18 May 2020


Lost Capitol Hill: Misbehaving Newlyweds

I quoted extensively from Mary Clemmer’s book on Washington last week, and, in particular, her vignette of the newlyweds Jonathan and Jane from Mudville. She made it sound as if newlyweds were a frequent occurrence in the nation’s capital. My question was, therefore, who else had experienced their visits, and did they have other opinions of them than Clemmer did.

While hard data is difficult to come by, a 1933 in the Indianapolis Times article quotes Frieda A. Robinson, the wife of Indiana Senator Arthur R. Robinson (that’s him on the left) saying that 100,000 couples honeymoon in Washington ever year, because of “the capitol’s beauty, complexities of its social life and the triumph of municipal planning.” Because “municipal planning” is indeed high on the list of must-haves for a honeymoon spot.

There are also a couple of anecdotes about this phenomenon, such as a paragraph in an article entitled “Their Human Side” in the October 13, 1919 Evening Star. Under the subhed “Smile on ‘Newly-Weds’” can be read:

Even hardened United States senators smile indulgently upon young “newly-weds.” This has been a great month for honeymooners in the Capitol. The other afternoon practically every senator on the floor was deeply interested in a spooning couple” in the gallery who were holding hands and otherwise giving visible indication of their obliviousness to all else but themselves until a gallery guard ruthlessly broke in upon their daydreams.

Or a story published in 1914, among other places, in the Grenada Sentinel from central Mississippi with the headline “Honeymooners Enjoy Ride in Senate Tunnel Auto”

Automobile honeymooning in the senate subway was inaugurated by a pair of newlyweds, with economy as their watchword and ingenuity as their guide, in a search for thrillers. From the capitol to the senate office building runs a tunnel, equipped with automobiles for the transportation of senators. Young chauffeurs pilot the cars in this damp passageway, which boasts no scenery but long strings of incandescent lights.

Despite the romantic repellence of the place, a gaily bedecked bride and her lord boarded one of the cars at the office building and of the tube and “cooed” as it spun along to the capitol landing.

“Capitol,” said the chauffeur. “All out.” The happy pair never moved.

Image that ran with the article (LOC)

“Let’s ride back, George!” exclaimed the bride. “Isn’t it thrilling?”

Back they rode, and for half an hour they whirled back and forth, while the chauffeur smiled and senators chuckled.

“Wasn’t it grand?” chirped the bride, as George dizzily helped her from the car after the fifteenth spin.

“Great, sweetheart,” said George.

And if there’s ever been a story that is way too good to be looked at more closely, it is this one. More on the subject next week.

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