Museum of History News

“Will you marry me?”

Many a little girl dreams of hearing these magical words from a beloved. But, first, she’ll need to find someone who might be “the one,” then date, and then fall in love.

And the courtship doesn’t stop there. Then comes . . .


From November to Valentine’s Day each year, more than 500,000 men “pop the question.” And, of those, 26 percent of the women asked—and this figure may seem low—will be disappointed with their proposal.

1909 Valentine’s Day postcard, North Carolina Museum of History collection.
Americans began sending valentines, as a custom, in the mid-1800s. This 1909 Valentine’s Day postcard was sent to “Master C. C. Crittenden” in Wake Forest.
Source: North Carolina Museum of History collection, 1953.39.54.

Here are some other interesting statistics, most of them based on a February 2011 survey of 3,000 men and women on The Knot and Men’s Health websites:

  • Women are especially romantic when it comes to proposals for marriage: almost 100 percent expect a wedding proposal—and they expect it to be romantic and special.
  • One-third, 33 percent, of women say the biggest proposal-related mistake is proposing without an engagement ring. That’s not to say the women said “no,” but it does mean no gold stars were earned!
  • More than three-quarters, 76 percent, of men think it imperative that they propose on bent knee; but less than half, only 49 percent, of women think so.
  • Half, 50 percent, of men cannot keep the surprise a secret—they tell their friends; and if the surprise gets spoiled . . . woe be the man.
  • About 60 percent of both men and women agree that asking parents for their daughter’s hand is an important step.

One man did it right!

Lavesh Pritmani and Saanchi Pal met, a little ahead of today’s trend, online—in an AIM chat room more than nine years ago. They both attended local high schools in Raleigh and discovered they had common connections and interests in Indian culture and music.

After Saanchi’s family moved to Massachusetts in 2006, social media enabled the two to stay in contact, and they began traveling together. In particular, they explored different cultures through museums in New York, Chicago, Miami, Zurich, Milan, Nice, and Monaco, and then, finally, back home in North Carolina, at the Museum of History.

Over the years, the two fell in love, and Lavesh decided the time had come to ask Saanchi for her hand in marriage—and he did it at the Museum of History.  Really?  Yes, in our reconstructed 1920s Drugstore exhibit, in front of more than 50 museum visitors!

The museum’s 1920s Drugstore exhibit
Source: North Carolina Museum of History

Drugstores of the past were more than places, like today’s CVS or Walgreens, to purchase odds and ends and medications. Through most of the 1900s, local drugstores also served as a social center of the community or neighborhood where they did business.

In 1922 Raleigh had 26 drugstores, including this one, which was owned by J. C. Brantley. Of the 26, 22 were for white customers, and 4 were for “colored” citizens—the term frequently used in the 1920s for African Americans, American Indians, or other nonwhite residents.

Drugstores usually operated as general stores, local places where quality goods—such as cameras, radios, jewelry, dolls, and baby accessories—were sold. Enticing candies and cigars were typically located near the store window and front door, and the stores were arranged so everyone had to walk by the “soda fountain” on the way to the pharmacist’s window to order or pick up drugs.

One of the more subtle sales tools was the ice-cream counter, where the most expensive and desirable merchandise often was placed. No young lady could pass up peeking through the glass at silver hairbrush sets, watches, necklaces, or rings! Such desirables were sometimes right there, in plain sight, under the glass top, beyond ice-cream sundaes and fountain drinks.

That was romantic?

You may not think that proposing at a museum is romantic, but the couple loves history, which made a proposal at the museum appropriate—and, Lavesh thought, extra special. So he contacted the museum and discussed options. Museum personnel suggested a curator’s tour, and arrangements were made—including preparation of a faux artifact story label and a mounting for the engagement ring. The display was placed on the jewelry case in the pharmacy.

Lavesh’s proposal plan included preparing a faux artifact story label and mounting the engagement ring as if it were an artifact, then displaying them on a jewelry case in the drugstore gallery.
Source: Lavesh Pritmani and Saanchi Pal

When the day arrived—Saturday, October 25, 2014—the tour was announced, and museum visitors proceeded to the third-floor exhibit. But, instead of the usual talk and tour, group participants became part of a first for the Museum of History. They were witnesses to an unexpected, romantic proposal.

As a WRAL-TV (CBS) news team recorded him, Lavesh proposed on bent knee to the love of his life. According to the survey statistics above, he did it all: romance, ring, bent knee, surprise, parents—check, check, check, check, and check.

So . . . did she say “yes”?

Find out in a subsequent post . . .


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