Audrey’s Wedding Tales.

by

Audrey’s Wedding Tales.

By popular demand another great tale from Audrey – formally of East Leeds but now of Queensland, Australia. Audrey tells her tales superbly – I’m standing on the step with her reviewing the bride and her family in the back streets of East Leeds

Weddings were major events in our childhood.  Any wedding of neighbours, they didn’t have to be related to you was a cause for excitement.  Not so much if it was a male member of the family but if the bride was leaving from the family home we hung around outside the house early to watch all the coming and goings.  Relatives, friends, neighbours in and out of the house hours before the bride left to go to the church added to the excitement.  Mum, Auntie Maggie and Martha who lived next door to Maggie started out with the pretence of cleaning the outside window,  sweeping the pavement and then scrubbing the stone step outside the door.  It just happened they were all in the mood to add sparkle to the house, nothing at all to do with watching the procession of people at the brides house.  No one owned a car so everyone arrived on foot and most had to pass our house to get to the brides home.  Before the relatives started arriving friends and neighbours of the brides mother were running between their own place and the brides every few minutes.  Some with tea pots, others with a plate covered with a tea towel, children of these neighbours dispatched to run errands to the small shops for sugar, tea, bread as the supplies ran out.  Important things like nylon stockings, mens black socks, dress making straight pins the ladies took upon themselves.  Everyone forgot they had to have pins for the buttonhole carnations or the brides mothers ‘spray ’of flowers, usually two carnations and a bit of green fern.  This was wedding stuff important to the day so had to be right.  Mum, Maggie and Martha would say hello as the lady made to walk past.  She was on an important mission so a curt ‘hello’ back was all they got.  They waylaid her on the way back though.  “Everything going all right at number ???  She getting a bit jittery now?  Have you seen the dress yet?”  She couldn’t resist.  After all she was in the know and the rest of the neighbours wasn’t.

 “Mrs. ???? has just come back from the hair dressers, she looks smart. Mr. ???? hasn’t started to get ready yet and she’s going mad at him.  They’ll be lucky if they’re ready on time.”  Have you seen the dress?  “No, not yet, but by all accounts it’s lovely and everyone will be talking about it for ages.”  Off she goes at breakneck speed only to pass another neighbour on another mission to the corner shop.  Aspirin and sticking plasters (Band-Aids) New shoes had rubbed blisters, somebody else had a headache.  She also got waylaid on the way back.  Shop keepers didn’t put packaged items in paper bags so the 3 musketeers saw what was in her hand.  “O I hope nobody is poorly love.  What’s wrong with them?”  Important neighbour on mercy mission. “It’s nowt much.  Two of thum ‘ave got blisters wi’ new shoes an’ t’other got an ‘angover.  ‘Servers ‘im right, the silly beggar.  ‘is wife’s tol’ im if e spews she’ll kick is arse oll way ‘ome.’  Eager musketeers “Is it Mr.??? who’s got an ‘angover??”  They were informed it wasn’t Mr. ??? with the hangover because Mrs.??? would have killed him, it was his brother.   After she dashed off to administer relief of blistered feet and a thumping headache the 3 women with the cleanest pavement and doorsteps in the street passed comment.  The complete history of the bride’s family was discussed.  It’s been said often and it is really true the people who lived in terraced back to back houses were the salt of the earth.  Always, always someone to give a hand to absolutely anyone who needed it.  It made no difference if you’d spent most of your life rowing with your neighbours if they were in desperate need of help you gave it.  It also meant that everyone knew about everyone’s family history as well.

 From the cradle to the grave lots of people never lived anywhere else but the house they were born in.  My own Father was adopted by Grandma Coley as a baby.  Lived his entire life in the same house.  When Grandma died Dad took over and had his name put on the rent book.   He married mum and they lived there until his death in 1987.

The time for the approaching wedding was getting closer.  People were now running in and out of the house.  More relatives in their best clothes were arriving.  Auntie Maggie wanted to know if all of them were going to the church in the hired cars.  Mum said it would cost a fortune, Martha said they’d need a corporation bus.  Lots of laughing at the thought of a big green double decker bus coming into the street and everyone scrambling for a seat.  No more running to the corner shop.  Mum said it must be just about time for them to leave and we’d better get closer if we wanted to see anything.  As if someone had flicked a switch suddenly the street was filled with women and small children.  They gathered in small groups near the bridal home.  Out came various people dressed in their Sunday best.  The men in dark 3 piece suits; trousers, jacket and waistcoat all matching.  A gold fob watch in one waistcoat pocket with a gold chain fastened to a pocket on the other side of the waistcoat.  White shirt and dark coloured tie and a carnation button hole.  All wore black shoes and black socks.  The ladies all wore hats and gloves, flowery dresses, matching dress and coat or a 2 piece.  The 2 piece was a skirt and jacket of the same material and colour.  New shoes and handbags and carried in the crook of the arm like the Queen did.  They didn’t acknowledge anyone who’d come to gawk.  Noses tilted in the air, hand threaded through their husbands arm off they walked out of the street.  For all their airs and graces they were the ones who were not going in the hired cars and had to walk to All Saints Church,Richmond HillMethodistChurchor Mt. Saint Mary’s if they were catholic.  Relating all what happened is not because I was a child who took too much notice of what people were wearing it was the running commentary issued by Mum and all the other women scrutinising every thread, every style from top to toe of every wedding guest.  Plus more family history from the onlookers;  I remember when that one ran around with the yanks during the war; I remember her uncle getting carted away in the Black Mariah when he belted his wife; When they were little poor little buggers never got new clothes at Whitsuntide.  If these women had been invited to the nuptials none of this would have been mentioned of course.  None of us had any money; everyone of us had skeletons in the cupboard.  I found it very entertaining listening to all this information.  Of course when I asked questions later I was told to mind my own business I shouldn’t have been listening.  Lots of it was very funny.  Things that were related to blackouts, fire watching, rationing and pawn shops.  Uncle Walter, Maggie’s husband, had died years before.  At every wedding we went to watch she always said the same thing “It’s to be hoped the wedding ring is 24 carat gold.  You get more at the pawn shop if it is.  Mine spent more time behind the counter than it did on my finger.  Walter never knew the brass curtain ring I wore was not the ring he’d married me with.  Mind you he didn’t know his best boots spent all week in there as well and only came out Friday afternoons and was back in again Monday morning.”  Mum tried to ignore her but Maggie thought she was offering good advice.

We got a little bit closer when Billie Roberts big black Rolls Royce pulled into the street.  He was the undertaker but hired the cars out for weddings.  Everyone said sooner or later you got to ride in one of Billie Robert’s cars.  No one looked forward to riding in the first one which was longer than the rest, had windows down both sides and only room for one passenger.

The Roll’s stopped outside the house.  Out jumped the groomsman and knocked on the door.  The house door was opened.  Out stepped Mrs ??? with a regal smile and a nod to the onlookers.  Joining her in the car were other adults named by those in the know as Mrs.??? brother, married sister and husband and grand parents.  That car left with lots of waving from the gawkers and a Queen like wave from Mrs.????  The next car pulled into the street.  Same procedure by groomsman.  This time out comes 2 small little girls dressed in pink long dresses, yards of pink ribbons on their heads and carrying a small bunch of flowers with a silver paper doily round them which my Mum called a posy.  Two older, taller girls came out next with identical style dresses as the smaller girls wore only larger. They had a broad band of pink material like anAliceband holding their long dark hair off their faces and carried a posy of flowers. Two adult girls were next same style dresses but deeper shade of pink.  They both had short hair which was half covered with a pink feathered head dress my mother called it.  It wasn’t a hat as we knew hat’s to be, it sat very tightly across the crown and looked as if it wouldn’t be long before they had a thumping headache.  They carried a proper bouquet of flowers.  Lots of oooos and aaaahs from the crowd as they climbed into the waiting car.  As it moved away the car that had taken Mrs.??? and relatives came back.  We were all ready for the big finale.   Seemed ages for the bride to appear as we all moved to get a close look.  The door opened and a cry of, “Here she comes” from the crowd.  But she didn’t, the door closed again. Lot’s of, “What’s up” from the waiting throng.  A few comments of a bit late to change her mind now.  The door opened again, the groomsman came out.  Silence from the crowd.  Then the bride appeared minus flowers.  A lot of oooos and aaahs isn’t she lovely from everyone.  Couldn’t see her face as it was covered by the white veil.  She didn’t seem to want to leave the house.  A loud voice from the back yelled out “ Oi!  She can’t see the steps.  Give her a hand you useless lump.”  The groomsman, brick red in the face held out his hand.  She still didn’t move.  Voice from the back again “Lift the hem of the frock you big ninny.  Were going to be here all day.”  He moved the bottom of the dress so she could see the steps and rousing cheer from the crowd she got into the car with a smile on her face.  She waved enthusiastically to everyone and her Father got a big cheer as he held the brides bouquet in one hand and locked the house door with a large key in his other hand.  A big smile from him too and a relieved, “Thank God! I didn’t think we were going to get out of the house.  Better put your foot down mate or he’ll think she’s changed her mind and her mother will kill me.”  Lots of laughing, lots of cheering and kids running behind the car as it moved out of the street.

The crowd dispersed and we went back to Aunt Maggie’s house for a cup of tea.  Lots more discussion of who wore what and who was married to who and where were the newly weds going to live.  It didn’t take long before other weddings were discussed.

Grandma’s house inDevon Streetwas called a through terrace house.  She had a proper room and a proper kitchen at the back of the house.  Outside the kitchen door was a small concrete square with clothes lines strung across, the outside toilet and a coal cellar.  You could get into the coal cellar through a door on the inside of the kitchen.  Had to be kept locked at all times as anyone lifting the metal grate where the coal man tipped the coal into the cellar could slide it up and climb in.  All my life I never heard of anyone gaining access in that manner.  If anyone was intent of stealing anything they knew it would have to be in another area.  We were all in the same boat, nobody had anything worth pinching.  If ever I see green or maroon velvet now I think of my Gran’s scrubbed wooden table on Sunday afternoon with it’s velvet cloth.  I have no idea where they bought these prized possessions.  Probably given to her by her own mother.  Round the edges of the cloth was a lace type cord with either a tassel or a pom-pom every few inches, very ornate.  In the centre of the table was a glass bowl.  I think it was a fruit bowl but it was always empty. She also had the same type of velvet 12 inch wide cloth fixed to a brass rail under the mantel shelf over the black fireplace.   Gran didn’t believe in ‘new fangled’ things and wouldn’t have electric installed in the house.  She had a gas mantel for light in only the one room, a gas boiler in the kitchen for boiling the white clothes on Monday’s (washing day) in later years she also acquired a gas cooking stove.  The pantry was under the bedroom steps which led to 2 bedrooms.  Under the steps that led up to the attic in the front bedroom was a single bed.  Which ever one of us kids slept in it had to remember not to clout your head getting in or out of it.  I was scared if I had to sleep at Gran’s house.  You had to have a candle for any light and it cast shadows over everything.  A stern warning of not to touch the candle or holder or you’d tip it over and set fire to the house and we’d all die.  Can you imagine what child psychologists would do to any parent who uttered those words today?  You’d be in court before you drew your next breath.  Worked for us.  You wouldn’t dare touch a lighted candle.

The best thing about Grandma’s house was when there was a wedding in the street.  She lived halfway up the street .  Directly opposite was a street with only a few houses.  I never knew what it was called, everyone called it the short street and it led intoAscot Street.  We had a grand stand view of all the weddings amongst all those houses.  We sat at the front bedroom window and didn’t miss a thing.  Mr. & Mrs. Edwards lived directly opposite, they had 3 daughters and 2 sons.  The girls had lavish wedding dresses and was the talk of the neighbourhood for ages.  All the little girls wanted a dress like they had when they got married. 

We were so entwined with everyone’s lives in the 40s.  One family called Olbison lived 6 houses up from Gran.  They had sons, no daughters.  My eldest brother used to knock around with them and Mum was always questioning Alan what they got up to.  Same answer as kids today give “ Nuthin ”  If groups of kids were laughing she said they were getting up to no good.  Didn’t stop Alan from running around with a wild bunch as my Mum called them.  Years later after Alan was married he said all they ever got up to was playing in bombed out houses, playing near the quarry and getting thrown out of the Princess picture house for yelling too much.  They literally got chased out of theEasy Roadpicture house before they got inside.  At the pay box one of them asked for a ticket and a bug hammer.  The whole lot of them got chased upEasy Road.

As we grew older we didn’t see much of our cousins who didn’t live in and aroundEast EndPark.  They were working and only came to visit Gran a few times a year.  Uncle Dick, mum’s brother, and his wife Gladys had 3 daughters.  Absolute stunning looking girls.  All had flaming red curly hair.  American movies were all the rage and Mavis, the eldest fashioned herself on Rita Hayworth.  She was about 18 and the Olbison boys used every trick in the book to get her attention.  She called them juvenile delinquents, tossed her head and all that long red hair and walked away from them.  The boys hung round Grandma’s front door talking loud waiting for her to go outside.  What they got was Uncle Joe telling them to clear off.  Half an hour later they were back.  Mavis of course loving every minute.  Gran told Mum to go out through the back door and tell their father to call the boys home because the next time Joe went out he’d leather them.  Uncle Joe, also a red head, had a short fuse.  A few minutes later Mr. Olbison bellowed from his front door and the boys disappeared.  One by one the Olbison boys married except for Kenny.  He joined the army and wore a red beret.  As far as I knew he was in the army and that was that.  I had no idea about regiments, badges or coloured berets.  Home on leave Kenny pursued Mavis, they became engaged.  All my older cousins were getting married and at one of the weddings which was the only time the entire family met up as Kenny was almost a member he was invited too.  Goodness knows what happened but towards the end of the evening a fight broke out.  Mavis threw her engagement ring at him and stalked off.  I think she’d seen too many American movies.  Lots of family discussions of why it had happened.  Ken wasn’t involved with the fight but they thought some of the opposition male wedding guests had made a pass at Mavis.  Some of our family said she was a flirt, others said she was just a good looking girl.  Looking back now WAS she ever a good looking girl!  Never daunted, Kenny didn’t give up.  Twelve months later he became engaged to my cousin Norma.  A very attractive girl but quieter than Mavis.  Kenny was very handsome and loved the army life.  Norma expected him to give it up when they got married.  He was used to making decisions, telling other people what to do, exit engagement number two and he didn’t bother trying to marry into our family again.

One of the funniest wedding tales I heard was related by Auntie Maggie.  As I said Dad and his sister Maggie had lived all their lives inCharlton Place.  The particular wedding must have been in the early 1920s.   I’m not certain but I think the name was Booth.  Their daughter was getting married and Mr. & Mrs. Booth, like all parents wanted it to be a spectacular event.  As after the Second World War money was tight after the 1914-18 war.  All the neighbours helped out as best they could. 

Beryl, the bride-to-be wanted a white lace dress, bridesmaids, bouquets, a fancy wedding cake, wine and all the guests to wear their best clothes.  Wasn’t as if many of them had a choice.  They counted themselves lucky if they had a warm coat for the winter and shoes or boots for their feet.  Ingenuity, make do, beg, borrow or steal Mrs. Booth was going to do her upmost for her daughter. 

Maggie jumped the tale forward.

“It was a lovely wedding.  Beryl had the white lace, bridesmaids in pink, beautiful flowers, a big wedding cake on them little pillar things, even had wine and all them that was invited had nice clothes.”

I asked if no one had any money how did they manage to get all this lovely stuff.

“You’re not listening love.  I told you we had nowt and we had to make do with what we ‘ad so everybody helped and we made stuff ourselves.”

“I know you could make the clothes and the cake but it still takes money to buy material and flour, sugar eggs and stuff for the cake.  What about flowers, you can’t make them.”

“Didn’t have to, we borrowed them.”

“You mean borrow?  as in you stole them?”

“We didn’t steal anything!  I said borrow and Borrow them we did.  One of the neighbour’s daughters worked in a florists shop.  They had to make bouquets for a 4’o’clock wedding and as Beryl was getting married at 2 she said they could borrow them but make sure they were back in the shop before half past 3.”

“Did they borrow the wedding dress?”

“No Mrs. Booth made it out of lace curtains.  She took the curtains from the windows and made a frock.”

“What did they do at night time?  Everybody would be able to see into their house.”

“Used newspapers taped to the windows.  And before you ask the bridesmaid frocks were made the same way.”

“But you said they were pink. Did she have lots of curtains to be able to make everything?”

“She didn’t have lots of lace curtains but she had relatives and they all did the same as her, put paper on the windows.  She dyed them pink using the water she’d boiled beetroots in.”

“What about all the guests?  Where did they get clothes from?”

“Everybody lent them things.  If it didn’t fit it was pinned up or held in with a belt.  They were only going to wear them for a few hours it didn’t have to be perfect.  Mrs. Booth wore a lovely hat covered in flowers.”

“Who lent her that?”

“Not listening again.  She made it.  She used Mr. Booth’s bowler hat and made flowers out of the tissue paper that comes round oranges.  The man from the fruit shop gave them to her.  At the wedding one of the grooms relatives said she could smell oranges.  Mrs. Booth, quick as a flash said it was orange blossom in the brides bouquet she could smell.”  Mr. Booth wasn’t too happy; it took a long time before his bowler lost the smell of oranges.

I laughed like mad. Maggie could tell a good story.  It was like seeing it all in my mind.

I asked about the tiered wedding cake “She couldn’t have borrowed that.  They’d have all wanted to see them cut the cake and have a taste.”

She made the tale spin out but what they actually did was make a small fruit cake, put plain icing on it and slid it under the bottom tier of the “cake”. The 3 tiered wonderful effort on the sideboard was made out of stiff paper painted white.  The decorations were glued on white lace doilies.  A slit had been made in the bottom tier for the knife to go in and cut the small cake underneath. It had then been taken into the scullery to be cut into small pieces and handed round.  The small buns, tarts and sandwiches had been made by the neighbours and Mrs. Chester had provided the wine.  It was rhubarb and had been in her cellar for a long time.  Maggie said it must have been a good drop because they were all drunk by 8 ‘o’clock.

“So they all had a good time then?  It sounded as if everything went off like they planned.”

Maggie started laughing until tears ran down her face.  It would have been perfect if it hadn’t rained when they were walking back from the church.  The dye from the bridesmaid frocks started to run and they looked like melting ice creams by the time they got back here. 

My own wedding!!!  On the actual day it run pretty much true to form as all the previous weddings in the street had done.  Everyone made an excuse to pop in and out asking if we needed anything.  Remembering these houses were very small, packed with furniture, anymore than 4 people in the room at the same time and there was nowhere to move.   When it did happened at times Uncle Walt said somebody had to breathe in so others could breathe out. 

Weeks before Mum made countless lists.  Dictated what everyone had to do.  No one had telephones so lots of bus rides organising all the relations.   Not only our family but the grooms as well.  I didn’t want all the razzmatazz.  My youngest brother had got married 8 months before and we’d been through all this.  I wanted a register office wedding with just the immediate families having a nice meal at a hotel.  Explosion time!  For one thing I was marrying a catholic.  He was an only child.  His mother nearly fainted and I got a lecture on Catholicism.  My own Mother yelled and carried on “What would people think if you don’t get married in church?”  And God forbid if I got married in anything but a long white gown.  So what does a good daughter do?  If she wants to still speak to her family and not have it thrown in her face for evermore she gives in for peace and quiet.  John’s Mother insisted we get married in a catholic church or we wouldn’t be married in the eyes of the church and we’d be damned for ever.  Come hell or high water him and his family would crawl over broken glass to go to mass every Sunday morning.  Annie, his mother, wanted the ceremony at St. Anthony’s at Beeston.  Mum wanted it at All Saints onPontefract Lane.  The two mothers wouldn’t meet to discuss it.  It was a series of “Tell John’s mother this, this and this “ from my mum.  Annie said virtually the same only “Explain to your mother this, this and this.”  I suggested to John we elope and let them argue amongst themselves.  He didn’t see the funny side.  Mum said we could have two ceremonies.  The first at All Saints so all our neighbours could come and watch and then all go over to Beeston so Annie’s neighbours could come and gawk.  Both Father and future Father-in -law said it was ridicules; it would be like a travelling circus.  Mum was in a black mood, she didn’t get her own way.  Mum made the wedding gown and 4 bridesmaid dresses.   I don’t have a sister, neither did John.  Annie asked one of his cousins if she wanted to be a bridesmaid, she jumped at the chance.  I’d never met her.  My eldest brother’s daughter was 4 years old Mum said she could be a bridesmaid.  I said I wanted my friend Brenda.  Brenda was married and just fallen pregnant with her second child Mum said it wouldn’t be right having a pregnant bridesmaid.  I said I’d known a lot of pregnant brides and got a clip round the ear.  More dramas making the dresses.  Mum said it would look silly having an 18 year old bridesmaid and a 4 year old trailing behind me so asked the daughter of her friend who was a tall 14 year old.  Not to be outdone Annie said the 4 year old daughter of her niece would match my 4 year old niece and everything would balance for the photographs. 

The day arrived.  The last Saturday in February.  Had to have that date, the following Saturday was in lent and if we waited until after Easter we would miss out on the income tax rebate. 

I woke up at 7 a.m. with my mother’s voice telling Dad everything was going to be a disaster.  That’s a good start to what was going to be a long day.  Forever the drama queen, knowing Mum it wouldn’t have been anything we couldn’t cope with.  As I opened the door at the bottom of the bedroom steps she was going out the door “You’ll have to get a move on and help your Dad sweep up this mess” and she left.  Not being a morning person I didn’t answer back.  Dad was leaning over the fireplace “Give us a hand love.  We’ve got to clean this up before she brings the frocks from your Grandma’s “Eyes wide open now I saw the hearth covered in soot.  If the chimney wasn’t swept on a regular basis sooner or later great clumps came crashing into the fire grate and sent clouds of soot over everything.  Told Dad to put the kettle on while I plugged in the vacuum cleaner.  Everything had to be vacuumed, dusted and wiped over with a cloth even the slightest speck of soot left behind and it would have been a disaster.  The blushing bride?  I felt more like Cinderella.  Maggie and Martha came in asking if we needed anything.  Not to be outdone the neighbours across the road came in as well.  I said I was going to sell tickets if anybody else came.  The women left in a huff saying they hoped the fog would lift before 3’o’clock.   Dad told me not to be cranky and I wished we had eloped.  Dad lit a fire in the grate and we both had a cup of tea and a smoke.  Mum came in asking what the hell we thought we were doing sitting down there was too much to do to be sitting around.  I said I was going to have a bath to get rid of the soot I was covered in.  Not something I was looking forward to as the tin bath was in the cellar.  Dad said we hadn’t had anything to eat.  Mum said she didn’t have time; he’d have to have a slice of bread with something on it.  She had a list of things for us to do after the tin bath was emptied.  I said she’d have to do it herself I was going to the hairdressers.   Thank God the fog had lifted but it was freezing cold.  Lovely and warm in the hairdressers though.  All hopes of peace and quiet went out of the window because the 4 ladies with curlers in their hair under the hair dryer domes wanted to know everything about the wedding.  The dryers were noisy things and they shouted above them.  I left the shop with enough hair lacquer holding my hair in place to withstand an atomic bomb.  As I walked up the street a neighbour’s door opened.  Esther, who was always dolled up as Mum called wearing lipstick and face powder said she had something for me.  “Come in out of the cold love.  Sit tha sen down.  Av made a spot of summat for tha t’ eat.  Tha’l be too busy at your ‘ouse.”  A nice little plate of sandwiches, a mug of tea and Dad sat at the table opposite me.  I nearly choked.  Mum would kill the pair of us if she found out we were in Esther’s house.  I thanked her and said nothing.  Esther was always laughing but Mum had her in the category of ‘a lass who had American boy friends during the war.’  I gulped everything down and said I’d better be going before Mum came looking for me.  Dad said he would be home in 5 minutes.  My brother, wife and small niece plus John’s cousin and her small niece were in the house when I arrived.  Hardly enough air  to breathe.  The coal fire was glowing.  Mum asked if I’d seen Dad.  I said he wasn’t in the hairdressers.  Got a black look from her.  Alan and his wife said they’d take the two little ones next door to Aunt Mag’s to get them dressed.  By 2 p.m. everyone was ready.  More instructions from Mum telling Dad not to forget to lock the door when we left.  More biting of her finger nails as she said she thought she’d better travel in the car with me and Dad so she’d be sure the door had been locked.  My Dad was a very placid man but he yelled “For Christ sake get into the car with the rest of them and get going.  God knows how long it will take to get to Beeston Leeds United are playing at home today.”  A look of horror on her face ” Why didn’t somebody tell me before now.  We should have set off earlier, were never going to get there.”  Mum, Alan & wife, Mum’s 2 brothers and Maggie piled into the car and left.  Peace and quiet at last.  One of Billie Roberts Rolls Royce’s pulled up outside and the 4 bridesmaids got in.  Very quiet, just me and Dad.  “EE you look a picture lass.  I’ve been dreading this day since the day you were born.”  I can cope with the yelling but not this.  “Do me a favour…lift this bloody veil up so I can have a smoke or I’ll set fire to myself.”  We both had a smoke before the other Rolls Royce pulled up outside.  We were both calm and I said I was only going to live at Halton, not the other side of the world.  He opened the door and it was snowing.  No crowds of neighbours hanging round the door to wave me off just 2 neighbours huddled in overcoats wished us Good Luck and hurried back indoors.  Half way across Leeds Dad said Mum would smell cigarette smoke on us and go mad.  I said she would be too busy bossing the priest around and between her and Annie it would be something to see.  Shivering with the cold we waited for the organist to play the wedding march.  I daren’t look at Dad but gripped his arm and he squeezed me tighter to him.  Dad was wounded in the First World War and had to use a walking stick so it was a slow walk down the aisle.  Everyone was in place and the church was packed.  Mum was very superstitious, she had one for every occasion; weddings had top priority.  Farther down the aisle I could see Annie.  I nearly laughed out loud.  I’d asked her countless times what she would be wearing and got a smug look and told it was going to be a surprise.  She always mimicked the Queen Mother’s style of dressing.  The hat sort of to one side with a big fluffy type feather in it.  A skirt and longish jacket, the long gloves, shoes and handbag all in the same shade of pale green.  I dare not look at my mother’s face.  GREEN at a wedding!!! The marriage would be lucky to survive to the end of the day. 

All went smoothly during the ceremony and then off to the vestry to sign the papers.  As it had performed in a catholic church we had to go through the civil service again before we signed.  Years before a registrar had to perform the civil ceremony in the vestry.  As more and more rules of the Catholic Church relaxed and ‘ mixed marriages ‘ more prevalent there wasn’t enough qualified registrars to go every church wedding.  The young priest had explained all this to us stating lots of priest had taken the course to become qualified registrars.  We were doing the I Do and I Will bit again with my mother’s voice in the back ground “Where’s the registrar?  The registrar should be doing this.  It’s not legal.  She’s not married.  The priest can’t do it; it’s got to be a registrar.  When our Eva married Eddie they had a registrar.  Bert! Do something I tell you she’s not married.”  No one took any notice and Mum had a face like thunder in all the photos.  We had the reception at the local working mans club.  The in-laws were well known there and Annie swanned around imitating the Queen Mother for the rest of the evening. 

The evening for the happy couple came to a close about 7 p.m.  We were driving to North Wales for our honeymoon but staying the night inManchester.  We got toManchestercity about 9 p.m.  Into a big hotel we go only to be told they were full up.  Back in the car and another hotel, same answer.  We must have tried every hotel in the city.  Someone told us there was a T.V and radio convention all weekend and everyone had booked rooms weeks before.  We did eventually find a hotel, miles out ofManchesteraround 11 p.m. This was a time long before the permissive society. We got very funny looks from the manager at that hour on a Saturday night.

Advertisements

4 Responses to “Audrey’s Wedding Tales.”

  1. Amanda Hearne Says:

    I am trying to trace Elsie Booth who was in Byron Street Leeds ( Hunslet area) in 1940 do you know if there were and sons in the Booth family you talk about?

  2. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Very interested, in your stories about Devon Street Audrey, Because I was Born at No 29 Devon Street, which is exactly the sixth door down from the Mr Olbinson the lamplighter, a sort rotund gentleman if memory serves me correct, lived at the end adjacent to Mrs Fentons, and as a boy I played in the street with younger Olbinson boys, Peter Hanlan, Jimmy O’donald, Kenny Greatbatch, Terry Thomas, Neville Todd, Scarggill lads, and numerous others, and I remember you Grandmother, and your Granddad, in fact the first model areoplane that I ever made, a rubber powered Kiel Kraft Competitor I lunched from our front door flew across the street then curved around and flew back and hit the wall between ours and your Grandmothers window, and my Mum made me go and apologize to your Gran and tell her it would not happen again… I remember
    Mrs Tempest, and a host of others, Woolstons Chemist, Charley Atha’s, and of course Wally Dunn’s Bespoke Taylor’s, who as a boy I used to work for( I use the word work lightly of course ), my Aunty Eileen, after she got married lived at No 44 that crooked little back to back up the other end of Devon Street, until just before they were all demolished, in defense of all of those young people who lived there at that time, they got up to a few pranks as young kids do but never anything other than that, however I shall never forgive Selwin Olbinson or Kenny Greatbatch for tying me to a street lamp post at the end of Ascot street when we were playing Cowboys and Indians, and leaving me to go in for their tea, fortunate for me the Butcher at Revells Butchers saw my plight and cut me loose, otherwise I’d have been there all night….we move from No 29, early 1949….p s during the war someone did try and break in through our coal grate, but our conclusion was they were just in need of a bucket of coal, but we had some bolts fixed just in case……do you remember the Chap down the street who had that three wheeler car…..Happy days bring ’em on….ha ha..

  3. aussiepom Says:

    Lots and lots of memories Edward. I remember quite a few of the names you mentioned. I’ll be in touch with Pete If you want to reminice further.

  4. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Thanks aussiepom, nice to make contact with you, I’m sure we’ll be reminiscing further in due course, often wondered what happened in the street after my Grandmother died and we left to go and live with my Granddad in Osmondthorpe…it was like living in a hotel, hot and cold water on tap, and and bathroom and toilet inside the house….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: