Larry and Dolly Zincke of Chatfield are showntoday on their farm in rural Chatfield.
Larry and Dolly Zincke of Chatfield are showntoday on their farm in rural Chatfield.
"Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga choo choo? Track twenty-nine, boy, you can gimme a shine. I can afford to board a Chattanooga choo choo; I've got my fare, and just a trifle to spare..."

It was 1942. Glenn Miller was king and the first to have a "gold record," "Casablanca" premiered on the big screen, a first class postage stamp cost three cents... The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the New York Yankees 4-1 in the World Series, Shut Out was the Kentucky Derby champion, and Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," from "Holiday Inn," was the all-time top-selling song from a film.

And Dolly loved Larry.

"I probably thought it would be permanent. Don't all girls?" asked Dolly Zincke, who still loves Larry, 70 years later. The rural Chatfield couple marked seven decades of marriage this Jan. 27, having risked it all in one moment and made it into a permanent arrangement.

Dolly was born on a farm near Pilot Mound, "way out where the store was, but not quite." She attended primary school at the District 56 School, and then went to high school in Chatfield.

Lawrence was born "here in the big house" on the family farm, where he's lived all his life except for a few years when he lived up the road a piece.

"I went to school until eighth grade in the schoolhouse that Harvey Bernard bought and moved into Chatfield, and I went to high school in Chatfield," he recounted.

Most would think that they met at Chosen Valley High School, but "we met at a dance hall in Chatfield," they said.

"There was a dance hall over the laundromat or the locker, and they had dances every Saturday night... it was just a bunch of us together from dancing... guess that's how it started."

Dolly noted, "There are very few people left in Chatfield who remember that dance hall. I knew his sister really well, and I think she kind of gave us a push."

The couple went to movies in the theater that used to be by the hotel corner, and they also enjoyed picnicking together. Lawrence stated, "We liked to go to Whitewater. My brother and I had a car together, and we went together with him sometimes."

Neither can name that singular moment when they knew this would be a lifetime of going together.

Dolly observed, "We liked to do the same things," while her groom said they were "just attracted to each other... we still do like to do the same things."

He continued, "It was wartime, we were young, and we decided to get married. We just talked about it; decided to get married. We'd been going together for over a year to a year and a half, and we decided we wanted to get married before I went into the service. I got deferred and never did go into the service, but we got married on January 27, 1942, at Chatfield United Methodist Church."

According to Dolly, they had "a small wedding and a small reception," and Lawrence noted that the "weather was really nice that day - I bet it was nearly 40 degrees." They spent the afternoon following their reception at a friend's home in Rochester, and "didn't spend a lot of money because we didn't have a lot of money to spend."

The newlyweds lived with Lawrence's parents on the family dairy farm for the first years, until they needed their own home.

"Our daughter Ruth was born in 1944," Dolly stated, "then Judith was born in 1947, David, in 1953, and Kathy, in 1959. They were good kids, helped on the farm - even the girls. We used to have picnics in the yard, the kids would play ball with everybody, and people would bring a dish to pass."

The Zincke brood kept busy in the barn, in the fields with Lawrence, and in school, 4-H and church at Chatfield United Methodist, where Dolly and Lawrence were Sunday school teachers and regular attendees.

Ruth now works at the bank in Chatfield, Judith is retired from the Mayo Clinic, David owns the family farm, and Kathy is now "Mrs. Hanson," teaching at Chatfield Elementary School.

Their parents farmed dairy cattle until 1979, when Lawrence needed heart surgery and "a bunch of other surgeries," at which point Dolly did her best to help keep the farm operational and Lawrence decided that milking was no longer feasible, so they sold the dairy herd and bought a beef herd.

Lawrence just celebrated his 92nd birthday, and he maintains that he retired from farming "just last year," though there really is no retirement from farming when one still lives on the farm. Now, they like to garden together, keep house, watch the world go by outside their living room window, watch television and "go to church when the weather's good."

Dolly related, "We have friends who stop by and visit, and the kids are real good at stopping in, along with our grandkids and great-grandkids - I used to work at a nursing home, but I quit to babysit after we sold the cows. We have 10 grandkids and 11 great-grandkids... they're a great bunch. At Christmas, we fill the big house."

And as neither knew the singular moment that Larry and Dolly became "Larry and Dolly," they also didn't, upon saying "I do" 70 years ago, consider what the historical implications of their decision to marry might be: That they would become parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends of families, Sunday school teachers, lifelong parishioners, each other's best friend when health fails, when the sun is shining and when there's snow on the ground on Jan. 27.

Lawrence posited, "I don't think we thought about that... but we had a big party for our 50th." His bride observed that the family held a large birthday party for Lawrence 12 years ago for his 80th birthday. She said, "We told the family we didn't want a big party for our anniversary, so they surprised us at church with coffee. It was wonderful."

The couple called the reception "really overwhelming" as they reviewed the cards on their kitchen cupboard. The years have been very good to them. Dolly feels that "church is important... I think it plays a big part in your life."

She advised, "Do not give up so fast. You can work things out. We're comfortable together, with each other, really."

Her husband proclaimed the merits of her cooking, saying, "She's famous for her apple pies, a real good cook." And Dolly, who "probably thought" that "going together was permanent," concluded, "I'd go another 70 years if I could... good things come to an end, but I'd go another 70 years."