Check out these headlines from 1912:
- Will Wed Former Convict: Stenographer Defies Family for Love of Man Just Liberated
- Won by False Love Letters: Grum, Uneducated, Got Friend to Write Miss Snell — Marriage Annulled
- Loved and Kills Wife of Another: Then Benjamin Freed, Real Estate Broker, Shoots Himself in Mrs. Silverman’s Home
And we thought the National Enquirer and TMZ were bad. These century-old headlines are nearly as slanderous and the stories as tawdry as many articles in today's scandal sheets.
Yet for all their hearsay, there's a good deal of charm and humor found in many love stories of yesterday. Below are my four favorite 1912 New York Times “love stories” — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
$500 Verdict for Actress: Fifty Love Letters Read in Court Net Her $10 Apiece
Hattie Hart, a Cleveland actress, was awarded in court $10 apiece for every love letter written to her by Captain Abram M. Cheeks, a retired Ohio River showman, oil operator and gold prospector. Miss Hart, 25, had sued Capt. Cheeks, 65, for $50,000, claiming a breach of promise of marriage. While he admitted falling in love with the young woman when she was playing on the showboat, Sunny South, he claimed he never proposed. (Don't you love their names!)
Loves the Best Man Best: Georgia Beauty Jilts Gilbert for Sullivan, and Elopes in Gilbert’s Auto. The headline tells the whole story and, nope, not that Gilbert and Sullivan. Said the groom, “I congratulate myself I didn’t get her. I got off lucky. I hope they will return my auto in good condition.”
Reunited by Her Novel: Woman Writer’s Confession in Her Book Brings Back Man She Loved. Seems a young woman refused to marry the man she loved “because of a certain incident in her past,” which she wouldn’t confess for fear he’d marry her in “chivalrous pity.” Much later, he read a review of a novel she had written based on her life and he knew it held her secret. Smitten all over again, he tracked her down in Spain, where they renewed their love. The article announced their upcoming marriage. (Sounds like a perfect made-for-TV love story. Lifetime, are you listening?)
But this is my absolute favorite:
Has a Surfeit of Love: Chicago Husband Flees from Home to Dodge Affectionate Wife
In the Court of Domestic Relations, the husband complained that his wife was not content to “caress him” and often followed him to his office. The judge declared, “No wife ought to interfere with her husband’s business by following him around. On the other hand, a husband ought to jolly his wife as much as possible.”
Happy Valentine's Day. Oh, and may your love never make the papers.