Being a minister’s wife was not easy.
It was life in a fishbowl, with everyone watching, and you couldn’t really be friends with people in the congregation as they would put the minister’s wife on a bit of a pedestal. Also, there were politics.
You’re playing a role, and there will be gossip, whether you do it well or not.
And your children had better behave in church.
What was worse, especially for her, was she couldn’t make her own decisions about paint and wallpaper in the house because the Manse Committee took care of that.
What I remember about my mother’s 1960s hairstyle was that it took a lot of work. There was the backcombing, by which you combed your hair straight up and then combed it back towards your scalp again, creating a tangled mass beneath the layer that was smoothed over it to give it the bouffant look. There were the curlers to give it body, as her hair was naturally very straight. She’d sleep in her curlers or use a sit-under hairdryer – that was a big purchase. It was also a big deal when she got a curling iron. And the hairspray! I don’t know if she matched the scent of her hairspray to her Chanel No. 5 cologne with the same attention that she paid to matching the colours of her clothes. I’ve always gone with simple easy hairstyles in protest. But she was a beautiful woman, and this is what beautiful women did. She obviously considered the result worthy of a rare formal portrait.
Little me (Heather) sitting between my parents. I’ve always loved this candid picture for the feeling of being enveloped and taken care of by these marvellous big people, a primal feeling about parents and especially mothers that we all have, if we’re lucky. The world without your mother in it is an unknown place.
Actually, at the time of the photo, I’d just climbed up, which is why they’re laughing. I think that I remember thinking that this is what big people do, sit side-by-side on couches, so I’m going to do that too.