A Wedding Vignette From 1979

Historical Article Series May 17, 2020 > A Wedding Vignette From 1979

From the Mansfield Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. 55, No. 1, April 2019

Spring has officially arrived and as wedding season approaches, we thought you might enjoy this wedding story that was recounted by Jack Lamb in the March 1982 issue of the Mansfield Historical Society Newsletter. It will surely bring back memories to anyone who was associated with UConn or lived in the area in the late 1970s. Jack H. Lamb was a faculty member of the Department of Speech and Drama at the University.

Kimberly R. Storrs is a seventh generation lineal descendant of Samuel Storrs, who first brought the Storrs family to Mansfield. [The family moved to the Mansfield area in 1698 and Samuel Storrs became one of the original proprietors of the town, established in 1702.] She was engaged to an Army Officer named Stephen D. McConnell. Her fiancée was being transferred in September of 1979 from his base in Oklahoma to a new assignment in Maryland.

With map and schedule in hand, the couple discovered that if they traveled diligently and prepared the way before them, they would have time to come to Connecticut and be married in Storrs.

And so they made the necessary arrangements through the Town Clerk and the Judge of Probate to submit blood tests and waive the four-day waiting period between formal applica-tion for a license and its issuance. They also arranged, still by mail, with a Mansfield clergyman for the wedding ceremony.

Everything went along smoothly as planned when the prospective bride and groom arrived the morning of September 14. They picked up the marriage license at Town Hall – and then the blow struck.

The minister who had agreed to perform the marriage ceremony had been called out of town and was not available.

The couple sought out another local minister who expressed great sympathy for their plight, but found his calendar for the morning was too full to add a wedding. He did suggest that, if it would help, he knew the name of a fairly reliable Justice of the Peace. That is how Jack Lamb came into the picture.

On September 14, 1979, Mr. Lamb was at the ROTC Hangar on the University campus taking part in a semi-annual rite of passage known as “Adds and Drops.” It would be too complicated to tell those of you who haven’t experienced it what that means – the simplest explanation probably would be to offer a synonym – like madhouse, or maybe pandemonium.

Telephones are installed in the Hangar for these occasions, but not many, and the telephone numbers are known only to a select few. With persistence and perhaps a modicum of good luck, the groom made telephone contact with Mr. Lamb and asked if he could perform a marriage on the instant. Bemused by the circumstances of the call, and with no knowledge of what lay behind the sense of urgency in the voice on the telephone, Mr. Lamb agreed that if they could find the ROTC Hangar, he could marry them.

During the first few days of the semester, hardened veterans of University life find locating a parking space on campus a problem. It must have been a nightmare for Kimberly and Stephen, now growing panicky as his deadline for reporting in loomed closer and closer. But the special providence that looks after lovers must have been on duty that day, and they found both a parking place and the obscure (to a stranger on campus, at least) building they sought.

Mr. Lamb had made arrangements to have lunch with a long-time friend, and as John Vlandis approached he saw his luncheon friend leave the Hangar with a young couple. “That’s odd,” he said to himself. “Jack didn’t tell me that anyone was joining us.” But the three stopped half-way up the slope between the Hangar and the Faculty-Alumni Center. There, under a huge oak tree, Stephen and Kimberly became husband and wife. The justice of the peace, not having any copies of wedding ceremonies with him, had to improvise a ceremony on the spot. The excited and admiring women who, taking time off from their ‘Adds and Drops” duties and observing from the doorway of the Hangar, had never seen the couple before and may never see them again. But it was accomplished – it was legal – and Kimberly had been married in the land of her forebears.

Ordinarily a justice of the peace signs the marriage license and turns it in to the Town Clerk within the next few day. On this occasion the groom waited uneasily until the license was signed, and then took it himself to return to the Town Clerk. When last seen, the newlyweds were hurrying off in the direction of where they thought they had left their car. They found it, for the marriage license was duly recorded that day. We do not know, but we can hope, that they made a timely arrival in Maryland.

Mr. Lamb and Mr. Vlandis had lunch, the ladies returned to their tables in the Hangar, and within a few minutes there was no more sign that for a brief moment the past and the present had made visible contact.

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