Displaying items by tag: divorce

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 18:17

Bobbed Hair: Grounds for Divorce?

Montgomery County citizens (and guests), today we explore the story of the marriage of Gertrude Maria Margaretta Hoeppner Dettra and William Edward Dettra, both loyal employees of the Norristown post office. Following their wedding in 1924, the couple went to live with the groom’s parents. Two years later, the Dettras would find themselves at a banquet with friends. Gertrude discussed with the group how she wanted a “bob” hair style which William vehemently refused to allow her to get.   

Image of actress with bobbed hair.The offending hairstyle in question as modeled by film actress, Louise Brooks (University of Washington, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After much joking from their friends, William relented and told her to get the haircut. Three days later, Gertrude arrived home with her desired haircut much to the chagrin of her husband. Words were exchanged, William’s mother got involved (a not uncommon occurrence in the household), and upon going to bed that night Gertrude did not receive a kiss from her husband.  


With her husband giving her the cold shoulder and her mother-in-law lamenting how poorly Gertrude treated William, Gertrude left. She said the only way she would return to her husband would be for them to get their own house for just the two of them. Upon his refusal the divorce proceedings began. 


Clip of newspaper article and abstract of article.

The headline and summary that accompanied the article. Copied from microfilm of Norristown Times-Herald found at the Historical Society of Montgomery County, PA.


This story was found in our research collection and is from an article in the Norristown Times Herald. We enjoy coming across these odd and yet somehow timeless stories within the paper. If ever interested, we have issues on microfilm dating back to the 1800s including the rest of this scandalous article.  

Published in Found in Collection

This story comes to you from our “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln…” file.  Working through some papers belonging to the Rhoads family, I came across a newspaper article from the Atlanta Constitution dated Saturday, November 18, 1922.

The woman pictured below is Mrs. Varnetta Regar.  The article describes her as a “former Augusta society girl.”  On Christmas Eve, 1917, she eloped with Gordon R. Regar, son of Howard K. Regar, owner of the Rambo and Regar Knitting Mills.  She was a freshman in high school in Augusta when their romance began (the 1920 census lists her year of birth as 1901).   After a brief honeymoon, they held a “wild” farewell party when Gordon, a second lieutenant in the PA National Guard, sailed for France.


After the war, the two lived at the Regar home in Norristown with Gordon’s parents at 1420 DeKalb Street (just down the road from our headquarters).  Varnetta described a raucous life, telling the newspaper that her husband taught her to smoke and drink.  The couple fought often, but would make up.  Then at a party in Philadelphia, the couple’s argument became physical.  Varnetta described the party as “terribly wild…no one thought of drinking anything less potent than whisky and soda or gin fizzes.”  Gordon attempted to drive home inebriated, but got lost.  The two got into a fist fight, each coming away with a black eye.

Globe mills

The Globe Knitting Mill in Norristown, owned by the Ragar family

At that point, Varnetta returned south, having been assured by Gordon that he would handle the divorce.  Boy, did he!  He accused Varnetta throwing a knife at him, which she doesn’t deny in the article, but explains that she did when she saw Gordon kiss another girl.  So, Varnetta intended to get her divorce annulled and then file for divorce again, citing Gordon’s infidelity as the cause.

I wasn’t able to find out if she ever did get the second divorce, but I do know the couple never reunited, which is probably a good thing.  Gordon later married a woman named Helene Collins and moved to southern California.  He passed away in 1976.  Since the article doesn’t list Varnetta’s maiden name, I wasn’t able to find out what happened her after the divorce.   

While this story and its pictures took up much of the front page, a smaller item notes that the Fascists, led by Mussolini, had just taken control of the Italian government.  


Mussolini, below the fold

Published in Found in Collection