In the good old days after their courtship and marriage celebration, it was time for the newlyweds to have a chivaree or a noisy party by their friends who would gather and try to kidnap one or both partners for a while before their first wedding night. The crowd would come beating on pans and making lots of noise to serenade the couple. After their friends were placated with refreshments and more celebrating, it was time for the newlyweds to be left alone.
Few could afford a fancy honeymoon. Most new couples started married life very modestly. They might move into the bride’s own bedroom in her parents’ home until they could get some money saved to buy their own place. My parents got married secretly and after the ceremony returned home separately to their parents’ residences without telling anyone. When finally the cat was let out of the bag when my mom’s younger sister Ethel (in above photo later with her husband Sonny, she turns 90 on Sunday) found a simple wedding band hidden in the china closet, it was time to formally declare their marriage and establish a common residence. My mom moved in with her in laws as they had room, and my dad got employment on the railroad. Eventually, she was able to live with my dad in his bachelor quarters by the tracks and share a small bed with her new husband. They were as happy as it they had a new split level home with all new appliances, but they had little-no electricity or running water in their temporary quarters provided by the railroad for its workers.
My dad (photo with my mom in Islen, Nevada near Caliente) was promoted from work crew to dispatcher and they were able to get a small––think one-room apartment with sparse furniture. Little by little with their family’s help they acquired more-a table and chairs, an old sofa and a chest of drawers. Their first big purchase as newlyweds was a gasoline washing machine, and later a car. Such humble beginnings to start a marriage would be frowned upon today but they were happy in their home sweet home together. Other earlier ancestors of mine started out their married life in a dugout or log cabin.
My husband’s great grandparents lived in a tent in Oklahoma during the oil boom days before they were able to homestead some land and construct a small one room lean-to that was home. The important thing for the couple was their love and being together.