Wedding Customs

“Last summer I had the good fortune to spend a few weeks on a ranch in Northern Nebraska,” wrote H. W., a student of Omaha High School in the school’s High School Register of October 1900. The Register, a monthly publication, encouraged students to contribute short essays, poetry, and reminiscences. H. W. wrote of his participation in a charivari or shivaree.

“It happened that I was there in the threshing season, and at the time of my story they were threshing where I was staying. The threshers had nearly finished the job, when word was brought that Jim Aiken, a young man of the neighborhood, had been quietly married that afternoon. Now, Jim was one of the kind of fellows who knows everybody, and whom everybody knows, and who always has a joke or a funny story to tell. Though we were taken by surprise we were bound to charivari him.

“It had been cloudy all afternoon and a little while after supper it began to rain, but that did not stop us. We bundled up in old clothes and overcoats and started off in a large grain wagon, . . . As most of the threshers had come along, there were twenty of us on the one wagon. . . .

“After driving some time we came to the home of one of the boys, about a half a mile from Jim’s. There we put up the team and started out on foot. After a short walk we came to the house and quietly surrounded it. Everything was dark and quiet, but at a given signal there started such a racket that for a few minutes I couldn’t even yell. Some of the boys had bull fiddles and tin pans; others pounded the house with boards and hammers, and two shot guns were kept going as fast as they could be loaded. Everyone yelled as hard as he could, and some pounded the doors and windows. After this was kept up for about fifteen minutes a light appeared in one of the rooms, and Jim came to the door looking rather surprised to see us. As it was still raining hard we were glad to accept his invitation to come in.

“After we had given him our best wishes, he brought out a box of ‘good’ (?) cigars, and passed them around. Soon the rest of the family appeared on the scene and the bride gave us all the cake and watermelon we could eat. When we had finished these and talked a while we found it had stopped raining, so we took our departure.”

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