Eighty-nine years ago today – also a Wednesday, at 8:00 am – Olivia Anna Kaiser married John Joseph Schwister in St. Peter’s church in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
She was 25-years-old, from a close-knit German family, and worked in the shoe factory just north of downtown. He was 33, from a farm near Black Creek, a veteran of WWI in France, and beginning in February 1925 the proprietor of a small grocery store with his brother Bill on Vermont Street in Beaver Dam.
According to family lore, Olivia and John caught one another’s eye when she would happen to pass by the Vermont Street store on her way to and from work – even though the store was several blocks off the most direct route she would have taken!
After they married they moved into a house built by her father, a carpenter, across the street from where she grew up and there they remained surrounded by extended family up and down the block (most of them living in houses also built by her father) for the next 25 years. They raised four wonderful children, including my dad.
In 1952 they took over a store in Lodi, Wisconsin and Olivia ended 50 years of living on the same block to set up a home in a new town. There they finished raising their children and eventually welcomed nine grandchildren, with the ninth being born a few years after John died.
They both passed away in their mid-70s, seven years apart. Here they are on October 12, 1927, looking like the picture of “Roaring 20’s” youth and optimism. Their love and generosity were a blessing for which I’ll always be grateful.