1970: Four Generations Captured In Time.
In 1920, it was just May and Bill. Fifty years later, they sit surrounded by 25 relatives – 17 of them direct descendents. If every picture tells a story, then this one depicts a family saga.
It is their Golden Wedding: 7 o’clock in the evening of Friday 6 November 1970, in The Warren Tea Rooms, Bourton-on-the-Water. May has received a bouquet presented by her first great-grandchild Sally Waite, aged two. On her lap she holds 50 roses which have come from Covent Garden, London. She is wearing a new dress (£8.11/6d with alterations) and Bill has a new woollen waistcoat (£3.15s). These are some of the presents for their 50th wedding anniversary, along with £5 cash per family (total £20.00).
But as May wrote afterwards: ‘What touched us most was half Ton of best coal from our neighbours who have been our neighbours for thirty three years.’
Everyone has shuffled into rows for a photo which tells the history of four generations in a single snapshot.
At the hub sit May and Bill, the first generation. Sharing the middle row is the second generation, their daughters Eileen, Peggy, Nancy and Thelma and, behind them, their four husbands Ken, Vic, John and Reg. And then, at the front and scattered elsewhere, there is the third generation outnumbering the other two combined – cousins Susan, John, Julie, Sally, Simon, Andrew, Paul, Jayne, Nicky, Chris, Judith and Sarah.
Oh, and there is one representative of the fourth generation – Sally Waite, perched on the knee of her mother. Susan is eight months pregnant with a second great-grandchild, who will be born five weeks later. She will name him Mark.
Trying to depict these various bloodlines, people have arranged themselves in family trees.
On the left John Waite, looking fit from his footballing, stands behind Susan, who is in a red velvet dress she made herself during her first pregnancy. She is nursing Sally, in pale pink with two white bows holding her hair in bunches.
Next there Is Reg Clarke, leaning forward over Thelma, Sarah and Christopher, with Judith in the middle of the front row.
To the right, Ken Dale stands behind Eileen. Their offspring, Susan and John, are too big to sit on anyone’s knee.
Towards the end of the line John Moy gives a big smile behind Nancy, who herself sits directly behind Jayne, Paul, Nicky and Andrew.
Finally there is Vic Riding, looking pleased at having organised the party with the military precision he learned in the RAF. He is behind Peggy. Julie is four places to his right, and Simon and Sally are at the front.
A second photo was taken, this time showing the four sisters with their parents.
After that, everyone got down to the serious business of celebration. At 8 o’clock the family members were joined by a further 18 guests and the main dish was served: chicken in the basket – then the peak of culinary sophistication – at £1 a head.
The new guests included Rissington Road neighbours – the Webbs, Mr and Mrs Martin, Mrs Collett (who helped Eileen give birth to Susan in the back of a taxi) and Mr and Mrs Bowles – as well as friends Beryl and Walter Martin.
For the toast, there was champagne costing £6 in total followed by slices of the cake which Nancy had organised.
For refreshment, there were soft drinks for the children and a punch bowl for the adults. The men may have ordered beer as well, usually keg such as Double Diamond or Red Barrel which had pushed real ale out of favour. The women might have had Babycham or port-and-lemon except for May, who preferred eggnog.
The music was provided by guests bringing along their favourite records and putting them on the restaurant’s stereo player. People got on their feet and performed dances such as the twist, the shuffle and the locomotion.
Sally Northfield nee Riding, who had missed a call-up to her school’s 1st year netball team that day, says: ‘I can remember dancing to The Witch Queen by Redbone, probably with Judith, and feeling very sophisticated eating chicken in the basket – but the less said about my outfit the better!’
Vic’s excellent memorandum – he headed it ‘Operation’ Golden Wedding – was discovered after Peggy’s death. Sally was to use it 40 years after it was written when it was her turn to address the annual Minchin reunion.
In it, he types: ‘Mum (May) was worrying about entertaining everyone at the house (12 Rissington Road). Have told her we would be eating out and in any case the numbers too many to consider. We reached a compromise, as everyone would be calling around on the Saturday she is laying in tea, biscuits in large quantities. Jane, Sally and Judith will be helping.’
While the party was held at The Warren, people were staying at Chester House at £2 per per head including breakfast. John Moy was delegated to drive May and Bill between the various locations.
The picture freezes one moment. It shows the post-War prosperity spreading across the Minchins as they demonstrate family unity. There is a full turnout. It is a model for the annual Bourton reunions which were to start 27 years later.