The Bridal Path: 1891

1894 walking courting couple British Library

Illustration courtesy of the British Library


Young Men and Women, So a Policeman Says, Understand Each Other There.

There is a short section of Madison avenue not far above the square that has been christened the Bridal Path by the policeman into whose beat it comes.

“I call it the Bridal Path,” said the policeman, “because it leads straight to the altar. I’ve been on this same beat now for four years, and I tell you there’s something about this strip of sidewalk that makes the boys and girls come to terms. The ones that use it nearly all live around here, and so I learn about their getting married. You may not believe it, but I’ve heard the question popped myself right along this walk when I was passing by a spoony couple. And I’ll tell of one real case that I had a hand in, and it’ll prove to you that there is some secret charm about this quiet sidewalk that really brings about marriages.

“I had long watched a girl and her beau walking along Lexington avenue on summer afternoons. His face always looked troubled, while she was always smiling. He would be arguing with her about something, and she would never get serious. I saw right away what the trouble was. The young fellow loved the girl and was trying to get her to say yes, while she was coquetting with him and holding him off. It worried me, and I thought if the two would only do their walking here on Madison avenue instead of on Lexington avenue they would soon come to an understanding.

“But they stuck to Lexington, and the fellow kept on pleading, while the girl laughed him off. Then I couldn’t stand it any longer, and one night when the young man had left the girl at her door I stopped him and said I thought he would find Madison avenue a pleasanter place to walk. At first he got mad at my interference, but afterward he saw that I meant no disrespect and began laughing at my suggestion, I guess he thought I was a crank of some sort. Next day, though, he and the girl changed over on to Madison avenue, and when I passed them the young fellow nodded pleasantly to me. Now, said I to myself, we’ll have a wedding. For a few days the girl didn’t stop smiling, and I was getting a little afraid of the charm.

“Then one afternoon the two came along, and I saw that the girl’s face was serious. She was flushed, and she kept her eyes cast down as she walked. The young man was talking harder than ever, but his face was brighter than I had seen it before. Just at dusk I saw him taking her to her door. She was thoughtful and he was radiant. Well, sir, the two are married now, and they say that she dotes on him. Oh, there’s no doubt about the charm. Look at the boys and girls round here. There are four couples in sight now, and every one is a marriage. Why, I spooned my own wife here, so I ought to know what I’m talking about.” New York Sun.

Carlisle [PA] Evening Herald 27 May 1891: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well, that is an extraordinary statement, but we must assume that the policeman of the period knew his beat. And we have previously read of a“love-haunted chamber” that inspired the most hardened bachelor or old maid to head for the altar.

Young people who wish to pop the question to-day are under considerable pressure to create an unforgettable event in an impeccably appropriate venue. A simple walk on a magical street would be sneered at by many young persons, who look for billionaire-event-planner levels of detail: a hot air balloon in Provence, furnished with truffles and a bottle of the rare wine the couple drank on their first date; a Harry Winston diamond ring served up on the bride-to-be’s “signature flavour” ice-cream sundae; a proposal written on Roger Federer’s sweat-band, delivered to the loved one in the Royal Box at the Wimbledon finals…

Mrs Daffodil has a word of advice to those besotted lovers who would orchestrate such follies: While fulfilling a loved one’s proposal fantasies seems a harmless indulgence, one may be assured that such demands will only escalate during the wedding planning period, honeymoon, and for the duration of the marriage, which, Mrs Daffodil advises frankly, should be cut short or even omitted altogether should one find themselves yoked with such an exacting spouse-to-be. “High-maintenance” is really only appropriate when it references re-leading the stained glass windows at one’s ancient manor house or maintaining a Bugatti motor-car.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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