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Aug. 17, 1922: The Court of Cupid

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: February 4, 2013 - 11:03 AM

 

I should really save this piece for Valentine’s Day. But I’ll be speaking to a group of 50-plus singles at St. Joan of Arc next week and I need fresh material.
 
From the Minneapolis Tribune:
 

Court of Cupid Takes Up Task of
Finding Mates for 2,000 Lovelorn

 
Jury and Judge to Decide Case of Lovers’ Co-operative Union.
 
Hammonton, N.J., Aug. 16. – (Universal News Service.) – Hearts of bootleggers, financiers, merchants, peddlers, rich men poor men, beggar men, chiefs, doctors, lawyers, zoo-keepers, machinists, cowboys on the one hand.
 
 
  A match made near Echo, Minn.: Some men put their wives on a pedestal. Olai Homme put his beloved, Josephine, on a wheelbarrow for this photo by Ole Mattiason Aarseth, taken in about 1915. (Courtesy mnhs.org)
Flappers, farmerettes, widows, orphans, milliners club women, actresses, waitresses, Portias, models, artists, a snake charmer, beauty parlor owners and even a wife or two on the other.
 
They’re some of the subjects the newly appointed court of Cupid dealt with today, when the first cases of the Lovers’ Co-operative union were called.
 
It is up to a jury of 12 and Mrs. Helen Long Rodgers, judge, to make 2,000 lonely hearts beat as 1,000.
 
Judge and Jury Decides.
 
Thomas D. Dekler, secretary of the union, and Lewis Conley, president, pulled the first names form the many applicants for husbands and wives. It is up to the judge and jury to decide, for instance, whether or not a chorus girl would make a good wife for a peddler, or a banker a good husband for a flapper.
 
As soon as decisions are reached regarding a couple, both parties are communicated with. Mail order courtships are then the program for six months, and if marriage does not follow by that time the prospective bride or bridegroom is given another draw.
 
One woman from Missouri said she objected to the use of the word “mate.”
 
“It sounds too much like a bird,” she said. “My first husband was a bird. No more experiments in [ornithology for] me.”
 
Bootlegger Wants Finances.
 
Mrs. Rodgers interrupted at this point and said that the heartitorium idea was no joking matter, impressing on the jury that it should give the most serious consideration to the case of each applicant. Here are some of the requests in the questionnaires, the names being withheld to spare the embarrassment of those concerned:
 
A St. Louis bootlegger wants a wife “about 40” to finance his business.
 
A San Francisco broker wants a wife, preferably pretty with “convivial relations but one who will confine her conviviality to me.”
 
An actress wants a tired of retired business man as a husband.
 
A department store buyer wants a widower earning $15,000 a year. She is 42, but “I don’t look it.”
 
A rubber worker with six children wants any woman who will be kind to them.
 
Girl Wants Cave Man.
 
A school girl wants a cave man “who will rough me when I deserve it.”
 
A wife contemplating divorce wants a man who can afford to smoke 50-cent cigars.
 
A newspaper man wants “a girl who will be quiet and let me write. She must type my manuscripts and not be angry when they come back.”
 
But the purchasing agent of a large hardware firm wins the handsome silk-lined jigsaw. He writes:
 
“I want a wife who will let me keep my first wife’s picture on the dresser, and who will let me correspond with my second wife, from whom I was divorced. She must be poor, so she can appreciate what I can give her.”
 
It is said Cupid’s court will be in session six months.

 

Epilogue: The court was in session exactly one day, wilting under newspaper coverage belittling the concept. The total number of successful matches: zero. The chief justice, Mrs. Rodgers, resigned, as did the jury. “I just went into it as a joke,” said one juror, Mrs. Clyde Smith. “The Lovers’ Co-operative Union” turned out to be the brainchild of a newspaperman, Thomas Delker, editor of the South Jersey Star, who is identified as “Dekler” in the story above. In spite of the negative publicity, he vowed that the good work would go on: “Why, men, think! Think of all the sorrow, desolation and suffering to thousands of lonely hearts which would ensue if this whole thing were called off!” Henry J. Culshaw, unmoved, decided the Lovers’ Co-operative Union could no longer use his Palace Motion Picture Theater, and that was the end of it.

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