The case of the bug-eyed bridegroom

July 12, 2000|By Bob Maginnis

The case of the bug-eyed bridegroom

If part of your Saturday routine is looking at pictures of newlyweds in The Herald-Mail, the July 8 edition probably gave you something you weren't expecting.

Instead of the reserved expressions the bride and groom usually show the camera, David Kettelle wore a set of gag glasses that made him look sort of like a grasshopper on steroids.

My wife and I had a good laugh and forgot about it until later that day, when we stopped by my mother-in-law's house. Asked if she'd seen the bug-eyed portrait, she said she had, and that if any son of hers had ever done anything like that, she'd never speak to him again.

A female friend of my son's had a similar reaction, as did some women who work here at The Herald-Mail. This was a solemn moment and a picture to show future generations, they said, not an occasion for joking around.


Other people thought it was hilarious, but among those who had a reaction, there was no middle ground. It struck me then that there might be some interest in finding out more about this light-hearted couple.

Ramona Kettelle told me the picture was taken after their ceremony at Hagerstown's City Park, which was attended only by a few friends and family members.

"It was really not the big traditional wedding. It was just kind of a very private ceremony at Hagerstown's City Park," she said.

"Some friends stopped by afterwards and they brought these glasses. I put on my husband's glasses and he put on the silly glasses, and Paul (Paul Smith Sr., the photographer) said, 'you guys have got to put this in the paper,' " she said.

They agreed, and didn't think much more about it until the photo came out in the paper.

A few people at her husband's company, World Kitchens Inc., in Greencastle, Pa., said they'd seen it, but no one seemed offended, she said.

"Hey, what's life without a sense of humor?" she said.

The most interesting reaction came Saturday evening when a lady called her and asked if she was Mrs. Kettelle.

The woman then told her that she was a spinster lady who lived with her two sisters, and that the three of them had just spent the whole day laughing at that picture.

"She said, 'Please tell me your husband doesn't really look like that or I will feel like a fool,' " Kettelle said.

Interestingly, that was the reaction of some members of the newsroom staff here at Herald-Mail, who considered calling the Kettelles about the portrait, but didn't, out of concern that Kettelle had some sort of medical condition and that maybe he really did look like that.

The possibility that the portrait might have been tampered with also set off alarms with Tamara Hoffman, a Herald-Mail employee in the Ad Services department who's relentless about tracking down and eliminating errors.

And the night before the portrait ran, Dick Fleming, a Herald-Mail weekend editor called Lifestyle Editor Lisa Prejean at 1 a.m., again to make sure no one had tampered with the picture.

And so, in addition to some insight into a local couple who know how to laugh at themselves, the event also gave me the opportunity to note that when it comes to the important events of your life, there are a lot of people working here at The Herald-Mail to make sure the paper gets all the details correct.

Still offended? Consider this: The couple did get married and the hijinks happened after the ceremony, not during it.

One person who would have appreciated the Kettelles' sense of humor was the late Bill Kaufman, a long-time letter writer who passed away in late June after a difficult bout with cancer.

Long-time readers of my column may remember me writing about Kaufman, whose West Side Avenue home burned down a couple of years ago. While the home was being rebuilt, he and his wife stayed with his daughter in Florida.

But what should have been a respite from worry turned into something more serious when he was diagnosed with cancer of the tear duct. Despite that, he continued to write and with each letter enclosed a joke or two, not for publication, but just for the editors' amusement. Most were funny and none of them were off-color.

At his viewing, nestled among the flowers atop his coffin where it might startle you if you saw it out of the corner of your eye, was a rubber alligator the 74-year-old had had for years. It was not a last prank, his wife Patsy said, but a reference to a story, "The Alligator Under the Bed," that he regularly read to his children.

So long, Bill. I hope you're somewhere in the great beyond, exchanging funny stories with the angels.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail.

The Herald-Mail Articles