“On an eastern trip,” the Sunday newspaper reported, “are Mr. and Mrs. Frank Piccolo, who were married in a 1 p.m. ceremony. ... The bride is the former Miss Sherri Nash.”
Fifty years ago, brief wedding items in The World-Herald also included the names of the bridal party and the location of the church and reception. Pretty routine.
Ah, but for the Piccolos — who later founded Piccolo’s Florist in Omaha and soon will celebrate their golden anniversary — the wedding and honeymoon were far from routine.
In retrospect, funny. At the time, frustrating.
As Sherri recalls: “One crazy thing after another.”
They awoke to rain — weather records say a third of an inch — and when it stopped, Frank drove to a car wash. As he left, the clutch went out.
The repair shop next door was closed, but the owner was inside. Frank begged him to help a guy on his wedding day — he needed the car for the honeymoon!
Repairs were made, and Frank went home to get into his tux. The day was humid, and the temperature rose to 91.
At St. Peter Catholic Church, 2706 Leavenworth St., the air conditioning went out and the house of worship turned hellishly hot. “It felt like a million degrees,” Frank said. “We sweated through the Mass.”
The reception at the St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church hall also had no air conditioning. The layered wedding cake was sliding.
“We walked in,” the groom recalled, “and people said, ‘Take the pictures and cut the cake. It’s falling over!’ ”
A hot time was had by all, and the newlyweds waved goodbye. But the fun (ahem) had just begun.
The couple got into comfortable clothes and drove to Des Moines, where they had reservations at a newly opened hotel. Naturally, after what else had happened, their room wasn’t ready.
And when they left the next morning, the clerk didn’t know how to run a credit card. Frank stepped behind the desk and showed how.
Off they drove to Chicago, with a reservation at a hotel someone had recommended. It stood between two tenement buildings, and a clothesline stretched from their room’s balcony railing to an apartment.
“It was a terrible place,” Sherri says. “Really seedy.”
They could live with the clothesline, but not the rail line — an elevated train rumbled by every 20 minutes. The couple checked out the next morning and found a better hotel, but then a huge storm hit Chicago.
Sherri says it felt like someone was playing a joke on them. They cut the honeymoon short and headed home. Things had to get better, they figured, so they came up with a new plan.
With another couple who owned a boat, they drove to South Dakota, parked the truck and put into the upper Missouri River. Frank got a serious sunburn.
Another storm came through, and when they made it back to the truck, they saw law enforcement folks.
“The sheriff was there,” Frank explained, “and he said, ‘What were you crazy kids doing? We were looking for you. A tornado passed through last night.’ ”
By that time, the Piccolos figured they were pressing their luck, so they drove home. Said Frank: “We just threw in the towel.”
With such a start, what were the chances this union would last? But Frank and Sherri never threw in the towel on their marriage.
They call themselves “fixer-uppers,” because a friend had fixed them up on a blind date.
Frank graduated from Creighton Prep in 1965, Sherry from Mercy High in 1967. After taking her to a homecoming dance, he said, he never dated anyone else.
He attended Omaha University (now UNO), and spent seven years in the Army Reserve. He had started as a flower delivery guy at 16, and as a young adult worked for a florist.
He learned the craft and the business, and in 1981 founded Piccolo’s.
Frank has provided flowers for lots of other people’s weddings, as well as for such galas as the Aksarben coronation and ball. He also has decorated fundraisers at the zoo, creating jungle themes with tropical flowers and foliage.
He sold Piccolo’s in 1994, though it has continued under that name. He held other jobs, including six years as floral manager at Mulhall’s Nursery.
Piccolo’s switched ownership again, and seven years ago the current owners, part of a national concern, needed a general manager. Who better to run Piccolo’s Florist than Frank Piccolo?
So he’s back where he started, still providing flowers as he and Sherri look forward to a happy 50th anniversary on July 20.
They have suffered tragedy, too. They lost their liveliest flower, daughter Marla, 37, in a 2007 auto accident. They have remained close to her widowed husband, Steve Little, who married again last year.
“I was in the wedding,” Frank said. “I call him my son.”
They also have a son, Mike Piccolo, who lives in Des Moines.
No, the Piccolos didn’t enjoy a great honeymoon, but they have taken lots of other nice trips. Their marital journey continues.
The secret to a long marriage, Sherri said, is not a secret: “Always respect each other.”
And don’t get too discouraged if things don’t start well.
“We’ve had a lot of roadblocks,” Frank said, “but we’ve always dealt with them and found a way to get around them. And go on to the next thing.”