Marriage in the Fifties.

Nora Williams, late of Clogherboy

The cost of weddings

The cost of weddings today turns young people against marriage. It’s frightening when they sit down and calculate everything. I’ve been reading the papers and listening to the radio about the high cost of the whole ceremony 36,000 to 50,000. What is it all about? They certainly give no thought to the Mass and their marriage.

London in the 1940s

I was married myself for 57 years. It was just after World War 2 and we were in Shepherd’s Bush in London. All food and clothes were rationed. We were all issued with coupons so we had to be very careful in choosing what we wanted, as indeed there was not a lot of money around either. I worked in a Bed and Breakfast in the West End. They were very strict about what time we got in. Michael did his work and after having his dinner, he came to see me. At that time, I lived in a basement room with just a bed, a chair, a big old-fashioned wardrobe and a small coal fire. It must have been used as a prison at one stage as there was only a small window which was barred up.

Courting in the old days

That time, anything was good enough for the Irish in London. Otherwise, we were well looked after. There were stone steps leading down to the basement and a big door which was always bolted. We made a plan that when Michael called to see me, he would throw a pebble at the window so I knew it was him. I would then unbolt the door for him. We enjoyed the few hours but the landlady guessed something was going on. When she came knocking at my door, I would grab his fag and throw it in the fire, shove him into the wardrobe lock the door and discard the key. She was surprised there was only one there and asked me if I wanted a cup of hot milk. If I said okay, she say “Don’t O.K. me, you must call me Mam”. It was a narrow escape. I was scared Michael might be smothered in the press. Eventually, we said “enough is enough”.

Getting married

We decided to get married. My sister-in-law said she would throw a party for us so we set a date. We managed to buy clothes and a ring. I wore a petrol blue coat, a grey hat, crocodile shoes and a grey dress. The day came and I was fortunate to have a Rolls Royce which they hired, so I was like the Queen. The rest of the guests had to walk. She talked nice to her butcher and he gave her a big piece of salt beef which she cooked with plenty of vegetables and desert. It was most enjoyable. We had drinks, some dancing and singing, we had a lovely day. It was two in the morning when we called it a day. We walked home to our bed-sit about three miles and it was snowing heavily, so we had a white wedding after all. We had so much fun.

Our Honeymoon

We had no honeymoon but we did not mind as long as we were together. The Landlady lived in the basement and she had a big parrot which we could see through a mesh window. When we came in at night, Michael would say “darling I love you” and the parrot would repeat after him “darling I love you”, We soon got used to him and then I would say shut up you old parrot and he kept repeating everything we said.

We did not stay very long there and we looked around and found an empty flat which had two large rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. We soon got it decorated and furnished. Everything was bought by hire purchase. We shared everything we had and soon got every item paid off. We were very contented there.

Social Life

We went to football matches every Saturday, and dancing every Saturday night. We went Ballroom dancing on the Sunday afternoons to the Hammersmith Palace until finally Michael’s parents wanted him to come home to go farming. I was reluctant to go but in the end I agreed to move.

57 years wed

So, here I am now fifty seven years later, a widow after children, all of whom have got on well in life. Thank God, but that’s another story.

For a marriage to work, you must also work at it and share whatever you have and God will do the rest. Our marriage cost us no more than fifty pounds sterling.

These days, marriages do not last when the honeymoon is over. Some of them must move in with their in-laws while waiting for their houses to be built and then there is the big mortgage and what not. They just don’t know what hit them. I am afraid thing must change or there will be World War 3.

This page was added on 27/09/2018.

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