‘That’s where we got mar­ried’

Af­ter 60 years, cou­ple re­new vows in dry cleaner park­ing lot

Texarkana Gazette - - SOCIETY - By Richard Chin

ROBBINSDALE, Minn. _ When Jim and Diane Cook re­newed their wed­ding vows af­ter 60 years of mar­riage, they had a min­is­ter, a flower girl and pro­fes­sional vi­o­lin­ists play­ing Men­delssohn’s “Wed­ding March.”

And the ro­man­tic venue? The park­ing lot of a dry cleaner in Robbinsdale.

It wasn’t be­cause they were wor­ried that some­one would spill some­thing on their clothes at the re­cep­tion.

It’s just that 60 years ago, be­fore it be­came the Pil­grim Dry Clean­ers, the cor­ner of 42nd Av­enue N. and Bot­tineau Boule­vard was where First Con­gre­ga­tional Church of Robbinsdale stood. That’s where Jim and Diane met and later got mar­ried on Aug. 30, 1958.

Jim Cook be­came a school­teacher and then a Pres­by­te­rian min­is­ter. He and Diane raised three chil­dren be­fore they re­tired in New Hope.

The church later moved and the old build­ing was de­mol­ished in 1965 and re­placed first by a gas sta­tion and later by the dry cleaner.

Some­times when the cou­ple would drive by, they would tell their chil­dren, “That’s where we got mar­ried.”

So as their 60th an­niver­sary ap­proached, their chil­dren hatched the idea of sur­pris­ing them with a vow re­newal cer­e­mony on the spot that now spe­cial­izes in get­ting spots out.

The dry clean­ing chain was happy to ac­com­mo­date.

“We’re just re­ally ex­cited,” said Pil­grim Dry Clean­ers mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Keona Tranby.

The Rev. Richard Buller, pas­tor at the Cooks’ cur­rent church, Val­ley Com­mu­nity Pres­by­te­rian Church in Golden Val­ley, agreed to per­form the cer­e­mony.

Fel­low church mem­bers Taichi Chen, a vi­o­lin­ist with the Min­nesota Or­ches­tra, and his wife, Robin Chen, also a vi­o­lin­ist, agreed to pro­vide the mu­sic.

“This is very spe­cial,” said Taichi Chen, of his first per­form­ing gig af­ter tour­ing with the or­ches­tra in South Africa.

“This is unique,” said Robin Chen.

The se­cret ar­range­ments made by the fam­ily in­cluded a dec­o­rated golf cart, be­cause once, af­ter per­form­ing a mar­riage on a golf course, Jim an­nounced in a church ser­vice that he wanted a golf cart in­volved if he ever re­newed his wed­ding vows.

“My face is hurt­ing from smil­ing,” said Lynne Oster­man, one of the Cooks’ daugh­ters, of the plan­ning for the event. “It’s just a hoot.”

On Thurs­day evening, Jim and Diane thought they were be­ing driven to an an­niver­sary din­ner. In­stead their other daugh­ter, Donna Philip­pot, pulled into the dry cleaner park­ing lot.

“My dad said, ‘Oh, is the dry cleaner go­ing to have a re­cep­tion for us?’ ” Philip­pot said. “I said, ‘Close.’”

Philip­pot had got­ten a white din­ner jacket and horned rimmed glasses for her fa­ther to wear to du­pli­cate the way he looked on his wed­ding day when he was 23. She got her mom a veil and lace gloves that Diane Cook re­mem­bered wear­ing as a 19-year-old bride.

They re­peated their vows in the park­ing spa­ces next to the front door, near the drive-through lane and the sign an­nounc­ing “Same Day Ser­vice.”

They were sur­rounded by about 18 friends and rel­a­tives and evening rush hour traf­fic, in­clud­ing some­one driv­ing by who shouted, “Con­grat­u­la­tions!”

Af­ter Buller an­nounced, “Diane, you may kiss the groom,” there was a touch of Christ­mas in Au­gust as the vi­o­lin­ists played “O Holy Night.”

The fam­ily is un­cer­tain why that carol was played at the orig­i­nal wed­ding. Maybe be­cause it was a holy cer­e­mony at night?

“Hu­mor and friend­ship,” Jim Cook said af­ter­ward of the se­cret to 60 years of mar­riage. “Can’t think of a day with­out be­ing with the per­son who makes your life whole.”

The cou­ple then rode the golf cart to a re­cep­tion din­ner at a nearby restau­rant while spec­ta­tors honked their horns.

“It was just as emo­tional as I thought,” said Donna Philip­pot.

It was also con­ve­nient. While prepar­ing for the park­ing lot cer­e­mony, Lynne Oster­man said she took the op­por­tu­nity to get some clothes dry cleaned.

“I just dropped some off,” she said. The dry cleaner em­ployee gave her a re­minder slip. But she said, “I’m pretty sure I’m go­ing to re­mem­ber this.”

Richard Chin/Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bune/TNS

■ Diane and Jim Cook af­ter re­new­ing their wed­ding vows Aug. 30 in the park­ing lot of a Pil­grim Dry Clean­ers lo­ca­tion in Robbinsdale, Minn., on their 60th an­niver­sary.

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