Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, February 23, 2009

A VERY sad story

This was in yesterday's Detroit Free Press, taken from the Indianapolis Star.
I find it a very sad, depressing story.
To have married 23 times......

23 marriages later, Indiana woman still looking for love
ANDERSON, Ind. -- Throughout her life, she has been Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Street and Mrs. Smith.
She was also Mrs. Moyer, Mrs. Massie and Mrs. McMillan.
But the former Mrs. Berisford, Mrs. Chandler and Mrs. Essex was born Linda Lou Taylor.
She grew up in Alexandria, Ind., a place that lays claim to the largest ball of dried paint in the world. Farther south is Greensburg, where a man once leaped from a plane a record 640 times in a day. More than a decade ago, the 68-year-old found her own way to bring Indiana a Guinness world record: She got hitched for the 23rd time.
Her first marriage was in 1957, for love.
Her most recent wedding was in 1996, for publicity.
Now known as Mrs. Linda Wolfe, she is the most married woman in history.
And she is alone.
A list of lovers
Wolfe can't list her husbands in order. But she remembers things that matter.
The nicest was George Scott, her first and -- at seven years -- her longest marriage. He was 31 and fresh from a stint in the military. She was 16 and just out of eighth grade. The best lover was Jack Gourley, who liked skinny dipping and impromptu trysts on long country drives. She wed him three times over.
The marriage to Fred Chadwick was the shortest, lasting just 36 hours. The love wasn't there.
The strangest exchange of vows took place at the Indiana Reformatory at Pendleton to a one-eyed inmate named Tom Stutzman, the son of wealthy Mormons, who she said was wrongly convicted of rape.
And her last beau; well, his history of marriage makes Wolfe seem almost chaste.
Linda Wolfe has been married in front of judges and priests, in grand halls and living rooms. She never wrote her own vows. And she always saw the end coming.
Two of her husbands were gay. Two were homeless. A few stepped out on her, but she never did the dirty on them. One choked her. Another secured the fridge with a padlock.
Wolfe had enough bad experiences to rue the whole shambolic sequence. So one day, she squashed all her wedding and engagement rings into her daughter's dirty diapers, bagged them and waited by the curb for the trash collector.
"I stood right there and watched, and they were beautiful rings," she said. "Good riddance."
Marriage-minded from the start
Wolfe wears acid-wash jeans, a "Chicks Kick Butt" sweatshirt, and goes heavy on the blush. Her long hair used to be blonde, but it's gray now.
She lives in a retirement housing complex, surrounded by fields that turn to cold corn stubble in winter. Other female residents have names betraying their age, like Doris, Bertha, Marta and Norma.
She has been here three years, long enough to fill her room with trinkets, like her plastic Furby collection. Medicine bottles, glass angels, and crucifixes sit on the coffee table in front of her like talismans.
"It's easy to sum up," she said of her life. "When I was younger I was just a snot-nosed kid, but the neighborhood boys were all in love with me. They all wanted to marry me."
Wolfe was born in 1940, the youngest of seven children.
Her father died when she was 2. Her mother took in washing and ironing and cleaned houses.
"She made it -- took us through school," Wolfe said. "She was a real kind, sweet, loving mother. We grew up all of us Christians, till we got older."
As a teen, Wolfe started chasing boys around town. She claims to have run off and unofficially married several of them, until her mother put a stop to it. Wolfe ended up with seven children of her own, born to her first three husbands: George Scott, Bill Moyer and Bill McMillan.
"They don't come around me," Wolfe said of her brood. "They've got their own lives to live."
Command performances
Zsa Zsa Gabor married nine times -- Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor, eight each.
But they're famous in spite of their marriages, rather than because of them. By the early 1990s, Wolfe was commanding appearance fees of $5,000 to $20,000 on the talk-show circuit. Sometimes she did shows via satellite, and sometimes she traveled. She wrote songs; the few titles she remembers -- "When It's Over," and "The Last Journey" -- seem to reflect the reality of her life.
Most of Wolfe's husbands have died, from heart problems and cancer, from old age and bad luck.
One of the few still living is Charley Collis. The pair met when she was in her early 40s, and he was in his early 20s.
"We stayed married six months," Collis said. "My mom and dad didn't want me married to her. I had a lot of confrontations with them over that."
Collis is currently at Plainfield Re-Entry Education Facility, soon to be released after serving a couple of years for forgery and theft, but he still loves his little "honey bunny."
"We just got along great," he said.
Wolfe walks now with a cane. When she was younger, she said, she used to strut.
"I'd flip my hair back -- it was just something I've always done," she said. "The cars would honk. There was a wreck or two because of me. That's just the story of my life. Men ran after me. I've tried to figure it out, and I can't."
Wolfe's many husbands include a vending machine repairman, barmen and brawlers, electricians and plumbers, musicians and machinists. But her final man was a preacher.
Glynn (Scotty) Wolfe was a Baptist minister, and by the time he reached his 80s, he was also the most married man in the world. Linda Wolfe was his 29th bride.
The last walk?
They say Scotty took the holy out of matrimony, that he married so often because he wanted sex without sin, and that he once divorced a woman for eating sunflower seeds in bed.
Scotty and Linda wed in Quartzsite, Ariz., in 1996. A British TV crew filmed the event, but Wolfe has never seen the footage or the money promised to her for the publicity stunt.
Shortly afterward, she returned to Indiana and he to California, where he died, destitute, just 10 days before their one-year anniversary. Only one of his 19 children came to the funeral -- a son who couldn't afford the cremation fee.
Wolfe fears a similar fate. She has been single now for a dozen years, her longest stint unmarried since childhood. Wolfe has the record, but she would rather have something else, more common and more lasting.
"But I would get married again," she said, "because, you know, it gets lonely."