Greg stayed in town Sunday night and he and Chuck spent some time after dinner catching up with the local newspapers. Other than the ongoing Viet Nam stories, the big news was about space.

   "I see Gemini 9 made it into orbit on the third launch try," said Chuck. "It all looked pretty good, but now I see they've been having a lot of little troubles."

   "I have a hard time keeping up on all the space stuff. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were reading about the space craft that got shook off a satellite, and had to make a premature landing in the ocean?"

   "Yeah, that was a different one. This one is kind of the same idea, I guess - dock with some satellites, and do a spacewalk. It sounds like they had a real hard time yesterday, trying to catch their satellite, and pretty much exhausted themselves, as well as using up a lot of the ship's fuel. I don't understand the fuel business - if that means they have to come down earlier than expected, or what. Anyway, they were supposed to do a several hour spacewalk yesterday - the longest ever, maybe - but they were so tired after the satellite chase that they put it off until today.

   "At the same time this is going on, our unmanned robot, Surveyor 1, is sending back all kinds of interesting pictures of the moon's surface."

   Greg put down his newspaper. "I guess I don't really get it, anymore. Back when the Russians would do something really amazing, and then we'd do something really amazing, it was all so new and exciting. You couldn't help but be interested. Now, we just seem to be making these little journeys into orbit - doing pretty much the same things each time - and whether they're successful or unsuccessful, each one costs us billions of dollars. And I don't even know what they consider 'success.'"

   "I suspect that each of these missions is part of a bigger master plan - each one gathers information, or accomplishes things, that will eventually be needed to reach the bigger goal."

   "But what's the bigger goal?"

   "Establish a colony on the moon? Go to Mars? I don't know, but don't you find it all exciting, no matter what we do? I mean, in my childhood - even in your childhood! - this was all pure science fiction - comic book stuff! Did we think any of this could ever happen?"

   "No, you're right about that, but when it comes to space exploration, I guess I'm kind of a party-pooper. I think about that money, and I think about all our needs right here on earth - which is where most of us will always be, regardless of what happens with the space program. With those billions, we could be advancing medical research. We could be repairing and rebuilding all our roads and bridges and dams that are falling apart. We could be spending more to make sure that our fellow Americans have food to eat and places to live. The list of needs just for remaining on Earth goes on and on."

   "Yeah, but you know us. If we shut down the whole space program, very little of that money would go to the things you're talking about."

   "That's pretty cynical. Unfortunately, you're probably right - which is a pretty sad commentary, isn't it?" Greg picked up his newspaper, again.

   "Back on Earth," Chuck began, "Fishing season opened yesterday. They say it was a huge success. Of course, almost every opening day is, because Fish and Game goes out just before, and stocks every stream with nice, unwary rainbow trout - more fun, and not much more work, than going to the fish market to buy your dinner. Next weekend will be a little harder, I suspect.

   "Also, I saw last week that the canal company is making slight reductions in the amount of water being released to farmers, anticipating there may be shortages by the hot months. They're expecting this summer will be similar to what they call 'the dry summer of 1961.' I was here in '61, but I don't recall it being any worse than any other summer since I've been here. In any event, we're probably looking at less water for our pools."

   Greg put down his paper, again. "What do you know about this Bureau of Land Management problem? It says here that Udall fired the BLM Director, and is planning on moving the Oregon state director somewhere else."

     "That story has been kicking around for several months, and gets reported differently every time, it seems. What apparently happened is that the government was planning to use some of the so-called O & C lands in southern Oregon to trade for land at the Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco."

   "I know Point Reyes. It's a pretty famous bird watching spot. I've been there a couple of times."

   "Well, the O & C - Oregon and California - lands are miscellaneous little chunks of federal property administered by BLM. Hard to administer, because they're just scattered parcels, but they have some good timber on them. The Oregon director  - his name is Getty, I think - objected to the trade. His boss - Charles Stoddard - tried to transfer Getty out of the state, so the deal could go ahead without interference. Apparently, the land trade itself fell through, but all kinds of politicians got involved, and neither Stoddard nor Getty showed themselves in a very good light. I hadn't seen that Secretary Udall had fired Stoddard and plans to move Getty. That's new, today."

   "It must be pretty unusual for the Secretary of Interior - any Secretary - to get so personally involved in a personnel squabble."

   Chuck tossed his paper aside. "From space  travel to agency politics, all in a half-hour. Back here in the real world of refuge management, anything special on for this week?"

   "We have the mist-netters coming in Friday, for the weekend. Before then, I'll do my usual bird counts. Nothing else scheduled."

   "How about doing the wage rate survey, then? Find out what we're going to be paying Tim, this year."

   "Sure, I can take a day to do that. I bet Tim is hoping for a big jump in local wages. I guess things are a little tight for him, since he didn't work the sugar this winter."

   "Yeah, I doubt you'll find any change. At least, it shouldn't go down. Must be tough, with his parents needing him more all the time, and not having Rusty around for backup.

   "He still hasn't agreed to the caretaker job. I think he will, because it'll be a little extra money, and he can squeeze it around just about anything else he has going."

   "Back to the bird watchers coming down, we're going to meet at Cora's and Jackson's for lunch on Friday, then come to refuge headquarters and figure out where to place the nets. They'll stay in the bunkhouse, and start the actual netting on Saturday morning.

   "If you and Tim wanted to join us at lunch, that would be great. You two have probably had more experience banding than anybody there, even if not mist-netting. Tim might also be helpful getting the nets set up. Come Saturday, too, if you want to, but it's not necessary. I think I'll invite Tim just because he might be interested in being around long enough to see the nets in operation. I think Vic and Mandy are going to stay for the whole show."

   "Well, I'll come and meet everybody at the diner. If both the girls are going to be with you, I might see if Allie wants to do something special, just us on a free day."

   "That sounds like a good idea."


   While Chuck and Greg were reading the news, the Anderson women were strategizing for the week ahead. "I don't think it's too soon to go to Boise, to start looking at bride's gowns and bridesmaid dresses," Vic said. "Could the three of us do that Tuesday and Wednesday? That would have us here tomorrow to plan out the rest of the week, and then we'd be here Thursday before going out to band birds  on Friday."

   "That sounds like fun," said her mother. "We could eat out some nice place, and maybe go to a movie while we're in the 'big city."

  Mandy clapped her hands. "I vote for all of that."

  "Boise must have more than one bridal shop. I'm sure our library has a copy of the Boise Yellow Pages. We could go look, tomorrow."

   "What about hotel or motel reservations? Do you think we need them?" Vic asked.

   "I wouldn't think so, this early in the summer. Maybe later, when everybody is out of school, and families are on road trips. That motel where your dad and I stayed is nice, and probably in a pretty good location to shop from. Let's go there, first."

   "Okay," began Vic, "Setting aside the wedding for a bit, I told you, Mandy, that I had a graduation present for you." She handed Mandy a small box. "Happy graduation!"

   Mandy opened the box. "Earrings! They're beautiful, Vic."

   "They're turquoise, your birth stone. You do realize there's something wrong with them?"

   "Yes, I saw that right away. A lot of the girls are getting these, now. You need pierced ears to wear them. I don't have pierced ears. I guess it's pretty easy to get done. In fact, some of the girls are doing it, themselves."

   "I know. A lot of the women at school are getting them, too, but they're warning about doing the piercing yourself. After all, your ear is part of your body, so you're making a hole in your body. If it's not done properly, and not cared for properly afterward, it can get infected. A doctor should do it. I wonder if Dr. Tyler would? I'd like to get mine done, too."

   "I'm guessing he would. We can call and see, and make an appointment if he does. I think I'd like to do it, too."

   "Really, Mom?" asked Mandy.

   "Sure. Good stuff like that shouldn't be limited to high school and college girls. I used to wear earrings all the time. You may not remember, because you were both pretty young when I quit wearing them regularly, but I still have some pretty nice ones in my jewelry box."

   "Why did you quit? Did you decide it was the Devil's tool to make you look sexy and irresistible?" This was from Vic.

   Alice laughed. "Nothing quite so dramatic - or romantic. Although I think I did look pretty exotic in some of them. The truth is that they really hurt my ears.  I have a beautiful pair of old clip earrings with gorgeous crystal beads, but I can't stand the pain of wearing them.

   "The only problem with pierced ears - and I don't know that it's really a problem for most people - is that you have to wear earrings pretty much all the time. Like any hurt to the skin, the hole will heal itself eventually, if not kept open by something in it."

   "I don't think that will be a problem for me," said Mandy.

   "Okay," summarized Vic, "Tomorrow, we check the Boise phone book at the library, and we try to make an ear piercing appointment with Dr. Tyler. Oh, I think there's something else we need to do tomorrow. When Greg and I were talking yesterday, it seemed like the wedding was still a long way away. I'm getting a little worried now, especially about the place we're going to have it, and who is going to officiate."

   "What date did you decide on?" Alice asked.

   "We said Saturday, July 16, but that seems awfully close, now. The next Saturday, August 23, was going to be our alternate date, but now I'm wondering if it should be the target. There's an awful lot to do! Our California trip is going to take up close to two weeks, but I really think I have to meet Greg's parents before the wedding."

   "Mandy and I can work on a lot of the little details - invitations, flowers, etc. - while you're gone. Really, the big issues are the two things you named - place, and marriage  official. I can make some calls tomorrow to try to pin down the place. You want to go for the later date?"

   "I think probably we should, but maybe you better check availability both dates, in case we have trouble getting an officiator on one of those Saturdays."

   "Okay, and I'll have your dad try to find your official tomorrow. I think it has to be the mayor or a judge, if it isn't a church person, but I'm not sure. Chuck can find out."

   "Well, having those two things settled would take a big load off my mind. I'll tell Greg about the probable change to the later date. We talked about the possibility already, so I don't think he'll mind. Okay,  back to the schedule. Tuesday and Wednesday, we go to Boise, and hopefully find dresses for both Mandy and me. Thursday, maybe we have a doctor appointment, take care of any immediate wedding business, then get out to the refuge for the Friday mist-netting party. Mandy, I told Greg you'd probably want to come to that. Was I right?"

   "Sure. It sounds like it will be both educational and fun."

   "So, we'll have to get Greg or Daddy to come and get us."

   "I have another idea," said Alice. "Since all four of my family members are going to be at the refuge Thursday night, why don't I drive you there, and we can have a full family get-together at the old house. We'll all go to the banding preliminaries on Friday, then your dad and I can decide what we'll do with the rest of our weekend."

   "You mean, do something that occurs away from your nosy, bratty daughters?"

   "Yes, Victoria, that's exactly what I mean."


   Later that evening, Vic discussed the week's plans with Greg. "We're going to Boise over Tuesday night, and see if we can get dresses for both Mandy and me. Is there anything in particular you'd like to see in the wedding dress - besides me, I mean? "

   "I don't think I have any specific ideas. I'm expecting to be charmed, amazed, enthralled, enchanted, and all kinds of other superlative adjectives when I see the woman I love coming down that aisle, no matter what she is wearing."

  "Well, I will do my best to make sure that you can feel all those feelings when you see me. Now, about the wedding date. I'm getting a little concerned about our early date. Time seems to be going so fast. We talked about a week later. Would that really be all right with you?"

   "Oh, sure. However, you do realize that we won't be able to consummate our marriage for another full week. I think I can make it. Can you?"

   Vic giggled, and reached for his arm. "It'll be hard, but we're young and strong, so..." They paused for a brief kiss to emphasize their youth and strength. It seemed to work.  "Okay, back to business. Actually, we may be limited in our choices of dates. It's a small town, and not many places that would be suitable. Mom's going to make some calls tomorrow, and see what she can reserve. Shall we tell her that our later alternative - I think it's July 23 - is our preferred date, but that we'll take what we can get?"

   "That sounds logical to me."

   "There's another part of this, and that's the person who's actually going to do the ceremony for us. Mom is going to ask Daddy to get somebody lined up tomorrow. Hopefully, it'll be possible on one of the same dates that a place is available.

   "Now, one more thing. Mom has suggested that all three of us come out to the refuge on Thursday night, and have an evening together before the bird banders get here. Are we all invited to the Friday lunch and get-together?"

   "Sure. I think Chuck may already have had that idea - at least, about him and Alice doing something later that weekend."


   That same evening, Alice and Chuck discussed the week. She asked him to find someone to conduct the wedding, and to confirm it as soon as possible. He said he'd do it the next day. She told him about the Boise trip plans, and about her idea to spend Thursday night at the refuge. He thought that was an excellent idea.

   "I have one thing to discuss with you," he told her. "I'm ready to tell Mac that I'll take the Idaho Falls job. Is that okay with you?"

   "More importantly, is it okay with you?"

   "It's not more important to me than it is to you. We both get a say in this. But yes, I'm ready. Nothing is on the horizon in the Dakotas, and it's a good  job. We can spend a few years there, and still have time before retirement to get closer to home. If it turns out that Vic and Greg are part of the deal, that makes it even better."

   "Is there any word on that?"

   "Not specifically, but I don't have any doubt that's what Mac is planning, if it all works out. So, you're okay with my accepting the job?"

   "Chuck, I am very okay with it!"

   "Well, let's save the news for a bit, and announce it to the girls and Greg when we can get them all together, and can have a little discussion time."


      Monday, Vic and Mandy went to the library to check the Boise yellow pages for bridal shops. They found there were several, and copied the addresses. From there, they made a stop at the jewelers.

   "Wow," exclaimed Jeannie, when she saw  them. "Both Anderson sisters at one time. I'm honored. School's out for everybody."

   They exchanged hugs. "Yep, school's out," agreed Vic, "And I have the latest high school graduate with me."

   "That's right! Congrats, Mandy. You must be especially glad to escape this past semester."

   "Thanks, Jeannie. Yes, the 'senior-itis,' as Greg calls it, was pretty awful. What a waste of time."

   "I remember it well. You too, Vic. Right?"

   "It is kind of a horrible way to end the twelve years of school. Of course, we got to leave. The teachers have to stay around for the next class."

   "That's true. So, Mandy, what do you do next?"

   "That's not completely decided. I think I'll probably be going with Vic to Pocatello, but I'm kind of waiting until I know where our parents are going. I might go with them. Vic will be an old married woman, and might not want me hanging around."

   "Fat chance!" said Vic.

   "Yeah, old married woman Vic. When's that going to happen? Have you and Greg set the date?"

   "We're working on it. We think it will be July 23, if we can get a place to have it and someone to officiate it. We're going over to Boise tomorrow with Mom to look at wedding gowns and bridesmaid's dresses."

   "Oh, that should be great fun. So, what's happening today? Are you just saying hello, or are you here for something specific?"

   "All three of us are going to have our ears pierced."

   "Well, you'll join quite a crowd. The newspapers are still calling it a fad, or a craze, but I think we've already moved beyond that. We don't offer the service yet, but I bet we will, before long. Some of the jewelers in bigger towns are already advertising ear-piercing as a regular part of their business. I think it will really take off because local doctors are getting overwhelmed by the demand. It's taking too much time away from their actual medical practice."

   "There's one jeweler in Pocatello already advertising ear piercing. I saw their ad in the paper."

   "Really? Well, you know what that say. As Pocatello goes, so goes the world."

   Vic laughed. "Yeah, I'm sure that's true. We're going to have Dr. Tyler do it. What I wondered is if you have some starter earrings that you recommend for wearing first."

   "The main thing I'm hearing is that they should be as thick as possible to begin with, so that the hole will heal over fairly big. We have some pretty little studs with a star or a jewel. They fit close up against the ear, and are nice enough to wear later, after the ears heal, too. They tell us the posts need to be of 14 carat gold, because other metals will oxidize and cause trouble. Silver oxidizes."

   "I better get three pairs."

   "I was going to wear my new ones," Mandy objected.

   "You could," said Jeannie, "But they really recommend the thicker post to begin with. You better save your new pretties for another week or so."

   Vic picked out a pair with a pearl on each, and another with small stars. Mandy chose ones with small diamond chips. The cost five dollars a pair.

   "I'm glad you're going to Dr. Tyler. Some of the newspaper stories make the home parties sound like real mayhem, but I don't think that's true. I think the main concerns are about cleanliness and proper care afterward."

   "I think that's generally true," Vic agreed. "I went to one party at our dorm. I wasn't ready, so wasn't tempted. There was some gagging and some feeling faint, but it was from the same ones who would faint at the sight of their own blood, or the prick of a vaccination. Mostly it was a bunch of girls having a fun time."


      While Vic and Mandy were at the library and jewelers, Alice made some calls to find a place for the wedding. She found that the community hall was currently available for both dates, and asked to reserve both until Chuck had made his inquiries. With all three back at home, they made some preliminary notes on a variety of wedding-related chores. They planned to add details to that list as the week progressed.

   At the refuge, Chuck wasn't as immediately successful as Alice, but he did make some contacts to get the process started. Greg made a trip to the diner to prepare Cora and Jackson for a dozen or so people for Friday lunch. He continued on into town via the old highway, to begin his wage survey. While he was gone, Chuck put in a call to Mac, and accepted the Idaho Falls position. Mac was pleased to get that taken care of.

   Greg went back to town Tuesday, and completed the wage survey. As Chuck had predicted, it didn't look like there would be much change from the previous year. As Alice, Vic and Mandy had planned, they made their shopping trip to Boise over Tuesday night. It was a cool and cloudy trip, with scattered rain showers, but nothing to really make the drive difficult. After a quick lunch, they started their exploration of bridal shops.

   Vic chose what appeared to be the largest store, just because they might have the most variety to check out. Entering the store was a revelation. She didn't think she'd ever seen so much white in one place.  There were mannikins in full wedding regalia in the window, and several more in strategic corners of the sales room. Looking down the hall into the next area, there were rows and rows of dresses, hung up in what seemed to be a never-ending line.

   "It's pretty overwhelming, isn't it?" said a sales lady about Alice's age. "I think every bride who comes in here probably has the same first impression, and the same question - how can I possibly find my special gown in all of this? But it's here. I know it is. We just have to separate it out from all the rest."

   "You make it sound easy," said Vic.

   "Oh, no. I don't mean to do that. We're talking about getting you ready for one of the most significant days of your life. It's worth a little effort, isn't it? But I'm here to help."

   The sales woman introduced herself as Mrs. Charlotte Brown, the owner of the shop. "To get us started, let's' cover the basics. Can you tell me the date, time of day, location, and the level of formality of the ceremony? Just to give me a little idea of what things will look like in context."

   "We're still in early planning," Vic began, "But Mom...?"

   "Sure. As Vic says, we're still just figuring things out. We just lined up the hall, so only have a sketchy idea of how it will be set up. We'll be indoors, in the community hall. It's a fairly new building, lots of light wood paneling, lots of windows, not much ornamentation. Flowers lining the way up to the ceremony area..."

   Mandy interrupted. "Even though it's going to be inside, what about an arbor or arch to showcase the ceremony? Maybe we could find one, or many Tim could make one especially for the wedding."

   "I think that's a great idea, Sis!" said Vic. "So, anyway, that's pretty much all we know, so far. We expect the date to be Saturday, July 23, in the early afternoon. Mandy will be my only attendant. Greg will have Tim, his best man. We'll probably have a dozen family members - parents, grandparents, siblings. We've grown up in the area, so we know a lot of people from school and the community. Our invitation list might include up to 50 more. We won't have a meal, afterward - just the cake, and beverages. We might have a little dancing, but the music would just be from a record player."

   Mrs. Brown continued. "Thanks. That narrows things down quite a bit. Do you have any specific things you're looking for in your dress?"

   "I have some pictures in my head, but I don't know how well I can describe them, and don't know where to start."

   "That's not a problem. I can get us started with some questions, like the length of the gown you'd like. Since your wedding isn't 'formal,' we have a number of options. First, you have the floor-length gown. It really is floor length in the back, but a little higher in the front so you don't trip over it, if you happen to look down while you're walking.  Your shoes will  peek out a bit in the full-length.

   "By the way, how tall is Greg?"

   "He's a pretty big guy, probably a little above average. Maybe an inch over six feet?"

  "So, with your height, and wearing kitten heels, you'll only be three or four inches shorter than him. That will make a very nice picture at the altar.  

   "So, anyway, next in formality is what is called tea-length, which you might be familiar with. It stops just short of the ankles, maybe a couple of inches above. Your whole shoes will show, and some stocking. Then, there are a variety of less formal lengths that show more of your legs."

   "Well, Greg likes my legs..."

   "So do other people," Mandy observed.

   Vic looked at her. "What do you... Oh, you're talking about my speech class." She laughed. "Well, the only one who matters is Greg, and since he can have a private viewing at any time of the full extent of my limbs, I don't think we need to consider him in this case. I think the full length gown would be most elegant and wedding-y."

   "I think with your height and slim figure, that's a great choice. Now, what about the fullness of the skirt? Again, thinking about your slimness, you would certainly look very nice in a gown with a slightly narrower silhouette."

   "My prom dress had almost a sheath skirt, and I think it was flattering."

  "Yes, I'm sure it was. I wasn't actually thinking of a sheath, but perhaps an A-line or a six-gored skirt. At the other end of the spectrum would be more of a ballgown style,  with a hoop skirt or multiple petticoats for a lovely bouffant effect, but I don't sense that's what you're really after."

   "No, I don't think so. I'd like some form, but I don't think I want lots of petticoats. I would like enough fullness and stiffening to hold the skirt out away from me, and let me swish it around a little when I move. I guess I want to be more girly than formal, but not too girly."

   Mrs. Brown smiled. "Yes, I think I know what you're getting at. Now, what about a train? Have you considered that?"

   "You mean ten feet long, trailing behind me, with a dozen small children carrying it?"

   The women all laughed. "Well, they do make them like that," said Mrs. Brown, "But for a wedding like yours, I was thinking more of just an extension of your gown skirt, which trails maybe a foot or two on the floor behind you. It adds interest and a little touch of regal-ness to the back of the skirt, and also gives it extra motion. It will also make you look even a little bit taller than you actually are. After the ceremony, you'll be able to bustle it up, with hidden buttons we'll measure for during your fitting, and you'll be able to mingle very comfortably without the juvenile entourage." 

   "I like the sound of all of that!  I think a short train would be very nice."

   "Well, this is a good start. Have you thought about what kind of a neckline you favor?"

   "I'm sure I don't want a vee-neck, but I would like to show some skin - something to emphasize my neck or my shoulders."

   "Well, there are various types and depths of scoop necks to choose from... and a boatneck would emphasize nice shoulders like yours. Do you have any thoughts about those options."

   "I'm not sure."

   "That's okay. I can pull out several examples for you to try. Let's touch on two more details before I pick some gowns for you. It's a summer wedding, so how do you feel about sleeves? More sleeve tends to look more formal, and sometimes more grown-up, as well. But there are pretty sleeveless and short-sleeved styles available, also."

   Vic thought a moment. "I think I'd be willing to be a little bit warmer and look more formal than being sleeveless. And a lot of short sleeves are a little too 'baby doll', sometimes. Don't you two think so?" Alice and Mandy agreed.

   "The other important thing that will narrow down the options is if you have any preference in fabrics." 

   "I'd like some lace. That seems like a very bridal thing. I also don't think I want a stiff or heavy dress. That doesn't sound comfortable, or like me."

   "I think I can pick out some dresses you might like, based on what you've told me, so far. While I'm doing that, feel free to look over the store displays, and maybe gel some of your ideas about what you like or don't like."

   After browsing for a while, Vic said, "Obviously, they're all lovely, but almost all of them have a lot more dress than I've been thinking about. You know, I'd like less petticoats and more of me."

   "I think you made that pretty clear," replied her mother. "I bet she brings out something quite different than these, in that respect."

   The women had gravitated over to the racks of bridesmaid dresses, when Mrs. Brown reappeared.  "Here's what I've done. I've selected four gowns with similar silhouettes, but each has a little different neckline, sleeve style, trim or fabric. They're waiting in the dressing room on the right. Go down and look them over. Try on any that you like, and note what you like more, or like less, about each one. Any that you consider in the running, wear up here, where we can all get good looks at you in them, and we can talk more about the pluses and minuses.

   "You said you wanted some volume and flounce, but not a lot of extra material. So, I picked out gowns that have a taffeta skirt to make a soft rustling when you walk, with petticoat netting sandwiched between that and the lining skirt to give some structure. 

   " If you don't have any immediate questions, go take a look. Your sister can help you get in and out of the various gowns, if she'd like to do so. You'll definitely need someone's help."

   As they started to  walk away, Mrs. Brown called after them. "Mandy, when you help your sister get into each dress, you only need do every other button. That will go a lot faster, but still show us the bodice fit."

   In the dressing room, two gowns were hung on fancy metal hooks on the back wall, on either side of a mirror, and another gown was hung on each of the side walls. A little velvet-covered bench  and a coat tree completed the furnishings of the little room.  Mandy immediately walked up to the gown on the left wall, but Vic stood in the center of the room, and eyed them all with a contemplative look. Mandy was just getting to the third gown selection, when Vic declared that she was pretty sure she'd found her dress. "But let's look at all of them carefully, and decide which are worth trying on."

    As they had been told, all the gowns were sort of variations on a theme. Vic immediately rejected one that had a rather pronounced scoop neckline, and otherwise just looked a little plain to her. That left three in consideration. One was a boatneck, with a modest vee in the back. The two others had a wide scoop neckline that showed a narrow area of exposed flesh almost to her shoulder blades. The boatneck was all Chantilly lace, bodice and skirt, with taffeta underneath, and satin bias binding at the neck and  unlined elbow-length sleeves. One scoop-necked gown had chiffon over taffeta, unlined wrist-length sleeves, and 4- or 5-inch Chantilly lace edging around the neck, wrists, and hem.   The last had Chantilly lace fabric over the entire bodice, a chiffon skirt over the taffeta, unlined lace sleeves that extended just past the elbow, and 3- inch Chantilly edging at the neckline and hems of the sleeves and skirt. 

   Vic wore the chiffon scoop-neck into the showroom. Alice liked it,  and suggested that a string of pearls would be a nice enhancement to the rather plain front. Mrs. Brown suggested, since all the gowns were similar, they talk about hair style and veils.

   "Right now, most women with long hair like yours are choosing to wear it up in a coil or twist."

   "I have to buck fashion on that," declared Vic. "I love my long hair, and so does Greg. It needs to be down."

   "In that case, I'd suggest a veil that was light and airy, and maybe a little longer than your hair. Just a layer or two of fabric."

   "That sounds nice. Are tiaras still popular? I've wanted one since I was a little girl."

   "I think that would be a good touch for you. I've always liked them, too. They add kind of a fairy tale touch to almost any gown. Are you going to try on some other dresses?"  

   "I have two others."

   "Well, while you're getting ready with the next one, I'll bring out some veils and tiaras, so we can try them with a gown."

   Back in the dressing room, after Mandy had helped Vic extricate herself from under the chiffon gown, she next donned the boat-necked Chantilly dress.

   "I was pretty sure you were going to save the other elbow-length one for last," Mandy observed. "Is that the dream gown?"

   "I think so, but I can't really know for sure until I see it on me, with veil and such.. I'll take a little time to ponder it, but I'm pretty sure that's the one."

   The second gown was also a hit with Alice. "Chantilly lace is so classic, and the satin edging is simple, but elegant. And don't you love it on the arms, where the Chantilly is just left to itself. Doesn't it give a nice pattern effect? The elbow-length sleeves are also so practical for a summer wedding." 

   While Vic had the gown on, they tried several different lengths and thicknesses of veils. Vic preferred the longer, lighter ones. She fell in love with a rather simple tiara, that seemed a perfect match for her girly expectations. Since the third gown had less pattern than the all-Chantilly one, Vic was thinking that the veil and tiara selections that were good for this gown should also be good for the other. Vic had been right from the start, about which one she'd choose, but she thought she'd put off a decision for a bit.

   "Mom, let's take a little break, so I can let what we've seen so far sink in a little. I'll pop back into my own clothes for a while, so we can look at dresses for Mandy. I don't want to trounce  around the store in what might be my -- or someone else's -- dream gown."

   While they waited for Vic to return, the shop phone rang. Mrs. Brown said, "You saw the bridesmaids' gowns on your way in, I'm sure. Please feel free to browse and try on anything you like. If there's anything I can help you with, I'll be right back."

   The three started looking through the racks of pretty pastel gowns, chatting about what they were seeing. Alice turned to Vic, and asked, "What about dress color?"

   "I guess we haven't really talked about it, Mom. Mandy, what I was thinking would look nice with your blond hair would be a baby blue, or maybe a sea green, dress. You remember the color of my negligee?"

"Vic, anybody who has ever seen your negligee remembers it vividly."

   Vic made a face at her. "I was thinking about the color, not the gown. Maybe that, or just a little lighter shade?"

   "It would look nice, but I think maybe I'll leave the mermaid color to you, and go for the baby blue. I think that's more me."

   "Is there anything you'd like better?"

   "No, I like blue - a lot."

   Alice had been looking through the racks. "There are a number of pretty blue frocks here, certainly. There are a couple of two-piece dresses, which have Chantilly details." 

   Vic came right over to her mother, thinking about the wedding gown she hadn't tried on yet. "I think those might be very good options. Mandy, why don't you try these two on?"

   As Mandy was walking to the dressing rooms, Mrs. Brown returned. "Have you considered gloves for Mandy?" she asked. "White gloves are very fashionable right now." Mandy turned, her eyes lit up, and she looked like she wanted to clap her hands, except they were full of baby blue dresses. "Could we, Vic? White gloves would be wonderful. I never thought of that!"

   "Sure, I agree that would be a really classy touch."

    When Mandy came out modelling a baby blue sheath dress with a lacy jacket and white gloves, they all agreed she looked amazing. Mandy asked her sister, without any suggestion of foreknowledge, "Do you think this will match your gown?" Alice gave a look from one daughter to the other, and Vic merely said, "Yes, Mandy, I think it might be just right. We'll see for sure tomorrow, when I'd like to come back and make my final selection.

   "Mrs. Brown, would it be possible for you to set aside the last gown for me, just until then?" She smiled and said she thought that would be fine. They thanked her for all of her help, and left.


 "Did you girls want to go to a movie tonight?"

   Vic looked at Mandy, who nodded. "Sure, if there's a good one. I saw a newspaper down in the lobby. Let me go down, and see what our choices are."

   She came back after a few minutes. "Unless you want to see Tarzan or Frankenstein, it looks like our best bets are 'The Ten Commandments' or 'Born Free.' The first is the blockbuster filming of the bible story - supposed to be very impressive. 'Born Free' is about the lion that the couple raised - Elsa. They say it's a nice story, and a nice filming of it."

   "I'd go with the lions," said Mandy.

   "I think so, too," Alice agreed.

   "Okay, we go see lions. It starts at 7 o'clock. It's too bad it's not tomorrow night. 'Cat Ballou' starts then. You remember I told you how much fun that was? The only  trouble would be that it'll be playing at a drive-in, and they're predicting thunderstorms tomorrow night."

   "There's nothing wrong with storms at a drive-in," Alice observed. "That is, if you're with the right person."

   "Mom, what are you suggesting?" asked Vic. "I've never been to a drive-in, but I have heard stories about what happens at them - with the right person."

   Alice smiled. "Remember, I wasn't always the ageing mother of two grown daughters. I have had a little experience with drive-ins. Actually, there are two different kinds of drive-in experiences. One is  that you load up a car with all your friends - I don't know what they do now, but it used to be that you just paid for the car, not the number of people in it. If the movie was good, you all enjoyed it. If it wasn't - or it if was interrupted by the weather - then you ate popcorn, and told stories, and just had a good time until the movie came back, or it ended."

   "So, what was the other experience?" Mandy asked.

   "That involved just going with a date. If the girl was smart - or at least knew what going to the drive-in implied - she wouldn't go on a first date with anybody. The boys seemed to think that the words 'drive-in' and 'romance' were synonymous, and a girl was pretty naive if she didn't know that. Therefore, if you didn't want to spend the movie fending off the amorous advances of your date, you only went with somebody whose amorous advances would be welcomed.

   "Most drive-in romance was pretty tame, I think, just kissing and cuddling during intermissions or when the movie got boring - or sometimes when the movie got romantic. However, there was lots beyond kissing that could go on in the dark, in the privacy of your own car, and I'm sure it did."

   "So," asked Vic, "Your drive-in adventures were before Daddy?"

   "Actually, most of them were with Daddy. There were a few before."

   "How did we get all the way through high school without the drive-in experience?" Mandy asked.

   "I'm not sure. I think both your father and I were praying that neither of you would learn about either the pleasures or the pitfalls of the drive-in until you were about 25."

   There wasn't time before the movie for a fancy meal, but they found a very nice pizza place. (Vic missed her glass of red wine, but didn't mention it.) They saw "Born Free," and all rated it very good. They had known a little of the story, but didn't know that Elsa had been released back to the wild in Africa. She was surviving on her own, which was considered quite a feat because she had lived her whole life with humans, and had to learn all the basics of being on her own.

   There was a thunderstorm in the night.


   They arrived at the bridal shop shortly after it opened. On the previous day, there had only been one other party looking at dresses, so there hadn't been any conflicts with  using the changing rooms, viewing the dresses, and such. Within the first hour on Wednesday, there were four parties all vying for space and attention.

   The gown Vic had asked be set aside for her from the previous afternoon was waiting for her, so she was able to try it on fairly quickly. Mandy helped slip it over Vic's head, did some of the buttons, then stepped back and looked  at the effect. She was quiet for a few moments, then said   "Yes, I think this is it." Vic just smiled, and nodded.

    With the big decision made, Mrs. Brown took Vic back into the dressing rooms to pin her gown for alterations. There wasn't much to do, since the skirt length was fine in front. "A benefit of being a taller girl," she told Vic. With just a couple of small adjustment to the bodice seams, and measuring to add the bustle buttons, her gown would be perfect. 

   During Vic's fitting, Alice and Mandy browsed the mother-of-the-bride dresses, but Alice finally said, "These are lovely, but my thought is that I could probably make my own dress, and it would look fine. It would cost less, and we might have a wider selection of colors and fabrics in yardage than these." Mandy agreed. 

    Mrs. Brown came out at that moment and asked if Mandy was ready to be fitted, and when they would like to schedule final fittings and gown pick-up.

   "It's hard to get all three of us together to come over from Magic Valley," Alice began. "I'm quite a good seamstress, and Mandy's alterations won't be any problem for me. I think we'll just take her dress home with us, now. I know I could do Vic's, but it's obviously a little more complicated, and I'd rather have you do the work here."

   "Mom,' Vic began,  "I have a suggestion. Greg and I will be coming back from California in two weeks, and I think he plans to come home this way. Could I stop then, do the final fittings, and pick up the gown?" she asked Mrs. Brown.

   "That would be fine. It would be best to make a specific appointment."

   "We can do that. I'll just have to clarify our timetable with Greg. Of course, when we're here, I'll have to keep him out of the shop, and also not let him see anything when I put it in the trunk of the car."

   "That should be interesting," said Mandy.

   Being finished at the bridal shop before 11 o'clock, they returned to the motel, checked out, found a sandwich shop with a good selection, and ate a quick lunch. The trip home was uneventful. There were a few light showers and some wind around Mountain Home, then more showers at Twin Falls, but nothing to slow them down. They were home before five.

   Alice called Chuck at the refuge that evening, to report on their adventures to date. Chuck hadn't heard anything Tuesday about a wedding official, but the mayor had called that morning to confirm that he'd be happy to do the job on July 23.

   "Well, that will be a load off Vic's mind. I know it makes me feel a lot happier, to have that settled."

   "So, the shopping went well?"

   "Oh, it went great. Vic and Mandy both picked out their gowns, and they're both really lovely. I brought Mandy's home with us because the alterations will be pretty simple, and no trouble for me. I could probably have done Vic's too, but it's just enough more complicated  that it's probably best she goes back over for a final fitting there. She and Greg will have to figure out when.

   "We're going to see how much of the basic wedding planning we can get done tomorrow - a guest list, decisions on flowers, etc. - then we'll come out to the refuge about quitting time. Is there anything I can bring? Any food?"

   "No, my wife keeps my larders well stocked. I don't need more unless you intend to bring the whole town with you."

   "Hah hah. See you tomorrow."


     The Anderson women started out Thursday morning developing an invitation list for the wedding. At 10 o'clock, they had their ear piercing appointment with Dr. Tyler.

   "A month or so ago, I would have been surprised to get your call," said the doctor. "Now, it seems like everybody wants their ears pierced. I can squeeze in my 'regulars,' like you, but I could easily run out of time for real doctoring, if I took every request. I think it's the same for other doctors, too. If the fad, or craze or whatever it is, continues, there are going to be some full time jobs for professional ear piercers.

   "Right now, I'm happy to do what I can, because there's a lot of 'do it yourself' going on, and it can be a little dangerous. I mean, you are causing an injury to your skin, and that can lead to infection if not treated properly."

   "The women at college have 'piercing parties'," Vic offered. "A bunch get together, and pierce each other's ears.  I went to one, but I wasn't ready to have mine done. I think it's pretty safe, although it's pretty grisly, too - I mean, as safe as it can be, in a dorm room with a lot of silly girls acting even sillier than usual.

   "They put ice cubes on their ear lobes to numb the area, then sterilize a needle with a match, and just plunge the needle into the numb area. Well, 'plunge' isn't really the right word, but they have to push pretty hard. They put a potato behind the ear to stiffen the area, and to receive the needle as it goes through. They put an earring in the hole immediately, to hold it open."

   "That's about what I've heard, too, although I have heard of them clamping the ear with clothespins, rather than using ice. That doesn't sound quite as effective. I wonder how women get the directions to begin with, and how they spread so quickly to everybody.

   "This particular procedure is one we family doctors don't train for, so we're just trying to adopt standard medical practices. I suppose we'll get better at it. In concept, what the women are doing isn't too bad, and really not too much different than I'll do. The part I worry about the most with the 'do-it-yourselfers' is the follow-up. Are they doing enough to keep the site from getting infected? Here in the office, we can take better precautions.

   "Well, let's do it. Who's first?" Mandy volunteered.

   "Now, as I said, what I'm going to be doing isn't really that different from the 'piercing parties.' Right now,  I'm going to carefully clean your ear lobe. Then, I'm going to mark a little spot on each ear, exactly where I want the needed to go. Finally,  I'm going to inject a little novocaine into each ear lobe, like your dentist would use to numb your gums. Ice isn't a bad way to numb the ear lobe, although it takes a while, and is a little messy.  Alice and Vic, why don't I get you all ready at the same time? The procedure only takes a couple of minutes.

   "When the novocaine is working, you'll probably feel the needle a little bit, but probably more the pressure than the real stick. I'll make the holes, and we'll immediately put the earrings in place. And then we'll be done!

   "Of course, it's the needle and the care afterwards that are the real issues, and the ones that are hard to control outside of the doctor's office. Soaking a needle in alcohol or peroxide really doesn't do anything to sterilize it. I have a little machine - an autoclave - that I put my needles in. When I turn it on, the needles are treated with pressurized steam that kills bacteria, mold, and all the other contaminants that could cause infection when you break your skin with a needle.

   "So, Mandy, are you ready? Does your ear lobe feel numb?"

   "I think I'm ready."


    Mandy jumped a little when she felt the needle in the first ear, but didn't even move when the second ear was done. The studs were inserted, and Dr. Tyler quickly moved on to Vic, and then to Alice. None of them felt more than very minor discomfort. He examined each ear in turn.

   "I think I did pretty well. We haven't had much instruction in this, so we're kind of learning as we go along. You were among my early Guinea pigs. The two things we were told to pay particular attention were that the holes were placed slightly higher than the center of the earlobe, and that we got the needle going straight, and not at an angle. The first, of course, is so the earrings sit properly. The second is partly because of the earring placement, but more because a slanted hole doesn't heal as properly.

   "Now, when you leave here, there's still important work to be done, and this is the part that worries doctors the most about home piercings. Two or three times a day, you need to moisten the earring and the area around it with alcohol or peroxide. This helps prevent infection. Applying a little antibiotic cream around the earring is also a good measure.  Finally - and this important - you need to manually turn the earring regularly. You don't want the hole to heal over too quickly, and turning the ring will keep that from happening. You need to keep this up for about two weeks, before you stop the treatment and change to other earrings.

   "You could experience a little discomfort - after all, I have been making holes in your skin! - but it should be fairly minor. An aspirin might help if it's a little too bothersome, but it should get better every day. I don't think you'll need to see me again, but if you're concerned at all, I'll be happy to check you over."


   Nobody was feeling too bad from the procedure, so they stopped on the way home, and treated themselves to burgers, fries, and shakes. They spent the afternoon making out a guest list, and talking about some of the other things that needed to be done.

   "What about wedding photos?" Mandy asked.

   "I'd been thinking about that. Bobby Cuso would be a good choice, if he's available. He doesn't advertise himself as a professional photographer, but I've seen some of his work, and it's very good. And he's on our guest list. We could keep it in 'the family'."

   Alice agreed that sounded like a good solution. Vic put it on her list to ask him soon.

  At about 4 o'clock, they all piled in the car, and headed for the refuge. Tim was just leaving for the day, but stayed long enough to get hugs from all three Anderson women. He sounded like he was looking forward to the mist-netting session. Chuck and Greg were just wrapping up in the office. Chuck, Alice and Mandy retired to the residence, while Vic accompanied Greg over to his house, where they shared a little mutual welcome before joining the others.

   With contents from both Chuck's and Greg's refrigerators combined, a pretty hardy meal was concocted. Afterward, Chuck announced that he had some news to share. They all assembled in the living room.

   "Allie and I talked last weekend, and we decided that I would tell Mac that we were accepting the move to Idaho Falls."

   All was quiet for a few moments. "Well," Vic finally said, "I guess that isn't a major surprise to any of us, but it's nice it's decided. That is, if that's what you  both really want."

   "It is," replied Alice. "It sounds like a really good job for Chuck, and I'll be able to enjoy refuge living again, without the terrible isolation. We still have lots of time to retire in North Dakota, and this gets us a day closer to our families there. And, of course, it keeps us close to you girls, too."

   "About that," asked Vic, "Is anything clarified about Greg's position?"

   "Not completely," said Chuck, "But I'm pretty sure I know what Mac has in mind. I talked to him earlier today, and it sounds like Dan - the assistant at Idaho Falls - has a pretty sure-fire chance at a refuge job in Illinois. If so,  he'll be gone before winter. I think - and I'm still guessing a little, because Mac no doubt  has a number of irons in the fire - that as soon as Dan gets his paperwork,  Greg, you'll get a promotion to assistant manager in charge of Magic Valley. You'll likely be expected to stay there until around Thanksgiving, when we go to caretaker status, and then will transfer up to be with me at Idaho Falls."

   Greg looked over at  Vic. "Well, that sounds like it would work well for Vic and me." Vic nodded. "But what happens if Dan doesn't get the Illinois job?"

   "Again, some guessing involved, but I think Mac will still bring you up to Idaho Falls in November, and I'll have two on-site assistants until Dan transfers, or you come back here in March to take over this management for another year."

   "Well, that wouldn't be too bad, either."

  "It means we can go ahead with my schooling this fall, as we've been planning," said Vic.

  "And," said Mandy, "It means that I can make my decision to start at ISU this fall, since you'll all be somewhere in the vicinity."

   "That's excellent, Mandy! We can room together, and maybe get a three-student room with Nancy, if she wants to."

   "Well, it sounds like we're all happy with the long-term prospects, as we understand them. What about tomorrow, Greg? Anything we need to get ready?"

   "No, I don't think so. Matt will bring all the banding equipment with him. I'm go over in the morning, and make sure both houses are ready to receive visitors. They may all want to cram into the bunk house, but I thought I'd give them the option of spreading out to mine, if they wanted to. We have enough Army cots that everybody can have some kind of bed - although the floor may be just as comfortable as those cots.

   "I figure we'll just plan to get to the diner around 11 o'clock, and maybe have a little time to visit with Cora and Jackson before the college contingent arrives. We'll eat lunch, do a little logistical planning with everybody there, then come back here to set up the nets."

   "Sounds good."

    It was still early. The women went off to do some more wedding planning. Greg and Chuck settled down with the newspaper Alice had brought with her.

   "Damn!" exclaimed Greg, as he put aside the page he was reading. "I'm really losing all respect for LBJ - and he definitely needs to get a better speech writer."

   "What now?" asked Chuck.

   "You remember a while back, he made that pronouncement that he was going to bring all 'our boys' safely home from Viet Nam - ignoring the fact that there are a whole lot of them already who aren't coming home, and there are likely to be a lot more.

   "Well, now he's telling us that we need to be patient with the Viet Nam situation, because remember -wait, let me read you his exact words - remember 'that it took 13 years after the Revolution for the United States to become a nation with a president.' My God, he's comparing establishing the United States to this tussle in the jungle, with a country that isn't really even a country! I can't believe it!"

   "It does seem a little 'apples and oranges,' doesn't it?”

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