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Memories of York County’s Tom Thumb weddings

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The photo above comes courtesy of Dale Schaffer of York Township, who brought it into the YDR office on Jan. 20 and shared a bit of his story with one of our reporters, the awesome Brandie Kessler.

Dale is pictured in the photo, standing fifth from the right in the second row from the front. The little girl standing to his right (our left when you look at the photo), who is wearing a covering on her head, is Anna Walton, the girl to whom he was “married” in a Tom Thumb wedding ceremony in the 1930s.

Dale said that the several dozen children pictured are wearing dress clothing that their mothers, or the mother of a classmate, made for them. “All the parents made the clothing. I remember my mother making them,” he recalled.

The children were third- through eighth-grade students from York Haven Grade School. The photo was taken on the steps of York Haven Library. Schaffer noted that his sister, who was two years old than him, is also in the picture, but he couldn’t point her out.

Schaffer said he thought some of the children in the photograph might still be living. He said he wanted to share it with YDR readers, and that’s why he brought it in.

Just for fun, I searched through our archives and found a neat story about another Tom Thumb wedding.

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Pictured here are Maxine (Repman) Clemens and Larry Clemens, then 10 and 12 years old respectively, at their Tom Thumb wedding in 1946, and after exchanging vows (legally, this time!) in 1954. The Clemenses, who were married in 1954 at York Haven United Methodist Church by the Rev. Carl Varner, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2005 and shared the photos at that time.

According to a story from that time by former YDR staffer Loretta Martin, their Tom Thumb wedding was held at York Haven Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1946 as part of a program for Children’s Day, and they were randomly paired up by the women of the church.

Maxine wore a crepe paper dress, complete with veil, and Larry wore a suit, complete with boutonniere. Her attendants and flower girl preceded her down the aisle as she carried a bouquet of carrot tops.

Larry’s brother told him he would have to kiss the bride and paid him 25 cents to do it. Maxine was looking forward to the kiss, though she didn’t know if she was going to get one. But for 25 cents, Larry kissed her — on the cheek.

I wonder if any of Dale’s classmates later went on to get married like the Clemenses did!

I’d love to hear your memories of local Tom Thumb weddings. Any stories to share?

Got any questions? Ask Joan using the form at right. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future “Ask Joan” column on this blog. I get a large volume, but I will feature three each week and answer as many as possible!

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