October 29, 2022 | Last updated Dec 28, 2023

A Real Romance

Valentine’s Day has long been the day to celebrate romantic love—but, as the Omaha Daily Bee pointed out on April 29, 1882, there’s “Nothing Like a Little Common Sense in Love Matters.” Of what it termed a “Real Romance” in which practicality trumped love, the Bee said:

“About two years ago there resided in this city a hard working and respectable mechanic, an iron worker in the U.P. shops, who resided with his wife in a small cottage in south Omaha. This cottage had been built for him on the monthly installment plan and for a time the payments were made quite regularly. He had one child, a son, about ten or twelve years of age.

“In the same family there boarded a young man, a clerk in one of our dry goods stores, who also rented a room in the house. The wife of the mechanic was a prepossessing brunette, with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes, and the clerk, while acting with commendable prudence, contrived to insinuate himself into her good graces and eventually win that place in her heart which was due to her husband alone.

“After a time payments on the house became less easy to meet and at length failed altogether and the honest mechanic was in danger of losing all that he had invested in it and of finding himself without a home in the world. At this stage of the proceedings the clerk, who had contrived to save something out of a very fair salary, offered to the husband to pay off the entire indebtedness on the house and give him a quit claim deed in consideration of his relinquishing all claims upon his wife, and to this the man, driven to despair by his straitened financial condition, consented. The bargain was duly carried out, the title to the house transferred to the U.P. man and the clerk, resigning his position, left the city with the wife of his friend for parts unknown.

“Time rolled along with its changing moons and revolving seasons, and added to the age of the parties to the unlawful contract and to the maturity of the boy who had been thus deprived of a mother’s love and care. Three months ago the young man went to Kansas City on a visit, and while there promenading the streets one day, met his mother and the man for whom she had deserted him and her home, walking arm in arm on the street. The recognition was mutual. The boy wrote to his father, and the result was a correspondence between the husband and lover of the woman. This, after a short time, terminated in another transfer of the woman back to her husband, who received a further consideration of two hundred dollars, and soon after the woman came back with her son, resumed her former life in the old home and is now living there happily with her husband and son.

“The honest mechanic has thus by a judicious investment of his matrimonial capital, secured a home, free from encumbrance, and a snug little sum in cash, and is now in a comparatively independent condition, while the dry goods clerk and the wife have enjoyed the heyday of their passion, and are both, no doubt, glad to resume their former conditions.”

Above: This is not the couple in the story, but another from that era. Mr. and Mrs. L. N. Beager were married in Custer County, Nebraska, on August 13, 1889. History Nebraska RG2608-2182

— Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications

(February 2011)


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