Thursday Morning Quickie #12

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the "M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 2

Why Prepare for Marriage?

In an American city in 1948 two girls, age seventeen, went roller skating one evening. Their parents were of the upper middle group and were well respected in the community. One of the fathers was a professional man and the other was in business. The parents had not approved of their daughters going skating by themselves, but the girls had gone anyway. During the course of the evening the girls met two handsome men who were about twenty one years of age. They skated together, they chatted, they joked with each other, and within a couple of hours the young men had proposed marriage to the girls. Each of the girls accepted the proposal believing that here was real romance and a life of thrills and happiness. The four of them got into an automobile, which had been stolen unknown to the girls, crossed the state line and awakened a justice of the peace. He married each of the two couples by candlelight at three o’clock in the morning. Within a few days the fellows robbed a service station attendant and the girls held guns on the victim while their husbands rifled his pockets and the till. What supposedly started out as romantic, thrilling marriages ended with heartbreaks and disaster. The girls soon discovered that the boys they had married were dangerous criminals who were wanted by the police in several parts of the country for robbery, rape and murder. The girls left the fellows and returned home, disillusioned and with deep emotional scars. Although this account is an unusual one, it typifies some of the results of thousands of marriages entered into in haste or without proper planning.

Quickie Questions

1. How many of you would like to get married in a similar manner? Why or why not?
2. What suggestions would you make to young people in order to prevent hasty marriages?

________________________

Thursday Morning Quickie #12

Comments

  1. it typifies some of the results of thousands of marriages entered into in haste or without proper planning.

    really? REALLY?

    sheesh… it’s ok to teach w/o using the all too present slippery slope to prove an argument

  2. This story is just bizarre.

  3. Given the time in which this lesson was written, it’s pretty typical. It is an over the top scenerio; given the the whole no-sex-before-marriage mantra drilled into their heads, spur-of-the moment-raging-hormones-marriages might have been common.

    Since my grandparents married on a dare and Carlfred Broderick’s parents married on a dare, I suspect there were quite a few other people who did the same thing ( just not honest enough to admit it). They either divorced, fell really in love, or stuck it out miserable.

  4. StillConfused says:

    I have been seeing a very nice LDS man and at times we have toyed with the idea of eloping. Good thing I saw this first. A 56 year old armed robber is not what I had in mind. Oh wait, I would have been the one holding the gun.

    Lesson learned — roller skating is the source of all evil!!

  5. As outrageous as the story is, question #1 is the most asinine question I have EVER seen in a lesson. Ever.

  6. Didn’t this happen at BYU with students going to Vegas and whatnot a few years back?

  7. I think there may be a country music video with this theme

  8. Wow, that is the sweetest hypothetical I have ever, ever seen. I wish we still taught out of these manuals!

    But as to the questions:

    (1) Isn’t that almost the Bandits premise? I really liked Bandits, so it almost seems like a good idea, minus the polyandry. Except that I’m married, haven’t participated in armed robbery (at least not recently, that I remember), and prefer Rollerblading to roller skating.

    (2) Don’t wake a justice of the peace up at 3:00 am to get married; dude might be pissed, and he probably carries a gun.

  9. oudenos says:

    I thought the whole marriage by candlelight bit was kind of romantic/hot. So there’s that.

  10. These lessons make be grateful I gave up MIA at age 15.

  11. Stephanie says:

    This is bizarre beyond belief. Besides the obvious problems like this:

    Although this account is an unusual one, it typifies some of the results of thousands of marriages entered into in haste or without proper planning.

    there are subtle problems like this:

    Their parents were of the upper middle group and were well respected in the community. One of the fathers was a professional man and the other was in business.

    I mean, the story is pretty typical and expected if you come from a poorer class, right? But if your daddy is a professional, much, much more is expected of you. I guess I smart at insinuations like this because I was poor with no dad and everyone assumed I would just become a whore.

  12. Sounds about like what my sisters did. I myself got married at 18–which was old for a woman in my family.

  13. Stephanie says:

    Oh, and I love the title. “Why prepare for Marriage?” Classic.

  14. I was so relieved when it admitted this was an unusual account but then it said “it typifies”. Unbelievable.

    And why is the class of the families relevant? It would all make sense if the dads were truckers or plumbers?

  15. (Ah. Just saw that Stephanie said the same thing.)

  16. JA Benson, just responding to your comment – it’s interesting to me that anyone would get married on a dare …

    I’m kind of curious how that conversation went.

    Was it the man daring the woman or vice-versa?

    Or was it someone outside of the relationship – daring the couple to take that step?

  17. Mark B. says:

    Since this was the 1950s, I can’t understand how they left out that these guys had both been officers in the SS and participated in the murders of thousands of innocents at Auschwitz or Treblinka.

    And they probably smoked Camels too. Unfiltered.

  18. Wait a minute. Not only was the car stolen and the rapists (who suddenly decided to marry these girls?) were wanted in several states for robbery and murder, but THEY CROSSED STATE LINES!!! Of course since it was to get married, it wasn’t for “immoral purposes,” right?

    Unless you count armed robbery as “immoral,” I guess.

    I need to re-read the story a few more times, just to make sure I got all the details.

  19. They forgot to add that the girls smoked REEFER at the roller rink, thus logically explaining their transformation from roller-skate bedecked teeny-boppers into homicidal sex-monsters.

  20. I like how the girls “soon discovered that the boys they had married were dangerous criminals who were wanted by the police in several parts of the country for robbery, rape and murder” only AFTER “…the girls held guns on the victim while their husbands rifled his pockets and the till.”

    Made me laugh. I pictured the girls holding guns on the victims thinking “well, I still don’t think this proves that these guys are dangerous criminals. We’ll need more evidence as we spend more time with them…”

  21. Cynthia L. says:

    #20: EXACTLY what I was going to comment on. Awesome!!

  22. These lessons seem so outrageous nowadays… but I’m so surprised they weren’t outrageous then.

    And the status of the families… “oh her dad was a banker! shocking!”

  23. Crime’s the life for me!
    Hope Daddy will bail me out…
    Stockholm syndrome sucks.

  24. P.S. The above is an homage to Patti Hearst, who is surprised at y’all for being so surprised these things DO happen…

  25. MikeInWeHo says:

    Love these Thursday morning quickies! This one has a proto- Thelma & Louise flavour to it. I bet the bandit/husbands were shirtless and hot, like the young Brad Pitt. That’s the only explanation.

  26. Here is the Walk Away Joe video by Trisha Yearwood. Don Henly is on it. In the end the girl realizes her Man is a criminal.

    http://www.cmt.com/videos/trisha-yearwood/71212/walkaway-joe.jhtml

  27. Dan (#23-24),

    Even if Dad won’t
    I’ve always got Slick Willy
    Haiku FTW

  28. And the status of the families… “oh her dad was a banker! shocking!”

    Suppose that the manual had been written this year, and it mentioned that her dad wasn’t a “banker” but was in management at, say, Goldman-Sachs?

  29. So apparently this is typical of a 3 hour engagement…so two weeks is completely fine?

    oh and like 20 I had to laugh…AFTER they hold the guns? really?

  30. Suppose that the manual had been written this year, and it mentioned that her dad wasn’t a “banker” but was in management at, say, Goldman-Sachs?

    Same response, sans sarcasm.

  31. Fast forward a few years and the question I would have heard in Seminary would be “Why Not Delay Marriage?” with a hypothetical involving the young man and woman finishing school, getting degrees, finding jobs, planning a long engagement and including discussions of limiting the number of children they wanted. All mortal sins.

    So, which is it?! Hurry into marriage or not?

  32. Clarification: less sarcasm that we would be talking about her family. MORE sarcasm in that it was “shocking.”

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    I like how “within a few days” the girls are wielding guns in a robbery. Those hot, shirtless Brad Pitt boys must have been wielding some major abs to have that kind of an effect on these girls. And I also like how they’re rapists, but for some reason they go out of their way to marry these particular girls. If they’re really rapists, why didn’t they, you know, rape them? It seems like the rapists thing was a completely gratuitious detail intended to signal that these were really bad guys.

  34. Thomas Parkin says:

    Tracy, Ha!!

    There is no mention whether either or these handsome men were returned missionaries. That would obviously change the equation some.

    Also, in the last sentence I would swap out the word ‘proper’ for ‘appropriate.’ I know this might been seen as splitting hairs or picking knits or whatever.

    Did any barn dancing or maybe yodeling occur during their “adventures”?

  35. Thomas,
    We can’t use the “appropriate” because it’s related to “inappropriate” which has recently been banned by Mark Brown.

  36. Really! What an outrageous scenario. It had me cracking up. It reminded me of this old church movie (I’m sure some of you will remember which one it was – Maybe Man’s Search for Happiness??) where a couple decides to marry quickly, outside of the temple, and it portrays them getting married in Vegas with tawdry red lights and a huge sleeze factor, as if there’s no middle ground at all. It’s either temple wedding or trash wedding.

    So, these stupid girls marry guys from roller rink after knowing them a couple hours and they turn out to be armed robbers and rapists. Yeah, it could happen to anyone I guess.

  37. You guys are missing the most important point in the story:

    “The parents had not approved of their daughters going skating by themselves, but the girls had gone anyway.”

    The whole sad tale was inevitable after that.

  38. Heber13 says:

    I think this should be broken into 2 lessons.

    1. Have common sense in life.

    2. Actually talk about real issues we should prepare for marriage, like even when the boy is a nice RM and dates the girl for a year…you still need to be prepared for things like handling sex, contraception, children, learning communication, looking for employment and ensuring the relationship build character in both individuals…not dominated or over powered by one person in the relationship.

    I am thinking my kids need more real marriage prep discussions, not the urban legends.

  39. I just want the world to know that I am a professional man. If you need any manning done, drop me a line. My rates are reasonable and I’m willing to do overtime.

  40. MCQ is correct in 37. This is just a classic example of the bitter fruits of apostasy disobeying your parents.

  41. Fletcher says:

    In discussing the girls holding the guns to victims’ heads, we could turn this lesson into a patriarchy question as well. At what point is it okay to disobey an unrighteous husband? Before or after he asks you to participate in armed robbery?

  42. Mommie Dearest says:

    Someone should turn this into a screenplay. And I love how roller skating is the root of all evil.

  43. oudenos says:

    I hope the two ruffians had the decency to treat the girls to some roller-skating rink pizza before they went off and wed. Or whatever the 1950s version of rink food was.

  44. …..what did I just read?!

  45. #40: I don’t think the strikeout is necessary. Here, apostasy and disobeying your parents (or, rather, going somewhere without their express permission) are pretty much interchangeable.

  46. Even in the 50s__guys like this don’t roller skate.

  47. living in zion says:

    I am still pondering the ” He married each of the two couples by candlelight at three o’clock in the morning.”

    Did the electricity turn off at 10pm? Did they drive from a town developed enough to have a roller rink with electricity to a rural state with none? Was this state in the deep, deep South?

    Were the marriages annulled on the fact the grooms were kidnappers, rapist and robbers, or did they have to site “irreconcilable differences” in divorce papers?

    How in the H-E-double hockey sticks would this story help anyone in real life?

    I recently watched “Splendor in the Grass”, the original with Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. This is a great movie about the angst of youthful pent-up sexual attraction. It also portrays all adults as stupid, thoughtless people who just don’t get it. It reminded me of the pain of being young and trying to live by the rules of our society.

  48. living in zion says:

    PS The movie is also completely overacted and my teenage kids laughed hysterically. Until the part when Natalie was sent to the asylum for cracking under the pressure. We had a nice chat about how I wouldn’t send them to a mental health institution over young love because our insurance wouldn’t cover it. They would just have to make everyone at home miserable. It’s part of the “New Economy”.

  49. Mark B. says:

    The key to the annulment question is in the first line of this sordid tale: “age seventeen”. At that age marriage without parental consent would likely have been unlawful. (When my sister married in Utah at 19 years of age in 1972, she needed my parents’ signature on the application for the marriage license.)

    So, they lied to the JP–made easier because, in the dim light given off by the candles, he couldn’t see the flush come to their faces as they lied about their age. When the truth about their ages came out–meaning, when their fathers found out and contacted the attorney at the Rotary Club the following Tuesday at Faye’s All-You-Can-Eat–getting an annulment was, as they say, child’s play.

    Same with the armed robbery–six weeks in juvie and they were home free. And they lived happily ever after.

  50. Thank you very much Mark B. I love a story with a happy ending.

  51. #16 Danithew-They went on a double date to a dance. There was a “prize” given to anyone willing to get married right then and there. The other couple started the dare, which turned into an entire room of people egging them on. Something similar happened with Dr Brodrick’s parents.

    This is an over the top example of the saying, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure”.

    Don’t you all know scare tactics and shaming are effective tools in raising teens :) (dripping in sarcasm).

  52. A “justice of the peace… married each of the two couples by candlelight at three o’clock in the morning.”
    1. How many of you would like to get married in a similar manner? Why or why not?

    Call me ultramodern if you must, but I would prefer to get married somewhere where people use those newfangled electric lights.

    2. What suggestions would you make to young people in order to prevent hasty marriages?

    Avoid unchaperoned roller skating. It’s been the downfall of many a young person.

  53. Cynthia L. says:

    Fletcher FTW.

  54. Stephanie says:

    bbell #26, that’s it! I was racking my brain trying to think of the country song that was just like this. Walk Away Joe. Now I am going to sing it in my head all night. :(

  55. The really shrewd young woman would have had her dewy-eyed groom hold the gun while SHE emptied the pockets and till.

    In answer to the first question: whatever the other circumstances, I would like to get married in such a manner that I controlled the finances–however those finances came into my possession. Live high off the patriarchy, I always say.

  56. Mark B. says:

    Go back to law school ZD Eve. They’re all guilty of Armed Robbery, no matter who holds the gun and who collects the money.

  57. Mark, don’t let your legal training limit your romantic imagination. The point isn’t to escape indictment (a bit late for that, once you’ve gone roller skating without your parents’ approval). The point is to control the cash so long as the romantic adventure endures.

  58. Starfoxy says:

    I’m not sure exactly what they intended to teach with this lesson. Sure they say it is about how Hasty Marriage is a Bad Thing and we Shouldn’t Do It, but I get the impression that anyone listening to it learned quite a bit more about how 17 yr old girls are brain dead, and can’t be trusted to leave the house alone without accidentally marrying Jeffrey Dahmer and committing armed robbery. Learning that lesson would do little to influence my own marriage plans, but would certainly change the way I treat my future teen aged female property, ahem, daughters.
    Seriously? Susie Jones, straight A student, Band booster volunteer, and Laurel Class president (or whatever it was back then), decided to go roller skating without permission. Within hours her life was ruined when she married a strange man and embarked on her life of crime.

  59. The girls left the fellows and returned home, disillusioned and with deep emotional scars.

    Disillusioned about what? Speedy courtships? Roller skating? Romance in general? Or just their soon-to-be-ex-husbands’ righteousness?

    And I love that “disillusionment” goes right next to “deep emotional scars.” Kinda like when I learned there was no Santa Claus, my disillusionment ended up landing me in therapy for six years.

  60. It seems to me the anxiety underlying the lesson is that girls might be willing to accept the promise of romance under even the most dubious circumstances (presumably because they’re just dying to be swept off of their feet).

    To make better sense of the lesson it might be useful to compare it to the popular romance narratives of the day.

  61. I liked Terence Malick’s version better.

  62. I keep wondering whether they had sex after the marriage or just went straight into the crime spree. What happened during those “few days” in between? There’s an important part of the story missing here. This is not just voyeurism, knowing whether these marriages were consumated could impact whether an annulment is possible.

    And why did they return with only disillusionment and emotional scars? No physical harm? No unpaid financial obligations? No criminal record? No teenage pregnancy? No VD? Come on, they got off so easy, they’ll be ready to go skating again next weekend!

  63. Ah, the downside of working on a Thursday morning – I don’t get to be among the first to comment on a TMQ!

    1. How many of you would like to get married in a similar manner? Why or why not?

    I have asked my wife, and she agrees that running across the state border, waking a justice of the peace at 3 am, and then robbing a service station would have been much more economical than our already-economical traditional Midwestern Mormon wedding and reception.

    2. What suggestions would you make to young people in order to prevent hasty marriages?

    I would share the advice of a good friend’s father: Be good. But, if you can’t be good, please, at least be good at it.

  64. 60: “they’re just dying to be swept off of their feet”

    That’s why roller skates are so pernicious. They make the sweeping way too easy.

  65. Left unsaid is whether the girls’ fathers took the prodigal daughters back in. Gen 2:24 is clear: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Surely the fathers gently but firmly directly their daughters to return to their husbands and lie in those soiled marriage beds that they themselves had made? Until a civil and religious annulment occurs, their primary allegiance is to their husbands, not their fathers.

  66. I just realized why those dastardly rapists married those rollerskating hussies: marital privilege! Now the girls can’t testify against them in court! Those guys were criminal geniuses who had the whole thing planned from the start!

  67. This is not just voyeurism,

    Best start of a sentence ever in the bloggernacle.

  68. It really reminds me of the manipulation in the movie The Truman Show- don’t disobey your parents, or DASTARDLY and HORRIFIC things will befall you! Like when Truman wants to travel, and all the posters at the travel agency show plane crashes. It’s so manipulative it’s funny.

  69. Eric S. says:

    I just read this. I. Can’t. Think. Right. Now. Brain stuck on laugh mode and overprocessing. “. . . it typifies . . .” LOL.

  70. What is an M- man supposed to learn from this story? For a good time, go roller skating?

  71. It is my understanding that it was this very event that initiated the Young Women’s Values program.

  72. Hilarious, and yet useless. How ’bout teaching the girls not to marry the first RM who tells them that he’s prayed about it, and yes, they’re supposed to get married. I have two divorced friends who both wish that had been taught. But of course, it doesn’t really matter if he’s an RM at all if he looks like the young Brad Pitt…

  73. You know, I actually think a similar story was circulating when I was in young women’s in the 80’s. I don’t think it involved marriage, but it did involve girls going out without parental approval, meeting hot guys, and ending up dead in a ditch. Come to think of it, I think they even crossed state lines….there must’ve been an earlier version of “For the Strength of Youth” in which we were counseled not to cross state lines. With boys. For any reason.

  74. 72-actually I distinctly remember a YW lesson to that afffect-with tons of emphasis on knowing for yourself, knowing the boy and udnerstanding how personal revelation works in the first place…great lesson.

    No roller skating though, so it probably was inappropriate

  75. Natalie says:

    I read this aloud to my husband–I could barely get through I was laughing so much.

  76. Karen H. says:

    Call me inappropriate (hee!) but the lesson I took from this was that it’s better to get your rocks off in the back parking lot of the roller rink than suppress your hormones and wind up married to an interstate criminal. Just sayin’…

  77. Dirk W. says:

    #49 Not necessarily Mark, depends on the state. Under current laws in Alabama marriage under the age of consent without parental permission is NOT grounds for voiding the marriage. In in Oregon, if one of the parties getting married are a resident of the state, and the parents of either party are not available due to being out of state, the license can be issued at age 17.

    So obviously they crossed the border from Idaho into Oregon, where the young men were from, and thus they were able to get licenses for their blushing young brides because the brides families were out of the state.

    Either that or they went to Alabama where a small lie about their ages wouldn’t void the marriage.

    http://law.jrank.org/pages/11840/Marriage-Age-Requirements.html

  78. Why didn’t the girls have to go to jail? After all, they did help hold the guns..

    Such a crazy scenario. It amazes me that type of example was allowed in the manuals!

  79. Scott,

    I want to say you made this whole thing up, but then I don’t know that even you could come up with such genius. Each line better than the last; each sin calculated to elicit a crescendo of shock and horror. Brilliant.

    Overall, my favorite thing about the story is all the time taken to really develop the plot and characters. The believability of the timeline drew me in and had me eating of the writer’s hand. Much like this week’s episode of Lost.

  80. By the way, can someone please tell me what a “professional man” is?

    I keep having mental images of members of the Legitimate Businessmen’s Social Club, but I have a hunch that isn’t really what they were going for here.

  81. Maybe “professional man” was the male equivalent of “working girl” – which would make this lesson much more understandable.

  82. Not “roller skating”!! What depravity!

  83. @42: “Someone should turn this into a screenplay. And I love how roller skating is the root of all evil.”

    My, how times changed. When I was in seminary (late 80s, early 90s), video arcades were the standard Dens of Iniquity. Wonder what it is now?

  84. Michael says:

    My grandfather was a Justice of the Peace in Riverdale, Utah for many a decade. My mom remembers several occasions when she, as a teenager, would be called from bed during the night to serve as a legal witness at a wedding ceremony in the family living room. On at least one occasion, shotguns were present.

  85. StillConfused says:

    #84 — Now there is a great movie in the making. Or a reality TV show.

  86. nat kelly says:

    I like that they were members of the “upper middle group” and not the “upper middle class”. Can’t be inciting class warfare in Sunday School, now, can we.

  87. @83: Online chat rooms.
    @84: Whoa.

  88. amandamae says:

    A “professional man”:

    http://www.rifftrax.com/apparel/bob-executive-shirt

    Which way to business?

  89. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    They were 17 and the young men were 21? At first I though they were going to be baptized. Now I see that they just disregarded the 3-year rule. And, clearly, they had not decided ahead of time that they would not ever elope. Making the decision ahead of time is more than half the battle!

  90. B. Russ says:

    I just got back from a crazy road trip after roller-skating with some teenagers I met. . . Did I miss anything while I was gone?

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