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Local couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Detroit Lakes couple Don and Esther Jasch, who are 91 and 88, respectively, will celebrate their 70th anniversary on Thursday,. Aug. 15. VICKI GERDES/TRIBUNE

It’s a romance that’s lasted more than seven decades — but when Don and Esther Jasch first met, she didn’t know quite what to make of him.

“I was working at Ole’s dairy farm by Westbury,” Don said. “One day I was milking the cows, and she came by the house to clean it.

“I thought I could use somebody that could clean house for me,” he added, with a twinkle in his eye. “I don’t remember how many times I had to ask her out before she said yes.”

“I think we went to a movie, but I don’t remember what it (the movie) was that we saw,” Esther said, recalling their first date.

What she does remember is that Don talked her into moving to Detroit Lakes from her parents’ home near Richwood, “because we could see each other more often.”

At the time, there was gas rationing going on, which made frequent trips back and forth into town impossible.

“So I took a job at the hospital (in Detroit Lakes), which was run by the Catholic nuns at that time,” Esther said.

“I did everything from soup to nuts… cleaning, making beds, helping to serve (meal) trays to the patients, a little bit of everything.”

Don, meanwhile, had moved on from milking cows to delivering milk for the local creamery.

“We dated for two or three years,” he said.

Eventually, they became engaged, and on Aug. 15, 1943, Don and Esther became man and wife.

“We were married at Zion Lutheran Church,” Esther said.

After their marriage, they moved to Thief River Falls, where Don got a job working at the Hoyle dairy farm, milking 100 cows a day.

“That was a pretty good sized herd at that time,” Don noted.

“They milked cows morning, noon and night, and I cooked for the men,” Esther said.

Don continued to work at the dairy farm for three or four years, before they moved to Beltrami. He took a job working at a grain farm.

“He worked in the fields until 10 o’clock at night,” Esther said.

After about a year there, the couple returned to Detroit Lakes, and “we’ve been here ever since,” Don said.

He once again began working for the local creamery, delivering milk.

“I worked for several creameries, doing house to house delivery,” he said.

“I must have been on the milk route for over 43 years.”

Every day, he’d get up and go to work at 6 a.m., come home at 3:30 in the afternoon, then start his next job, as a butcher.

He delivered milk to approximately 200 homes along Washington Avenue, serving his clients on the west side of the street on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, then on the east side of the street on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Though they had planned on starting a family by this time, Don and Esther remained childless through their first seven years together.

“The doctor said she (Esther) couldn’t have any children,” Don said, adding that when she got the news, “she cried.”

Fortunately, it turned out that the doctor’s diagnosis was not quite accurate.

“We’ve had five children, including (one set of) twins,” Don said. Those children, by birth order, included daughter Lois, son Harvey, twins Arnold and Arlene, and son Jonathon.

All of their children were raised in Detroit Lakes, in the same house where the couple continues to live. Since then, they have also added 12 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren and four great-great granddaughters, though sadly, sons Harvey and Arnold have passed on.

Don retired from his job as a milkman at age 57, but he continued to do butchering work for local hunters and farmers up until about six years ago.

“He butchered 14,200 head of cattle on local farms,” Esther said.

Over the years, Don would also cut and deliver wood for a large number of area residents.

“We cut lots of wood,” Don said. “We purchased standing timber, went out and cut it down, then chopped 100 cords of wood, stacked it in the yard and sold it.”

Of course, the wood typically had to sit and dry for a couple of years before it was ready to sell.

“Dad would never sell wet wood,” said his son Jon, who along with siblings Lois and Arlene, was in town last month for a family reunion.

Meanwhile, after Esther gave birth to her five children, she began taking in other local kids for daycare as well.

“I did that for about five years,” she said. “I also cooked at Rossman (Elementary School) for three years, and from there I went to Swift’s (the local turkey plant).”

Esther continued to work at Swift’s for about 10 years. “After I quit at Swift’s, I helped him (Don) out with the butchering,” she added.

When they officially retired, they did so together — and began traveling the world.

Over the years, the couple has visited Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and “one year, we visited seven countries in Europe,” Don said — including Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland.

In addition, they have traveled all over the country attending polka fests.

“Dad says, ‘If it ain’t polka, it ain’t music,’” said daughter Arlene.

“They used to dance the polka around the kitchen table.”

Don has also gone on hunting trips to Montana, Wyoming, and even the North Pole (the latter, to hunt caribou).

“Sometimes, I went with him,” Esther said, recalling one trip where she had an opportunity to view some polar bears from a helicopter.

And despite the fact that they describe themselves as “a stubborn Norwegian and an ornery German,” the couple has not spent much of their time together fighting.

“They never fought in front of us kids,” Arlene said.

“We didn’t really have fights — disagreements, but no fights,” Esther said.

“We didn’t really see any point in fighting,” Don agreed.

Some of their biggest disagreements over the years have been, “are we going to the dance tonight, or aren’t we?” he joked. “We still go dancing every Sunday – mostly at the Galaxy in Barnesville.”

So what’s the secret to making love last for so long?

“A little bit of this, and a little bit of that,” Esther joked.

“They set a very good example for their kids,” Arlene said. “None of us have ever been divorced.”

Besides a healthy marriage, the couple has also enjoyed pretty good overall health through the years.

“I feel blessed,” Don said, as Esther nodded in agreement.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454