Way back when I was young, 18th birthdays just came and went and there were no special celebrations. We were not old enough to vote nor drink alcohol...nothing to celebrate at all. The important birthday was when you turned 21 and mum decided I should have a party. She booked the Mt Lawley Tennis Club hall and we invited friends and quite a lot of my young workmates from Western Assurance. We had music so of course we danced all night and there was a scrumptious supper catered for. I made myself a pink satin dress with a little shoulder cape that could be taken off.
Unfortunately I don't have photographs of any of the guests but I do have this one of me taken with my two friends/ex-workmates Val Edmunds and Wilma Longwood. Oh yes, we wore long dresses in those days and tried to look beautiful. These two friends were later in the year to be my matron-of-honour and bridesmaid.
This is a group photo also taken at my 21st birthday party but poor old dad is missing and I'm not sure why as he was certainly there at my party. I have a feeling he was in the photo but someone cut him off (that is another story in itself). This is taken at the supper table where you will see my birthday cake in the shape of a key and from left to right: the birthday girl, sister-in-law Jean, my mum, brother Len and my godmother Alice Potter.
Once the birthday celebration were all over I then prepared myself to have my tonsils out. I had discussed with the surgeon whether to have a general or local anaesthetic and plumped for the latter. Mid January I went to St John of God Hospital in Subiaco and was admitted to a room which I shared with a dear old lady who was really quite ill. The tonsillectomy went very well although a tad painful as apparently my tonsils were quite deep seated but I still didn't regret my choice of the local anaesthetic as I was awake the whole time with no nasty after effects. The surgeon showed me my tonsils and they were really gross with holes all over them. Apparently each time I had a bout of tonsillitis they would become ulcerated and the scars remained. No wonder they were making me so ill. I think I spent two more nights in hospital and as I left I gave the old lady a small bottle of 4711 eau de cologne that mum had given me and bade her farewell. (More about that in a later post).
The big event shortly after my 21st party was my friend Val's wedding to Owen Page. It was a wonderful occasion and after their honeymoon they settled down in their new home in Herdsman Parade, Wembley. Val and Owen went on to have 3 sons and I often thought Val would have liked to have had a daughter and yet her 3 boys meant the world to her and to Owen as well. They were such a happy couple until her death in 1998 at the age of 65. She and Owen had by then moved to live in Rockingham. He has since moved into a retirement village in a Perth suburb and we still remember each other at Christmas. He never fails to send a card which we very much appreciate. I still miss Val very much.
It was not time to get down to planning my own wedding to Aubrey. I had to make a decision about the type of dress and my future mother-in-law who had been a trained dressmaker/tailoress offered to not only make my wedding gown but also my going away outfit and even a hat to match. We looked at various designs and finally settled on a strapless white moire faille dress with a lacy jacket with covered buttons. Strangely enough, many years later, Prince William's bride chose a dress very similar in style to the one I'd worn in 1953. They were so similar that those of you who have followed my daughter's blog (menopausal mumma) may remember her posting photos of the two dresses commenting on the similarity in design. My dress of course was made by a dressmaker in North Perth (albeit a very competent one) and the other by a celebrated designer and one that, to we lesser mortals, would have cost a small fortune. There was a moment of humour while my dress was being make when Grace, who had never before made a strapless dress, asked me what would make it stay up. I assured her, quite seriously, that I thought there was enough of me for that not to be a problem. This is the dress. It did have a small train but not nearly as long as on the dress worn by Kate: (more photos in next week's post):
I did have a small hand in all this as I made the cap that held the veil in place covering it with the moire faille and using little sprigs of flowers and my long pearl necklace to decorate it. Later I took it apart so I could use the string of pearls again. Waste not, want not is my motto.
This was my going away outfit, complete with hat. It was a deep fawn colour and I pinned a bunch of cherries at my throat to match the red shoes, bag and gloves. The hat also had a wee red veil that came just over my forehead. We were still wearing our skirts quite long in 1953. Incidentally, the wedding veil was borrowed; I had made myself a blue garter and Mrs Dakin (a very old friend of mum and dad) had given me a beautiful old hanky made of Nottingham lace so I had the something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new (my dress). All very traditional!! I still have thar handkerchief wrapped in tissue paper. It could be 100+ years old now and I treasure it still.