Knock Three Times: Living in the ‘70s

Knock Three Times

On the ceiling if you want me

Mmm, hmm, twice on the pipe

If the answer is no

Tony Orlando and Dawn-1970

‘Let’s make it legal.’

Joanne stared at Leo, wondering what he meant.  

I think he is proposing!

There were all sorts of reasons to say no.  In two years Joanne could proceed with her plan to travel to London, teach and travel.  On the other hand, if she married she might never have the chance to fulfill her dreams.

However, might it not be more fun to travel the world with a soulmate?  She envisaged the two of them teaching somewhere in the snowy Canadian mountains, using their holidays to explore the continent of North America.  Of more immediate importance, Leo said they could paint the flat under his parents’ house in bright sunny colours with only $10 a week rent.

Suddenly Joanne wanted it all to happen straight away but Leo thought they should wait until the following year.  After all they had to plan a wedding!

The first task was to buy an engagement ring.  They looked in the window of Angus and Coote for a few minutes before stepping inside.  As soon as they mentioned ‘engagement’, they were ushered to comfortable chairs and presented with trays of glittering rings. Joanne liked a flat gold ring with a small diamond flanked by triangular metal buttresses.  

Joanne had never been to a wedding.  All she knew was that she didn’t want the flouncy white dress, the father walking her down the aisle (there was no father) and a minister officiating.

In 1972 the options were a church wedding or the registry office. Marriage celebrants did not exist although some outdoor weddings took place with a person of the cloth in charge.  They heard stories of people who visited their priest or minister several times for counselling before the wedding and of some who had been refused a wedding because they were not regular church goers.  

Joanne’s mother Annie was horrified at their plans for a registry office.  

‘People will think it’s a shotgun wedding!’ she said. ‘I’m not allowing it!’

But Joanne would be 21 the month before her wedding so she could legally do what she wanted.  Fortunately, Annie came around in the end although she did tell enquiring friends that her daughter was getting married at the Anglican Church in Wollongong.

The wedding took place at the Wollongong Courthouse, just across the road from Wollongong’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral.  Leo decided to wear white trousers, a black and white paisley shirt, white tie and a black and white tweed jacket.  At first Joanne planned to wear a long blue dress with a black yoke but relented when she saw the perfect unconventional wedding dress.  It was made of figure hugging white crepe, the hood and bodice trimmed with a tapestry of mauve and yellow flowers surrounded by green leaves on a cream background. She could wear the hood until she said ‘I do’ and then pull it back off her head.

The registry office was small. Joanne sat beside Leo, his brother on one side and her flatmate on the other. Joanne’s mother and Leo’s parents stood behind them. The District Registrar made a short statement about marriage and then proceeded with the vows. When Joanne’s name was spoken with the word ‘spinster’ attached, the flatmate gave a loud snort. The laughter was infectious, and Joanne tried grimly to stifle any sound by holding her breath and biting her tongue. They signed the register, followed by Leo’s brother and the flatmate, who were ‘best witnesses’. It was with great relief that Joanne walked out onto the courthouse steps to pose for a photo taken by the flatmate’s boyfriend.

In the months preceding the wedding Leo and Joanne discovered a new reception centre in Atchison Street only a block away from her old flat.  It was called The Barclay and had three themed rooms for small, medium and large receptions. They chose the smallest, the Moroccan Room.  Joanne, in her naivety, told Leo’s parents that her mother was paying for the food and that they would be paying for the drinks.  As it turned out they also paid for the band which continued to play late into the night because no one would go home.

The best wedding ever

They had invited a few friends and lots of relatives.  Joanne didn’t have any relatives to speak of, just her mother and grandmother.  Her flatmates from Teachers College had not arrived and she looked anxiously at the empty seats.  Where were they?  The main course had arrived when they walked in looking somewhat dishevelled.  It seems they had ridden down from Sydney with their current boyfriends on the back of motorbikes and had a number of problems on the way.

Soon they were all in a circle dancing ‘Zorba the Greek’.   The dessert arrived, a flaming Bombe Nesselrode and the drinks flowed. Joanne agreed with everyone that this was the best wedding ever.

Back at Leo’s parent’s house his mother tentatively brought out a wedding cake she had secretly made.  Leo and Joanne had been adamant they didn’t want ‘tradition’ but Joanne could see how worried she was and gave her a big thank you hug.

Downstairs at last in their own little flat still there was no peace.  A friend of Leo’s challenged Joanne to a chess game and to her surprise she found she was winning.  Then it was time for everyone to leave because tomorrow the newly married couple were off on their honeymoon, a cruise on the Oriana.

21 thoughts on “Knock Three Times: Living in the ‘70s

  1. Spinster?! *laugh*

    I thought you had to be significantly older than 21 for that particular label to apply!

    It sounds like a lovely wedding. One would think, though, that friends might understand the concept of “wedding NIGHT” and leave the newly married couple alone. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hubby and I practically eloped to marry as he was leaving for Thailand… later I wondered why my mother didn’t hit the ceiling as she didn’t get to see her only child marry. But we did it our way, and it’s lasted for 51 years this year. Great memories you’ve written on their journey… and I was humming the tune.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My daughter did the whole traditional wedding (except for the church) so I got to experience it close up. I wouldn’t have minded if they eloped. But it’s up the the ones getting married what they want.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My daughter did also but married on site of venue. She married on Valentine’s Day so everyone celebrated that day together. Was great. My son was the opposite. Big church wedding and after venue. Very Italian traditional reception. Both were great!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I couldn’t help thinking of how things have changed around weddings and celebrations. I laughed at the thought of a “shotgun” wedding because my husband and I had all church and all the typical stuff booked when we bumped the wedding up and took off to get married on an island (to much drama around the typical stuff). The grandparent’s weren’t frightfully happy, but thankfully nobody felt scandalized.

    Great post as always Linda.

    Stopping in from A to Z:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah weddings can bring out the “best” in families! I love the simple but stylish wedding dress. My friend also had a hood but with fur edging from memory. As for the paisley shirt, I think Leo must have bought it from the same place as my husband got his for our daughter’s christening.

    Liked by 1 person

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