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!