Little Bernice Hrebec weighed only five pounds at her birth on 20 November 1916 to Albert and Mary Hrebec. She was named by her grandmother after Saint Bernadette and was baptized on 19 March 1917 at St. John Nepomuk Church. Lawrence and Mary Trcka served as her sponsors.

Bernice and her grandmother slept in the living room in their three-room flat located at 4136-38 Juniata Street. The coal furnace tried to keep the house warm in the winter and one electric fan moved the hot air in the summer. By the time Bernice was a teenager, the family had a radio, which was her favorite thing.

Bernice attended several grade schools: Grant, Scruggs, and Horace Mann. In her eighth grade class book, Bernice named more of her favorite things: singing, popular music, roses and violets, and swimming and tennis. Her favorite trip was a train ride to Wesco, Missouri, where the family fished, hiked, and swam. Bernice completed her formal education at Hadley Vocational School.

Bernice worked at Emerson Electric Company, then at Johansen Shoe factory where she worked for five years before moving into the office. Her transportation including walking, riding a bike, using the streetcar, and taking a bus. Her best friend taught Bernice things like playing the piano and driving; however, Bernice never got her driver’s license.

Bernice met Ben, her future husband, at the Highlands Amusement Park at the grandstand dancing to the band after dark. They were twenty-three years old.

Bernice and Ben were married at St. Agnes Church on 30 November 1941. Breakfast was served at Little Bevo Mill. Out of respect for Ben’s mother, who had died on 25 October, the reception was cancelled. Friends stopped in at the bride’s house instead.

Bernice died on 7 November 1998 at St. Louis University Hospital, with the funeral from Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church and burial at Resurrection Cemetery.

Written by Judy Broleman
June 2020

© 2020, St. Louis Genealogical Society

Bernice Hrebec Schweizer
Bernice (Hrebec) Schweizer
Photo in the collection of Judy Broleman
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 04-Sep-2020 10:33