They started gathering around noon. By 2 p.m. there were more than 2,000 youngsters surrounding the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, waiting for the arrival of David McCallum (TV's Illya on "The Man From UNCLE"), and maybe, oh maybe! Robert Vaughn, too.
The occasion was the wedding of McCallum and Cedarhurst socialite Katherine Carpenter last Saturday. A carefully guarded secret for two months, news of the wedding had leaked to the press just one day before it took place.
McCallum arrived at 2:15 p.m. with best man Don Williams (brother of TV star Andy Williams) and several ushers. The crowd rushed to the side door as the limousine drew up. Too late. Guarded by a chain of policemen, "Illya" was whisked into the church before the kids could get to him. The crowd moved back to the front of the church, disappointed, but hopeful.
A few minutes later Robert Vaughn arrived escorting a beautiful blond girl. Could it be Joyce Jameson? It could. Smiling, waving and blowing kisses Vaughn and Miss Jameson moved up the steps and into the church, as police formed a human chain to keep back the shouting, cheering youngsters.
Then came the flower girl and bridesmaids, all in apple green gowns with white flower head-dresses and, at long last, the bride. Dressed in a white, full-length gown of re-embroidered lace with chapel train and lace mantilla, the bride was escourted into the church by her father, lyricist Edward Carpenter.
The wedding ceremony was performed by the Reverend William Donohue, pastor, who is celebrating his 35th year of ministry this month. A few athletic boys tried to scale the church walls to peek in the windows. They were quickly hauled down by police.
At 3 o'clock it was all over, at least for the bride and groom. The doors opened; the crowd screamed; McCallum, dapperly dressed in formal wedding clothes, managed a quick smile then rushed his bride down the steps and into the waiting limousine, while the police formed a human chain to keep back the shouting, camera-clicking youngsters. Across the street the kids broke through Fire Department ropes to surround the car for a last glimpse of their hero.
Members of the wedding party and guests were momentarily trapped on the steps of the church until police re-set the barricades and restored order. The limousine moved off but the crowd remained, waiting for that other "Man From UNCLE" to emerge. Meantime, cars pulled up, members of the wedding party hustled into them, and the crowd grew restive.
When Robert Vaughn appeared kids screamed, barricades went down and at least 15 policemen formed a flying wedge to get him out of the church and into the car.
Several minutes later, when police had managed to clear the street, "Napoleon Solo" drove off and the crowd began to disperse. Wedding guests were able to reach their cars and drive away. One lone bridesmaid who had somehow got left behind in the confusion was gently handed into the last remaining limousine.
Two thousand kids went home to tell their families about "Illya's" wedding. And one reporter went home thinking, "What price, fame?"
Note: A special word of praise is due to Valley Stream's Police, Auxilliary Police and Fire Departments who did a fine job controlling the crowd. They were good humored throughout, and kept excellent order among the kids. Auxilliary Patrolman DeNicolo deserves an extra word of thanks for supplying a pen to this reporter whose own pen ran out of ink at a crucial moment.