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July 24, 1920: Two suitors, one bride

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • August 3, 2010 - 4:56 PM
The curious thing about this front-page story: It’s not clear how the Tribune reporter gathered all the riveting details. Was he in the family's living room as the entire drama unfolded? Or did he arrive on the scene late, acting on a tip, and reconstruct actions and dialogue based on interviews with the family? Or, sad to say, did he make up most of this tale?

I checked the next few issues of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune to see whether a wedding took place, was postponed or was called off altogether. No luck. And a search of public records dating back to the 1920s shows no evidence that Margaret Corcoran and Howard Rebeck ever married.

Two Suitors, Armed With Licenses, Meet
to Marry Same Girl; Wedding Postponed

In grim defiance two men stood facing each other across the living room table in the home of Miss Margaret Corcoran, 3008 Garfield avenue, last night. Both were suitors for her hand.
 
On the table between torn paper lay littered – once a marriage license issued by the Hennepin county district court clerk yesterday. It had been torn in anger, and decided Margaret’s choice of the man she wished to marry.
 
 
  Margaret Corcoran
 
  Howard Rebeck
On one side of the table stood Donale E. Walp, traveling salesman. On either side of him stood the parents of the girl. He was their choice.
 
Facing him was Howard Rebeck, 206 E. Twenty-sixth street, employed by the Western Electric company. On his arm clung Margaret, loyal to the man of her choice. Her little sister stood gazing inquiringly into her eyes as she clung to Margaret’s skirt.
 
Margaret had been introduced to Walp by her parents. He sang and played, and was an interesting conversationalist. Romance lurked in the meeting of Margaret and Howard Rebeck. When the boys went away to war she helped pass out the gift kits of the Red Cross and other organizations. Into the one she gave Howard she put her name and address. Thus their friendship grew.
 
Yesterday morning Walp obtained a marriage license. She read of it in the newspaper. She called Howard and he also obtained a license, setting the wedding at his home for last night. He went to her home to get his bride-to-be when he was confronted by Walp, whom he had never seen before.
 
Walp displayed his license as he confronted Rebeck. Margaret grasped it and tore it to bits, denying his right to her hand.
 
In this fashion the two men stood while the battle of wills was on. Neither would give in. Neither spoke.
 
The strain was telling on Walp. Finally he broke the silence.
 
“You win,” he said.
 
Rebeck picked up his hat, took Margaret by the arm and turned to the door. The mother held out her hands in an appealing gesture towards the girl.
 
“Don’t go,’ she said. “He is not the man of our choice. Your father and I want you to marry Donald, Margaret.”
 
Margarent turned and looked into Rebeck’s face. Taking him by the hand she led him through the door and onto the porch. A cab, with engine running, was standing at the curb. It was to take Rebeck, his prospective bride and minister to the Rebeck home, 206 Twenty-sixth street, for the simple marriage ceremony.
 
 
  Here's what love looked like in the early 1920s: Groom Frank Koch and his bride Margaret Fischer at 1354 Arcade St., St. Paul. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)
From pleading the mother’s manner changed to one of anger. She rushed after the departing couple. At the curb she grasped Margaret by the arm.
 
“Will you break your mother’s heart by disobeying me?” she asked. “Remember your duty to your father and me.”
 
Mother’s Plea Prevails.
 
The girl looked at her mother and then at the bridegroom. He nodded his head, leading her back to the porch and into the house. As the mother reached the steps she swooned, falling into her husband’s arms. A moment later Margaret sank to the floor. Walp stood over the mother, fanning her, while Rebeck poured cold water on Margaret’s forehead.
 
While this was transpiring a different scene was being enacted in the Rebeck home. The father, A.W. Rebeck, was pacing the floor in subdued excitement.
 
Emmett E. Coughlin, 3406 Harriet avenue south, had told Mr. Rebeck that Howard called at his place of employment late yesterday afternoon. Breathlessly he told him that he was to be married, he said, and told him he was to be the best man.
 
‘Best Man’ Offers Help.
 
As the time for the wedding passed and no bride and groom appeared Coughlin called the Corcoran home. Howard answered the phone.
 
“How long before you will be over?” Coughlin asked.
 
“There won’t be any wedding tonight,” was the reply.
 
Coughlin, a cousin of Howard’s, told the elder Rebeck that he was going to the Corcoran home to see if he could be of any help.
 
As he stepped on the street car another man joined him. Turning he saw the elder Rebeck. “Maybe I can help, too,” he said in reply to the query in Coughlin’s eyes.
 
The father stood outside the Corcoran home as Coughlin entered. There he found Howard bending over the prostrate form of Margaret.
 
Howard Proves Philosopher.
 
“Just hard luck, dad,” Howard said, as he came to the door. The boy explained the trouble and the father left.
 
The mother was revived by a physician. The daughter also had recovered consciousness.
 
“We can get married later,” Howard said. Margaret reminded him of how for the past few months they had gone each week to the savings bank where they both had an account jointly and deposited a bit towards making a home.
 
“Which one of the men do you love and which do you want to marry?” Margaret was asked. Her answer was to turn and throw her arms about Howard’s neck.

 

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