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A Shout From The Attic: The Esmé Years - 3

Ronnie Bray tells of his first wedding day.

On May 4th 1957 I married Esmé Rosemary Beatrice Aubrey at Woodlands Street Chapel, Bradford. I was 22 and she was 19. In reality, we were both 10. The marriage was solemnised by Harry Summersell, then president of the Bournemouth Branch that met in the Fellowship Hall, Kimberley Road, Southbourne, Hampshire.

I met Esmé when I was serving as a missionary with Elder Hone from Pleasant Grove, Utah. She was making plans to emigrate to California to live with Elder and Sister Johnson, a missionary couple who had brought her into the Church. Cognisant of the advice from the Church leaders for members to stay in their own countries and build up the Church, I said to Esmé one day, “You don’t want to go to California.” She took that as evidence of a romantic interest in her. She had apparently been in love with missionaries before, for, as she later explained, when she was me she had said to herself, “If I fall in love this time it will be Elder Bray!”

She was an attractive and intelligent girl, and I enjoyed talking to her. Her interest in me soon became noticeable, and I was flattered by the attention. Somehow, we forged an understanding without ever vocalising it. I did not resist the movement because it felt good, so I went with the flow, and found myself in league with the sweet young lady from Southbourne. We spoke in innuendo, which is not the best way to understand exactly what is in the other’s mind or why one is being steered towards a particular conclusion, however willingly.

I have to admit that I was more than a little flattered by her regard and did not have the heart to disappoint her from her romantic notion, so I warmed to the idea without too much encouragement and called the mission president and told him that I was becoming fond of a local sister and could I be transferred? He concurred, and I was sent to Bristol to be Neil McEwen’s companion. Esmé and I wrote to each other almost every day for the remainder of my full time ministry.

Harry Summersell married Esmé and me at the Woodlands Street Chapel of our church in Bradford on 4th May 1957. Glynis and Iris were Esmé’s bridesmaids, and Dennis Livesey was my best man.

We travelled by train to Blackpool after the wedding, and stayed one night at the Palatine Hotel on the front. We got a cheap room, just enough space for the bed and a sideboard, and it seemed to be directly under the ballroom where a mad drummer was taking them home until about three in the morning.

I looked out of the window that faced offshore, and saw crowds of people, perhaps a hundred or so, staring up at our room. “What are they playing at?”, I thought. Next day, when we went for a walk on the promenade we saw that a twenty-four hour news ticker ran around the corner of the building at the level of our room and the people had been reading the news. That explained that.

Later that day, we travelled back to Huddersfield on the train and took up residence in our flat at Longroyd Bridge in the big house. Mother had donated a bed, and a wardrobe, once denizens of 121 for our home. We got a table and a couple of chairs from somewhere else.

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