This week we can thank Elaine & Dick and Clarice & Vic Alane (Lith. Alaunis) for details of a traditional Lithuanian wedding party in Springfield that lasted for three days.
The date was Sept. 25-27, 1927. The location was the E. Reynolds St. home of just-deceased Lithuanian-born coal miner Paul Kasawich (1872-1926) and his Lithuanian-born widow Anna Leschinsky (1877-1967), mother of bride Eva Kasawich (Vic and Dick’s) mother. Vic and Dick’s father, the groom, was Victor Alane, Sr., son of Lithuanian-born coal miner Joseph Alane, 1876-1907 (who had died in the Pennsylvania coal fields at age 31) and Petronele Spendzninas (1876-1938).
Eva and Vic Sr.’s three sons were not yet born, so our description of the three-day wedding comes from Lithuanian-American coal miner Larry Mantowich (1911-1994). Larry remembered the bride and groom sitting at a table piled with cash gifts, with concertinas playing, dancing and eating–all for three solid days. He reported that single “boarder” miners without their own families or any idea of a proper wedding gift made ostentatious shows of their generosity by proudly tossing $10 and $20 bills on the gift table. ($10 was a good two days’ pay for loading 10 tons of coal.)
Mantowich also reported that all the women of the bride’s neighborhood made food for the three days of continuous feasting and dancing, and that after the first night of the party, the miners would go to work, come home, get cleaned up and return to the party for day two, and repeat the process for day three.
He recalled that dozens of plates were bought and stacked for an interesting tradition. If the bride or groom managed to crack a plate with a silver dollar, the dollar was theirs to keep. Apparently, they could keep on trying different plates until they succeeded.
The Mantowich oral history, in three volumes constituting almost 400 pages, was taken by Sangamon State University back in the 1970s. (See his Lithuanian wedding and wake memories on pages 124-129 at this link: http://www.uis.edu/archives/memoirs/MANTOWICHvII.pdf . In other parts of the oral history, you can read about the making of home sausage and blood soup, moon-shining, and other topics.)
After his 1927 wedding, Vic Alane, Sr. delivered ice and worked as an electrician for Allis Chalmers. He also was very handy and helped many neighbors with little fix-up jobs around their homes. Vic, Jr., went to Saint Peter & Paul grade school and Cathedral Boys High School (later Griffin High School). He worked in the Pillsbury Mills traffic department for four years, then served in the Illinois National Guard for six years, the last two in Europe.
In 1954, he was hired by the transportation department of Allis Chalmers. The company transferred him to West Allis, Wis., then Milwaukee, and let him go in 1970. Before moving to Wisconsin, Vic, Jr. led the local Springfield band, Vic Alane & the Keynotes, playing trumpet and vibra-harp. He and his quartet played at many of Springfield’s premier venues, including the Island Bay Yacht Club and the Illini Country Club.
Another business that Vic, Jr. conceived in his parents’ basement, Jet Permit Ltd., which helps long-haul truckers obtain state highway permits, provided a living after his departure from Allis-Chalmers. Vic also owns campground Nature’s Villa in Helenville, Wis.
Brother Dick worked with Vic at Jet Permit for 40 years, first taking permits and later as comptroller. Dick was a talented athlete in football, baseball and basketball at Griffin High School and served in the Navy.