Our family has probably been wondering all those years, why they haven’t heard about our wedding or seen the snaps of the happy couple tying the knot: so many years ago. Well, the short answer is, there is nothing to tell and no pictures were taken of the occasion. Still there must be a story. Perhaps there is and I tell you of what I can remember.
Actually we wanted to marry on Christmas Eve so that we could give us, to each other, as our Christmas present. But the date was booked out already by some other eager couples who had the same idea. So we settled on Friday, the 21st of December. Our only guests were our witnesses to the ceremony, my sister Ilse and her husband Klaus. The rest of our two families weren’t informed and our two mothers were strictly against the marriage. Mothers-in-law are never keen on the future partners of their children. Uta’s mother had some strong points and she was was not shy pointing them out.
I was unemployed at the time, between jobs so to speak. I was not the right kind of husband for her daughter. Oh no, if she would marry me that would be the end of the relationship with her daughter. We would be as good as dead and never to be talked about again.
My mother was of a different calibre and liked Uta too much to give her blessings to the marriage. Oh no, she said, Peter is no good, he is so lazy and you would always have to work very hard for him. Don’t marry him, it could only mean disaster .
Have you ever heard of people in love listening to their elders? We went ahead with our arrangements anyway. The ceremony was booked for early in the morning. As my mother’s apartment was only about 500m from the registry office, we decided, that Uta could sleep at her place too. Because always something goes wrong, we slept in. Perhaps we rehearsed the wedding night too hard or those long winter nights are made to sleep in, after all it was the longest night of the year!
We got up and rushed to get away. I can’t remember having had any breakfast. The town hall with the registry office was only one station away by underground train: reason enough, not to waste our precious money on the fare. We ran hand in hand to make it to the office on time. But alas, we were late and they took the next couple in first. We had time to get our breath back and say “Hello” to Ilse and Klaus. Soon the happy couple in front of us came out and we were ushered in.
U-Bahn Station viewed from park
The celebrant was sitting behind a big desk and gave us a lecture how good it was to get married and we were looking for a bright future together. That was the word we wanted to hear, together. A few scribbles on the document and we were man and wife in matrimony, if not in holy.
Outside awaited us a dark grey and cold morning and an uncertain future. But we were married and happy despite everything. A female photographer approached us to make some happy snaps. We declined for the simple reason that we had no money: not even for flowers. Still all this happiness made as hungry and as we all know hunger does not respect poverty. Not that we thought we were poor, we were just short of money. We decided we were to have lunch and walked for about thirty minutes to a department store aptly named “Bilka” short for “El Cheapo” or the “Palace of low Prices” just the right place for us. The department store had a dining area on the upper floor with a giant dome above suggesting heaven and the escalator swept us up to it. We had a beautiful meal with Ilse and Klaus and all had Creme of Leek soup as entrée. As main I had “Sauerbraten” and Uta had “Falschen Hasen (meat loaf)”. My sister insists to this day it was the best soup she ever had. Today the building contains a sport department store. From outside it looks the same and the dome is still visible.
After the meal we were looking for some entertainment. What better then go to a cinema and watch a very romantic love story. So, we decided on “The Lady and the Tramp”. We loved it and I’m sure, when the tramp and the lady had their dinner and their mouth met eating spaghetti Uta’s and my hand met in the dark.
After the session, it was still early afternoon, we were looking for more entertainment. Nearby was another cinema “Die Kurbel” and they showed “Giant” with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. “Jimmy” Dean was definitely the flavour of the month and why not invite him to our wedding. It was a great movie, we thought then. It was a long movie and when we came out of the cinema it was dark and even colder than during the day. Our wedding guests felt they had enough of all this celebrating sitting in the dark and they wanted to go home, which was really not far away.
The Kurbel then and now
We had a longer way to the room we had rented as subtenants. But first we went back to my mother’s place to pick up our few possessions. We stayed for some coffee and cake and then walked about two kilometres to our new home. The lady, who was the primary tenant of the flat, had left us some flowers and a card on the table. That was really kind of her. It was a heart warming gesture of welcome to the room that had a temperature of minus 2. We could not heat the room because as newly weds we had no right yet for some coal. We had to arrange that. Because of an early, severe winter there was a shortage of coal in Berlin.
So, our wedding night was in a room that was so cold that the only thing to keep us warm was some heat creating activity. We did not need a special invitation for that. Three days later on Christmas eve I was able to secure a job starting on the second of January. We could not have had a better combined Christmas and wedding present. Even to us the future looked brighter and it was the first victory against our two mothers.