A Time To Remember: Quinton Wolff

Schumacher, Cindy. "A Time To Remember: Quinton Wolff." Northwest Blade, 20 October, 2011, 7.

Quinton and Arlene Wolff currently own and operate Arlene’s family homestead, the Heyd farm, located just west of Long Lake. Her father, Julius Heyd, started the farm and all the original buildings. Since then, Quinton and Arlene added several more quonsets, grain bins and other buildings to the farm. Although Quinton is younger than most of the people asked to be interviewed for this series of articles, "A Time to Remember," we felt he would be able to add another prospective about the times and how things have changed.

Quinton went to school 2 ½ miles from home. His dad took them to school with horses pulling either a wagon or sleigh. When the weather was good, he rode his bicycle to school. He said everyone struggled in those days. They wore bib overalls to school. Everyone wore overalls, but they were clean. There were four boys and one girl in the school. Quinton recalled that one day when they went out for recess, the boys talked the teacher into letting them have another fifteen minutes. When they misbehaved, they had to stand in the corner. One time, all four of the boys were in the corner. They actually had fun standing in the corner, because they could peek at each other and make faces. After his dad found out about his misbehavior, he made sure he never stood in the corner again. For spending money, he trapped muskrats. He received $2.50 if they were skinned and $2.00 if they weren’t.

One day, Quinton took a jar of ice cream to school for his lunch, and he buried it in the snow. During recess, all the kids covered his footprints during their play and he could no longer find where he had buried it. Even the teacher helped him look for it. They found it in the spring, right where he had left it. He finished 8th grade in 1948 and wanted to continue with school, but his dad told him he needed him to work.

He went to country church, Friedens Congregation, northeast of Eureka about 10 miles. It was lit by kerosene lamps, because the church did not have electricity at that time. At Christmas time, real candles graced the Christmas tree and caution was practiced so that the candles did not start the tree on fire. The candles didn’t last very long, either. When Quinton was in the 7th grade, his dad let him drive the car and take his two older sisters (Alegra Fischer and Delores Hilgemann) to Christmas program practice. He was worried until Quinton and his sisters made it home, but Quinton returned home safely with his sisters in tow. He remembers it was a 1937 Ford. About every other Friday night in Long Lake in the Legion Hall (built in 1948), there were dances. They always had great bands playing, including 6 Fat Dutchman, Whopee John, Tom Gutenberg and Gerhardt Bauman, and the dances were standing room only.

Quinton took a team of horses and helped neighbors with their threshing for which he was paid $1.00 that went to pay for his dad’s threshing. They had a mischt box (sheep manure) sitting outside the house to be used to heat the house. Arlene recalled that her family used coal at night.
During the war, there was a shortage of equipment, and those who could afford to buy new equipment had to sign a release that others could rent the equipment. His dad purchased a 7’ power mower that he rented out to many of his neighbors.

One Sunday afternoon, Quinton went to the Legion Hall to roller skate when he was 18. Arlene was sitting there with her three nieces. He knew who she was but never thought he was good enough for her. Even so, he got up the courage to go over and sit down beside her. He asked her to go out on Sunday evening. She said yes, and he got directions to her home. When he got there, her dad wouldn’t let her go, because he thought she was too young (15). He asked her out again three weeks later, and her dad let her go out with him that time. In those days, Long Lake had a theater, implement dealers, grocery stores, electric shop, a shoe shop, two hardware stores, bars and barber shops (25 cents per hair cut). The grocery store sold the basic clothing items; jeans, socks, and underwear. They ordered some clothes from catalogs. Everything you needed was there, so there was no need to go anywhere else; and if they did, it was Ashley or Eureka.

Quinton and Arlene have two children. Their first son, Dennis, was born on June 23, 1957, and Wayne was born on February 15, 1961. Dennis has two children, Matthew and Kelsey. Wayne has four step-children. Arlene has one sister, Erna Rath.

Quinton and Arlene purchased their first combine in 1956. Before that, they used a grain binder and threshing machine. They used the pull-type combine for 17 years before they bought a self-propelled combine. In 1966, a tornado came through. In 1967, they were hailed out and lost their entire crop. They remember when they first got a television in 1961. Wayne was just a baby. The first night Wayne was home from the hospital, he cried all the time and Dennis (three at the time) couldn’t sleep, so he said; "let’s move him upstairs" (in German). They lived with Arlene’s folks for the first six years of their marriage, and all they spoke was German. When Dennis and Wayne started school in Long Lake, they had to start speaking English. They recall canning everything, raising their own vegetables and butchering their own animals. They had a freezer and were able to keep things. They smoked and canned a lot of their meat.

Quinton and Arlene said they had more leisure time in their earlier years together. There was not much alfalfa in those days, so they put up the prairie hay. Neighbors always helped each other when someone was putting up a barn or a shop. On Sunday evenings, they remember that they would wait for company to stop by. If no one came, they would hop in the car and go to someone else’s house to visit. There were no telephones until 1949, so you couldn’t just call and ask if they wanted to come over. The first telephones were party lines, and there were twelve homes on one line. In 1966, there were only four of them who shared a line. They would check on each other during power outages every hour, on the hour. They would all lift up the phones and talk to each other to make sure everyone was ok.

When Wayne Wolff and neighbor, Charlie Hoffman, were playing high school basketball, Quinton remembers LeRoy Hoffman calling and asking Quinton to bring his snowmobile along in case the weather got bad and they couldn’t make it home. It was a bad winter that year.

When asked about improvements he’s seen in his lifetime, Quinton said the best thing to happen was going to no-till seeding and that the crops have improved tremendously. It cuts down on soil erosion and moisture content. He believes that’s one way of staying with the times. There are farmers who say the ground needs to be turned over sometime, but native grasses never get tilled and they are always nice and soft. Mother Nature takes care of herself.

Since Dennis started farming, they started fertilizing. Quinton lets him do all the calculating for it, because he doesn’t want anything to do with it. He said GPS, auto steer, and moisture testers are all too complicated. He enjoys hauling the grain for Dennis and letting him do the combining. Arlene also helps out by running the grain cart.

Quinton said that times were tough when he was young, but they were tough for everyone. He and Arlene are thankful for all that they have, and most importantly, their family and friends. Thanks, Quinton and Arlene, for sharing a bit of your lives with us.

Story courtesy of the Northwest Blade, Eureka, SD.
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