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Friday, 13 October 2017

Dad's Bureau: A Wedding Present for Life - Sepia Saturday

A little girl in a pretty dress is the focus of this week's Sepia Saturday prompt.  But  I have chosen to highlight the desk she is sitting at.   For it immediately brought back memories of my father, sitting at his bureau - a wedding present from my mother in 1938.  It remained with them through all their many house moves. 

This is not a great quality photograph (taken off a slide) 
but it is the only one I have of Dad at his bureau, c.1961. 

I can date this photograph to around 1961, as it was in our new home in Edinburgh,   shortly after we moved there from the north of England,  My aunt (Dad's sister in law)  died of lung cancer.  Dad, who had been a regular smoker for over 20 years,  immediately stopped smoking and never touched a cigarette again.   

Dad - John P. Weston (1912-2003) was born in Bilston, Staffordshir,  in the Enlish Midlands,  the third child of Albert Ernert Weston and Mary Barbara Matthews.   The family moved to Broseley, near Ironbridge in Shropshire.  Dad was always very proud to have grown up in this  historical centre of England's Industrial Revoutio. 

 River Severn flowing between Broseley and Ironbridge
Photograph by my brother Chris Weston
 The famous 100 feet span of the Ironbridge, linking Broseley  and Ironbridge, completed in 1779.   My grandfather Albert Ernest Weston had a 35 minute walk (one way), crossing the bridge to Coalbrookdale where he worked in the Power House.  Photograph by my brother Chris Weston.

Dad's work in sales eventually took him to Blackpool, Lancashire where he met my mother and they married 18th April 1938. 

The bureau wedding present  became an important part of the furniture.  Dad  had left school at 14  years old to work in a local grocer's shop.   Like many of his generation, he continued his education in a "self taught" manner.  He also  had an interest in journalism and it was a familiar sight to see him seated at the small typewriter on his bureau.  He was either ploughing through the paperwork of his job (now a commercial traveller)  or keeping in touch with his mother, sister and brothers  by letter. 
Wherever  we lived, Dad threw himself into the local community - he was a people person, a "joiner" and  an organizer of fetes and festivities in the church and village - so out came the typewriter again for "to do " lists and press releases.   

In later life Dad was a regular contributor of  letters to local newspapers - my mother was not too happy about this,  as he could get,  in return,  political brickbats from people of divergent views.   He also prepared talks on a variety of topics  to present  to local societies and I have the originals of his typed scripts. 

Dad often talked about his boyhood and also of  his war-time  experiences and I am afraid it did provoke the reaction “Not the war again, Dad”. We also used to joke about him being in the Intelligence Branch.  It was only later that we came to realise what a life-defining period it was and  I persuaded him to write (type) his memoirs.   
 A page from Dad's typing of his early life

I am so pleased I have these now, as they, with the correspondence between my parents (discovered after their deaths),   formed the basis of two narratives I have written  based on Dad's memories.

My parents - a photograph taken 1965 on the day of my graduation.

Dad and I, taken 1965, shortly before I left to work in the USA for a year. 


Mum and Dad  with the telegram from the Queen to mark their 60th wedding anniversary in  1998.  Sadly my mother died shortly afterwards.  

But Dad's bureau remained a potent symbol of  their marriage and the family life they created for my brother and myself and I have Dad's memories recorded on his little typewriter.  He would have loved blogging!  


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  
to share their family history and memories through photographs

Click HERE to find what memories  were evoked this week 
by other Sepia Saturday bloggers.


  1. This is a lovely, and loving, post! Your dad's manuscript reminds me of the challenges of correcting errors back in the typewriter days. And you are so lucky to have that photo of him at his bureau. Amazing how furniture can evoke such memories -- and you're right about your father and blogging. My late dad started a blog when he turned 80, and your father would surely had as much fun as mine did!

    1. I very much appreciated, Mollie, your kind comment. It was a satisfying post to write in memory of my father.

  2. you are lucky to have your father's written memories. I wish my father had spoken or written about some of his memories.

    1. I think we all regret not talking enough to our parents or asking the right questions when we can. My aunt on my mother's side had great anecdotes about her life, that I only vaguely remember - if only I had written them down or asked her to record them.

  3. Who got the bureau?
    This is a wonderful tribute to your father. You grew up in a very busy and active household, it seems, since your father was so involved in the community.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Wendy. My parents both ended their lives in care, and my brother, took the bureau, as he had the much larger house. But I kept the originals of Dad's typing.

  4. From everything you've related about your Dad and the way he wrote, I'm not the least bit doubtful about his having had fun with blogging if such had been around in his time! A beautiful post about someone you obviously loved very much. I've written down some of the stories my Dad used to tell us, but I wish he'd written them himself. He wrote a short story once - intended for the Saturday Evening Post, but it wasn't accepted unfortunately. He also painted a little and I have two of his paintings framed and hanging in our living room. :)

  5. What a nice post about your father and so good that he wrote some of his memories.

  6. An exemplar of the true Sepia Saturday spirit. To take a prompt image of a desk and turn it into a loving tribute to your Dad for us all to enjoy. I too think he would have enjoyed blogging.

    1. Thank you, for such a lovely complement on my post - I very much appreciate it.

  7. A most enjoyable memorial to your father, and that little bureau at which he spent so many hours...good connection! I really do wish elders would all put their lives into stories to share in the generations.

  8. A lovely tribute.
    We visited Ironbridge seven years ago on a holiday in the UK and I remember it very clearly. Such an interesting place.

  9. A fine tribute. I miss the percussive rhythms of typewriters and the melodic scratches of pen to paper. Wordless sounds from a desk but still expressive of a writer's thinking. A laptop and inkjet printer are not the same.


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