By Janie Southard
ST. MARYS -- "Here Comes the Bride" would be appropriate background music at Marilyn Hickman's New Bremen home because it would fit so well with her various collections of wedding accessories.
A couple dozen vintage brides' photos and cake toppers as well as a pair of lacy, white silk shoes are presently on display at the St. Marys Community Public Library, where Hickman worked for a number of years.
She did not set out to collect wedding items. But one thing led to another six years ago when her daughter chose a family history project for 4-H.
"We really had nothing. No old pictures from either side of the family. I had never even seen my grandparents' wedding pictures. But it's not like there were no such pictures," Hickman says, as she leafs through her collection of family photos showing wedding parties in formal wear posed for professional photographers.
Hickman's mother produced several of the formal family photos from "somewhere" in the attic and husband David's family also came up with equally formal studio pictures. "These are just color copies I made myself on the color copier here at the library. I made them in brown tones so they still look old," says Hickman, as she rearranges the collection in the library display case.
An old hand at collecting, Hickman found other vintage wedding photos at flea markets, garage sales, the Internet and from friends and relatives.
Not too long ago she purchased a package of 15 war-bride-photos on eBay for $30. Obviously from World War II, the brides all have the rolled curls, tailored suits and big corsages of the 1940s. In most, the groom is pictured in military uniform.
"No, I really had no idea what I would be getting other than war brides. But I just love them," she says, adding her guess is that they are leftover proofs from some photography studio files.
Hickman has her favorites: one is of a bride with a rose pinned upside down on her jacket. Others are of two British brides photographed by Acme Telephoto for distribution in the United States. (Don Hewitt, the founder of "60 Minutes," worked for Acme as a wire operator when he was 26 years old just before he got a job with CBS.)
"They're both during WWII. One shows a bride with veil and big bouquet being carried in on a stretcher. Maybe during those times you couldn't afford to wait to get married, so she decided she'd get to the church no matter what," Hickman says.
The yellowed-paper captions are glued to the back of the photos. The bride, Joyce Walker, 20, arrives at Trinity Church for her wedding to Sidney Button. She was carried on a stretcher for the ceremony, which she and the groom refused to postpone after she entered hospital suddenly on Christmas Eve (1948) when her leg "just began to give out." The doctor said it may be two years before could walk again, the caption reads.
"I think those were the days of polio. I've wondered if that could have been her problem," Hickman says, turning to her next favorite photo, the wedding party trying to retrieve the bride's veil from a tree.
That photo, again by Acme, is entitled "Catastrophe on the Home Front in Great Britain" and is dated Dec. 13, 1943. The bride is identified as Mary Walters and her new husband is Edward Parker.
"It would be fun to know what happened to all these couples. But probably I never will," she says.
A quick trip to the Internet looking for Acme Telephoto prompted hundreds of choices. Sites of World War II photos showed at least one collection selling individual prints for up to $2,000.
Hickman says she was unaware the photos were anything more than old and interesting.
"Wow. I think my sister (Jean Weaver) gave those two photos to me for Christmas or my birthday. I'm sure she had no idea. She just saw them at a flea market in Columbus and knew I was collecting them," she says.