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August 15, 2017

Love Atop a Flagpole: The Story Behind an Incredible Wedding Picture in the Summer of 1946

In the summer of 1946, less than a year after the end of the Second World War, LIFE magazine shared a story from a small town in Ohio that suggested, in LIFE’s laconic phrasing, that “the U.S. [had] turned another corner in its return to peacetime normalcy.” The validity of such an assertion, meanwhile, largely depends on one’s understanding of what constitutes “normal.”

A lovesick flagpole sitter named “Mad Marshall” Jacobs, 37, who had been sitting on his 176-foot roost for 26 days to revive interest in his art, decided to get married. He came down to earth, proposed to his fiancĂ©e, Yolanda (“Lonnie”) Cosmar, 21, a waitress from nearby Clowville, that they get married on the flagpole. She said yes and set June 30 as the date.

On the afternoon of their wedding they were hoisted up to the 40-inch diameter perch for a rehearsal. While the justice of the peace stood on the ground, talking through a loudspeaker, LIFE’s cameraman [Allan Grant] hovered nearby in a helicopter, the only vantage point from which to photograph the big event properly. That night they were really married before 1,700 paying spectators.

Mad’s perch, which cost him $3,000 of his war-plant earnings, had all the comforts of home, including a telephone, an electric hot plate and a chemical outhouse, but the newlyweds decided to come down that evening and spend their honeymoon on the ground.

(Photos: Allan Grant—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)


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