Getting Married and Learning to Read

My grandmother’s gift to her new husband would later become a blessing to her as well.

Paul Thomas Swann
2 min readApr 5, 2021
Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

When they got married in 1903, in Alabama, my paternal grandfather (Ollie Manning) could not read.

I am sure this was common in this area of Alabama in the early twentieth century. Probably common to lots of people during this time.

My grandfather was a carpenter, so he could work and earn a living. My grandmother (Mary Jones) decided that she would teach him to read. And she did.

When they married, she was about 15 years old and he was about 26. The picture below shows them on their wedding day. She was a little over 5 feet tall and he was over six. I am not sure why the custom was to make women stand while the men sat. But it would probably look strange with him looming over her with his six-feet-something frame while she sat. Maybe she could have stood on the chair!

The next photo shows them years later. They are probably both well in their sixties and seventies. I am really not sure, but I do know that one is 11 years older than the other.

So, there is my grandfather, whom I never knew, reading to my grandmother, whom I also never knew. Here’s the best thing about this: He’s reading his bible to his sweet wife after her eyesight had gotten so bad that she could read no longer. I wish I could have spent time with them.

From the writer’s personal files.
From the writer’s personal files.

Paul Swann is a dad, husband to a beautiful Russian, lawyer, legal instructor, writer, and occasional guitar player. He spends his time in Arkansas with his aforementioned Princess Bride and two ne’er-do-well dogs. You may find him on Facebook, Instagram, his Medium Page, or at PaulSwann.Com.