60 years on… couple look back on first encounters
ON APRIL 7, 1958, Leslie and Emily Peters danced the Fascination waltz, to the silky tones of Nat King Cole’s voice, at the Natal Vedic Hall in Carlisle Street, after having exchanged their wedding vows at St Raphael’s Church.
Last Saturday, celebrating their diamond anniversary of 60 years together, the couple took a spin around the dance floor at the Elangeni Hotel, to the same waltz.
As the Right Reverend
Dino Gabriel, Anglican
Bishop of Natal, said during a special service held at St Thomas Church, Musgrave, to commemorate the occasion, such milestones are rare nowadays.
The Right Reverend Rubin Phillip, Bishop Emeritus of Natal, and former Archdeacon May Laban also participated in the ceremony.
Of course, the question on everyone’s lips was how Leslie, 89 and Emily, 85, had met all those years ago. Everyone loves a romance, and theirs also reflects how times and customs have changed.
Without Facebook, Twitter, cellphones and other modernday social media, a different course was followed along the way to tying the knot.
“Everything was compartmentalised in those days, be it race or religion,” said Leslie. “When someone caught your eye, you told your parents. The matchmakers were called in and it was their task to check that there were no skeletons in the respective family closets.”
In this case, the matchmakers were Emily’s mother’s younger sister
Aunt Emily and her husband Jimmy David – who had already earmarked Leslie and Emily as ideal for each other.
Leslie said he first noticed Emily at a teachers’ conference in July 1957, but their first face-to-face encounter was when she was shopping with her mother, and he with his, at OK Bazaars in Durban.
“None of the short skirts of today,” he recalls. “She had on a long skirt, her hair was well done, and not too much make-up.”
As a result of this encounter, Leslie’s family was invited to her family home for tea.
Emily, it seems, played hard to get and sometimes just disappeared when she was to meet him.
Typical of this was when the Davids invited him to a casual dance and somehow Emily slipped away – enough to deter a young man, but he persevered.
“Though outgoing and bubbly, she also had a shy streak,” he said.
Their first actual date was when he drove her to the beachfront. He cannot recall if there was a full moon.
“I was too busy concentrating, ensuring I did not put a foot wrong,” he laughs. Anyway, the evening proved very successful for both.
“There was no turning back for either of us,” he said.
Both enjoyed ballroom dancing. Meanwhile, with her upright posture, dress style and gracious manner, Emily was often referred to as The Queen.
“She had the same hairstyle as Queen Elizabeth of England but, unlike her, she never wore a hat.”
After their marriage, because Emily was a Methodist and he an Anglican, they would attend the early service at his church, then the later one at hers.
When this proved rather exhausting, Emily took the decision to join the Anglican faith.
On the question of a successful marriage, Leslie mentioned that sharing time together as a family was the glue that bound them.
They and their three children, Alistair, Melvin and Shirelle, played badminton on Friday nights, and tennis on Saturday afternoons, and outings were always done as a family.
Finally, Leslie stressed to guests at the function that they should find some good cause to give their time to in their youth.
“Don’t wait until your retirement. Be useful and find joy from your outreach while you are young, and make it a way of life for you,” he suggested.
Emily and Leslie Peters celebrated 60 years of marriage recently.