Emil Heintzelman can almost taste the food that was prepared at mealtime during his farming days. His eyes twinkle and a big smile crosses his face when he recalls the roast pork, chicken and the chocolate cake.
"Eating big meals with the older men" and "hauling grain bundles when I was 11 years old" are two of Heintzelman's fondest memories. These and a "lunch" that included Kool-Aid that was brought out to the field around 4 p.m. Heintzelman farmed on the family farm south of Alberta until he retired in 1982. While others were on the tractor, "I was always the one using the shovel and pitching bales," said Heintzelman.
Emil Michael Heintzelman was born on Feb. 3, 1925, to Mike and Lena Heintzelman. He attended school at rural District 47 and Alberta High School. "I skipped the fourth grade and took second grade spelling in the first grade. The only thing I failed in school was MacBeth and Shakespeare," said Heintzelman, who admits he's still not a reader.
He married Betty Kaehler on Aug. 22, 1952.
"Betty and I met at a chivaree," said Heintzelman.
The couple had seven children: Larry (Alberta), Steve (Pelican Rapids), Jean (Glyndon), Mike (Leonard, N.D.), Jim (Breckenridge), Rich (Hot Springs, S.D.) and Mark (The Colony, Texas). There are also 13 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Betty died in 1965 from brain cancer.
Heintzelman married Ann Laager on March 12, 1983. Dancing was a favorite pastime for the couple. Heintzelman, who celebrated his 85th birthday in February, still enjoys listening to "old-time" music CDs.
"I always thought a full day was to work all day and dance all night," said Heintzelman.
Following his retirement from farming, Heintzelman was an assessor for Scott Township. His math skills, in addition to his memory, are still flawless. He also farmed with Leo Hennen, Albert Holslin and Kermit Stahn. He drove cars for Valu Ford and Morris Auto Plaza.
Throughout Heintzelman's life, there have been first-and-only experiences.
"When I worked for Kermit Stahn I got a chance to drive a triple dual John Deere tractor," said Heintzelman, who had farmed with small tractors all his life. In 1987 he took his first and only plane trip when son Mark got married in Texas. When he got off the plane with his family he remarked, "Do you know we were seven miles in the air?"
Another of his favorite pastimes is playing cards. He plays euchre as often as possible with the regulars who gather in the basement of Old No. 1.
"I've been playing cards since I was 10-11 years old and have played (among others) with four generations of the Halbe family," said Heintzelman, who once used a horse as transportation to a card game that was 2-1/2 miles away.
"When I was about 10 years old I went to a card game at Wagner's and the game was short a woman," said Heintzelman, referring to the tradition of couples playing cards in which winning couples won a man's prize and a woman's prize, respectively. Winning couples stayed at the same table; losing couples moved from table to table. "It was around 1935 during the Depression. Ed Wagner and I played partners and we didn't move all night. I remember the woman's prize was a yellow or pink cake dish."
Heintzelman also enjoyed roller skating "at the roller rink near Perkins Resort on (Highway) 59," as well as playing fast-pitch softball for Mike's Bar in Alberta.
A part of history that he would liked to have been part of is when the pyramids in Egypt were built. "They ground sand, made those blocks and carried them 'to hell and gone' and the pyramids are still there," marveled Heintzelman.
With a life so full, Heintzelman considers "getting my kids raised" his single greatest accomplishment. He remembers his dad's advice -- "never try to get into trouble.
"I don't argue with anybody; I always give them the benefit of the doubt," said Heintzelman, who admits, however, that he might challenge anyone who tried to beat him out of a trick in cards.