Grandparents grand wedding
November 1, 2013


The photo above is of my paternal grandparents’ wedding, back in the 1890′s or so. The tall rather forbidding looking man on the right at the back is my Grandfather, sitting next him, his lovely bride with the gown, my grandmother. A rather sombre looking bridal party. In those days taking interior photos must have been difficult. Perhaps the party was fed up with posing and wanted to get stuck in the vino and food. One of the males seated at the table is Huib Luns. He was the father of Joseph Luns, a future Government minister and Secretary General.

I so would like to know who the other family members are. I suppose brothers and sisters of the couple. The whole wedding photo does indicate that from my father’s side there is a solid bourgeois background with perhaps a bit of money lurking about. However, they did produce six children and with two world wars, and grandpa doing work on mural assignments, perhaps mainly from religious organisations, he would have had times of stress as well.

I do remember my parents having to give financial support towards the end of their lives. It must have been during that period in the fifties and sixties when pensions and other social services were slow coming of the ground. In any case, after my parents’ migration to Australia, the subject of financial support to his parents was a frequent bone of discontent. My parents quarrelled over that subject. No wonder, we were hardly in the clover ourselves!


This photo was our first abode in Australia. We lived in that temporary dwelling for over two years before we build our house. It was made of asbestos sheeting. The space was 32 square metres and the 8 of us took turns in turning around during the night when all the mattresses were put into place. It was not the Utopia of a ‘promised land’.
But what could we do?
I do wonder how my grandparents expectations turned out. The wedding photo is the beginning of a life. One of my previous articles showed them at the end. How did it all go? There were problems with some of the children afterwards. They never saw us again, nor their grandchildren. To be torn away from a culture could not have been easy for my parents.
The differences. Priests at Christmas time smelling of beer, Bogong moths swirling around, the heat, the lack of empathy or understanding. We were not convicts nor reffos. No sewer. The weekly dunny man collecting drums of our effluence.


So many differences, such a battle. The memory still able to make tears.

PS. I just assumed it was a wedding at the Amsterdam ‘Krasnapolski Hotel’ and it was. Look at this photo.

Posted in Gerard Oosterman |