5 Times Love Conquered AllOn February 12, 2020 by Elyse
However, by “love,” I mean practical jokes and boredom. And by “all,” I mean unpronounceable surnames and social awkwardness. You know, insurmountable obstacles.
Regardless of your relationship status, take comfort in knowing that at least you (hopefully) haven’t had to beg a governor to release your significant other or had to scrounge up a date using a coffin. With Valentine’s Day approaching, grab some chocolate and enjoy a selection of stories highlighting the appallingly low bar for romance in the early 20th century.
In an era before speed dating, dating apps or even dating videos, singles had to be creative when they wanted to meet a significant other:
William D. Trentleman, building secretary of the army Young Men’s Christian association at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., advertised in a Goshen newspaper for a wife, explaining that being away from home and the monotony of an army camp made him lonely.
He’s bored and alone. . . and making a great case for himself. Be still, my beating heart.
Unknown to Miss Rose Loy of Goshen. . . somebody answered the advertisement, using her name. Trentleman came here and was admitted to the Loy home.
It’s a practical joke gone wrong! Sit back and enjoy the inevitable hilarity and hijinks. Will they involve a love triangle and a case of mistaken identity? Or perhaps a romantic boombox, er, phonograph serenade and an 11th hour “speak now or forever hold your peace?” Cupid has his work cut out for him.
After explanations were made the parties agreed to marry. They are now at Fort Leavenworth.– The Omaha Daily Bee, December 1, 1919
Well, that was anticlimactic. I’ve heard of love at first sight, but apparently, love at first explanation works just as well.
In the summer of 1911, W. I. Moody of Missoula, Montana, decided to have some fun at the expense of his sister, Grace Moody, who was visiting from Waterloo, Iowa.
But he wasn’t content to simply short sheet her bed. Instead, W. I. took the prank to a whole new level and:
. . . sent a “joke” telegram to another brother, C. A. Moody, in Nashua, Iowa, telling the latter that Miss Moody and Mr. [Earl] Scott had been married last Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Worst. Brother. Ever. Or is he?
C. A. Moody took the telegram seriously, with the result that the story of the wedding appeared in the Nashua papers and was copied by Waterloo papers and several others.
When Miss Moody and her mother returned from the west to Minneapolis they learned of the publication of the story of the marriage and the couple was unable to convince their friends that it was not true. Then they decided to get married, and the ceremony was the result.– The Daily Missoulian, August 2, 1911
You know you’re in a pickle when a wedding is the path of least resistance. At least the newlyweds didn’t have to shell out for newspaper announcements.
No word on if the prankster brother made the guest list, but according to the article, he gave the new couple a wedding gift of $5,000 (about $138,000 in today’s money), and family harmony was restored.
Who knew so many marriages originated as practical jokes?
These practical jokes weren’t limited to newspaper advertisements and telegrams:
. . . in a spirit of fun, Miss [Mary Kingsley of Tillingly, Connecticut] wrote a note on a coffin in the factory of which she was employed, wrapped it around the handle of the coffin, and waited to see what would happen.
“Fun” and “coffin” do not belong in the same sentence. If she’s that bored at work, all she has to do is place a newspaper advertisement asking for a husband; as we’ve seen, some practical joker would surely send him straight to her door.
The casket in due course reached the Wescott undertaking establishment at Sioux City [Iowa], of which Mr. [Joseph] Law was a director. He found the note enclosed in a tissue paper wrapper covering one of the handles of the coffin.
And he promptly disposed of it because it’s weird to reply to messages delivered in coffins. . . Right?
He wrote a letter in answer to the note, and addressed it to Miss Kingsley, who replied. The correspondence soon grew serious, and after an exchange of photographs the pair announced their engagement.– Weekly Mail, August 14, 1909
Practical jokes: 3; sanctity of marriage: 0.
Aren’t all relationships about compromise?
In 1916, Long Island public school principal and do-gooder Mary Fairchild apparently had too much time on her hands and:
. . . decided to take up prison welfare work as a relief from the routine of the schoolroom. She selected Sing Sing as the field for her operations. On her very first visit she met [German immigrant Henry Hoppe, who was imprisoned for robbery and carrying concealed and deadly weapons].
Next thing we know, Mary’s going to be driving the getaway car.
She became interested in his case and felt certain he would make an excellent citizen, if he had a chance. She went before the Judge who had sentenced Hoppe, and then carried her plea to Governor Whitman. Hoppe was paroled.– The County Record, April 8, 1920
Who needs criminal justice reform when you have friends in high places?
Mary’s efforts weren’t in vain, and three years later, Henry was law abiding, gainfully employed in the confectionery business. . . and married—to Mary, of course, “following an unusual romance in which cupid again demonstrated that ‘stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.’”
Can’t get enough of love? Click here for more romantic stories featuring yawning bridegrooms, mistaken identities and light larceny.
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Disclaimer: The modern era is far from the first to grapple with rampant “fake news.” As I am neither a historian nor journalist, I make no claims about the accuracy or lack thereof of the above sources. I assert only that they make for a good story.
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About This Blog
Welcome to Second Glance History! This blog seeks to uncover the people and the stories forgotten by history and give them another read through a modern lens. Join me every week as we examine the differences that divide and the common threads that connect the then to the now.