Here’s an oddball story for your day. In 1934, a thirty-year-old farmer from South Dakota named John Sourbier wrote the mayor of Omaha with a unique request. “Maybe you can help me out,” the farmer wrote. “I can make some nice girl a good husband and home, [but] the girls around here are not the kind like. So let me hear from you, and hoping you can help me.”
Letter from Sourbier to mayor of Omaha
While even in 1934 the job description of mayor did not include ‘matchmaker,’ the story of the letter did apparently make it into the Omaha World-Herald. And upon reading word the farmer’s plea, the World Theater in Omaha contacted Mr. Sourbier and made him an even more unique proposition.
Letter from Omaha World Theater to Mr. Sourbier
“We can, and will secure for you, a wife, provided you will appear on the World Theatre stage for one week, starting May 25th, afternoon and evening, and abide by the decision of our audiences in the selection of the wife,” the theater manager kindly offered. “Our plan is to secure applicants who wish to marry, and have them appear on the stage with you, make speeches to our patrons, giving their qualifications of why they should be chosen to become your wife.” After further research, it is still unclear whether or not the lonely farmer accepted the theater’s bid. But what we know for sure is that decades before The Bachelor and other shows of its ilk ever appeared on television (heck – years before the advent of television!), one Omaha showman knew exactly what kind of spectacle the public would be clamoring for, for many years to come. You can view these letters (and much, much more) in the our Photograph & Artifact Collections Search!