In 1985, I was the restaurant cashier at Katie's, Carson Valley Inn. Every day a good-looking, gray-haired gentleman that worked at Bently's would come in for lunch before he went to work. Sometimes, if I wasn't too busy with other customers, he would stop and chat with me for a few minutes.
Then I noticed that he started coming in on his days off or if he got off work before I did. He'd sit on the last bar stool at the bar, by my work area, and just watch me.
Finally, one of the slot people, Frank, introduced us formally. I guess you could say that we are old-fashioned in some ways - by not talking to strangers or accepting dates from people we don't know.
I had been a widow for three years, and the gentleman whose name turned out to be Rich asked me out for a drink after work.
So after work, I dashed home, changed my clothes and met Rich at the (old) Sharkey's South Bar.
We talked and talked for hours. Things were not going well for me in my hometown of 16 years, and I was preparing to move to my mother's in Paradise, Calif. Rich is from Iowa, and he was going to move back there shortly.
Strange, isn't it, how fate sometimes happens when you least expect it?
Before that first evening was over, Rich asked me to marry him.
I said, "Are you crazy? We don't even know each other."
We were together every day after that, and plans of moving away were forgotten. Rich sent me roses nearly every day at work, along with notes.
Finally, one note said that I had to make up my mind about marrying him or he would leave for Iowa if we had no future together.
He even pleaded his case with Frank, the slot man that introduced us. So what does Frank do? He gets on the public P.A. system and says, "For heaven's sake, Gayle, would you please marry Rich so we can all get some rest?" This went all over the casino, and people were laughing and looking at me, and then applauding.
Well, what is your answer? Good grief, I was so embarrassed. Of course, I said "Yes," and a cheer went up.
On April 17, 1985, my boss came up to me and said that I had the next three days off to prepare for a wedding - mine! It seems as though the entire crew at Carson Valley Inn had chipped in and paid for our wedding. All I had to do was find a dress and show up.
The dress is a story in itself. I searched all over town, Carson City and Reno, and just couldn't find anything appropriate. Finally a friend, Tony Watkins, who had the gift of being psychic, told me to go to Reno, near a ballpark, and there I'd find a dress shop. In that dress shop was a blue dress with some sort of beads on it.
Rich and I went to Reno. Near the Moana ballpark we found a bridal shop. There was a long blue dress, with seed pearls on it. It was a perfect fit and became my wedding dress.
The wedding took place April 20, 1985. My son, Erick, gave me away. Rich had asked Erick for my hand in marriage, which may seem old-fashioned to some. But I thought it was so sweet of him to do.
My daughter, Lisa, was my maid of honor. Friends and family were there.
The ceremony took place in the chapel at the Carson Valley Inn. My fellow employees at the inn had paid for everything, including the chapel, reception afterward, with drinks and a beautiful wedding cake. Even a room for the reception and an overnight stay for us. They put our names on the outdoor marquee announcing our marriage.
One funny thing to note: As I started down the aisle, the cassette playing the wedding march broke, and everyone in the room hummed the tune while I walked. The photographer took a long time to take the pictures, and poor Rich and his brother Bill, the best man, were standing at the altar patiently waiting.
After the ceremony, in the cabaret the band played a special song for us and we danced alone while everyone clapped. It was a wonderful day.
We've been married 22 years now, but it seems like only yesterday.