There I was, reading this amusing little article about how Justices of the Peace resorted to advertising in order to bring in more couples to be married, when all of a sudden I came across this question from the reporter to one of the Justices, George F. Seymour, known to locals simply as “Judge”:
“Is it your custom to kiss the bride, and if so, why?” I asked.
Wait, what? The Judge kissed the bride? Surely the reporter means to ask if it’s the Judge’s custom to tell the groom to kiss the bride, right? I mean, why would the Judge kiss the bride?
“No, I don’t,” he replied thoughtfully. “I believe those other fellows do, though. Well, let them. I don’t for one reason, because ‘my wife wont’ let me.’ Here the other day, after I had tied the knot good and fast for a couple” (the Judge’s mind seemed to be wandering back to his seafaring days) “and they were getting ready to make sail and leave the office with the witnesses, one of the latter sang out, ‘Ain’t you goin’ to kiss the bride, Judge?’
“I says, ‘No, I make it a practice never to kiss the bride in my office. If I want to do so I’ll do it elsewhere than here.’ The bridegroom did not quite know how to take it, but he laughed and they went away. No, I don’t want no experimental kissing with strange women; there’s too many microbes about, so I take no chances.”
This particular Justice takes his job very seriously:
“I won’t stand for any darned funny business when people come in here to get married, and that’s more than some other Justices can say. For instance, if I see the feller is lush I simply say, ‘I can’t marry you to-day.’
“If he asks why, I tell him, ”cause I’m too busy.’ If he insists on knowing, I say, ‘You’ve had a few drinks too much. I ain’t a-going to have you or the gal come back here in three or four months and say that I married you while you were “loaded.” Come back here to-morrow and if you’re all right I’ll marry.’ If he’s a sensible feller he’ll go away and return the next day with the gal and I marry ’em.
“Sometimes it’s the woman who gets the ‘call down.’ At times she laughs and tries to be ‘funny.’ Then I tell her a few things. I says, ‘Where do you think you are? In a circus? I want you to under-stand that this marrying business is a very serious thing. If you don’t take that view of it there’s a door there, and you can close it from the outside quick.’ That generally fetches them, and they cut out the laughs.”
It sounds like Judge really knows how to make a wedding day into a joyous occasion.
A MATRIMONIAL WAR BREAKS OUT IN HOBOKEN: In the Effort to Accelerate Marriages Two Justices Resort to Advertising (PDF)
From March 19, 1911
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