70 Years of Togetherness
Schwartzenberger, Terry. "70 Years of Togetherness." Napoleon Homestead, 9 August 2006, 1-3.
Harry and Leah Wolf just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Think back to 1936. And if you aren’t old enough to remember, just imagine how things were. No money, no rain and no crops. "It was hot and very dry, not much of a crop and much worse than it is now," said Leah Wolff, bride of 70 years to her husband Harry Wolff.
The Wolff’s, Leah 88 and Harry 90 just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Sunday, Aug. 6. Their actual wedding date is Aug. 9, but due to when family and friends could gather to best celebrate this milestone the event was celebrated on Sun., Aug. 6 in Streeter. It is not known for sure, but according to Wolff’s daughter, Dyeanne Flowers, it is believed that her parents have set a record for a couple in the Streeter area being married the longest at 70 years. Harry is the second oldest Streeter resident. Second only to his step brother, Freddie Schulz, Streeter, who is three months older.
How It All Started
It was back in 1934 when Harry and Leah met. When asked if Harry swept her (Leah) off her feet, Leah says, "Not really." Harry would come by on horse back and take care of some of the farm chores on Leah’s uncle’s farm, that of Anton Ruff. After a two year courtship the two were married at the Hope Evangelical Church, rural Streeter, near the Flat area. Leah is quick to point out, "The church is no longer there, but there is a nice cemetery there."
The couple remembers the day was celebrated with family and a few friends and Rev. Goehring was the pastor. They both said there was no money and no rings were exchanged, because they couldn’t afford them. Harry says, "We didn’t have anything. Everyone was poor." Following the service Leah’s mother served a lunch to those who attended the wedding. The Wolffs have lived their entire lives in the Streeter area. Harry, the son of Gottlieb and Rosa (Zeeb) Wolff was born in Blackfoot, Idaho while Leah, the daughter of Fred and Margaret (Enzminger) Ruff was born in the Streeter area.
When they married, Harry was 21 and Leah 18. For a short time the couple lived with Harry’s sister, the late Edwin and Lydia Enzminger about 5 miles south of Streeter. After living with the Enzmingers for a year it was time for Harry and Leah to get a place of their own. They moved to a farm about three miles west of Streeter where they rented a quarter of land. Times were tough. Harry said, "We’d cut thistles as feed for the cattle, just to get by. Money was very scarce and you didn’t borrow any money. If you couldn’t buy it with cash you went without."
Helping them get started there was Leah’s Grandpa Ruff who gave the couple 5 cows, 2 pigs and a couple clucks and chickens, laughs Leah as she tells the story. At that time Harry said the couple bought a 10_ft. drill for $8.50; a 5-ft. mower for $6.50, a 2-bottom plow for $4.50 and drags for $2.50. Harry said, "We bought these items with the little cash we saved and to make matters worse the bank closed and we lost a portion of that money too." As far as farm chores, Harry said Leah has always helped out. She even helped with binding and shocking at harvest time as well as with making hay.
After living west of Streeter for three or four years the couple moved three miles east of Streeter where they lived and farmed for 48 years. Harry said all that was there was the house which they remodeled, but they added all the other buildings. Wolff’s sold the farm to Tom Vandeberghe and it was in 1990 that Harry and Leah built a home in Streeter and have been living there ever since. Harry says, “I may have moved off the farm, but everything about farming still stays in my head." This is the first year for the Wolff’s that they didn’t plant a big garden since they moved to town. When they had their large gardens they’d eat what they could and the rest they’d give to neighbors and friends. Now this year the Wolff’s say, "We’re getting back four-fold of what we gave away. The friends and townspeople have been really good to us."
Harry, the oldest in the family, lost his father when he was three years old. His mother remarried and he comes from a family of 9. Lydia is the fourth oldest in her family and she has 10 brothers and sisters. Harry and Leah have four children, three sons and a daughter: Clayton who is a parts manager of Westward Production in Jamestown; LeRoy who is retired from the Montana Department of Transportation as a surveyor and lives in Missoula, MT; Dr. Darold who is retired from Wartburg College in Waverly, IA as a biology teacher and Dyeanne Flowers of Detona, FL where she was a bible teacher in the public schools and a home health care worker, but is semi-retired. Wolff’s also have 8 grandchildren, 6 girls and two boys and 16 great grandchildren, 15 boys and one girl, with one boy who died at birth.
Both Leah and Harry have been active in church and community activities over the years. Leah was a Sunday school teacher for 35-40 years as well as a choir member. Harry was a church trustee and usher and the couple has attended what is now known as the Ebenezer United Methodist Church their entire married life. "I enjoy working with the church women," said Leah.
Both Harry and Leah are in good health. Harry had open heart surgery at the age of 85 and says, "The steam is not quite there," but he is still very spry.
Leah remembers the days when she’d make all types of German dishes from kuchen and pastries to her specialty vegetable soup. In fact as she’s talking she has her daughter, Dyeanne, place two loaves of frozen bread dough in the oven so the family will have fresh bread for lunch. Over the years the Wolffs have witnessed many changes from horse-drawn farm implements to tractors and from coal and wood burning stoves to microwaves. Back in their earlier years Harry would pick up cow pies out in the pasture and then mix them with straw. He’d hitch up his four horses and compact the mixture and then with a homemade sod cutter he’d make squares that they’d use to burn to keep warm.
They both remember getting their first radio, which was pretty large in size and which had a big battery to operate it. In fact it was in March of 1937 when they started listening to the Rev. McCoy radio show, because it was the same day their son Clayton was born. And to this day the Wolffs continue to listen to the show which airs at 9:00 a.m. every day on KSJB.
The couple used to be busy making quilts and they provided their grandchildren and great grandchildren each with one. Harry is also a self-taught barber, and has given his kids, grandkids and the neighborhood all hair cuts. "The first job was to make them sit still," says Harry.
Harry also has a hidden talent of embroidering. "I enjoy it," says Harry. In fact at the recent Ruff reunion 6 of his embroidered dish towels garnered $132 at auction.
"They’ve never been idol," says daughter Dyeanne Flowers. Flowers says her mother was always ready for relatives with an oven full of food as they headed off to church. When they returned home the food would be nice and warm and ready to eat.
Success To A Long Marriage
According to the Wolff’s the success to their 70 years of marriage: "We help each other out and we cooperate."
"Leah has always helped me out when I needed her," said Harry.
Reprinted with permission of the Napoleon Homestead.