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Sep 21, 2018
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A print copy of The Collegian featured a story about a "secret marriage" on the campus of then-Fresno State College. (Henry Madden Library Digital Archive)

‘Secret’ marriage performed at Fresno State 96 years ago today

Fresno State has seen its share of odd news. We’ve dug up archives that led us to a story from 96 years ago, about a “secret marriage” that was performed on campus. The university at that time was called Fresno State College.

The Collegian reported on the moment in its Vol. 1, No. 1 issue. As it appears, the student body president at the time was the groom. Below is the full story as it was presented on Feb. 8, 1922.

The original author of the story is unknown.

“And do you take this woman as your lawful wife?”

The four walls of the foyer of the Fresno State College echoed these most solemn words, as mouthed by the Rev. E. Martin, then received the time-worn phrase, “I pronounce you man and wife.”

Witnesses and friends crowded about to offer the newlyweds their congratulations but Mr. and Mrs. L.R. Nielson hurried away. Their happiness was short-lived, for cruel world that it is, the study-bell pealed forth its harsh notes and called away the bridal party to classes.

They parted, and being a dutiful husband, Nielson awfted [sic] a hearty token of affection (in other words — a kiss) upon the wintry breezes to his departing wife, but alas, she failed to receive it. Then husband was wont [sic] to give a gift more real, more material, as it were. Ah, ’twas then that woman turned traitor, as wife fled down the corridor.

It is voiced by the many friends of the happy couple that a honeymoon, taking in local theatre and ice-cream parlor, is being planned for the near future. An old-time charivari is being worked out by the Nielson sympathizers, to take place soon after the announcement to the press, and the student-body, of which Mr. Nielson is president, of his new ties. Thus far it has been a deep, deep secret.

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