The Original Wedding Crasher

Back in 1942, two GI's in the Air Force, stationed at Dale Mabry Field in Tallahassee, Florida, looking for some cute girls on a weekend leave, began their stint as wedding crashers and ended up finding more than they had ever bargained for.

(PRWEB) July 26, 2005 -- Sam Schiffer originally from Bristol, Pennsylvania and his friend were stationed together at Dale Mabry Field in the Air Force in Tallahassee, Florida in 1942. To get away from the base on weekends, they started going to the one Jewish temple in Tallahassee, the only place they figured they were likely to meet Jewish girls. Friday night services yielded few prospects. One weekend they heard about a wedding the following week and decided to give it a try hoping their luck might improve.

“We were just looking to meet some girls” said Schiffer, now 87 from his present home in Walnut Creek, California. They showed up the next weekend in full military dress, figured out where the reception was going to be and waited until the service was over and the party began and then quickly made their way through the crowd. When someone asked how they were related, Schiffer said, “We would immediately respond with - Oh, which side of the family are you on?” and when they had that answer in hand, they immediately became a cousin, a friend from college, or a former work colleague of an Aunt, from the other side. “It was initially just about girls” Schiffer recounted recently, “but when we saw those tables loaded with food, we knew where we would be spending our future weekend leaves. It was a welcome break from Air Force food.”

Over the next few months the two GI’s refined and broadened their approach. They would scour the paper for the wedding announcements, decide which ones sounded good, memorize the bride and grooms names and any salient facts. Then they would don their best dress uniforms, get ready for some great food, a lot of pats on the back and thanks for serving their country, and if they were lucky, get to meet some cute girls. Early on they decided to skip the service entirely, Schiffer noted, “We realized we were much better off being first in line for the food at the reception”.

One weekend in June of 1942, while waiting outside of a church for a wedding to begin, making small talk with the crowd, eyeing the pretty girls and reconnoitering where the reception would be, an Air Force Colonel came up from behind, put his hands on both their shoulders and issued a hearty, “Okay boys, let’s go inside”. Schiffer and his buddy hemmed and hawed, improvising that base regulations for returning on time were quite strict and it would be more responsible to stay in the back of the crowd so they could make a fast getaway after the ceremony. Schiffer reminisced “We took one look at the Colonel and knew he wasn’t buying it. We quickly made our way into the church.”

Inside the chapel, when the Wedding March began, the site of the cute organist caught Schiffer’s eye. Esther Cohen, originally from Bayonne, New Jersey was a co-ed in her junior year at Florida State College. Ms. Cohen was an accomplished pianist and would play the organ for church and temple weddings on the weekend to pull in a little extra money. Schiffer approached her after the wedding ended, ended up getting her number and they began going out two weeks later. Two years later they were married. It wasn’t until months after they met that he finally confessed to having crashed the wedding on their first encounter. On November 4th of this year they’ll be celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary at Rossmore in Walnut Creek, California.

In answering questions about the closeness of his actions to those in the new Owen Wilson movie ‘The Wedding Crashers’ Schiffer replied; “When I heard about the movie, at first I just smiled remembering what we had down in the Air Force. I still haven’t seen the movie but I’ll bet you that whatever Owen Wilson gets pales in comparison with what I found during my stint at a wedding crasher!”

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