Fascinating True Stories From the Flip Side of History

On the Web Since 1994

Podcasting Since January 2008

Wife for Sale – Podcast #110

Years ago I was sitting in the library in the high school that I teach in and I was reading an issue of USA Today. There was an article talking about a new service that was starting up called Match.com. It seemed like the perfect way for a quiet guy like me who never went to bars to meet women. So, I went home that night and signed up only to find out that there were so few people using the service at the time, that there was no one in my area to be matched up with. From what I could figure out, I really was the only person in the Albany, NY area who signed up.

A couple of years go by and I somehow end up back on Match.com. By this time the Internet had exploded and the service had more potential matches for me than just dating myself. To my surprise, since I was a charter member, Match.com had given me a lifetime membership that expired in the year 2099. I always joked that they knew something that I didn’t: that I would remain single for the rest of my life and would always need their service. While I did get a few dates through their service over the ten years that I was a member, it was through one of my students that I ultimately met my wife.

And since February is what many people consider to be the month of love, I decided that it would be interesting to research a story on dating in the past. Oddly, the story that I am about to tell you is not the one that I had been working on. I had completed all of my research for the story that I had planned to write when I stumbled across the story that I am about to tell you.

So, let me introduce you to Dorothy Althea Versfelt, who was born on December 16, 1920, in Brooklyn, NY. In 1936, she married Gerald Thomas Lawlor just prior to her sixteenth birthday. Their first child Dorothea Alta, or Dorothy, was born a year later, which was followed by Gerald Thomas Lawlor, II the next year. Sadly, the marriage was not to last. The couple was divorced in 1942.

Dorothy Lawlor and Gerald Lawlor
Dorothy Lawlor with her first husband Gerald Lawlor. (Image courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family.)

This was not a good time to be a young, divorced mother of two children. At a time when women were expected to stay home and raise their children, it was difficult to find a quality job that paid enough to support a family. Her ex-husband offered little to no financial support, so Dorothy struggled to make ends meet. Her various jobs included working as a photographer, as a welder during the war, as a private nurse, and as a hat check girl at the nearby Midway Inn on Franklin Avenue in North Valley Stream.

It was basically expected of a woman to find a husband who could support her family, but World War II threw a big monkey wrench into that plan. The United States had lost more than 250,000 men, most of whom would have been within Dorothy’s age range. That gender imbalance placed someone in Dorothy’s position – a divorcee with two children – at a great disadvantage when it came to dating and marriage.

She was desperate to change her life and Dorothy knew that she had to do something different to stand out from the crowd. Something that was sure to make people take notice.

In May of 1948, 28-year-old Dorothy Lawlor walked into the Hempstead, Long Island office of the Newsday newspaper and requested that they place the following classified ad in their “Situations Wanted – Female” section:

Wife for Sale: Divorcee, blonde, attractive, wants man to marry and support her and two children. Must be willing and able to make immediate $10,000 cash settlement.

Dorothy Lawlor's $10,000 Want Ad
Many newspapers around the country ran this image showing the ad that Dorothy Lawlor had taken in Newsday. This was a mockup, since the paper never ran the ad. (From the May 28 1948 Lansing State Journal on page 27.)

Matrimonial ads were nothing new, but this one was an exception. Asking for $10,000 in exchange for marriage, which would be a little over $100,000 today, seemed quite bold, but it was an assurance that whomever Dorothy married that would be able to financially support her family.

The editors at Newsday made the decision not to run the ad. And if they had left it at that, I wouldn’t be telling you this story right now. Instead, they decided to go one step further and give Dorothy a half-page write-up on page 3 of their May 25th issue. Virtually overnight Dorothy went from being an unknown mother of two to front-page news across the nation.

“This isn’t a publicity stunt.” Dottie continued, “In fact, I didn’t want any of this until your editor said the paper couldn’t take the ad. I don’t want to embarrass my children or my parents.”

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I don’t know if you’d call it courage or what. But I’ve been knocking around for eight years, since my divorce. And it’s been tough. There have been times when I’ve seen my children without a glass of milk for the day. There must be someone with money he doesn’t know what to do with.”

“I just don’t believe in love,” she said. “But surely, somewhere, there must be a man who wants a wife and two fine children. Perhaps we could learn to love each other after a time.”

Within twenty-four hours of that Newsday article, Dorothy Lawlor’s quiet life would be flipped upside-down. The phones at the Newsday offices were ringing off the hook, reporters came from around the country requesting interviews, and photographers were lining up to snap her picture. Most interesting of all, fourteen of the telephone calls were from men who were responding to her $10,000 proposal. A few were certain to have been pranks, but it was a promising start. My favorite was one guy offering to buy her a “cocktail or two and give her a spanking.” I didn’t know you could publish that in the newspaper in 1948.

Dorothy Lawlor Image
This image of Dorothy Lawlor accompanied nearly every initial article that was published across the country. This particular image appeared on page 1 of the May 26, 1948 issue of the Davenport Daily Times.

The plan was very simple: It was through her job as the hat check girl at the Midway Inn that she would meet each of her potential suitors. Each day the paper featured an image of Dorothy either calling or meeting one of her dates. It was great publicity for both the Midway Inn and for Newsday.

Amid all the chaos of reporters and photographers that first day, Dorothy was able to meet five of her prospective husbands. While waiting to see her, fifty-year-old automobile salesman George Faber commented, “I’d have to know a girl for five or six months before I’d take any step like this. I’d want to know what kind of a person she is and what her character is like.”

When questioned by the press as to when she would be making a decision, Dorothy replied, “I’ll make up my mind within a week. I have just enough money to last me that long.”

She continued, “I’m serious about this. The man, young or old, who accepts my offer will have to have some spark of personality plus the cash before I marry him.”

Of course, not everyone was happy with what they were reading:

“May I be bold enough to ask if Dorothy Lawlor is seeking a husband or advertising the Midway Inn? She seems to be an attractive woman and can earn a livelihood as hundreds of other women do. Why the $10,000 cash on the spot? What is she going to offer for such a huge amount? Dorothy Lawlor in my estimation has done through publicity what other women have in mind but do not dare to admit to the public openly. I do admire her for that, as it is every woman’s intention to marry wealth and have security. One thing people do not seem to remember is that money cannot buy happiness. I believe Dorothy could have been a little more tactful in advertising by not asking for $10,000, but asking for a man who could take care of her and her two children comfortable, to have a little love and understanding offered and to return the same.” (A Young Lady in Hempstead, NY)

“I have decided to stay single if that is what women are like. I wouldn’t marry her if she paid me $10,000.” (One of 5 in a Hospital Ward in Lynbrook, Long Island)

“What approach Mrs. Lawlor uses to get herself a man is none of my business nor anybody else’s. However, what burns me up is that she admits to being a member of the nursing profession. I, too, am a member, and many others do not take our profession lightly. Now I am not so idealistic that I believe all professional people are models of virtue. We have all heard the stock jokes about the ambulance chasing lawyer, the quack doctor, and plenty about nurses, too. All of which have some basis in fact, I regret to add. However, if this person wants to make a fool of herself publicly, why must she identify herself with a profession which is constantly trying to raise its standards—profession which, by the personal nature of its work, should mean decency and morality. Recently, the medical profession put in a plea to have all derogatory jokes about doctors taken off the radio. Now I’m asking Mrs. Lawlor to do the nurses a favor: if you plan to go on making yourself the laughing stock of the country please do not advertise yourself as a nurse.” (A Nurse in Garden City, NY)

A few negative letters to the editor couldn’t dissuade Newsday from continuing their daily stories, nor did it discourage Dorothy from her ongoing search for Mr. Right. The phone calls, letters, and telegrams continued to arrive day-after-day to the offices of Newsday.

Dorothy had given herself a deadline of Saturday, May 29th to make a final decision, but a last-minute phone call from a 42-year-old Kentucky horse breeder named Arthur Harris convinced her to wait until Tuesday. He said he would fly to New York to meet her and agreed to wire Mrs. Lawlor $100 to hold her over financially until they met.

There was one problem, however. Horse breeders and the editors of thoroughbred horse publications in Lexington knew of no man named Arthur Harris. Nor was there anyone in the phone book or city directories with that name. This guy appeared to be a fraud. The issue was resolved when the check arrived via Western Union from a man named Arthur Howard, not Arthur Harris. The two met that Sunday, May 30th, but little was mentioned about him in the press after that. By the next day Dorothy was once again in the press discussing potential suitors.

Dorothy Lawlor Image
Image of Dorothy Lawlor that appeared on page 48 of the June 14, 1948 issue of Life magazine.

As the story continued to be followed by readers in newspapers from coast-to-coast, the number of men interested in Dorothy’s offer continued to stream in. From her various statements, it appears that she was slowing things down a bit so that she could be more careful about who she ultimately chose to marry.

“My mother told me not to be in too much of a hurry with my decision, there’s too much at stake.” And when questioned as to if she had a new deadline, she replied, “No deadline, when I’m ready to decide who I’ll marry, I’ll say. My kids come first.”

Various Postmarks of Letters Received
Just a few of the postmarks that brought in letters for Dorothy Lawlor. From the June 2, 1948 publication of Newsday.

So I thought that this would be a good point in the story to pause and let you hear a few more of the comments that readers wrote.

Here are a few more comments that others wrote:

“I am wishing you the best of luck. I sympathize with you. Maybe, by the will of God, you and I will find happiness for ourselves and our children.” (Florence Feret – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

“What is this about Dorothy Lawlor? We had your paper in my home from your first publication, but from now on I want no part of it. How could you, in all fairness to your readers, give such publicity to the impossible? It takes a good newspaper to build the morale of the people, rather than discourage people. In your edition of June 2nd you have letters from 20 states. Well thank the Lord that the other 28 do not fall so quick. You may tell to this saleswoman of yours, that if I could adopt those two children of hers, I would. I dare you to publish this letter, but also put down that I have three grown sons, and a daughter of 17 and if that is what your paper is going to teach my children, please tell the newsboy to stop bringing your paper to my home.” (Richard Marchese of Valley Stream)

“I salute you for your pluck. I know that there are thousands of us who would like to say we are looking for a man with money.” (Emily Page – Lynn, Massachusetts)

If there is anyway you can get in touch with her, please tell her after she picks one out, to please give the rest of them my address. The difference between her and I is I just want a good man to make a living.” (Aline McCleney from Laredo, Texas)

We are two widows, waitresses, tired of struggling. A blonde and a brickyard blonde. We feel 14 men are too many for Mrs. Lawlor, since days of Brigham Young are past. Perhaps we could have a couple of leftovers. (Polly and Mary in Jackson, Ohio)

Dorothy next turned her focus to a Midland, Michigan building contractor named Max Warrington. “He writes that he has a good, substantial income and that he needs a mother for his 5-year-old daughter as much as I need a father for my kids. But I want to wait until I see him before making up my mind.”

When interviewed, Max said, “The words ‘two fine children’ compromised me. To me, those words meant that you really believe in love. In fact, you are so desperately in love with your children that you would make any sacrifice that would guarantee security for them and, incidentally, yourself.” He continued, “Bring your children out here and we will raise yours and mine together. I will pay all expenses and we will live nice; also in a respectable manner.”

This seemed promising, but for some unknown reason, the relationship never blossomed.

Dorothy Lawlor Meeting Suitor
Dorothy Lawlor meeting one of her suitors that she met through the newspaper story. (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family.)

On the evening of June 4th, 1948, Dorothy had narrowed her choices down to two men. The first was the Kentucky horse breeder Arthur Howard, whom she had met the previous Sunday. The other was a newcomer, a man whom she had yet to meet. His name was James Mulkey from Wewoka, Oklahoma. He claimed to own a lot of real estate, 80 cattle, and to be worth about $200,000 (over $2-million today).

So which one did she choose? Neither.

Dorothy Lawlor chose 33-year-old divorcee Dan Wicker, the owner of Danny’s Musical Bar in Daytona Beach, Florida. The father of one child, Dan sent Dorothy a telegram with the best pickup line ever: “Is you is or is you ain’t gonna be my baby?”

To which Dorothy replied, “Do you do, or do you don’t want me for your baby?” She added, “How could I resist a guy with a sense of humor like that?”

The two talked on the phone several times and appeared to be equally smitten with each other. It wasn’t long before he wired her a plane ticket so that she could fly down to Florida on Monday, June 7th.

“I’m very thrilled about it and so is he from what he said over the phone. It sounds good and if everything turns out we’ll fly to Mexico to be married.”

According to Dan, “She was ready and willing to marry me sight unseen but after talking it over on the phone we decided we had better get acquainted first.” In another classic Dan Wicker statement, he said, “You don’t buy pork chops without seeing them on the scales.”

At this point, Dorothy had absolutely no idea what Dan looked like. “But gosh, with a personality like that it doesn’t make any difference what he looks like.” Once she saw a picture of him, she was sold. “He’s cute. Anyone who can’t be happy with that guy is a moron.”

When Dorothy was about to embark upon her journey south, a reporter questioned her about the money, to which she replied, “The $10,000 is just a necessary part of the bargain. I do wish, though, I had met Dan under different circumstances.”

She was clearly excited. “It’s just the way I always dreamed it would be.” Dorothy continued, “When are we going to get married? Well, I’d like to do it fast. But if he’s the guy, he’s the boss and we’ll make our plans at his convenience, naturally. Am I excited? What do you think?” She added, “I feel just like a bride ought to feel – thrilled and excited.”

When her plane touched down, Dorothy was met by a cheering crowd of over 200 people. Photographers snapped away as Danny gave Dorothy a big hug and then a kiss. The two then climbed into the back of his convertible as a police escort, sirens and all, led the couple through the town to their final destination – Danny’s Musical Bar.

Dan Wicker greeting Dorothy Lawlor
Dan Wicker greeting Dorothy Lawlor at the airport by giving her a kiss. Photo appeared on page 1 of the June 8, 1948 issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The place was packed and Danny was forced to tend bar as Dorothy looked on. His special was the $1.75 “Dorothy Lawlor” cocktail, which consisted of cherry brandy, gin, lime juice, and pineapple. The stem of the glass was wrapped in a dollar bill, supposedly to keep your fingers warm.

Dorothy sat to the side as Danny took care of business and commented, “I like Daytona Beach very much, and would like to thank the people for the nice welcome they’ve given me. As far as I’m concerned we’re going through with this. It’s up to Danny now.”

The next day the two took a cruise on Danny’s 46-foot (14-meter) long yacht, which he had renamed the – you guessed it – the Dorothy Lawlor, but things went south very quickly. First, the boat was outfitted with large signs that read “Dorothy Lawlor and Danny, courtesy of the Howard Boat Works.” And who was piloting the boat? None other than the real owner of the boat, Bill Howard. Also along for the ride was his wife and a publicity photographer.

Try a Dorothy Lawlor - A Tasty Drink
Syndicated photo of Dan Wicker mixing up a Dorothy Lawlor drink. From the July 6, 1948 publication of the Courier Journal on page 16.

Not only that, but it turns out that Danny was still married. He had never divorced. This fact had been discovered just prior to the arrival of Dorothy’s flight, to which he responded, “It can all be fixed up in a few days if Dorothy and I decide to get married. After all, Florida is a divorce state.”

As for that convertible that he used to parade Dorothy through the streets of Daytona Beach with, he didn’t own that either. It belonged to a friend. Perhaps the fact that the name of Danny’s bar had been painted conspicuously onto both sides of the car should have been a tip-off that something was amiss here. To this Danny told the press, “It’s true that I borrowed the car, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a car of my own – a good one. But it’s a closed car, and I borrowed that open car because I know that presidents and people like that use that kind of car when they make public appearances.”

Dan Wicker and Dorothy Lawlor
Dan Wicker and Dorothy Lawlor in the convertible that he borrowed to pick her up at the airport with. This image appeared on page 1 of the June 8, 1948 issue of the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin

It was clear from what was quoted in the press that Dorothy was very upset with how she was treated, while Danny was trying to save face and protect his business.

Dorothy: “Who is this character anyway? I don’t even know where he is. Maybe he’s out with a redhead, for all I know. Isn’t this a hell of a way for a celebrity to spend an afternoon?”

Danny: “I didn’t send for Dorothy to come to Daytona Beach so she could be put on display like an animal. She’s a human being and deserves to be treated like one. Maybe the way we came together is a little out of the ordinary, but that’s no reason why she should be persecuted.’’

Dorothy: “I called it off because he is a phony. All he wanted to do was build up his run-down business, which has tripled since I came here. He told me that he thought my chances of getting an answer to my offer were pretty slim and my story was petering out, so he wanted to help me.”

Dan: “And she’s a good sport. We went out for dinner twice and she paid the check both times.”

Dorothy: “And that means I’m still open for bids. Where are all the guys in Daytona Beach with all the dough? I’d like to meet some of them. What I asked for was cash on the line, and until I see that I don’t make any promises to anybody.”

Dan: As Dorothy put it, we are both too nervous to ever have a successful marriage. We will part good friends, Dorothy says she is leaving early Monday. She didn’t say where she was going.”

Well, Dorothy did know where she was going. Another gentleman had expressed interest in meeting her and this time she was off to the Dominican Republic. He made no mention of the $10,000, but he was paying for her to stay in a four-star hotel there.

“What the heck? He’s sending me a round-trip ticket. Isn’t he?” She added, “He has a Spanish-sounding name. I hear they like blondes in South America. Maybe I can make myself a deal.” This time everything was done out of the public eye and she returned home on June 22, 1948 without a wedding ring.

Dorothy Lawlor Night Club Card
Souvenir of Dorothy Lawlor’s trip to the Dominican Republic. It roughly translates to: “Pleasant memories of a night – Yumuri Night Club – The Tropical Paradise of the Antilles.” (Courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family)

One month later things were looking up for Dorothy Lawlor. Capitalizing on her newfound fame, she was appearing on stage at the Copa in Philadelphia as one of their featured entertainers. In a July 27, 1948 interview that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, she reflected back on the whole $10,000 marriage ad:

“What made me do it? A couple of tough weeks with no cash coming in, that was why.” She said that she had a lot of offers, but none of them panned out. “One guy gave me a check for $10,000. He wanted to know if we couldn’t leave the kids with my mother and dad. Then he got drunk and fell off a bar stool. I tore up the check. I’m not looking for that kind of man.”

Dorothy Lawlor at the Copa
Advertisement for Dorothy Lawlor’s appearance at the Copa. From the July 23, 1948 publication of the Pittsburgh Press.

The one thing that Dorothy was certain of – was that she did not foresee a future in show business: “I should say not. I like to cook, and I miss the kids. Maybe this way, though, I’ll meet the right one. Anyway, this is my last booking.”

She added, “I know, I know. I’m getting three times what I was getting then, but this is not for me. In the first place I can’t sing. I just talk songs. I have a line of gags and stuff, but I really have to get my applause first.”

July 26, 1948 ad for Dorothy Lawlor at the Lenny Litman's Copa
July 26, 1948 ad for Dorothy Lawlor at the Lenny Litman’s Copa from the Pittsburgh Press.

In an Associated Press syndicated article from November 1948, Dorothy is quoted as saying, “What gave me the idea? I was sitting in that chair, cold broke, no job. I suddenly thought this was the way to provide for my two young children and my parents. So I got a lot of publicity, so I got a few nightclub dates at $500 a week, so I’m broke again. The money was used for doctor bills and other old debts.”

The article summed up her experience with these stats: “Letters, 3,000; wrong steers, 100; near misses, 20; paid night club appearances, 7; all-expense-paid trips to interview prospects, 2; husbands, 0.”

Dorothy Lawlor at the Belle Tavern Ad
Dorothy Lawlor was the headliner at the Belle Tavern when this ad ran in the August 2, 1948 issue of the Uniontown Morning Herald.

And I’ll leave you with one final quote from Dorothy: “A good man Is hard to find; the woods are full of phonies – kibitzers, cranks, comedians and guys just interested in a good time, not marriage.”

“In reference to your articles, on Dorothy Lawlor’s adventure, I request that you write news of the outcome of her search. I have read various letters expressing annoyance because of articles on this matter, and think that they are very unfair. I have the same opinion as many of the writers on Mrs. Lawlor’s quest for a man with money, yet I still enjoy reading about this odd situation. I am sure many other readers do also. Because we don’t approve of such matters as husband advertising, rape, theft, murder, wars, and other bits of news, still it is interesting to read. We like to know what is going on in the world, regardless how odd or terrible, A newspaper is published to bring us the news of the world, to bring to us the bizarre, the fantastic as well as the beauty and goodness in life. I have opinions as.to the way of life Mrs. Lawlor choses to live yet I feel that it is not my right to dictate to any newspaper what it should print. I believe wholly and completely in freedom of press and when I find there Is something I do not care to read, I turn the page to something I enjoy more. I would like to read what further happens to a woman of this nature and feel resentment at anyone who deprives me of this small satisfaction of my curiosity just because they do not care to read it. “ (Just a Reader in Patchogue)

They never did write a follow-up story as to what happened to Dorothy Lawlor. When her fifteen minutes of fame were up, the press forgot about her. Well, I found someone who knows exactly what happened to her.

Kathy:  My name is Kathy and I am the granddaughter of Dorothy Lawlor.

Steve Silverman:  I do appreciate you being on the podcast and I hope that I didn’t have to do too much convincing to have you read the lines of your grandmother.

Kathy: Oh no, not at all. It was interesting, kind of intimidating because I didn’t know how she sounded in 1948, but I got through it.

Steve Silverman: Well, it is a fun story and I’m glad that you were able to do it.

Kathy: Oh, yeah. So am.

Steve Silverman: How old were you when you first heard the story?

Kathy: In my twenties?  I’m sorry, in my twenties. And at the time when I heard the story, I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a myth. You know, it was like a family story that went out there and I didn’t believe that there was any truth to it.

Steve Silverman: And is it something that was discussed through the years after that or just kinda…

Kathy: Well, my mom would mention it. You know, she was twelve at the time and her brother was eleven at the time and you know they would make comments about it but, you know, we would all think it was just a story. We just didn’t think there was any weight behind it or if there was any truth behind it and it wasn’t until… Actually, in like 2008 my mom was here at the house and she mentioned it, again, and I thought you know what I’m going to go look. I’m gonna go see if I can find any articles on there and I went online and I went searching because she thought it was like in the Patchogue Advance paper or something and I called a couple of libraries out in the Long Island area and I didn’t get any hits. So, I gave up on it, and then probably about four years ago my cousin came across some articles and he passed them along with the family.  So, with that information then I ended up doing more searches and found a little bit more of the articles and, then, until you reached out to me and you have a mess load of articles.

Dorothy Lawlor Reading Letters
Dorothy Lawlor reading letters mailed to her. From the November 11, 1948 publication of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Steve Silverman: Was it quite surprising to you to find out that this was a national story? This was front-page news at the time.

Kathy: Yes.  It was quite surprising.  Actually, when it was in print and I saw it and I just – yikes! –  and I wasn’t sure whether to share that with my own daughters.  I remember my mother saying how embarrassing and horrifying it was at that young age and I felt that embarrassment too. I shared it with my husband first and I’m like I don’t know how much of the girls this.  You know this is their grandmother and then he’s like that’s right this is your grandmother.  You need to share it with them. So I did and, you know, they got a hoot out of it.  They thought it was hysterical. You know, but they are in a different era than what we grew up with.  You know we didn’t talk about family skeletons in the family closet it as you know now people post it all over the internet.

Steve Silverman: Your grandfather.  Did you ever meet him?

Kathy: No.  I did not. He was never…  Actually, him and my grandmother continued to be friends even after their divorce but we never met him.  He was never a present father in my mother’s life.

Steve Silverman: Do you know what happened to him after or…

Kathy: He died in 1976.

Steve Silverman: Your grandmother did remarry after this whole thing fell out of the news.

Kathy: Several times.

Steve Silverman: Yes. In Fact, how many times was your grandmother married?

Kathy: Total?  Four times.

Steve Silverman: Four times.  So, first was your grandfather. Right?

Kathy: Yes.

Steve Silverman: Which she divorced and then, of course, she was actively seeking a husband through the news. Which, according to the newspaper, was not successful.

Kathy: But then again…

Steve Silverman: Yes.  So, this is the part that after she falls out of the news. What happened?

Kathy: What happened was I had always heard a story about her marrying a man from Oklahoma. His name was James Mulkey. And my mom and my uncle would always say Old Man Mulkey from Oklahoma and they moved to Oklahoma for a little bit and came back.  They referred to him as Old Man Mulkey. So, as I was doing my own research on the family, I did come across a marriage that they were married on August 28, 1950,  divorced on December 8, 1950. So that, you know, the marriage was just less than four months.

And so you had sent me these PDF files and all that articles and as I was reading, going through the articles I noticed that one of the suitors that she received a letter from was from James Mulkey in Oklahoma. Now, mind you this was 1948.

While she married him. She ended up marrying him on August 28, 1950.  So yes, she did marry one of the suitors.

Steve Silverman: When you go back and listen to the recording that I did, I actually mention him in there.  She was trying to decide between two guys and ultimately didn’t choose either. And the story ends and now you’re filling in the missing piece in that she did marry one of these guys who is one of her suitors after.  That’s very interesting.  Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last.  Now she did eventually find someone after. So, why don’t you tell us about that?

Kathy: She did. She married a man.  His name was Terrence Madigan.  He was with the US Coast Guard.  In 1958 they got married.  I believe it was September of 1958 and she had are a beautiful, loving, everything she wanted in a relationship with this man.  He idolized her. He loved her. She was the happiest that she could be until 1968 when he had a heart attack and died.

Dorothy & Terry Madigan Wedding Day
Dorothy and Terry Madigan on their wedding day. (Image courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family)

Steve Silverman: It’s very sad.  I mean, I look at some of the pictures you have on Ancestry and they do seem very happy.

Kathy: Very compatible.

Steve Silverman: Very compatible.  They just look like they’re always in love in the pictures.

Kathy: And he adopted my mother and my my mom’s brother.  Not legally, but he accepted them as his own kids and treated them with the love and respect that you would a child.  You know, my own mother had five kids and he accepted us as his blood, as his grandchildren.

Dorothy and Terry Madigan
Dorothy and Terry Madigan (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family)

Steve Silverman: It is really nice that she found real love, true love after you this was in the news because the press can be pretty cruel and some of the letters to the editor and things like that try to make her out like she was a moneygrabber, you know.

And it’s nice that she really did find what she was looking for in the end. It’s kind of sad that he died. He was pretty young, he was like forty-two years old, I think, when he died.

Kathy: Yeah, forty-one.

Steve Silverman: Forty-one.  Yeah, very sad. And then she remarried one more time, right?

Kathy: Yes, she did.  I believe it was in ‘75. 1974, 75 she married again. And that union didn’t last long.  At that time they were both drinkers and, you know, there was a lot of fighting and the marriage never worked out.  They never divorced, but she left him.

Dorothy And Terrence Madigan
Dorothy And Terrence Madigan (Image courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family.)

Steve Silverman: Why don’t you tell me a little about your grandmother. What kind of person was she like?

Kathy: She was creative. She wore many different hats.  Anything that she put her mind to she could do it.  There was nothing that could be, that was too big or too small for her to handle or to do. She was a seamstress.  Whatever she made, she made her own patterns. She was a cook. She was a baker. She was a painter. She did ceramics. She did photography. She reupholstered furniture.  She refurbished furniture. She had a ceramic shop in Florida. She taught ceramic classes. She poured her own molds. There was nothing that she couldn’t do. A woman with many different hats.

Steve Silverman: Wow.  She had a lot of skills.

Dorothy Lawlor and Granddaughter Kathleen
Dorothy Lawlor Madigan and her granddaughter Kathy in the early 1960’s. (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family.)

Steve Silverman: I want to thank you very much for doing this.  It’s really been wonderful how much assistance you’ve offered and thank you for reading the part of your grandmother.

Kathy: Well, thank you.  I enjoyed it and the reason why I decided to do it because you had sent me over that, a sample of your podcast and I thought you did a beautiful story with that. And I thought that would be neat to have that story to hand down for my kids and for their next generation.

Steve Silverman: I’m glad I can do it. Well, thanks again.

Kathy: So thank you. Thank you. 

Steve Silverman: Anyway, I always close the podcast by saying useless, useful I’ll leave that for you to decide and I thought since it’s a story about your grandmother maybe you could say that. 

Kathy: Useless.  Useful.  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Steve Silverman: Perfect.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
You may also enjoy these stories:
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Lawlor
Andrew Lawlor
5 years ago

All these photos are ‘courtesy of Dorothy Lawlor’s family” and yet it looks like they were taken from either my or my cousin’s tree on Ancestry.com

Dorothy was my grandmother.

Andrew Lawlor
Andrew Lawlor
Reply to  Andrew Lawlor
3 years ago

I see after reading the whole story that you had a chance to interview my cousin.

I have been researching my grandmother’s story for many years, but you seem to have captured it in significantly more detail than I ever could.

There are some bits missing still. It wouldn’t significantly change the story. I’m glad you write this.


Over 7 Million Downloads!
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x