The buck stops here
I had arrived before Easter, and we were making the final arrangements for our wedding. As I was living in England I had to banns published and certified at the local register office in Morden, and then send them to Berlin for translation (certified for accuracy by the police), before we could make any progress.
The next problem was that in Germany in those days you had to get a legal licence from the Register Office, and then the pastor or minister could consecrate the wedding. And the register office didn’t open that Saturday morning. So we had to go for the civil ceremony the previous day 22 April, before my small supporting party arrived from Birmingham. They made it by about 9 pm, five people having driven from Hook of Holland in a small Morris. There were the Vicar of St Michael’s Handsworth, R O Jennings; Walter Wheeler (churchwarden and driver of the vicar’s new car) and his wife Elsie; my mother’s second cousin Olive, and her son Kelvin. We were close friends and he was the equivalent of a ‘Best Man’.
In German tradition, we set off together in a hired car for the church, and as we were rather early I remember asking the driver to go round a traffic island twice. On the way there we saw a black cat and a traditional German chimney sweep with black outfit and a tall hat - - two omens of good fortune.
Barbara’s mother was widowed at the end of World War 2 and relied on pensions to bring up her five children, the youngest of which was born in January, 1945. But she had a big house with suitable furniture and appointments, and it was easy to accommodate 18 guests around the big table. She hired a local couple to cook a meal during the church service, and the cleaning lady donned a black and white outfit to become a waitress.
We carefully planned the afternoon and evening’s events to cater for two languages, singing various traditional songs from both countries. As I recall, it all went off well, and started our wonderful fifty years together in high style, and it’s always a pleasure to look back.