Were you ever rolled around the square in a wheel barrow? Were you ever involved in a Cheveree? Well, let’s take that word “Cheveree.” Mike Spillman who was born in Decatur County, grew up here, lived in foreign country during his working years, and now lives in Virginia, asked if I remember when it was popular for friends to harass the bride and groom on their wedding night. “Hoosiers called it a “cheveree” but I think that it really was a “chev’ying” French for prank or hunt.
You might find this hard to believe but Spillman said that there was at one time a favorite way to do a cheveree for a newly married couple was to require the groom to wheel the bride around the courthouse square in a wheel barrow. “I went to one out in the country where the groom’s idiot brother was setting of sticks of dynamite,” said Spillman.
Of course, I can look that up and pretend that I know all about it but maybe not, Right there on the Internet it states, “Cheveree is a fast pasted-ball-matching arcade game. Destroy all the balls before they reach the end of their journey to advance to the next level.” Huh?, that isn’t what a Cheveree is – is it? No, Way off track. But, I seem to remember someone telling me that when she got married she was put in a wheelbarrow and pushed around the square several times. It was a popular way to celebrate the bride and groom. Is it possible that someone reading this actually did that? Surely if that was really done it would have been before traffic got so heavy. And besides, some people I know who got married here would balk at allowing themselves to be put in a wheel barrow – much less riding in it as it is rolled around the square..
It sort of rings a bell that I saw something like a Cheveree in a movie many years ago. It may have been Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or maybe it was The Waltons. Anyhow, if memory serves me right some of the family went to the new home of the newlywed couple and banged on pots and pans, shooting guns and doing anything that made lots of noise. I can’t imagine just why the practice got started. Thinking about it makes me suspect it was just a bunch of bored people. Sure, the lack of entertainment. No radio, no telephones, no television, no Internet. Can you imagine?
“Oh”,” said a friend when I was complaining about not being able to find out anything about the Cheveree, “you’ve probably spelled it wrong. Why don’t you try spelling it with an S.” And there it was! “Shivaree, the traditional hazing of our newlywed ancestors.” However, in other places I found that it was indeed spelled with a c.
I’ve heard tales of that the married couple would be paraded through town – for what reason I don’t know. Sure, it was supposed to be all in good fun but still it doesn’t seem like fun to me. When I read up on this subject it said that the American tradition goes back to our European ancestors but that those ancestor’s antics were not so much in fun.
The American version was always done in a lighthearted way. But in Medieval France I found where it said the tradition seem to have been celebratory at first, but eventually transformed into a brutal way for communities to enforce social norms.
Charivari, as it was known in England and Canada, was a way for communities to break up any relationships they didn’t approve of. Adulterers, wife beaters and couples seen as having illegitimate marriages were all at risk to have their doors knocked down by an angry mob in the middle of the night. Some communities disapproved of a large age-gap between spouses, or if a widow re-married too soon after her husband died.
A story I read on the Internet couldn’t tell us if the kind of Cheverees we had were an idea copied from our English ancestors – either way, we’re certainly thankful that when our ancestors bothered newlyweds with shivaree, it was only for fun!