I am a high school teacher and historian—an expert in love and romance, I certainly am not, but I have heard from some local women looking to start a family that nowadays it is hard to find men who are serious about marriage. My local history research, however, shows me that this was not always the case for local girls. At least, it was not a problem in 1910 for Mary Dewey of 128 Guernsey Street who seemed to have the opposite problem. She had two men who wanted to marry her, but could only marry one.
Mary, it seems, was a very helpful and charming switchboard operator on Greene Street. One day a Wall Street journalist called the switchboard because he was having trouble making a call. Holmes was so beguiled by Dewey’s voice and affable personality that he asked her out for a date sight unseen. She must have been suitable enough to keep his interest, because the two began dating.
Although William Shakespeare never visited Greenpoint, (at least not to my knowledge) his observation that “the course of true love never did run smooth” aptly described this Greenpoint romance, for the couple sadly soon broke up. The New York Times article of October 15, 1910 did not suggest a cause of the couple’s breakup. Perhaps, Ms. Dewey wanted to become Mrs. Holmes, but the journalist had cold feet. Anyway, Holmes pulled the switch on the romance and the two were disconnected.
Ms. Dewey did not want for suitors. She quickly became romantically involved with one of the night managers of the telephone exchange who soon proposed marriage to her—a proposition Dewey readily accepted. The manager planned later that day to travel to Borough Hall to get a marriage license, with the understanding that Mary would join him there where they would, in the eyes of the law, officially become man and wife. Fate, however, intervened.