My grandmother Nora was 28 when she married in 1904, old for a bride by that day’s standards. And that wasn’t because nobody asked her. I read her diaries first when I was a self-centred teen and was struck by the fact that if she hadn’t chosen my grandfather, I wouldn’t have existed. But, hey, I’m okay with that now.
As the local postmistress, Nora met all the males of the district. No deliveries in those days. Well, that’s not quite right. Telegrams were delivered to the recipient’s home. One made an indelible impression on her. A local girl was due to marry on a Saturday and on Friday, the groom sent a telegram saying he’d changed his mind. Nora persuaded her uncle to deliver it.
In the first diary of 1896, Nora was involved with ABR (Arthur Russell). She refers to a dance when certain words were spoken but his future wealth depended on the outcome of an insurance case. As the date for this approached, Nora became very anxious. When Arthur arrived, she learned that the judgment had been made in his favour but he hadn’t received the amount he’d expected. Then suddenly he took off for Australia, leaving a bewildered Nora. He didn’t return.
She consoled herself by “mashing” (flirting with) several local farmers and writes that two of them proposed and were rejected. Then the men building the railway bridge came into the office. She was impressed by the good looks of Edmund Murton and one of her sketches may have been of him. By the time I knew my Nana, she was a very sedentary woman so I was amazed to learn that in her twenties, she often rode her horse to Wairoa, the nearest town. She left on Friday night, stayed with her sister Mary, attended a social event on Saturday night and then church on Sunday morning before riding home. No wonder she often complained about being tired on Mondays.
Nora met Victor in Wairoa and he seems to be have been smittten by her. In her diary, she doesn’t ever mention being smitten by him but they did take walks together and he visited her in Mohaka. He also wrote stiff little letters and I assume she wrote back.Vic was pleasant company but rather short and not nearly as handsome as Edmund Murton for example.
Mohaka was a very small community and Nora yearned for the bright lights. She requested a transfer, assuming she’d get nearby places like Wairoa, Napier or Gisborne but to her astonishment she was posted to the Strand Office in Auckland. Great consternation was recorded in her diary. I’m reading between the lines here but I’m guessing that Vic wanted to nail her down before she left. They became engaged. I think she succumbed to family pressure, especially from sister Mary who often urged her to accept Vic. Then Nora sailed north around the coast to Auckland.
Next week, I’ll finish the story. Believe me, unexpected twists lie ahead.