Friday, July 8, 2011

Love at First Sight

John L. Galt, superintendent of the Confederate Home of Oklahoma, had a romance problem on his hands in November 1912.

The Oklahoma soldiers home admitted Confederate veterans and widows of Confederate veterans. Sixty-eight-year-old veteran William H. Stoneburner of Muscogee County had fallen in love with sixty-six-year-old Annie Bolling of Capitol Hill (Oklahoma County). Both claimed they were desperately in love with one another, and they were asking the superintendent’s permission to wed.

Galt was in a quandary. The home had male quarters and female quarters, but no accommodations for married couples. Also, there was the fear that connubial relations between inmates might lead to “improper familiarity” between the men and women residents who weren’t married.

What was the superintendent to do? A typical bureaucrat, he bumped the problem upstairs to his boss, Home President D. M. Hailey.

Hailey’s response was dated the next day, and he was a bit more sanguine about the affair:

“I appreciate fully that ‘love at first sight’ is a heartrending malady, and many foolish young folks laboring under the apprehension that it is the real thing awake the cold gray dawn of the morning after and find that it was a mirage. In a case of this kind we must allow some latitude for youth and inexperience, and while love must have its fling, I am fully cognizant of the fact that these young folks are full of ginger and the vigor of youth and that their minds are fully made up.

“Have they been properly advised by their ‘elders’? Have they been made to realize that the ‘new’ may someday wear off? Have they been told by the proper persons that affairs of this kind often result in the propagation of children which have to be raised, schooled and otherwise cared for?

“If I can have your word that you will whisper good counsel in their ears, I will very cheerfully join you in bestowing my blessing on their gay young heads and wishing them many happy returns of their joyous wedding day.

“I believe it would be a splendid idea not to delay the day as the suspense must be something awful to their aching young hearts. I also hereby appoint and constitute you my lawful and personal representative and authorize you to kiss the bride.”

(Mrs. Bolling and Mr. Stoneburner were married a week later at a ceremony on the front porch of the Oklahoma Confederate Home.)