away the bride-his granddaughter.

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There is a first time for everything, and the Texas Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association experienced an unexpected first. In the sixteen years of the association shows, held at Speegleville, six miles west of Waco, Texas, there had never been a wedding ceremony performed.

Well, as of Sunday, October 4, 1987, they can't say that anymore.

When the last antique tractor in the parade passed the judges' stand to the applause of a large crowd of gas and steam engine enthusiasts, the announcement came over the public address system, by club president Bradley Ware.

'Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. For the first time in our club's history we are going to have a wedding and you folks, one and all, are invited.'

As the crowd of people began to move toward the judges' platform, Bradley again, his voice clearly heard, asked that someone get 'Grandpa' off his steam engine, as he was needed to give the bride away. By the time 82 year old R.A. 'Grandpa' Withrow was brought to the judges' stand, the TV camera of Channel 10, Waco, Texas, was in place and operating.

As Rev. James London of Willow Grove Baptist Church, Robinson, Texas, stepped to the platform, he was followed by the wedding party: Maid of Honor Dorinda Withrow of Houston, Best Man George Franz, Jr., of Broaddus, and the bride and groom, Gina Renee Smart of Houston and Stanley Cook of Highlands, Texas.

When the Rev. London had pronounced the young couple Man and Wife, a miniature mule, still in full harness (due to his being borrowed from his job at the syrup cane mill), was led by his owner and trainer, Judy Seawright of Meridian, to the site of the wedding. The newly wed Mrs. Cook was snatched from her husband by friends of the family, placed on the mule, and trotted away, with Stan in hot pursuit. The traditional rice was not available, but shelled corn, donated from Robert Womack's grist mill, made an adequate substitute. The crowd, wishing the newly weds good luck and the best of everything, threw corn, and steam engine operators blew their whistles.

Renee is the daughter of Mrs. Grace Franz, of Broaddus, and Mr. Fred Smart, of Houston, as well as the granddaughter of R. A. 'Grandpa' Withrow, of Meridian, Texas. Stanley is the son of Edith and Neal Cook of Highlands, Texas.

Submitted by Bradley B. Ware Buck Snort Resort, Rte. 3, Box 211, Killeen, Texas 76542