Some couples did it on the sly. Others made the choice for simplicity’s sake. Some were in a hurry and just wanted to get the deed done.
No matter what the reason, there were dozens and dozens of couples from southern Michigan and northwest Ohio who chose to marry in Angola, Ind., during the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
“I think it was a fad around that time,” said Wilma Fink, who married there in 1939, and she thinks she knows the reason why.
“It was after they put in a law in Michigan about applying for a license and waiting three or four days,” she said.
When some couples made the decision to get married, three or four days was simply too long.
From the Morenci area, Angola was the first county seat in Indiana for matrimony-minded couples.
Wilma and her then-boyfriend Charlie were students at Adrian College when they headed to Indiana. They planned to go to LaGrange, but the car started coughing and sputtering around Fayette.
They had it checked out, but of course there was no problem when the mechanic drove it for a test, so on they went toward Indiana.
“It started coughing again so we decided Angola was just far enough,” Wilma said.
They asked about a Congregational Church, but there wasn’t one in town so they went to the Methodist parsonage. The pastor accepted whatever payment was offered, which wasn’t much.
“I think Charlie only had five bucks,” Wilma said.
They stopped for a hamburger on the way home—probably in Fayette—then drove back to the college.
“I went to a sorority party that night and Charlie went to a fraternity party.”
It was a clandestine affair and three weeks passed before Wilma mentioned her new status to her mother. Was she angry? No, she had another concern.
“What were you wearing?” her mother asked.
Wilma told her and her mother was satisfied.
“At least you were dressed decently,” she said.