Since I first ran this blog post in 2012, I’ve found out that the disgraced captain of the Lusitania indeed was still alive in 1928 and could have dined with my mother on board ship. He was not only unfairly blamed for the sinking of his ship by a German torpedo in 1915, but also his wife left him and took their two sons with her. When I first read my mother’s diary entry, I didn’t think it could possibly be true but I have done research that says William Thomas Turner died in 1933 at age 77 and that his wife and boys may have settled in Canada. It doesn’t say anything about his trip to Canada on the Alaunia when he met my mother. She was a beautiful, intelligent, inquiring, innocent young bride; he must have been a very unhappy man. On an ocean voyage you never know whose path will cross with yours and I’m sure my mother felt an obligation to be courteous and try to cheer him up.
Eighty-four years ago today my mother was on a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean, no doubt keeping a wary eye out for icebergs. She had left everyone and every place she had ever known, her job, her friends, her family and her country in order to set out on that most daring of all adventures, lifelong matrimony.
On the rainy day of Nov. 2, 1927 (above) she had married a man she had seen for only three weeks out of her life. She had committed herself to joining him in wild northern Canada and sharing his work as a missionary to the Cree.
This picture was taken in the garden of my grandparents’ home, The Cottage, in Waterlooville, England, right after the early morning ceremony in St. George’s Anglican church. The bride is wearing a beehive hat and a navy blue suit, appropriate for traveling. Around her neck is a fox fur her suitor had just brought as a gift from Canada (after purchasing it for $50 at the Montreal railway station before embarking). The groom sports spats for the occasion.
My father’s clerical collar had been a cause for consternation; it was grimy from overuse but he had been unable to find a supplier of new ones. Fortunately, the Wards’ housemaid knew it could be cleaned by scrubbing it with stale bread crusts and she did a fine job of just that.
The moment snapped above catches my parents glowing at a handful of hastily assembled guests, who are being offered coffee and wedding cake. The bridal couple has to leave and rush off to catch a noon train to London. After spending the night in the honeymoon suite of the Hotel Belgravia, they will fly over the English Channel and spend two days in Paris. Upon return, a dinner reception for forty guests will be held at Kimbells’ Hotel in Portsmouth.
The day after that, my father will set sail to get back to his job 5,000 miles away. My mother will have lots of time to pack her trousseau and say her goodbyes before joining him when the ice thaws in spring.
Thank you for visiting. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website.
Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!
I’ll be at Britton’s Glebe, 846 Bank St., Ottawa on Sat., Aug. 9, 2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to honor the WWI 100th anniversary. Please drop in if you would like to chat and pick up a signed copy of my book.