After 44 Years, the Guest Finally Becomes the Host
"After 44 Years, the Guest Finally Becomes the Host." Hazen Star, 26 August 2004, 18 & 32.
left, and his German guest, Sigfried Richter, read the German
Bible at the Mercer County Museum
A host is always in need of guests. Friends visit friends, often
taking turns as the host. It's what friends do.
Being the host is something that Wilbert Adolf, a former Beulah/Hazen
resident, has always wanted to do for his good friends, Sigfried
and Edith Richter.
After all, Adolf has been a guest of the Richters numerous times
since they met in 1960, but reciprocating the favor just hasn't
It's not that Adolf hasn't invited the Richters to his home because
he has, every year for the past 44 years, in fact.
And, it's not because the Richters haven't wanted Adolf to be their
host because they have.
The problem is that the Richters live in Germany. Plus, they don't
speak English - not one word, although they do understand just a
few words. So they have never ventured to America on their own.
But this past Juy, after 44 years as a guest, Adolf was finally
able to return the hospitality he so often has enjoyed with the
Richters, when he talked them into a visit.
Adolf spent a month in Germany earlier this summer. Over the years,
the friendly little village of Plankstadt in southern Germany where
the Richters live has been Adolf's second home.
So Adolf is happy to finally show his first home, North Dakota,
to these good friends. This year when Adolf once again extended
an invitation to America, Edith and Sigfried decided that if they
could travel to America on the same flight home with Adodlf, they
would do so.
This way they would be traveling with someone who could translate
for them on at least one leg of their long journey. Luck was with
the Richters. There were two open seats, all the way to North Dakota.
Plans were made and the Richters began packing for a month as Adolf's
guests. Adolf was excited.
"I've invited them for 44 years and now I'm happy to show
them where I live and grew up," Adolf said.
The Richters spent the month of July traveling with Adolf as he
proudly showed them the places he loves in North Dakota. High spots
of the tour were Fort Lincoln and the Slant Village, the Knife River
Indian Village, the Peace Gardens, the Theodore Roosevelt National
Park, the Epping Museum and of course, Mercer County, where Adolf
lived most of his life.
While in Beulah, the Richters also toured the Mercer County Museum,
a place where Adolf was quite active before moving to Bismarck upon
Adolf, along with Hilda Backfish, a Mercer County Historical Society
director, toured with the Richters, both acting as a translators.
The Richters, Sigfried a retired machinists/welder and Edith, a
retired seamstress, were interested in seeing the America they had
heard so much of from Adolf: the wide open spaces, golden crops
growing in the fields, lush gardens, shopping and American restaurants.
left, from Germany, enjoyed visiting in her native language
with museum hostess Hilda Backfish
Adolf said his friends were "astonished at all the German
speaking people and German names" in North Dakota. They were
quite interested to learn tht there is a strong Germans from Russian,
heritage and all of the related items in the Mercer County Museum,
including the German Bibles and handwork items like the Kloppelin
on display - a form that was used to make lace.
The Richters also noted many differences between Germany and America.
They couldn't believe all of the large, wide open land with so few
people. Germany is only twice the size of North Dakota, but has
about 87 million people.
"Everything (in North Dakota) is new and interesting. I can't
belive all the open spaces, few cars and no traffic. But so many
fourwheel drive trucks," Sigfried commented.
Adolf said the Richters also wondered where all the different people
came from and how they got to America.
They were also surprised at the friendliness of people in the state,
no matter where they were.
Other differences Sigfried commented on were with young people.
"Sigfried was amazed that young people here have to wait until
21 to buy liquor because in Germany they can buy it at age 14,"
Plus, cigarette machines are on every corner in Germany for any
age, not restricted like in America.
In addition, the Richters were surprised at how inexpensive things
like Coca-Cola were in America and couldn't believe that every time
they sat down in a restaurant a free glass of water was served.
center, was pleased to share Mercer County history with longtime
friends from Germany, Sigfried and Edith Richter
"When they drink pop or coffee in Germany, they have to pay
for every refill. That's why kids drink beer there, it's cheaper,"
While in America, Adolf has taken the Richters to many American
restaurants where they were surprised at how inexpensive the American
restaurants were compared to Germany. They were also impressed with
the good service and how clean the restaurants are.
"The steaks are good and the fresh salads, vegetables, all
wonderful," Sigfried said. "But you find nothing like
German bread here, good dark, heavy crusted bread like rye and wheat.
And we do eat a lot of sauerkraut in Germany."
The month in America flew by quickly for the old friends, just
as the years have. Adolf was just a young man when he met the Richters
on his very first trip to Germany.
That year he rented a one-room apartment in a building where Edith's
aunt also lived. The Richters were just a young married couple of
four years and soon became fast friends with the young American
who spoke "Americanized German."
This year the Richters celebrate 48 years as man and wife with
three grown children who also grew up knowing Adolf.
And after 44 years, these three friends are no longer just friends
Reprinted with permission of the Hazen Star.