June 9, 1966: After being buried alive for a week outside of a drive-in theater in Denison, Texas, Lottie Howard married "Country" Bill White. Both of them were "buried alive" practitioners. After she was disinterred, the two left on their honeymoon.
Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram - June 19, 1966
Update: Looks like the marriage didn't last long. Two years later Country Bill got served with divorce papers — while he was buried alive. The papers were dropped down the six-inch pipe he used for air and food.
Wilmington News Journal - Mar 28, 1968
But Bill rebounded pretty quickly from his divorce. Just a few months later he was buried alive with a "34-year-old grandmother" and a go-go dancer. However, they each had individual compartments in the coffin, evidently to prevent any buried-alive hanky panky.
The Indianapolis Star - June 21, 1968
And here's a picture of Bill from 1978, looking a bit rougher around the edges.
The Benton Harbor News-Palladium - May 19, 1978
As far as I can tell, Bill kept doing his buried alive stunt until the late 1980s. In 1981 he set an endurance record for the longest time buried alive (140 consecutive days in a plywood box, 6 feet long by 3 feet wide). This record seems to have been beaten in 1999 by Geoff Smith, who spent 147 days buried in a coffin under the beer garden of his local pub. Though it's hard to know for sure because Guinness doesn't maintain a record for longest time buried alive (because of their policy of not encouraging unhealthy or life-endangering acts).
In 2005, the New Bedford Standard-Times ran an article about Bill, but that's the last media reference to him I can find. If he's still alive, he'd be around 82.
The earliest I've found this story reported was in Time magazine (Feb 8, 1954). But then it started popping up in other papers, some as late as 1956 (below). I haven't found any report that went into greater detail. Which makes me wonder if this ever really happened, or if it was one of those amusing fillers reporters sometimes invented to pad column space.
The story, as stated, seems a bit implausible. Everyone at the wedding just left without bothering to wake the bride? Really? Even assuming that "dozed off" is a euphemism for "passed out drunk."
The Sikeston Daily Standard - Jan 18, 1956
Member of the Wedding. In Boston, seeking annulment of her marriage to William Jordan, Mrs. Margaret H. Jordan testified that she dozed off during their wedding banquet, awoke to find that bridegroom and guests had departed, did not see Jordan again until five years later.
I guess that's why it's posed as a question. You don't have to say "I do."
Anyway, if you're 16, the correct response to a marriage request is 'No.' Unfortunately, it seems that Lois did end up getting married a week later, despite her initial reluctance.
The Ottawa Journal - May 1, 1971
Girl Says 'No' At the Altar
SIBSON, England (UPI) —Radiant and demure in white lace, Lois Elliott walked down the aisle on her father's arm as the organ intoned "Here Comes the Bride."
"Wilt thou," said Rev. Frank Best, "take this man to be thy lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish 'til death do you part?"
Lois, 16, smiled at Mr. Best, at her father and at the groom. "No," she said quietly. Then she turned and walked out of St. Botolph's Church.
Lois offered no immediate explanation for her change of heart. But her father, Barry Elliott, said he thought a chance remark by one of the groom's relatives "may have upset her."
Back in the 1930s, the Jockey underwear company got the idea of showing off their products by having their models wear cellophane and staging a "cellophane wedding." The first picture seems to be a trial run of this stunt, in which the company created outfits that were only half cellophane.
But in 1938, they staged a wedding with full cellophane outfits at the National Association of Retail Clothiers and Furnishers convention. The story goes that a picture of this event subsequently ran in Life magazine, by which means it then came to the attention of Adolf Hitler, who used it as an opportunity to fulminate against America's moral decline.
This page semi-coherently explains: "...a ceremony in the Newar community in Nepal in which pre-adolescent girls are 'married' to the bel fruit (wood apple), which is a symbol of the god Vishnu, ensuring that the girl becomes and remains fertile. It is believed that if the girl's husband dies later in her life, she is not considered a widow because she is married to Vishnu, and so already has a husband that is believed to be still alive."
About a year ago I posted about a wedding at which the bridegroom dropped dead of a heart attack right after saying "I do." I thought that had to qualify as one of the worst weddings ever, but this one is pretty bad also. As reported in the Chicago Tribune - Sep 21, 1907.
Brightwater sewage plant in King County, WA is advertising its availability for weddings. Which sounds a bit weird until you see that it's actually a nice location (well, nice enough; I suppose it depends on how picky one is), and comes at less than half the cost of comparable facilities. So I'd definitely consider it if I were planning a wedding. Why not? However, some people, such as the wedding planner in the video, seem outraged at the mere thought of it.
While it might be fairly common for couples to get a divorce in the United States these days, it's certainly not easy. There are questions of support, custody issues if there are children involved, and bitter arguments over who gets to keep what; all of which can drag a divorce into months of stress. But what is it like in other cultures and in other times? In centuries past, in China, a divorce could be granted for any number of reasons, so long as the bride's family agreed to take her back. Aborigine women in Australia can convince their husbands to grant a divorce but if that's not working, then all they need to do is elope with someone else. The ancient Athenians and modern-day Eskimos share an extremely simple divorce process - live separately as though they were never married. In the UK, a man tired of his wife could slip a halter around her neck, lead her into town to the cattle market, and sell her to the highest bidder. Japan had a much more advanced view, however. Marriage was not sacred and divorce was not immoral - it was merely a mismatch between families. Women's dowrys were returned in the hopes of encouraging re-marriage. You can read more on Purple Slinky, and on Hope's Blog, and in this review.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.