52 Ancestors in 52 weeks: Week 8 Branching out – Courting – Mum & Dad

22 March 2022

I am participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog challenge. You can see the previous weeks on my website’s Blog page.

Courting is a tricky subject because normally we do not know how our ancestors met. If you are lucky and have known your grandparents, then you may know how they met. For me, the only couple that springs to mind is my parents. Mum was forever telling us that she and Dad met at primary school, and it was love at first sight.

Mum & Dad on a date to Lone Pine, Brisbane ca early 1950s

Not totally sure this is true as I know Mum did date another bloke there at one time. Dad’s mother (Granny) was very against his relationship with Mum. True love won out and I am here writing their story. My brother and I owe our existence to the very strong attraction between our parents.

I did manage to prove the family story in a fashion by using school admission registers. There were a couple of years when both Mum and Dad attended Greenslopes State School in Brisbane. Then Dad moved to Buranda State School but obviously they kept in touch over the years. They also lived in the same suburb for a time and probably saw each other at the local shops.


Buranda State School admission register, via Queensland State Archives

After Mum went into an aged care facility, my brother and I had to clear out her home and go through her things. We had the toss pile, the op shop pile and the keep pile. Never an easy task and we both felt a bit strange going through Mum’s things.

At the back of the cutlery drawer in the kitchen I found a diary. It was obviously Mum’s as it had a photo of Perry Como on the cover. She was madly in love with him and thought his singing wonderful. Opening it up I realised it was from 1948 when Mum was 14 years old.

Mum’s diary 1948

I usually love reading old diaries and what they tell us about the person and their lives. However, I didn’t feel quite the same about wanting to read my own mother’s diary. Curiosity got the better of me and after a page or two were the words ‘Mervyn kissed me today’. Mervyn was my dad’s name.

More proof that Mum and Dad had been together for a long, long time. After that simple statement I stopped reading the diary to respect their privacy as teenagers in love in the late 1940s. I still have the diary here and I still don’t know what I will do with it long term.

Mum kept it all those years but why was it at the back of the cutlery drawer? Strange place to hide it but then again, no one would think to look for it there.

Coming back to a broader view of family history, my parents’ story is probably like my other ancestors. They lived close to each other, perhaps their fathers were doing the same type of job, or they even went to school together. When looking for an ancestral marriage we should probably look closer to home than anywhere distant.

At the risk of being a little controversial here, when I was dating back in the 1970s, there was still the belief that one saved oneself for marriage. Although the 1960s had put quite a dint in that theory, life was freer in the 70s. Given the rigidity of the Victorian era for women, I was somewhat surprised to find quite a few of my ancestral couples with a bub on the way when they married.

Whichever way we look at courting, without it we might not be here. People must meet, like each other, marry and have children. But isn’t it nice to know a little bit more of how and when our ancestors met? Someday I must finish reading my mother’s diary. Did Dad buy her chocolates, flowers or take her to the movies?

Dad, Mum, my brother and me ca 1974

Will I be tempted to write about my own courting adventures? No, I don’t think so but then perhaps my first grandchild (due in April) will want to know what Nanna Shauna got up to in the 1970s!

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  1. Dear Shauna I don’t know many courting stories either. I know my mum and dad’s and my paternal grandmother’s but not my maternal grandfather’s. Keep up the excellent work with your blogging.

  2. Like you I don’t know the courting stories of my ancestors apart from knowing something about my Dad and Mum’s story. If only we knew we were growing up that we would be curious about these things one day and should have asked questions! Love the photo of your Mum and Dad on a date to Lone Pine.

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