Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lorain's War Stamp Bride – July 1942

July 10, 1942 Article from the Lorain Journal
Did you know that a couple once had a public wedding in the storefront window of Smith and Gerhart's in Lorain? It was all part of Victory Corsage Day, a July 1942 "Retailers for Victory" national campaign to sell War Stamps and Bonds.

The Victory Corsages included both flowers and war stamps. The one dollar corsage consisted of a large gardenia and seven 10-cent war stamps. A pink carnation and two 10-cent war stamps made up the 25-cent men's boutonniere. The women's boutonniere, which sold for 50 cents, included a white carnation and four 10-cent stamps. All were tied with red, white and blue ribbons

A War Stamp album; when full,
it could be redeemed for
a savings bond
The national goal was to sell a large number of the corsages in order to dispose of a billion dollars worth of war bonds and stamps in retail stores that month. People who purchased the corsages and boutonnieres could later remove the stamps and affix them in their stamp books, which when full could be redeemed for savings bonds.

But what about the War Stamp Bride, you ask?

Miss Irene Ketchum and Joseph G. Anthony were married on Saturday, July 11, 1942 in a public ceremony in the show window of the Smith and Gerhart Company on Broadway as part of the climax of the observance of Victory Corsage Day.
Miss Ketchum was given in marriage by Council President Andrew Parobek, and the marriage was performed by Mayor Harry Van Wagnen.

The bride carried a large corsage made of war stamps that was given to her by local florist Lou Carek. He had also designed the Victory corsages being sold by "Minute Maids" on Broadway that day.

The Minute Maids (who included Virginia Rath, Dorothy Kuzak, Connie Smith, Jean Saville and Margaret Moon) were also present at the ceremony to sell Victory corsages to the women and boutonnieres to the men as part of the patriotic celebration. Anyone purchasing one dollar's worth of war stamps or a one dollar corsage was entitled to a ride in a Coast Guard boat Sunday at the Yacht Club regatta on Sunday at Lakeview Park. Speed boat rides were also available with the purchase of five dollars in war stamps; sail boat rides only "cost" $2.50 in war stamps.

The ceremony was heard on the street through an amplifying system set up by the Ohio Radio Company.

After the ceremony the bride and groom appeared at the Yachtsman's Ball. The entire bridal party were the guests of Harry Wong at dinner at the Deutschof.

Some online newspaper accounts revealed that the happy couple ended up moving to Texas, as the groom was stationed there at Ft. Sam Houston (which incidentally is where my father was discharged from the Army in 1945).

I had some limited email correspondence about a year ago with the daughter of the couple who were married in the window of Smith and Gerhart's. She was very interested in knowing how her mother happened to become a "War Stamp Bride."

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