The original scan for this article comes from: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1906-10-14/ed-1/seq-48.pdf.
Washington Times Magazine, October 14, 1906, page 9:
When Miss Lucille Sherdowne Married Dr. Lee De Forest, Inventor of the Telegraph System That Bears His Name, She Became Known as "The Wireless Bride," Because Her Future Husband Taught Her Telegraphy, Installed a Set of Instruments in Her Own Particular Den, and Did Most of His Courting by Wireless--And Now Comes the Sad Ending of Last Winter's Greatest Romance.
IS THERE any way of getting a divorce by wireless? If there is, they'll probably do it, and that will be the end of the prettiest of last winter's romances--that of Dr. Lee De Forest, inventor of the De Forest system of wireless telegraphy and vice-president of the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company, and Miss Lucille Sherdowne, daughter of Mrs. M. T. Sherdowne of 619 West 114 street, New York.
They were married on Saturday, February 17, 1906--two days after the Roosevelt - Longworth wedding, and while the sentimental interest of the entire country was directed toward that pair of lovers. Which is probably how they escaped with scarcely more than passing notice. But even then, the story of their wooing attracted some attention to them, and pretty Lucille Sherdowne De Forest is likely to go down to history as "the wireless bride." For her husband taught her telegraphy and installed a set of instruments in her own particular den, and, it is said, did most of wooing by wireless.
It began just about a year ago and this is the way it happened.
Met His Fate.
Dr. Lee De Forest was hard at work in his office at 42 Broadway when he was called to the telephone to talk to a friend. And this is what the office heard: "Awfully sorry, old man but I can't possibly." "No, really, I can't." "Wish I could, but I don't have time to go anywhere these days." "Well, I suppose I might--look in late--just for a little while." "Yes, if I can possibly make it." The friend had wanted his to come to an uptown club and wouldn't take no for an answer. And De Forest, having given his word, kept it, and from that hour his fate was sealed.
Among the "lot of people" his friend wanted him to meet was Miss Lucille Sherdowne. The others didn't matter. She was a bright girl, who had been educated abroad, had seen all the things he hoped some day to see, and could tell him about them, had met many of the people he hoped some day to meet and could tell him about them. He was going over as soon as he could make time; meantime he was delighted to talk them all over with her. In fact, found it increasingly pleasant to talk most anything over with her. He became quite a frequent visitor at 619 West 114th street, where she and her mother lived. He felt quite humble before her when he found that she was mistress of five languages, until she made him explain telegraphy and delightedly pointed out that hers was a new language of which she knew nothing.
Of course, he offered to teach her and the lessons began. Dr. De Forest made a small set of wireless instruments, the same in design as those used at the wireless stations along the Atlantic coast and on ocean liners, and fitted them in Miss Sherdowne's home. He had already fitted his own home at 315 West Ninety-seventh street with a similar set of instruments, and he had a third set in his office downtown.
Had An Apt Pupil.
He explained all the mysteries of the Morse code and found her an apt pupil and an eager student. It was gravely agreed that she must converse with her teacher for at least half an hour every day, for practice. Dr. De Forest's business cares did not seem so absorbing as they had been. To a casual observer it might seem a bit monstrous to repeat over and over again such sentences as:
"It is a fine day." "Do think it will rain?" "Good morning; how do you feel today?"
Kept the Wireless Busy.
But Miss Sherdowne found it great fun, and Dr. De Forest did not seem as much bored as one might have expected. And so long as teacher and pupil found it interesting, it is of no particular importance what any else thought.
It was not long before Miss Sherdowne was able to send any brief message, and then began to be really fun. No matter what time of day it was, nor how busy he was, Dr. De Forest always jumped for the instrument when the Tr-Tr-Tr-St-St-Sh-" began. And Miss Sherdowne seemed to be always within hearing of her little receiving bar the minute Dr. De Forest's call was dotted and dashed off.
Engagements for dinner, the theater, drives, and the countless stratagems that belong to the young man who has a purpose in view, especially when that purpose happens to be a most interesting young lady, were made with the wireless instrument. In fact, Dr. De Forest found that a very busy man can really find a good many minutes of spare time if he must find them.
After this had been going on for a month or so there came a day when Miss Sherdowne heard the receiver sputtering away at a great rate. It was calling her own private call, for of course she and Dr. De Forest had arranged a special code for themselves, otherwise some of the many other wireless instruments in the city might cut in and mixed things all up.
"Yes, yes;" she answered back, after making certain she was talking to Dr. De Forest.
"May I come up this evening?" telegraphed the doctor. I've got something very important to talk over with you?"
And of course he could, for by this time he and Miss Sherdowne were very good friends, you see. Just what he had to talk about she couldn't guess, though she was quite sure it some new business deal.
But it wasn't. It was something far too important to be left to any wireless telegraph instrument. It was something that the young man thought he could say better for once without his pet wireless machine.
She was greatly surprised. It was "so sudden." No indeed, she couldn't think of marrying--at least, not yet.
"All right; I can wait." said a determined young man. And the wireless wooing continued. The very busy doctor found more time than ever for his messages to Harlem.
An Important Message.
Then there came an afternoon when Dr. De Forest was sitting in his office wondering if he really would win out, when a cable message was brought him from Lord Armstrong, head of the English De Forest Company, asking him to take the first available boat to London, on a matter of very great importance.
In a very few moments a message was on its way to Harlem. Sparks, splashes and sputters fairly leaped from the little receiving bar. It was plainly excited, for never before had it such a message as it did that afternoon.
Tick-tick-tick, the bar kept saying. Someone was sending a message at a terrific rate. Then there came a long pause.
Finally the sending machine that was close alongside the little receiving bar began to send a message. It must have made the receiving bar at the other end of the line pump, for it was the kind of an answer that would make any one, whether he were a man or just the receiving bar of a quiet unobtrusive wireless telegraph instrument, wake up suddenly and take interest. "Hello! Hello! Lucille" the message said, "I've got to go to Europe Saturday, and I want you to go with me. I'll come up tonight, if I may, and you can tell me then you are going."
Waits Over a Week.
No wonder the demure young instrument fairly quivered. It could scarcely wait to hear the answer. Miss Sherdowne was too much astonished to answer right away, but by the time evening came she had decided that she couldn't go.
"Oh, yes, you will," the persistent suitor replied. "I'll wait over just over a week, and we will sail a week from Saturday."
Miss Sherdowne gasped. She wasn't even to be given the privilege of saying no.
Sunday afternoon she was sitting in her room when her instrument began calling her. "If you can look out of the window you can see the boat you are going to Europe on," the bar said. She looked up involuntarily, and she could see the Lucania backing into her pier.
Still Miss Sherdowne said "No."
Wednesday the instrument again began calling her. "I'm coming up to get your promise," the instrument said, and poor little woman, what could she do but say "yes."
There is much left to the story. Dr. Lee De Forest, or President De Forest, as his friends call him, and Miss Lucille Sherdowne were married on Saturday afternoon at the St. Regis, and they sailed on the Lucania.
Now The Awakening
That was a short eight months ago, and now Dr. De Forest is suing for a divorce, basing his suit on the report of detectives whom he engaged to watch his young wife, and she with all the vehemence that voice and gesture can express denies his charges. "Cruel treatment, and that alone is responsible for our separation," says Mrs. De Forest, with protest stamped in every line of her little, girlish figure. She is only twenty-one. On her finger the wedding ring has had scarcely time to dull with wear, and the rubies in her engagement ring flash with all the fire of love.
"I deny in detail the accusations made against me, and against others named by my husband in his suit. Soon after our marriage, little more than six months ago, his conduct became well-nigh unbearable. This was during the time of our honeymoon in Europe. I submitted to this cruel treatment until it became intolerable, and then I left him to return to my mother. I will contest his action, and I am confident that the courts will vindicate me. I must not say any more at this time."
Mrs. De Forest and her mother are living quietly in an apartment in West Fifty-sixth street. De Witt C. Flanagan, millionaire head of Flanagan-Nay Brewing Company, whom he names in his suit, and against whom he brings a $50,000 suit for alienation, is fighting mad. He says: "At various times prior to September 1, De Forest made known to me his financial needs in consequence of his salary in the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company having been reduced.
She May Seek Separation.
"I am very sorry on account of Mrs. De Forest, as I have known her family for many years, and I have the highest regard and respect for her. It was no secret that her marriage had been a failure. Her husband's ill-treatment of her has created much sympathy for her, which made him furiously angry. Mrs. De Forest will prove her innocence of all charges, and if the counsel of her friends prevails she will obtain legal separation. Hitherto she has refrained from bringing such an action, not wishing to injure her husband in business."
It seems a great pity. It is such a pretty little romance spoiled. It would seem, moreover, to corroborate the prevailing impression that genius is all very well to admire from afar, but it doesn't run well in double harness. One feels inclined to send Dr. De Forest a marked copy of a recent number of Lippincott's and let him ponder well "The Bachelor's Soliloquy."
To wed or not to wed;
That is the question.
Whether 'tis better,
To remain single,
And disappoint a few women--
For a time;
And disappoint one woman--