The date of this week's Sepia Saturday coincides with Valentine's Day and Sepians are invited to blog about something connected to the topic of the Valentine's day card pictured above. Valentine's Day is grossly over-commercialised these days and we do our best to ignore it, or at least my husband does. Occasionally he might bring home a bunch of flowers and we might even go out to dinner together, but more often than not it's more or less a non-event, which is perfectly fine with me. I feel sorry for the young women who are pressured to feel depressed if they don't get cards from any admirers.
Love is the theme behind the day, and to epitomize that, I thought you might enjoy seeing one of my favourite photographs of my parents Jean and Ian, taken not on Valentine's Day but on 16 July 1949, the night they celebrated their engagement at 'Peter Pan' in Auckland NZ.
I love my mother's long fingerless evening gloves and her fur jacket, which I think one of her granddaughters may now own. No fingerless gloves amongst her treasured possessions, but I really like this pair of long elegant gloves she had kept. I don't know how long ago it was that she wore them, but perhaps I'll recogise them in some other photo. I see you can still buy similar gloves, but I've never been to an occasion that required them.
From this fuller shot, it appears that although there were some other bottles on the table in the background, Jean and Ian had actually been drinking coke at this celebration, and perhaps they had been romantically sharing the bottle with two straws.. The good friends in the photo with them were Noel and Peggy Shannon, who had been married a couple of years earlier. Peggy is also wearing similar long evening gloves. Like Jean and Ian, she and Noel are sadly no longer with us.
I googled Peter Pan Auckland and discovered that it was a cabaret venue there. Here is an extract from a blog site entitled Heritage et Al.
"Established in the 1930s, the Peter Pan Cabaret in upper Queen Street was often booked for annual balls and private functions. The building had a large hall and a mezzanine floor with tables overlooking the dance floor. The Peter Pan Cabaret was a favourite venue for the thousands of American servicemen disembarking from troopships in Auckland from 1942 – 1944. The Cabaret’s swing orchestra struck up tunes such as “Chattanooga choo-choo”.
The Peter Pan Cabaret was an expensive nightclub venue due to the quality of the entertainment provided by Arthur Skelton and his dance band, who were the house band, and for the two course supper provided in the lower level room before the dance ended at midnight."
This paragraph from Wikipedia describes the Karangahape Road area, and I know my mother lived close by there in her early days of working in speech therapy clinics in Auckland.
"During the middle of the 20th century the Karangahape Road Area was a destination shopping centre, especially busy on late nights when family groups would travel in (often on public transport) and clog the pavements. A line was painted down the centre of the footpaths to regulate foot traffic and police were posted at the Pitt Street intersection to stop people being pushed out into the traffic. A typical late-night outing included seeing a Movie, shopping, a meal and promenading along the street window shopping and being seen. At this time the street had five Cinemas (The Avon, Vogue, Newton Palace, Playhouse and Tivoli) and probably as many Dance Halls (The Music Academy, Peter Pan Cabaret) including the Druid's Hall in Galatos Street which is still in operation as a music venue."
Jean and Ian first met at a tennis club dance, and my mother noted in her Life Album that 'it was a case of Some Enchanted Evening'. He rang her every day thereafter, and they were married on 22 April 1950, about 9 months after becoming engaged. I've previously blogged about their wedding here.
As mentioned above, we have never really celebrated Valentines Day much, but I did find this photograph of us which was taken at home on Valentines's Day 1988. It looks romantic, and there's a balloon, card and bubbly to be seen, but I should probably explain that I didn't really make that heart-shaped cake specially for the occasion - it was in fact a left over from the one I'd made for our eight year old daughter's birthday party a few days earlier, as you can see in the bottom photograph. That's one of our boys toasting us in the clown wig, and in the background you can just spot our little orange canary Fernando, who was a very vocal member of the family for at least 18 years. My mother gave him to us as a present because his colour matched the orange of our 1970s style kitchen in the home we built in Canberra. This photograph was two moves later, and he no longer matched the decor, but he was a great singer, especially if was music or other noise happening, and we named him after the Abba song. In the end he literally fell off off his perch, dying of old age.
"If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando!"
Funnily enough, we will be out this Valentine's Day, attending a class dinner organised by a group of my old school friends (Class of 1970), and the dress code inspired by the occasion is pink and black. Hopefully it will be great fun, and there will certainly be lots of old memories and stories told!
Happy Valentine's Day to all!
For more blogs that may or may not be about other peoples's delightful memories of Valentine's Day, just click here to be transported to Sepia Saturday #266