Thursday, 4 August 2011

Diamond Congratulations for a sparkling marriage ...

The times they do change ... Happy Anniversary to Harry and Helen: Sixty Years of a good fulsome marriage ... many happy times and loads of  laughter ...

Early in World War II, 1941, they plighted their troth ... Helen, as a young girl visiting the local greengrocers, decided that the owner’s lad would be her fairy prince ... and she was not going to let anybody stand or anything get in her way.

Harry, of course, thought – yugh ... a little blonde girl ... no ways ... but ...

Who could have guessed
when you began married life
how entwined you'd become
as husband and wife.
After 60 years
you still say "I Love You"
in many different ways.
May the Diamond day remind you
you share a special happiness
life gives to very few.

Brixton Windmill 1820 -
where local corn and barley
were milled (author unknown)
They have memories many ... Helen’s family who, in the 1930s, came from Scotland to look for work ... in a rapidly expanding area of South London ... where post WW1 industrialisation and conurbation was enveloping those fields where corn and barley once were grown.

In the early 1920s Helen’s father went off to Argentina to find work ... he became a “gaucho” – a nomadic cattle rancher - on the Argentine Pampas.  Change was happening here too ... wild cattle were brought to the Pampas from Paraguay in 1580, by the early 1700s commercial cattle ranching had begun.

He was one of many trying their hand in Argentina ... between the 1850s and 1950 over 4 million Europeans migrated permanently ... Helen’s prince would have been someone very different from her Harry – but fortunately her father was one of 3 million seasonal workers, who returned back to their homeland.

Gaucho 1887
He obviously totally lived the gaucho life .. as on his return to Scotland, he could read and speak Castilian Spanish.  Later on he was invited to Spain to use those skills working in the media.

Helen has a few of her father’s paintings on her wall ... one of Lawrence of Arabia and one of  St Paul’s Cathedral.  When his demise came and they were clearing out his effects ... lo and behold two pearl handled revolvers, dated 1908, appeared!

Now in this country .. you’re not allowed to own a gun, unless you have a licence – no licence!  Harry in the 1980s pops them in his pocket and off to the police station he goes – whereupon he’s arrested!  The policeman locks him up ... despite the logical explanation  ... common sense did not prevail, but eventually he gets out ... after a quick word in the right ear ... all charges were dropped.

An early 20th century
pearl-handled Smith & 
Wesson revolver
This obviously slightly shocked Helen – but I suspect she’d lived through a few other escapades with Harry and I’m sure life has been interesting.

Returning to our love story .. our Diamond Anniversary ... Helen, the Moon Goddess, ... became engaged to Harry, the Home Ruler ... during the early part of the War – then Harry got sent with the Special Forces to Malaya ... where he was shot – fortunately not killed and was repatriated after a spell in hospital.

Married life began in grim conditions ... London was bombed out, the uncertainty of the future ... after the War, Harry found a job in a Munitions factory – then when that closed he worked for a Municipal gardening company, then on to work in Security for the Imperial War Museum ... before being promoted to the photographic archive department.

Harry served 25 long years ...  and as every good husband does - gave Helen his unopened wage packet!   He earned £5 per week ... £1 went to pay the rent for their house, then Helen gave her husband 10 shillings (ten bob - as it was known) for cigarettes, the odd beer – those were the days.

There was very little spare especially as rations were still in place ... and once little Phillip came along, the wage packet was stretched even further ... often to breaking point – there was no money to buy coal and it was positively freezing.

Harry went on his own for his weekly visit to his mother, as the conditions were just too icy for a tiny newborn ... before Harry left his mother gave him a Mars Bar – with strict instructions that it was for Helen only. 

Giving your Chocolate Ration away was a very generous gift ... anyway Harry needed 1/2p for the 1 1/2p bus fare home, so he asked if he could borrow from his mother .. not a problem. 

The next week the family returned for his mother’s lunch ...  as they were leaving – Harry’s mother said .. ‘haven’t you forgotten something?’  ‘No’ Harry said and thought as he looked around ... ‘What about the 1/2p I leant you?’ ... Ah! ... he had asked to borrow ... his mother expected that money back ...

Graphic from the original
Broadway cast album:
"A Funny Thing Happened on
the Way to the Forum"
The Mars Bar contained no chocolate – just £250!  Yet his mother wanted her borrowed half-penny back!  £250 is worth approximately £7,000 today ...  enough to buy a few bags of coal!

Helen loves to sing and during the war sang in a choir, which entertained the troops and unmarried mothers ... later on they both joined the local theatre, with Phillip now working as a stage hand, their enjoyment in the entertainment industry continues.

Eventually a move to the seaside prevailed and ...

A group of 
multi-coloured diamonds
One by one each year flew by,
since you both said "I do"...
60 years of memories,
shared by the two of you.
From big events and holidays
to simple daily pleasures,
some tearful times along life's way,
some joys that can't be measured...
One by one each year now gone,
but still they're yours forever...
each and every memory,
of sixty years together!

Have a Happy Diamond Wedding – Helen and Harry – a Positive Letter for a day that's filled with fun, and remember 60 years ago when two became one!

Dear Mr Postman – please make sure this is delivered to Helen and Harry for their special day ... you pass Helen on your way to see my mother.

See my post here for more information on diamonds and baroque pearls ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

The Queen's card sent to Helen and Harry
(NB a different photo is sent each time)
Greeting from the Queen


Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

What a delightful happy love story. Sixty years together and full of such loving tenderness. An inspiration to us all - Beric and I have forty years to catch up with Harry & Helen's wonderful achievement.

Wishing them an eternity more of love, happiness and togetherness.

Judy, South Africa

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Judy .. you're so right an inspiration to us all .. sixty years is a wonderful amount of time to spend with the someone you love .. as is your twenty years .. keep going!!

Thanks so much - I'll pass the message on .. Hilary


A wonderful tribute of a love and marriage that has lasted 60 years. A wonderful story and one I enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing this with us it certainly brightened up a dull wet day.

Yvonne. said...

Awh bless! What a delightful post and Happy 60th Anniversary to Harry and Helen :O)

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful story Hilary - So many tiny gems of history buried within it. You have told it well. Thank you and Happy anniversary to Helen and Harry :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. so pleased you enjoyed these reminiscent snippets of Helen and Harry ... they'll appreciate your thought - and yes it does the cheer the day .. but we need the rain rather desperately too!

@ Madeleine .. many thanks I'll pass on your best wishes!

@ Deborah .. thanks so much .. I tried to slip in a few 'gems' of history - they'll be pleased with your thoughts ..

Thank you so much .. Yvonne, Madeleine and Deborah .. Helen and Harry will be having a great tea party up at the Home this p.m. .. and I shall pass on your best - then. Cheers Hilary

Ann said...

What a lovely tribute to mark Helen and Harry's Diamond Anniversary. Such a wonderful history. What an inspiration.

Unknown said...

Happy Anniversary to Harry and Helen! Sixty Years is such a feat!

Wow, those revolvers must be worth a fortune!

I will never undervalue chocolate again! I couldn't imagine a Mars Bar at £250!

Wonderful poems!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ann .. it's wonderful that they've reached their diamond years and it's been a privilege to get to know them ..

@ Clarissa .. 60 years is pretty amazing.

I'm not sure the revolvers were like this .. but I just liked the picture! and the story .. being locked up for finding your father-in-laws pistols!!

I wonder if there a few more Mars Bars out there with £250 in .. even now .. it'd be worth a few bob!

Thanks the words of the poem rang so true .. I incorporated it into the post ..

Glad you enjoyed it and I'll pass your good wishes on to Helen and Harry! Many thanks - Hilary

Karen Walker said...

Wow, 60 years together. That's only two less years than I've been alive. My parents were married 50+ years, but they were miserable. So nice to hear about people who are happy together for so long.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Ahh, a wonderful tribute. And 60 years of marriage is to be congratulated!

Great post, Hilary!

Empty Nest Insider said...

This story has it all; romance, intrigue, history and poetry, not to mention incredible photos! 60 years of marriage does deserve all of this and more! Very well done as usual Hilary! Julie

walk2write said...

Helen and Harry are lucky to have you for a friend, someone who appreciates the value of what's really important in life. Humor, self-sacrifice, hard work, friendship, respect, and most of all, love. Best wishes to Helen and Harry on a life well-lived!

Bossy Betty said...

What an inspirational love story! Happy 60th anniversary to the happy couple.

Linda said...

Fabulous story, and a look into times past. Hard times, but good times nonetheless. Congratulations to Helen and Harry!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

this is a gem of a story, Hilary. Sixty years goes by so fast. Thank you for sharing Harry and Helen's story. They sound delightful. So glad Harry had the good sense to recognize his bride when he saw her. Lovely history.

Betsy Wuebker said...

What a delightful story! Congratulations to the youngsters!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Karen .. as you say Wow .. it is great seeing people who are happily married - as Harry said today .. there's no reason to moan.

@ Teresa .. thanks - 60 years is definitely to be congratulated.

@ Julie .. thank you! It was fun to write up - though I missed some of Harry's wonderful stories .. glad you enjoyed it.

@ W2W - It's good to be able to share times in a Nursing Centre .. it helps us all .. and they both have much wisdom ..

@ Bossy Betty - it is a love story isn't it .. and they've had a good day - very emotional ...

@ Linda .. it was interesting to write to be able to bring in Helen's father's information .. we don't think of people going off the Argentine in the 1920s .. or for that matter becoming a gaucho!

@ Joylene .. I think sixty years has gone by fast for them - and they've seen so much during the time of their marriage .. Harry, I am sure, is for ever grateful Helen spied him out!!

Thank you everyone .. they've had a great day and are so surprised to get so many congratulatory wishes from overseas -

Really appreciate your thoughts for them .. many thanks - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betsy .. thanks .. and yes many congratulations to the youngsters! Many memories for them and too many to be told here .. Good to see you - and they'll be pleased to have your congratulations .. Hilary

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,
A truly uplifting tale of the power of love. Hearty congrats to Harry and Helen on their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Diamond congratulations and one gem of a story.
Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story, Hilary.
In kindness, Gary

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary -

What a lovely, romantic story! Congrats to Helen and Harry.

Susan :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gary .. it is an uplifting story and so wonderful to meet them and be able to share their day. Just so lovely they love each other and are still together devotedly.

@ Susan .. isn't it romantic and they held together and remained true -

Thank you Gary and Susan - they'll be delighted to have your congratulations .. Hilary

Manzanita said...

One of my favorite periods of history is WW2 and the romantic marriages that came out of it. You are such a dear friend to honor their 60 year anniversary with remembrances, poetry and photos. Chocolate, ah, how everyone loves chocolate. :)
Thank you Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh, what a sweet tribute to Helen and Harry. I loved learning a bit more about them and Harry's story with his mom. Happy anniversary!

60 years? Wow. I hope my marriage lasts that long. We're going to have to live to a ripe ol' age!

That clear diamond is gorgeous!

Rosalind Adam said...

What a lovely tribute to a happy and very lucky couple. I love the way you've sent this to them via Mr Postman. I hope they also receive all of our sincerest wishes.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Manzanita .. it's a great collection of snippets from times past .. so I was pleased it all came together ..

@ Theresa .. yes Harry's story with his mother is great - there's many others too!

I'm sure your marriage will long survive .. we're all living to great ages .. Diamonds are a girl's best friend aren't they!!

@ Ros .. they're a great couple .. and Mr Postman was happy to oblige ..

AND I WILL BE COPYING EVERYONE'S COMMENTS FOR THEM TO READ .. they'll be very appreciative I know that ..

Thanks Manzanita, Theresa and Ros .. and everyone who has commented and who will - Helen and Harry will be so pleased.

Cheers - enjoy your weekends .. Hilary

Talli Roland said...

What a fantastic post, Hilary, full of love in difficult times! Thank you!

Golden Eagle said...

That's a wonderful story! :)

Happy Anniversary to Helen and Harry!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Wonderful story! And a delightful chunk of history. Here I was, feeling like my 15 years next week was an accomplishment!

Karen Lange said...

Lovely indeed! Happy Anniversary Harry and Helen! :)

MunirGhiasuddin said...

Awe - - what a cute love story and what a lovely marraige. I wonder what their secret is. Not every one makes it that long. Happy Anniversary to the young at heart. May God Bless them. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute, Hilary, to a wonderful couple. What a beautiful love story that reminds me of one out of my own life: two friends of mine who married in 1943 and had eleven awesome children (and thus numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren). She just died at age 87 in June. I love to hear about such long-lasting marriages in a world where marriage seems to be less and less fashionable.

Hugs to you from me and Jen ))) Hope you enjoy the weekend.
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

amy@ Souldipper said...

Asking how lives of couples, in long term marriages, came together is one of my favourite questions, Hilary. Thank you for this story of Helen and Harry. I hope they are able to enjoy many more adventures together.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Talli .. full of love during difficult times - as you say; it's always good to read these tales ..

@ Golden Eagle .. many tnanks

@ Shannon .. 15 years next week is a good way to go - congratulations to you both from us all here ..

@ Karen .. it is as you say - lovely

@ Munir .. it would be good to know their secret wouldn't it .. love of each other's imperfections, tolerance and plain happiness of heart.

@ Ann .. thank you. It is a beautiful story with so many tales interwoven; but married in 1943 is a long time ago and with 11 children - that's a great marriage too .. and happiness ever after does give us hope ...

Thanks for the special hugs from you and Jen .. I hope your weekend is cooler, but I'm not sure it is!

@ Amy .. it is interesting to find out how they met etc .. and bring back some of those memories .. isn't it - certainly Harry and Helen have many to tell of South London and its surrounds ..

Thank you Talli, Golden Eagle, Shannon, Karen, Munir, Ann (and Jen) and Amy - I'll pass your congratulations on to Harry and Helen .. enjoy your weekends .. Hilary

Liara Covert said...

Always appreciate the insight you offer in your reflections. Wonder if you have ever heard the notion that couples of every species look more and more alike the longer they remain together? Do you notice this in humans you know?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. thank you .. certainly humans act more and more like each other as the years go by .. saying things in a similar way, and their behaviour, or reactions to things .. togetherness is (I guess) ..

They say that people start to look like their shaggy dogs if they have one.. or like their pets .. some, yes, you can see when you spot them in the street ..

Interesting thought .. not sure a post is coming from these thoughts!

Cheers and Happy Anniversary for today and birthday earlier this week .. hope you're being treated magically! Hilary

Glynis Peters said...

What a beautiful story, thanks for sharing, Hilary. My grandparents made it to 62yrs of marriage before granddad passed. They had a telegram from the Queen.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Glynis .. pleasure .. your grandparents did well too .. my mother's uncle and aunt - they made it to their diamond anniversary.

Harry and Helen had a card from the Queen - which I'll photograph and edit into the blog .. on Monday ..

Cheers - Hilary

Anonymous said...

Incredible!! 60 years, and what a history they have. I love the part about the candy bar..I'd be happy to find a $10 in one!! :) Hilary, you have the BEST stories ever!!! :) Hope you're having a great weekend!

Ella said...

What an endearing story! There are so many facets in a marriage. We have to remember to see the brilliance, as time marches on! Wow, they deserve a medal ;D So touching and beautiful; I'm glad you shared~ Well Done!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Scarlett - 60 years is a long time but I bet they had lots of fun during those years. It's interesting to add a little history in .. and like you - I'd be happy to find a $10 bill in a Mars Bar.

Thanks Scarlett - delighted you enjoyed their tale .. and you too enjoy your Sunday.

@ Ella .. it is a love story .. and as you say so many facets .. marriage seems to be beautifully imperfect ...

So pleased you too Ella, enjoyed the share ..

Thanks - enjoy your Sunday and the coming week .. Hilary

Gail said...

I am always inspired and in awe when I read here. Thank you.

Amanda said...

What a lovely story, Hilary. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gail - many thanks .. Harry and Helen are special and deserve to be acknowledged -

@ Amanda - thank you

Glad you both enjoyed hearing about Helen and Harry .. thanks for being here - have a good week .. Hilary

The Blonde Duck said...

That is such a wonderful story! So many don't know what marriage really means today!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Blonde Duck .. yes, Helen was blonde too!

You're right with your comment re not understanding commitment and responsibilities and all that marriage brings ..

Like you Helen and Harry have had a good long happy marriage .. thank you for coming by .. Hilary

Unknown said...

A wonderful inspirational story!

Friko said...

What a sweet, heartwarming tale.

BK said...

Happy Diamond Wedding to Harry and Helen. It was very sweet to read about their story and that truly inspires me. Hilary, thank you for the inspiration with this love story.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Carole Anne .. many thanks - Helen and Harry will be pleased to read this ..

@ Friko ..isn't it just .. thank you!

@ BK - they'll be glad to hear from you .. and it does make us think about time together .. glad you enjoyed it and I'll pass your congratulations on ..

Many thanks Carole Anne, Friko and BK .. Hilary

Sara said...


I had tears in my eyes by the end of this post. What a sweet post. In a time when marriages often don't last half that time; it nice to see one that has endured.

I agree Happy Diamond Wedding to Helen and Harry and many more:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sara .. good to see you .. you're so right about a marriage that has endured through thick and thin .. something we don't see too much of.

Helen and Harry are a wonderful couple .. full of devotion for each other .. so absolutely a Happy Diamond Wedding Anniversary .. thanks for coming by .. Hilary

TALON said...

I always think I've been married a long time (31 years) until I read a story like this and then I'm in awe and feel like a newbie :)

Happy Anniversary, Helen and Harry! Amazing!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Talon .. congratulations on your 31 years .. but as you say 60+ is pretty amazing .. I'll pass your wishes on .. cheers Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

There are more stories? You may have to write another post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Theresa .. I think Harry is full of stories! Certainly a few I left out ... so perhaps you're right ..

Cheers for now .. and we'll see what turns up!! Hilary

Connie Arnold said...

Thanks for sharing the great story, Hilary. How wonderful that they are celebrating 60 years together! It's a lovely post.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Connie .. thank you - I'll pass your message on .. it's just a great celebration to be a part of .. thanks - Hilary

Susan Scheid said...

What a lovely story of two lives well lived, and so long together!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. isn't it wonderful and am so pleased you enjoyed 'their tale' .. and I'll pass the message on to them ... thanks - Hilary