• At the 1936 Olympics, Jesse Owens failed twice to qualify for the finals in the long jump. He should have qualified easily, but he was now in the position of not making the finals if he were to fault one more time. Fortunately, his German competitor, Lutz Long, helped him by advising him by start his jump about a foot before the fault line — that way, he would not fault and should easily qualify. The advice worked, and Mr. Owens made the finals, where he and Mr. Long competed for the gold medal, with Mr. Owens finally winning while Mr. Long won the silver medal. The two men became friends, and they stayed friends, although Mr. Long fought for the Germans in World War II. On a battlefield, Mr. Long wrote Mr. Owens, “I hope we can always remain best of friends despite the differences between our countries.” Not long after, Mr. Long died in battle. After the war was over, Mr. Long’s son, 22-year-old Peter, wrote Mr. Owens to ask him to be his best man at his wedding: “Even though my father can’t be here to be my best man, I know who he would want in his place. He would want you to take his place. And I do, too.” Mr. Owens flew to Germany, and was Peter’s best man.
• Cindy Jones is a nurse who works with cancer patients. In 1996, one such patient was about to die. One of Cindy’s colleagues asked the woman, “What is important to you?” What was important to the woman was being married to her boyfriend, but the two had kept postponing the date. The staff at the hospital got busy. Because the woman and her boyfriend had little money, a fund the hospital kept to help patients was used to buy the wedding license. The hospital chaplain performed the ceremony. The hospital’s medical media department photographer took the wedding photos. A white negligee served as a wedding dress for the woman. Sheets were hung to make the atmosphere less like that of a hospital. The woman was a very happy bride, and she died approximately four hours after becoming a wife. Ms. Jones wrote, “For years I have been wearing a button on my lab coat: ‘Oncology [Cancer] Nurses Say Never Postpone a Pleasure.’ For me, it sums up a philosophy I have developed after nearly two decades in my field. I am constantly reminded to try to live each day as if it were my last and to not have any regrets about things I wished I had taken the time to enjoy.”
• When a major earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, in early 2011, Emma Howard, 23 years old, whose wedding was supposed to happen in three days, was trapped in a tiny cavity among the rubble of a collapsed building. She sent a text to her fiancée, Chris Greenslade, saying, “It’s Emma here. I’m OK and I love you very much.” He spent the next several hours digging her and other people out from the rubble, and he helped direct a rescue crew to where she was trapped under the rubble. He also kept sending her texts, such as this one: “I’m with your parents. I love you. There are lots of men trying to get you out.” She said that after being rescued, “I said to people, ‘When I was in there I was thinking, I’m meant to be married in three days.’ And they said to me, ‘You still are.’” They were right. The wedding took place on the day it was originally scheduled — with a few changes. The groomsmen wore white shirtsleeves because their suits were destroyed in the earthquake — along with the fancy wedding cake. Mr. Greenslade said, “But everything else has gone to plan. We are just so lucky.”
• In the pre-Civil War South, slaves would have what were called broomstick weddings. On the ground, a broomstick was placed. Friends and family gathered in a circle around the broomstick. The preacher would ask the groom, “Do you take this woman to be your wife?” The man would answer, “Yes.” The preacher then would say, “Well, jump the broom.” He would jump over the broom. The preacher would then ask the bride, “Do you take this man to be your husband?” The woman would answer, “Yes.” The preacher then would say, “Well, jump the broom.” She would jump over the broom, and then the preacher would say, “I pronounce you man and wife.” Just like today, a supper and dance usually followed the wedding.
• In the days of arranged marriages for Oriental women, a father and mother told their daughter that two men had offered to marry her. A rich, ugly old man in the East wanted to marry her, and a poor, handsome young man in the West wanted to marry her. The father and mother told their daughter to raise her right hand if she wanted to marry the rich, ugly old man in the East or to raise her left hand if she wanted to marry the poor, handsome young man in the West. To their surprise, their daughter raised both arms, then explained that she wanted to dine at the dinner table of the rich, ugly old man in the East, but she wanted to sleep in the bed of the poor, handsome young man in the West.
• Blues musician B.B. King spent a lot of time on the road, a fact that contributed to some failed marriages. Therefore, he was not as eager as some of the women he dated to get married. He once said, “It really hurts me when a lady says, ‘We’ve been to dinner three times. What are your intentions?’” In one case, a woman gave him an ultimatum, saying that if he didn’t marry her then she would marry someone else. He replied, “Go ahead. I’ll bring my guitar and sing at your wedding.”
• Comedian Lewis Black got married in Rockville, Maryland. After the ceremony, he saw two police officers with a shackled prisoner in between them. Mr. Black told his brother, “When God sends a message, He certainly makes it loud and clear.” The marriage didn’t last even a year.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved