Saturday, August 27, 2011

Spreading Joy in Westphalia, Missouri

It’s a wedding tradition I had certainly never heard about, but if you search the Internet for word combinations like “manure + spreader + wedding,” you can find some information (but not much). If you have done just that, and landed on this Web page, and if you have any information, I hope you’ll post a comment or go to the Op Op Facebook page (see the link at the right) and leave a note there.

As I mentioned in my last post, we drove around south of Jeff City last weekend, and part of that was in Westphalia. While we were there, we asked a couple of locals if they knew about a tradition involving a newlywed couple exiting the church grounds not in a limo but on the back of a manure spreader.

And this couple had indeed heard of it. They said it has to do with good luck—it’s supposed to guarantee a long marriage, or something like that. (They intimated that their observations have disproven the notion, but apparently it’s a tradition that some people might still do.)

—Have you ever heard of such a thing?

The reason I asked them is that my mom has recently been scanning her old slides, and a couple of these show a bride and groom exiting the parking lot of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Westphalia, Missouri, perched side-by-side on the back of a manure spreader (thankfully it was covered with some kind of tarp!). In the picture, they are being pulled by an Allis-Chalmers D-15 tractor.

(These people, by the way, are not friends or acquaintances of my parents; my dad just happened to be in Westphalia when this occurred and took pictures, which is exactly what anyone in their right mind would do when presented with such a spectacle!)

The manure spreader’s wheels are devoid of tires—they are just bare rims—it must have been a rough ride! Also, there are two old brooms tied upright somewhat decoratively on the front corners of the spreader. A rope swings in a U-shape, hanging at each end from one of the brooms. Dangling from this rope are two stirrups from a horse saddle.

The front end of the spreader is marked “Donated by ?” (I think that’s a question mark), and the side (funnily enough) that the groom is on is labeled “HER.” (I bet, amid all the joy and rice-throwing, the couple inadvertently sat down on the “wrong” sides.) The wheel rim that’s visible in the photos is marked “wheel of” something—I can’t see the part not facing the camera.

I’m pretty sure those are strings of Stag beer cans dragging from the back of the manure spreader. Classy!

The date of this photo is almost certainly October 1964: Anyone know who this couple is? If the luck of the “manure-spreader wedding limo” has held out, they’re getting close to their golden anniversary!

Here’s a photo we took last weekend of St. Joseph’s church in Westphalia.

It’s a very attractive, historic town, and if you haven’t been there, you should make a point of visiting it. Westphalia, you might recall, is home of the Westphalia Inn, with its delicious family-style dinners and house-made wines, and its popular Norton Room, Corkscrew Deck, murder-mystery dinners, and live music. Westphalia also has bed and breakfasts for you to relax at, plus the Westphalia Historical Society now has a museum.

And St. Joseph’s, like the other Catholic parishes in the region, has an annual summer picnic (which was August 7 this year) and fall supper. The fall supper will be on October 16 this year. And you know—not even counting the delicious sausage—that’s a perfect time of year to go for a drive in rural Missouri.

. . . Though I wouldn’t recommend seeing it from the back of a manure spreader!

NOTE: The 1964 photos in this post are property of my Mom and Dad, who gave me permission to use them, so don't you dare copy them. Be nice; ask permission first!

MYSTERY SOLVED. Read the comments below, and click here for a newer post explaining everything. And click here for more on the story!


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

I bet the church has published several books lising all of their parish families. Most of the book list weddings. I know Wardsvile books go back to the beginning and list weddings.
Looks like a nice fall day, and you already have the year.
the church secetary might be able to help, it's a close knit community.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Oh, I know it could be easy to find this couple's identity. I figured I'd be lazy first and see if any of my readers goes, "Ohhh I'll be darned! That's Frank and Betty Schnitzelkopf!" (Or whatever!)

I fully expect to bump into this couple on October 16 at the fall supper! He'll probably be selling meal tickets, or working the beer wagon, and she'll be slicing the pies, or overseeing the preteens refilling people's cups of iced tea!

Anonymous said...

My husband is from Westphalia and knows this couple as do I. They are Elmer and Rita Bax.

Patty V.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Oh wow, oh wow! That's so cool! I knew someone'd know them. Are they still around the Central Missouri area? I'd love to talk to them!

You can e-mail me at opulentopossum at yahoo dot com.

At the very minimum, I hope you'll give them my best regards!

Jane M said...

It is Elmer and Rita Bax. They do still live in Westphalia.

Julianna Schroeder said...

That's terrific! Do you suppose they'll be at the fall supper October 16? After learning their names, I've Googled them a bit and I see he's been active in the K of C.... What a cool thing the Internet is: Connections.

Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Okay, can you believe I work with their son Mike?? I will show this to him tuesday.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Update: on Friday 9-2-11, I got an e from Elmer and Rita! I'm checking with them to see if they'll let me post some of their message on my blog. (And no, it's not a cease-and-desist order--it's quite gracious and fun!)

Anonymous said...

This is my grandparents Rita and Elmer Bax. Where did you find these pictures? We just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last October.