On the 21st of April, 1939, seventy years ago today, my grandparents were married. They were married out in the homestead prairie regions of southwestern Minnesota. The wedding photographs prominently featured a baby goat and mostly took place in the bride’s family home. This was small town/farm country America. My immigrant great-grandparents (grandmother’s parents) moved to the area from the Netherlands in the early 20th century. They initially lived in a sod house with dirt floors; they had 15 children, my grandmother included, of which 14 lived to adulthood. They were so stuck for names that there is a series of pairs, with the first and middle name switched, for most of the older children.
My grandparents fell in love and got married in a scandalous cross-culture experiment: she was Dutch! But he was Norwegian! Tongues were wagging across southwestern Minnesota, although they both came from “highly respected families” in the area. They took up more than a few column inches in the local newspaper with the wedding announcement (I have a scan, hoorah!) My grandfather’s sister was the bridesmaid and my grandmother’s brother was the groomsman–thank goodness these details were preserved in the local paper for posterity! We even know what song was played for the wedding processional. If we didn’t have the photos to sustain us, we could be assured that the bride “was beautifully attired in a floor length white satin dress, trimmed at the shoulders and sleeves and with stand-up collar. An ankle-length veil completed her attire. She carried a bouquet of Easter Lilies and white Sweet Peas.” If we had any doubts, we could know that “A bountiful lunch concluded the reception…” and that the honeymoon took them “for an extended wedding trip, which will take them to the Twin Cities and other points.”
They managed more than 60 years of married life before they left the earth at the same time, after a car accident some years ago. This is admittedly more personal than my usual post, but… Have you ever seen two people so happy in a wedding photo?