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.

Somehow, Mr. Holmes got wind of Mary’s marriage plans and he instantly lost his cold feet. He rushed over to Greenpoint and proposed without hesitation to Ms. Dewey who accepted for a second time, without informing the night manager of her decision to marry the journalist. Holmes and his future wife sped off by taxi to Borough Hall to tie the knot. The couple arrived just before the night manager and got their license. Another journalist who learned of their story introduced them to Judge Gaynor who immediately took them to the reporters room also on the first floor of Borough Hall where he married the couple, only a few feet away from the ignorant, unfortunate night manager who was left waiting for hours for his bride who never appeared. Several hours later, the unlucky manager was informed that Dewey had married another man. The Times reported that the other girls at the switchboard found the love story “too perfectly romantic.” We do not know what became of the night manager, but he most certainly must have rued his inability to hook up with Ms. Dewey.


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