This photo was among Virgil Strehlow’s genealogy work in a folder simply entitled “Kruegers”. I recognized Victor Krueger (1926 – 1993) right away [he’s standing in the back row furthest to the right]. He’s my cousin LaVila’s brother.
I thought, at first, that this was a photo of three couples getting married, so I assumed the woman standing with Victor was his wife Mavis Wendorf. I took the photo to breakfast with LaVila, Mavis and LaVila’s daughter Jean, and they set me straight about it, giving me a little history lesson about how wedding invitations worked in the Town of Maine, Wisconsin, in the 1940’s:
“That’s Victor [Krueger] and this is Ellart Sturm’s wedding. Victor and Lavine [Neumann] with him… those are the bridesmaids, they all wore something fancy like that. That’s Victor and Lavine, Ellart and Marcella [Krueger], Elvira [Krueger] and LeRoy [Sturm]. And Victor must’ve been the best man… no that’s the best man [LeRoy] ’cause that’s Ellart’s brother. And Lavine was his cousin, and Victor was [Marcella’s] cousin. This is Elgart Dinnis [Ellart’s half-brother]. This guy I can’t quite figure out. And this little girl is Jane Beesner(?)… she’s in California. And see? The ushers [the men kneeling with the whiskey bottles]… their job was… to drink, basically. I’m not kidding. You never mailed out wedding invitations… they got made up and you delivered them. You’d come onto a yard at a farmhouse, and somebody was home… they’d come out and you’d both drink a shot. The ushers would carry a bottle of booze with them. That’s why they have the bottles of booze right there in the picture. People would give them money to buy the next bottle, either whiskey or brandy. That was the job of the usher. It was a precarious thing, I mean, it was a big honor to be an usher because you were really toast by the time the wedding rolls around! But, you know, talk about drinking and driving! Because they’d drop off an invitation and then, you know, they’d have one [a shot]. It’s a good thing there wasn’t much traffic around here.”
– LaVila Krueger Luedtke, Jane Luedtke Steckling & Mavis Wendorf Krueger
So it’s LeRoy Sturm, Elvira Krueger, Marcella Krueger, Ellart Sturm, Lavine Neumann and Victor Krueger across the back, left to right. I believe the man kneeling in the front left is Elgart Dinnis, the little girl is Jane Beesner, and the other usher is unknown.