It was April 8, 1966.
The second day of the Masters Golf Tournament was being played.
It was Good Friday.
Time magazine’s cover story asked: “Is God Dead?”
I could answer the question the same way Billy Graham did: “No, God is not dead. I talked to him this morning.”
At about 4 o’clock that afternoon, I was driving my 1963 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport to Lula, Georgia. At 7 o’clock, I would be standing at the front of Lula Baptist Church as Henry Miller escorted his daughter, Shirley Ann Miller, down the aisle. He would put her hand in mine, shyly kiss her on the cheek, and take his seat beside his wife.
Shirley and I would say “I will” and “I do”—that’s about all, because we wanted to keep it short—and be joined together in holy matrimony. “What therefore God hath joined together,” Preacher Lefty Cronic said, “let no man put asunder.”
My brother, Kenneth, threatened to put me asunder because he had tickets to the Masters, and he was missing Day Two. I had nothing to do with setting the date, I told him. Fortunately, he showed up to be my best man.
The woman who directed our wedding was pretty persnickety and demanding. She had me blacken the soles of my new shoes so that they wouldn’t shine brightly when Shirley and I knelt at the altar. I thought it was a good thing to show everyone you bought new shoes for the occasion. Guess not.
Shirley, I’ll have to say, was a beautiful bride. She was tall and slender—she still is—with shiny, brown hair, a natural smile, and lovely, freckled hazel eyes.
Our wedding reception was simple but nice. And sometime around 8:30, we were off to Anderson, South Carolina, where we would spend our first night together. A couple of days later, we were in Washington, D.C. Some people prefer the beach; we like the Smithsonian.
We had a wonderful honeymoon. What’s not to like? It was a honeymoon. The trees around the capitol were blooming gloriously, and so were we.
Would I go through that ceremony again, if I had it to do over? Yes, I certainly would. I have made some bad decisions in my life, but that’s not one of them.
That’s not to say we’ve agreed on everything. We’ve had our moments. But, overall, we’ve been good for each other. We’ve encouraged each other; we’re both spontaneous at times; we’re not into mushy greeting cards; we enjoy traveling; we’re social beings, but also enjoy a night at home with a bowl of popcorn. We enjoy a good laugh together.
So 57 years have gone by since Mr. Miller put Shirley’s hand into mine. Fifty-seven years, two daughters, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild later, the Masters is still being played; Good Friday is still holy; God is very much alive. And the former Shirley Ann Miller and Edwin Philip Hudgins are still married.