Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Summer 1937: Discovering My Grandparents Delayed Their Honeymoon

 So, my grandparents got married in 1935. In 1988, Grandpa told me:

And then, I forgot when it was, a year later, we got married. Married in ‘35. In January of ‘35.

Somewhere along the way, my aunt told me it was January 12th, and that they eloped to the Brussels Town Hall, a building built in the 1400s:

Brussels Hôtel de Ville/Stradhuis 

Later, a historian in Belgium initiated a search for my grandparents in the Brussels city archives, and she was able to corroborate their wedding date: January 12, 1935.

Now, here's the detail we discovered that caught us by surprise: My grandparents evidently delayed their honeymoon for 2 1/2 years.   We think they went to the seashore (So when I was writing that chapter, I simply decided they went on holiday in Ostend).  They never told their daughters or me that they didn't take their honeymoon until the summer of 1937, but I'm virtually certain that that's what happened.

The one thing they DID tell us about it was that Grandpa read a biography of Marie Curie out loud to Grandma while they were on their honeymoon.   We think the biography in question was Madam Curie by Éve Curie because: 

  1. My family is pretty sure that that was the book based on memories of family stories.
  2. My grandfather nicknamed my grandmother "Ciupcia" (pronounced "choop-chah"), something he was inspired to do by the book he read to her on their honeymoon. The book described Marie's nickname, and was something that sounded a little like "anchupichu" (it's Polish). And that book has the following quote:

‘Manyusya’ a name of affection, and ‘Anciupecio’ a comic nickname dating from her earliest infancy. ‘My Anciupecio, how mussed your hair is! And how red you are!’”

That feels like very strong evidence that Éve's Madame Curie was indeed the book they read on their honeymoon.  And that book wasn't published until the summer of 1937 (simultaneously in France, Britain, Italy, Spain, the United States), two-and-a-half years after my grandparents got married. I looked for earlier books published about her but didn't find any (it doesn't mean there weren't any, just that I didn't find any -- it's hard to do searches in foreign languages).

I have no actual knowledge about why they delayed their honeymoon for that long, but I do have a guess: they wanted to wait until they had the money to take real honeymoon. Grandpa graduated from college in 1934, just six months before they got married, and would have been just starting out as an engineer. Grandma didn't graduate until early summer of 1935, six or so months after they got married. Waiting two years meant they had time to establish themselves a little, and save up some money for a nice holiday by the sea.

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