Saturday, February 13, 2010

sepia valentines

M and I have never really celebrated Valentine's, but our wedding anniversary is Feb. 12th so that gives us an excuse, if ever we need it.

And being the day between our anniversary and Valentine's, what else could I post but a wedding photograph?

This is a slight cheat as I've posted this photo before, but there are two reasons I'm re-posting it :

first, because its the wedding of my nan and grandad who have featured in the last couple of Sepia Saturday posts.

Second, because its a particularly special photo. My mum's family don't have too many old family photos - certainly when compared with my dad's family. My nan and grandad weren't great ones for keeping things, and they came from working class families with little time and money to spare. So there are no photos of my nan and grandad themselves before around the time they got married, none of them as children. A few of my mum as a child.
And we thought there was no wedding photo.

Until this was found at the back of a photograph of my great grandmother.

My grandad gave the photo of his mother to me, in its old heavy dark oak frame, when I was a teenager and he saw that my walls were covered with sepia photos. (Mixed in with the David Bowie, David Essex, Pete Duel, David Cassidy). Its a wonderful photo and my grandad, my uncle and my mum all look so like her.
Which means that probably I do too.

I was so delighted to receive this treasure from little grandad and it was on the wall in our first two homes. But it wasn't until about 15 years later when we moved to this house in London that I took it out of its frame to clean it all up.

And so, I found this other lost treasure.

And a further treasure is the memory of my mum's expression when I gave it to her.

Its now been copied and passed around the family, and my uncle Vic has annotated it for us.
Only 6 people unknown from the group of 35.

Its the only photo we have of their wedding, and also the only photo we have of various aunts as children - my nan's younger sisters sitting at the front of the picture to the right. Aunt Daisy - from my last 2 Sepia posts - is right next to my nan, and my grandad's mother, whose photo he gave me, is 2 to his left with the hat with the white feather standing up. She's noted down as "Granny Walker (single name unknown)".

Don't they all look fine? my mum was so proud, looking back, of the way they'd pulled out all the stops to look fine and celebrate.

This was going to be a short post! I'm short of time! was in a hurry!

but this is one of the things I love about Sepia Saturday - the way these faded faces draw out stories from the past.

The final words in this rather wordy post are by Carol Anne Duffy, I love this poem and had planned to use Valentine's day as an excuse to post it.

And in fact, it somehow seems so appropriate to thinking about my dear grandparents. Hard working and unsentimental, not often demonstrative and so very loving.

Here they are arriving at my wedding, 26 years ago, both in their late 80's:

I remember during the service they made us smile, my nan saying something rather loudly about his hearing-aid, he shushing her.

and here is "Valentine" by Duffy:

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

more Sepia Saturday posts over here


Alan Burnett said...

Fabulous post. The wedding photograph is amazing. But what is absolutely wonderful is the comparison between the first and last image : ages change, clothes change but that strength and joy just keeps going on.

Anonymous said...

Da kann ich nur zustimmen..

subby said...

lettuce, wonderful post and I like the fact of the lay-out sheet for identification! And as anonymous said "I can only agree" as well, with Alan ;)

Coffee Messiah said...

Beautiful story.......and very cool enough people have been taken note of.

When I read this kind of story, I realize that my grandparents never knew me as an adult. ; (

Those were the days!


e said...

Wow...terrific post! Did your daughter get to know them???

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a wonderful post...and what a treasure to have discovered the hidden photo - and a key no less!! double, triple, quadruple treasure!! and a key with statistics no less! and family ties listed. a person after my heart, that one is/was

your grandparents circumstances and customs do sound familiar!

happy belated anniversary.

what a fantastic valentine poem! i will give my feagin an onion and a copy of this poem tomorrow for sure!! we have never been ones for valentines (and it must work as this year marks our 34th year together as a couple), but i think i'll make an exception as this poem is priceless and so profound, thank you for sharing.


mouse (aka kimy) said...

ps i forgot to mention how much i love, love, love the more 'recent' photo and the hearing aid shushing!!


willow said...

Well, I certainly hope it's not a cheat, because I am reposting all my old sepia photos for SS! The sweet photo of your grandparents arriving at your wedding just made my day!

Barry said...

Your story makes me what to take all our photos out of their albums and turn them over to see what I might find.

It is sad to think of all the photos that have been lost over the years that might have filled in so much of the background of our lives.

R. said...

What treasure!! I really like the last photo... oh so sweet! Both arriving at your wedding!! That's so awesome! I hope we get to see some of your wedding photos next!!

Nice poem. I bet that was a sweet onion.

Ronda Laveen said...

It is so neat that you know who most of the people are. Lovely piece.

Betsy said...

Well, I'm glad you reposted the photo because it's my favorite of the day! And the sweet one of them arriving at your wedding...oh, it's just wonderful!

Poetikat said...

Lettuce- I am welling up here! Between the story of the discovery of the photo, the presenting it to your mother, the photo of your nan and grandad at your wedding (with him holding her bag) and then the poem, you're killing me!

Simply wonderful. I love Sepia Saturday.


Leah said...

Such a true, beautiful post: poem, story, pictures. Thank you!


Barbara said...

I especially like all the hats in the photo. I too have been going rather mad about family history lately. May have traced some of my Edgar family to Jersey -- is that where you vacation?

Martin H. said...

A wonderful post. And what a discovery! I'm so pleased you have this very precious photograph.

Steve said...

Terrific! I especially love the way your photo has been annotated. We should do that with some of our pics too, before the identities of so many people are forever lost.

And in the newer photo I love your grandfather carrying your grandmother's purse. So cute.

tony said...

Some Gems here Lettuce.So Much Detail.They Look A Lovely Couple.

Akelamalu said...

Great post Lettuce. I love the stories behind old photos. :)

Nicky S (Absolute Vanilla) said...

What a wonderful post, Lettuce! And love both photos.
Hope you're enjoying a happy valentine's day, whether you're celebrating or not!

Stephanie said...

What a treasure - and being able to identify so many people. Love the photo of your grandparents at your wedding!

tut-tut said...

That is a treasure indeed. Lovely photos, and that poem. Well.

herhimnbryn said...

Wonderful post L. Your photo is such a treasure, rescued from it's hding place. Thankyou for quoting the poem too. It really did bring tears to my eyes.

L. D. Burgus said...

What a marvelous large group wedding photo. The one of them twenty six years ago is so wonderful also. To think the lives they lived up to that point.

オテモヤン said...


kate smudges said...

This was a beautiful post to read. I love the way the people in the photo have been identified. Your grandparents made a delightful couple, young and old.

ArtSparker said...

I am impressed by their upright posture in the second photo. Remarkable poem.

Avus said...

Lovely post and a great Carol Ann Duffy poem (she is not UK's Poet Laureate for nothing!) thanks for sharing.

goatman said...

Since the advent of Polaroid cameras in the 50's and the Brownie camera in the early 60's, people must have drawers full of photos of all kinds and associations. The older ones you show are special in that the cameras were so basic, expensive, and probably few and far between; requiring much setup time and preparation.
Looking back is fun; especially with pictures.

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Harnett-Hargrove said...

How wonderful to have had them, still, to 'dance at your wedding'. -J

Brian Miller said...

so happy anniversary!

Chick said...

I'm such a sucker for old wedding photos...& as much as I like this one...I think I like the one of them at your wedding even better...they look so sweet...he's even carrying her purse! SO SWEET & lovely.

Megan said...


lettuce said...

thanks for all your comments, i do love you guys!

no, e, sadly they died before LG was born. They both lived on into their 90's, but I had LG rather late-ish.

Kimy I'm so glad you so like the poem. Its really one of my most favourite (though I've yet to read a Duffy poem I don't like).

Also, should have said the wedding was in 1920.

joyce said...


GreenWhisper said...

lettuce this is such a beautiful post, i love the photo of your grandparents and can so relate to the - 'Hard working and unsentimental, not often demonstrative and so very loving.' - invokes such wonderful memories:) fantastic poem too, brought a wee tear to mi eye x

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