100 Years

17 Jun

I was just in my bedroom pretending to dust. Actually, I wasn’t. I was pretending to think about maybe dusting when I noticed the date on this marriage license. This is the marriage license of my paternal great-grandparents. They were married in Kentwood, Louisiana (my great-grandmother being one of the Kents of Kentwood on her mother’s side and one of “those Broyles girls” on her father’s.) June 7, 1911. Last week would have been their 100th anniversary.

Otto’s family came to the States from Norway when he was a baby. He ended up in the timber business for a while. He met Emily Ruth Broyles when she was about 13, if I remember correctly, although she was 18 or so by the time they married. He’d set his mind to marrying one of those Broyles girls.  There were eight or so of them at the time. Edith and Mary Pope came later.

Miss Ruthie and Otto were very enamored of each other, I’m told. I do remember Granny being concerned that by the time she died, she’d be so much older than Otto was when he died (she lived another 16 years), and she was concerned he might have picked himself a sweet young thing by the time she got to heaven. I don’t know much about the afterlife, but I have a feeling he waited for his sweetie.

I knew a lot about Granny’s mother’s family. The Kents are well documented and full of frustrated writers. But I didn’t know too much about her father’s family. Before my grandmother died, she told me that Granny’s father was from Christian County, Kentucky. My husband’s father’s family is also from Christian County. It made me wonder a little: Did our families know each other? Did they go to the same church or bank? Did theBroyles and Elliott wives ever chat with each other while waiting at the butcher’s? The Broyles were merchants, did the Elliotts do business with them?

The thing about this piece of paper, is that you KNOW you’re married when you see it. There is no doubt. Not like the ugly, utilitarian license my husband and I have that was hastily filled in with cheap ballpoint pen ink. You can even seen the blotch on the “O” in “Otto” where the fountain pen didn’t quite get going. It’s a functional piece of art, not as ornate as most Jewish ketubot are, but substantial nonetheless with its Art Nouveau lettering and detailing and its dogwood blossoms.

Happy 100th Anniversary, Otto and Ruthie. As soon as I post this, I’ll raise a glass in your honor.

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