Grandparents grand wedding


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!

garage revesby 1

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.


15 Responses to “Grandparents grand wedding”

  1. Rosie Says:

    Ah – nostalgia. It can certainly tug at the heartstrings.


  2. Andrew Says:

    I have just been home to my town of birth, Gerard and it was quite an emotional experience. I have all sorts of paperwork for my grandparents including my paternal grandfather’s birth certificate. It is good that we have these memories and the odd memorial, be it a photo, a plaque or a cutting. My paternal grandfather had a plaque in the local church, which was later knocked down. I never knew but discovered it reading a local history book. We never had any government ministers though. Amazing the idea of living in an asbestos home now…… how times have changed.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes Andrew, memories keep tugging, a sure sign of getting old. I swore I would never fall in that trap, but… with more past than future it is not totally surprising. Glad you had a look again at the town of your birth.
      Millions are still living in asbestos sheeted houses here in Australia. If it is painted over, it doesn’t present real danger. It can hardly be a plus-point though.


  3. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    Marvellous, Gerard. This material should be collected in a book. Maybe you’ll be willing to see “the lack of empathy or understanding” was not because your family were “reffos”. It’s a deep, still extant fear of intimacy, of being inadequate to meet someone else’s suffering, someone else’s call, that ends up being indistinguishable from cruelty. Fantastic stuff.


  4. Patti Kuche Says:

    It is indeed a beautiful family photo Gerard and such a long way, in so many ways, from the little cottage under that bright blue sky. Your memories, be they with tears or laughter, are always a joy to read. They put fat on the bones of a time and place when it seemed the whole world was on the move after the war, lives turned upside down, leaving the old for the new and that old question which haunts some of us forever – “Where are you from?”

    Keep writing!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I came to those photos from a family member that I never ever met. I’ll try and post some more. Googling is a great help in finding family matters. So far, not found a single Oosterman that has been inside a jail or off ill repute.
      There is still time. 😉


  5. berlioz1935 Says:

    Great stuff as ever, Gerard. I have a similar wedding picture in my possession and you give me an idea to write a blog about it. See what I can do.

    Coming to Australia was like going back from the 20th to the 19th century. We accepted that and started at Ground Zero. The “dunny man” was an absolute shocker for us. As for our home culture? We did not give a hoot. We were not immersed in it. Now we find by listening to ABC FM we get plenty of the music we love. We brought our own books along. The official Germany we did not like much. We were too Americanised for that.


  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    I am sure that the 6th person from the front on the right is my great grandmother. The bride looks similar and the sharp noses on both is a giveaway. Many have inherited that feature. My own nose is hooked and veers to the left, a left-over from being broken by a bad fall while ice skating.

    It could have been worse and bent to the right!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gerard oosterman Says:

    The wedding party looks a bit sombre and I think the reason is hunger. Just scroll your mouse and push Ctrl to enlarge it. The plates have spoons in them but as yet no soup. Some glasses have wine and perhaps some had sipped some. Hunger and drink doesn’t make for exuberance.
    The food would have been plenty. I am sure the WEDDING was at a hotel in Amsterdam, perhaps the ‘Krasnapolski!


  8. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Great photos and memories. I think it is sombre because they had to sit very still for as much as a minute – given the low lighting. One lady didn’t succeed so she is blurred.
    I have spent two years now immersed in my ancestors lives and and am full of admiration for them. I even found a list of submissions and rejections in my grandmother’s notebook. She published poetry and 3 children’s books. She lived with us for years, but I wasn’t writing then, how I wish I had talked to her more.


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