Keith Bracey

This is a photograph of my parents’ wedding on the 22nd March 1952.

On the far left is my paternal grandfather Wilfred Bracey who worked at Cadburys and at the Birmingham Public Works Department. He fought in the Great War in Greece in Thessaloniki with the Royal Horse Artillery. He managed to survive and marry my grandmother Elsie Bracey who is the formidable-looking lady wearing the hat and holding the bag to his right.

Next to Elsie is the best man, John Downes who was a good friend of my Dad. I think they met through drinking at the Kings Arms pub in Harborne, he owned a fruit and vegetable shop in Oldbury, near to where we live now.

In the middle of the group is my dad, Leslie Charles Bracey. He was 30 years old when he got married, which would have been quite late for a guy in those times. He was known as the Harborne Tarzan. The title was given to him by The Sports Argus, who had written about him following a match for the Kings Arms Pub, he had long flowing dark hair and he must have resembled the Hollywood actor Johnny Weissmuller who played Tarzan and was an Olympic swimming gold medalist. He had served in the RAF in the Second World War signing up as an 18-year-old in 1940, he was part of a covert squadron called RAF Tempsford which used to drop the spies into occupied France during the war which was the only time he ever went abroad in his life.

My mom, Dorothy Angela Merriman, is standing to the right of my dad. She was 24 on her wedding day. At the age of 14 she began work at the Midland Red Bus Company in Bearwood, and was a comptometer operator and would tot up all the fares collected off the local bus users. She worked there until I was born in 1958. My mom was one of five and grew up in a back-to-back house in Dugdale Street off Dudley Road, Winson Green, before moving to Bearwood. Her two younger sisters are the bridesmaids in this photograph, my aunties Jan and Maureen. The chief bridesmaid standing next to my grandad is my dad’s sister, my Auntie Edna.

My mom’s mom is standing to her right, Gwendoline Alice Merriman, who grew up in Pershore in Worcestershire. My grandfather, Arthur Lewis Augustus Joseph Merriman, is on the end of the photograph at the far right. He was bought up in Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds where he became an apprentice silversmith in the early 20th century with Ashbee Silversmiths. He was a sniper with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the Great War.

My dad was very outgoing, liked a drink, liked a laugh and loved his sport, which he passed on to me and to my siblings, Richard and Gillian. My mom was very family orientated. She liked reading and was a big cat lover. They were married for 37 years and gave us a very good upbringing.

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