My Maternal Grandparents were John Aloysius Chvarack, (1916-1967) and Lucille Marie Beiersdorf (1920-2011). They were both raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
John was a part of a family of Croatian immigrants. His Father, Steve (1872-1938) came to the US first, then his wife, Mary (1876-1960) and their first 3 children came about 10 years later. Steve was part of the establishment of St. Cyril & Methodius Church in Sheboygan in 1911. John had 2 brothers & 2 sisters and they were raised in the Catholic faith. John was born August 3, 1916 and was baptized at St. Cyril & Methodius August 13, 1916. He attended St. Cyril & Methodius school & graduated from Sheboygan High School in 1934.
Lucille was the only child of Herman (1895-1983) & Amanda (1894-1973) Beiersdorf. Her ancestors were German immigrants. Herman’s parents, August (1858-1903) & Augusta (1868-1955) came to the US in 1889 with 4 of their 10 children. Amanda’s parents, Otto (1869-1954) & Emilie (1867-1940) Steinhaus, came to the US in the mid 1880’s and married in Milwaukee in 1890. Lucille was born in Port Washington, WI on August 23, 1920 & was baptized there on September 5, 1920. The family moved back to Sheboygan & Lucille was raised in Bethlehem Lutheran church. She graduated from Sheboygan High School in 1938.
They attended the same high school but 4 years apart. John’s yearbook caption gives his nickname as “Johnny” and indicates he was on the Commercial Course of study. “It takes tall men to be seen” is the phrase under his name. The caption continues with: “John is quite a shy, tall boy who overcame his shyness when he joined the Glee Club. He seems to have unusual strength, and there are many who admire his skating and swimming abilities.”
Lucille’s caption is shorter: “Louie” is her nickname, her favorite subject is typing, hobby is sewing, and ambition is to be a stenographer.
I interviewed Grandma in 2008 and asked her about Grandpa. She called him “Johnny” but it sounded more like “Junny” when she said it. They met when some friends introduced them and she invited him to a party at her house. She was 14 and he was 18. Lucille’s cousin, Gertrude Beiersdorf was in Johnny’s class so maybe she had a part in introducing them. Grandma said he was so shy that he stayed off to the side and didn’t interact much with the group initially. After he got to know someone, he was more interactive. They started going together after that & were together while Lucille was in high school. They went to dances at the Eagle auditorium & had a group of 4-6 couples that would go out together, get together to play cards or go on picnics.
They got married Wednesday, June 26, 1940 in Sheboygan. Now, I just figured that they got married in the church that Grandma grew up in, Bethlehem Lutheran Church. But when I found the wedding announcement from the Sheboygan Press, I noticed that they got married in the parsonage of the church and not in the church. The announcement said she wore a white net over satin princess style gown. Orange blossoms held her veil in place and her bouquet was of “Euratium lilies, bouvardia and white sweet-peas.” Her attendant, John’s sister, Anna, wore an aqua taffeta gown with “shirred basque waist and empire skirt.” Her bouquet was of American Beauty roses. Lucille’s cousin, Francis Beiersdorf, was the best man.
But I didn’t understand why they got married in the parsonage. I asked Grandma about it. She said it was because she was Lutheran and Grandpa was Catholic. She said his Mother would not attend the wedding and would not permit him to get married in the church. Looking at the pictures, though, seems like she missed out not being able to walk down the aisle of the church in that beautiful dress. Lucille’s parents hosted a supper and reception at their house after the wedding.
John later took classes and joined the Lutheran church. The couple continued on at Bethlehem while they lived in Sheboygan. After John joined the Army and made a career of it, they continued to find Lutheran churches to attend and raised their 2 daughters in the faith.
Johnny died in California in 1967. Lucille had one daughter still at home. My Mother was already married and had a family of her own. Lucille stayed in California for the rest of her life.
© MJM 2016