“Driving Miss Daisy,” an award-winning movie from 1989, chronicled the relationship of a chauffeur and his elderly woman passenger over a period of many years.
The Oklahoma version played out over several months in 1910, and it was a story of young love.
In the early days of the automobile, people would often take a touring car and see the country. Twenty-year-old George Gibson came to Oklahoma from California chauffeuring a group on their way to Memphis, Tenn. In Oklahoma City, the group was entertained at a banquet at the Chamber of Commerce and it was there George saw Helen Adkins, the young (16-year-0ld) daughter of city attorney Charles Adkins, who was making her society debut.
Picking up the story from The Oklahoman, Feb. 8, 1910: “His first glimpse of her satisfied him that she was the only girl he could ever love, he says, and as a result he turned the touring party over to another man, and remained in Oklahoma City. For several weeks he showered his attentions on the girl, meanwhile casting about for some employment.”
“Then the girl’s mother, liking the young fellow’s looks, offered him a position as driver of her new automobile. The position was accepted. Constantly thrown with Gibson in drives, and in other ways, the girl lost her heart to him, but her father, when approached on the subject of the couple’s marriage would not hear of it.” (No doubt saying they were much too young.)
But love would not be denied, so the couple took the train to Guthrie, lied about their ages to get a license and were married before a justice of the peace. (Legal age was 21 for men and 18 for women.)
“Still fearful of her father’s anger, and desiring to pacify him before seeing him, the girl called up from Guthrie and telling her father what had been done, asked whether or not she should return home. Hiding his surprise and anger, he told her to come home …”
Then, her father called the police and told them his daughter had been abducted and was on the Guthrie train with her abductor. The police were waiting and took George to the police station, where he was met by a deputy and promptly taken to the county jail.
“Before he had been in jail an hour, Adkins called over the telephone, requesting his release. Shortly after, the pretty young wife appeared, and with tear-stained face, waited, while Jailer Skaggs tried to get County Attorney Reardon by the telephone to have him approve the release. Finally, she drove to the county attorney’s house, roused him from bed and got him to telephone the necessary order to the jail. Gibson was released shortly after midnight, and with his wife and mother-in-law, drove away.”
I checked the newspaper archive to see if our couple lived happily ever after and I was disappointed to find The Oklahoman for Sept. 15, 1911, announcing “LOVE DREAM ENDS.”
“Less than two years ago, Oklahoma City society was astounded to hear that pretty little Miss Helen L. Adkins, daughter of Charles H. Adkins, one of the city’s prominent attorneys, had eloped with George W. Gibson, a young man from California, who was acting as her father’s chauffeur. Now Love’s young dream has ended, for suit was filed in superior court Thursday, asking that the marriage be annuled, as neither of the parties were of legal age at the time.”
The story continues: “For a while the little society miss found a chauffeur charming as a lover, yet it was a different proposition to depend on him for a living and love at the same time.”
George was last seen in Nebraska.
– Mary Phillips