Saturday, February 15, 2014

City Boy Sweeps Farm Girl Off Her Feet

My parents were not what you would call even a little bit demonstrative, so it was with some delight that I discovered their romantic past. I hope that they would forgive me for sharing some of their story here.

It starts with another little photo "souvenir book" belonging to my mother. (I shared another one here). I don't believe I ever saw any of these photos until after my mother's death, when I came across several of these little books. This one is labeled "Souvenir of Ellsworth, Maine," and seems to be the record of a summer in the 1930s that my mother, then in her twenties, spent working as a maid in a resort hotel. Although she worked as a schoolteacher during the school year, I'm sure the extra summer money came in quite handy. 

Cover detail

Inside the book I found the earliest photo I've seen of my parents together. That's Danny, as he was called then, my father; and Elva, my mother. She was from a big farm family in New Brunswick, Canada; he was an only child from Worcester, Massachusetts. He was also a man with a past--a divorced man whose little girl, my half-sister, Joan, lived down in Massachusetts. 

I am so touched by this photo of Danny tucking Elva into his jacket to keep her warm. They were conservative people, and never made a show of their affection, at least by the time I knew them several years later. 

And this photo shows some big-time romance, at least for my family. Danny combs Elva's hair on a day out at a swimming pond. You will see that he always has a lit Camel cigarette, which seems a little shocking these days. 

The souvenir book also contains some lovely and touching photos of Elva, sleeping on the beach. They seemed far too personal to share here, but were obviously taken by someone who loved her very much. 

After they married in 1940, the romance continued with this sweet Valentine's Day card. I have it framed and hanging where I can be reminded that my parents were once so young and so in love.


  1. From my half-sister Joan mentioned in this post:
    This really is so sweet !!! Nice memories --to be honest I can't remember your Mom or meeting her until I was (my memory is so fuzzy here) I was 8 or 9 --went to stay for a couple of summers with them in Old Orchard Beach ME. At that age I was so impressed by your Mom and really cared for her--this was not the usual step-mother figure so often portrayed in many families.
    She was always showing me something interesting or teaching me sewing --just paying attention to me --a very bonding memory. I enjoyed every minute I was there with them --just a loving couple. I remember meeting some of the sisters --Faith and Hope --probably more that I have forgotten==and many friends they had in the area.

    They offered to take me to CA to live there with them ( which really was a big deal) but I couldn't leave my Mom at the time . Elva was pregnant with you the last summer I was there --everyday when he came home from work he made sure she would stretch out on the couch --feet up and rest . I thought that was just so touching !! We had a lot of fun too and that was a nice memory.

    One thing I do remember --I had a room of my own --what a treat !! I had a little desk that I could sit at and actually see the ocean !!!

    It was a difficult decision when they wanted me to live with them then --I often wondered what it would be like if I had gone... Guess that's another story for another day !!!

  2. From my sister, Jean:
    Thank you for teaching me to see Mother and Daddy in a new and touching light. I think we're all in the comfortable habit of settling into our tried and true memories and impressions of our parents. It's nice to be reminded that they have more dimensions to explore, and that our minds are still open to discovering them.

  3. It's great to see half siblings get along.

  4. So lovely for you and your siblings to see how your parents were in their touching moments.


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