ALois  &  Archie  (By Aunt Ruth)

 

After World War II ended, everyone was so happy to welcome back our service men that. We used any opportunity to get together for a party, dinner or gathering of friends and/or family. One of the fun things we did on Sunday mornings was to follow our favorite team; sponsored by a neighborhood tavern, and watch a softball game at one of the local parks. The Moline Tavern League was a loosely formed group with only a few rules. One rule was that the owner or manager of each tavern had to pitch (slow pitch of course) and the other was that the loosing team had to host the winners until a keg of beer was empty. (Taverns opened at noon on Sundays). This made for lively conversations after the games and sometimes there was a continued rivalry shooting picks (in some places now they call them darts but it's a different game) or playing euchre, and even occasionally barbershop harmony. When Franck Venneman returned from the Army's European Theatre of War, 9th Armored Division, he went back to work at the Container Corporation of America and was soon coaxed into being on the Club Tavern softball team. One of the rivals in this league was the Wooden Shoe Tavern, owned by Camiel and Elizabeth Fiems, but more affectionately known to all as Pa and Ma Fiems. Ruth (Roeh) Venneman and her sister, Lois, were always at these games to root for their favorite husband and brother-in-law, as well as all the other returned veterans who formed the team. On the day scheduled for a match between the Club Tavern and the Wooden Shoe, the girls watched and kept unofficial score for their team. When the winner of the game (and that's a bit hazy in the memory of this historian) was decided and both teams with their fans trooped to the loser's place of business, Lois noted that the owner of the Wooden Shoe did not pitch because he sent in his son, Archie, who had recently returned from a stint in the Navy in the South Pacific. She could not help but notice that this was a very attractive new member of the tavern league and it seemed as if her allegiance was transferred to the opponents quite quickly. She asked everyone who had known him before the far all about him and found that he had been married and had a family. Needless to say, that meant that ha was off limits to her and when he called to see he might take her out she told him to get lost in no uncertain terms. His explanation about the war having changed his wife's ideas of marriage and that at present he was not married but getting custody of this three oldest boys, she relented and started seeing him. Before anyone even realized what was happening, including those two, they began talking of getting married and he took Lois, Ruth and their Mother to the place where the three boys were staying. If there were any reservations from any of them about 19 year old Lois marrying into this ready-made family they were dispelled by the three boys themselves. With Danny's role as handsome elder-statesman, John's apparent shyness, and Dave's outspoken curiosity, "Grandma" Roeh entered into the role of grandparent with ease. It took Grandpa Roeh a little longer as he definitely liked girls better than boys. However, when the boys showed an interest in fishing, they were 'in like Flynn". Three weeks before their wedding date, Lois, Archie and her Dad, Bill Roeh, went up to Thompson to catch some bullheads. It was an overcast day so Lois did not notice that she was getting the sun reflected into her face off the water and she came home with terrible sunburn on her face (she had worn a long sleeved blouse and slacks so her face was only thing affected). Next day was Sunday and we were at Stevens Park for our usual softball game. Our neighbors were there and one of them came up to Ruth and asked who the Chinese girl was, Lois' eyes were swollen nearly shut and she gave the appearance of being Oriental. What a laugh we all had at that. Another of the results of this sunburn was a large cold sore on her upper lip. Three weeks later on her wedding day, we were still applying make-up to cover the remainder of that eyesore. Nevertheless, she was a beautiful bride! On June 28, 1947, Bill and Elizabeth Roeh, Franck and Ruth Venneman, Lois Roeh and Archie Fiems attended a wedding. This was at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Bettendorf where Ruth and Lois' cousin Betty Ann Roeh became the bridge of Eddie Smith that morning. There was just time to return home in Moline, change clothes and attend another wedding, this time uniting Lois Roeh and Archie Fiems in Holy Matrimony at Sacred Heart Church. Their attendants were Ruth and Franck. Lois had made her wedding dress and the braided coronet which held her veil. Her flowers were gladiolas which appeared to be orchids with their white centers and purple edges. Ruth's dress was made from parachute material which Franck had brought back from Europe. Her slip and the trim on her picture hat were orchid colored. Their honeymoon was a trip to visit in Canada, across from Detroit (Ontario). They drove a Ford sedan (and again memory fails to bring the date it was made to mind) and except for a couple of flat tires, they had no car trouble. Upon their return they settled into an apartment above the Wooden Shoe and Lois continued to work at Deere & Co., on 19th St. while Archie ran a filing station about 2d   St. and 5th Ave. Lois soon resigned her office job to be a full time mother to the three boys - and eventually to the nine children who arrived as the years passed by. After that, for some time they lived at a house owned by St. Mary's Church, while Archie was school bus driver and general handyman. Later he was employed by the Rock Island Rail road and they bought a home on 22d St. and 8th Ave. (Remember those steps)! The Venenmans also bought a home moved Grandpa and Grandma Roeh with them until they finally decided to buy a home, their first, out on Rock River. They were only there a little over a year before she passed away, but they such happy days for them that he continued to have Sunday dinners for the family until the Vennemans and the Fiems moved to the southwest. He retired after 38 years at Farmall and moved to Las Vegas to be with Ruth and family until Lois moved to Tucson and then he divided his time between them. (And kept busy at both places baking cookies) Their move to Tucson was made after Archie had driven to that city with his Mother to visit his brother Franck and family. They also made a stop on the way home to visit the Vennemans in Las Vegas who had moved there in 1958. By this time the three older boys had gone into the service and upon their return had jobs and started families of their own. But that's story. Many of us enjoyed Lois and Archie's Silver Wedding Anniversary party in 1972. Many times families only get together when there is a death in the family but this family has always tried to stay in touch with each at special times of the year - such as a Tucson Christmas breakfast or when Aunt Ruth gets to Moline and calls her nephews and families for a pizza party. The family also has a "round robin" letter which occasionally gets "lost" along the way but eventually it reaches each one and lets the rest know that we are loved and thought of often.

 

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