I woke up this morning and as I laid in bed thinking of the days agenda, I realized it was already September 1st. It’s amazing how fast the summer goes. I feel like we don’t even get a chance to settle into warm weather and the leaves start changing colour. Do you know that the leaves around our neighbourhood are already turning yellow? Uhhh no thanks! Anyway, I digress!
So, it’s already the first of September and for some reason I know this date has some other significance other than the impending change in weather. A quick call to my mom confirms that it is the anniversary of my grandparents marriage. It happens to be, what would be, their 69th wedding anniversary. I say “what would be” because my grandfather died in 1996 but I still feel it needed to be recognized. I went into my office and pulled a small white box out of my cabinets and quickly dug out a picture of my grandmother on her wedding day surrounded my her bridesmaids. I post it to social media and wonder what more I could do. My grandmother, though we call her “Nanny”, just turned 90 this year and every year that passes pulls at my heart strings. She has been a very strong figure in my life, a second mother if you will. I try to document as much as I can when we visit her just in case. So I thought today would be a great day to interview her about her wedding day. She’s an Italian Canadian, born in Hamilton, Ontario to Italian immigrants. She married a rough, Italian/Scottish boxer who spent years fighting in the States. Together they opened a restaurant in the north end of Hamilton and for 30 years, they were the owner/operators of Patsy’s Ringside Restaurant. It closed in 1988 and even years after, I would periodically get native Hamiltonians on my flight and through small talk, we would make a connection whereby they knew Patsy’s Restaurant or knew Yola + Patsy themselves. Yola is a fierce lady and not one to mess with. Be aware of the cane! In any event, what follows is a 20 minute conversation that I wish I could have recorded somehow but am happy to have it documented regardless.
JC – Do you know what day it is today?
Nanny – September the first…uhhh..my anniversary. I was married 49.5 years. I only count the years he (Patsy) was alive.
JC – Do you know how many years it would be?
Nanny – Well, I was married for 49.5, so it would be around 60 I think.
JC – It’s actually 69!
Nanny – Oh has it been that long?
JC – Yes, it has. Can you believe it’s been that long?
Nanny – No!. You wonder what the hell you’ve been doing all that time. The days are long but the years are short, Jenn. We are only her for a visit and we are all going to a place. It must be a nice place because no one has ever come back to tell us any different.
JC – What was the most exciting about getting married?
Nanny – Well, I think it was the unknown. You knew you loved the person…..
JC – What do you remember about your wedding day?
Nanny – It was a warm day. There were a lot of people there, probably close to 200 people. I would be on the street and people would come up to me and ask if they could come to my wedding. You know, Grandpa was in business then and he would invite the customers. I didn’t want to have a big wedding.
JC – Where did you get married?
Nanny – We got married at All Souls Church on Barton, near James Street. The reception was at the Italian Hall on Barton. In those days, there weren’t many places to have a reception. We got married on September the first because it was a long weekend, Labour day weekend. A lot of people didn’t have many days off so we chose that date to ensure people could make it.
JC – What were you most nervous or scared about?
Nanny – Nothing. Well, I was getting ready and I was waiting for my bouquet to arrive. I had ordered a small bouquet. The guy was late and when he came in, he had this huge bouquet that was ugly. It was almost as big as me. Now, if he mixed up the orders, I don’t know, but thats what I got. I hated it.
JC – Do you think you married the love of your life?
Nanny – Yep.
JC – Did you have a honeymoon?
Nanny – Yes, we drove to Niagra Falls, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. At the time he (Patsy) was very well known and people would stop him to ask for autographs. He (Patsy) sent a telegram to my father and his father while we were away that said “Having a good time, glad you aren’t here!”
JC – What, from your wedding day, do you still have that holds a special place in your heart?
Nanny – Well, my wedding rings….and the pictures.
JC – What was the hardest thing to adjust to about marriage?
Nanny – I used to help my mother with the groceries and she would send me with a list for a few pounds of this and a few pounds of that. So when I got married and did the grocery shopping, I would buy more than we needed. It took a while to adjust to buying for two people. (She chuckles) It was funny!
JC – If you could have your wedding again, what would you do differently?
Nanny – I would have a smaller wedding……and a smaller bouquet! I could have shoved that bouquet down someones throat but I couldn’t because it was too big!
JC – If Grandpa were here, how would you celebrate?
Nanny – Probably go on a trip somewhere.
JC – Would he get you anything?
Nanny – Oh yes, he always brought me things. Flowers, chocolates. One time, he bought be this huge box of chocolates and he used to love to eat sweets. Well I had had this box for quite some time and noticed that they really hadn’t been touched, which I thought was odd. So I lifted up the top layer to find the second layer almost gone. So he had been eating them!
JC – What year did you get married again?
Nanny – 1947 (in a long and drawn out way).
JC – That’s a long time ago!
Nanny – Now that’s something i’ll tell the world….
Happy Anniversary Yola+Patsy
Much, much love from your only Granddaughter 😉