I stopped in to see my Uncle Karl Krueger today at his shop, and we had the chance to talk family history briefly. He discussed something I’ve heard many other family members talk about before, the Krueger Family love of playing cards, but he told it in a way that was very amusing, so I thought I’d share.
“Yeah, dad’s grandpa [Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Krueger] and that whole family spoke German… I remember when I was a kid, every once in a while the whole Krueger gang would get together at somebody’s house to play cards. It was… well, we called them the ‘great aunts’ and ‘great uncles’, but it was [Heinrich Krueger’s children] Agnes, and Eddie, and Alfred, and Norma, and Elsie, and of course grandpa [Oscar Krueger]. They’d set up a bunch of card tables and there would be snacks and beer. And these were… they were sort of stern-looking, serious, very proper people when they’d arrive. Kind of aloof. But, boy, I tell you… you get two beers in ’em! All of a sudden it was nothing but jokes, and laughing, and hooting, and hollering! They made a racket!
And they’d start speaking German. At first, before they had any beer, everything was proper and sort of calm, and they were dealing the cards out carefully and speaking in English. But then, two beers later… there would start to be be a little flush in the cheeks, you know? And they’d start speaking German. And telling jokes in German! I didn’t speak it, but you could tell they were jokes because of the cadence of the voice of the person talking… and everyone else would be quiet and listen, and then there would be a punchline of some kind and the whole room would erupt in laughter. All of the normal talk of dealing the cards and so forth was all in German too. It used to make grandma [Edith Curtis] so mad! Because she didn’t speak German and she just *knew* that they were all laughing at her, and talking about her. They weren’t of course. They were just telling jokes and laughing with each other.
Dad [Lloyd Krueger] only knew a couple things in German, and one of them was “töten die roten Hahn”, which meant “Kill the red rooster”. I don’t know what that’s from. If it was from a joke, or it had to do with playing cards… but that was one phrase that dad would say sometimes.”
[It seems that “Wir töten den alten roten Hahn” is a lyric to the German version of “She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain”. “We’ll kill the old red rooster when she comes”, is the lyric.]
Back table: Edith Curtis Krueger, Oscar Krueger, Eddie Krueger, Laura Hanke Krueger (hidden). Front table: Alfred Krueger, Agnes Krueger Passow, Elsie Krueger Madden, unknown. Harvey Krueger’s home. Courtesy of Harvey Krueger.
Edna Curtis Krueger, Oscar Krueger, Laura Hanke Krueger, Eddie Krueger, Agnes Krueger Passow (l to r). Playing cards was a staple of Krueger gatherings. These photos show many of the siblings gathered for a game of cards at Harvey Krueger’s home. Courtesy of Harvey Krueger.