Something Borrowed, Nothing New

A letter from my grandpa to my grandma, dated 1939

A letter from my grandpa to my grandma, dated 1939

My grandparents were married in 1925, in New York City.  My grandfather was 25, my grandmother 20, and they had eloped, staying with a cousin, as they were both from upstate New York, near Buffalo.  They were both Italian immigrants, and as such, very Catholic, and this eloping thing got them in pretty hot water.  And they knew it would.  They went so far as to rent bridal regalia and have a picture taken (not a cheap process in 1925!) as proof of the marriage, and the seriousness of their intentions to my great-grandfather.  It didn’t work real well, as he didn’t speak to them until after they had their first child, almost two years later, even though they lived only blocks from each other.

Before they eloped, they dated of course, but my great-grandfather made it clear that one of my grandmother’s brothers had to “chaperone”.  My grandfather was a bowler (scandalous!), and hung out at a bar called “The Red Front” which wasn’t the most savory of places, and so my great-grandfather didn’t think him a suitable match for his eldest daughter.  Some of the brothers did a better job of chaperoning than others, and some of the younger kids reported having learned to kiss from watching my grandparents on the porch at the end of a date.

I have been reflecting on this, because sometimes we think we are the first to experience everything we experience.  And sometimes we think our ancestors led rather boring lives.  But I admire their strength and courage.  They knew they had found their one true love, and they pursued each other, even though there were clearly obstacles, namely my great-grandfather.  And it was important to them that he understand, which he eventually did.  My grandparents were married for 63 years, and although it looked like a typical love from the outside, you never know a relationship unless you are in it.

He called her “Darling”.  ❤


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