Jul 22, 2006

The First Match

This is the first story I remember hearing about matchmaking, an old and quite successful way for societies to match couples for marriage. It is important to remember that friends and relatives (and paid matchmakers) desire a successful marriage. In the cases I know, an individual can veto the selection of the matchmaker--who then observes the reason for the mismatch and finds a more suitable candidate. More about this, later.

My Grandma told me she and Grandpa were alone together for the first time when they traveled in a horse and buggy to City Hall to get a marriage license. Grandma was 17 years old and Grandpa was almost ten years older. He had been looking for a wife and friends told him about a young girl recently arrived from the 'old country.'

Grandma had left her mother to join her father who had come to Kansas City some years earlier. He did not know his oldest daughter was coming until she sent a letter from Chicago announcing her arrival in the U.S. Grandpa lived in a rented room, possibly with other single men who also worked in the Kansas City stockyards. Grandma had to obtain separate sleeping quarters that was an extra expense to her father. The solution was simple--Grandma was beautiful and could be easily married.

The ladies in the boarding house and the people at church served as matchmakers for the couple. Grandpa got a beautiful young woman who was trained as a seamstress for his bride and Grandma got a hard-working husband who had already saved $800. Within a few months, the couple were married at an ethnic parish in Kansas City, Kansas. The marriage produced five children and ended when Grandpa died. Grandma never remarried.

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