Willes have seen their share of bad Iowa winters

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

GARNAVILLO, Iowa — Sylvester and Darlene Wille, at 82 and 73, have seen their share of bad winters.

This year ranks up there with the bad ones, the couple said last week.

"This year is about as bad, but now we have the equipment to handle it," said  Sylvester. "When I was a kid, Pa and I had to shovel our lane by hand or we stayed home or we used a sled and horses."


Sylvester adds one more thing.

"I don’t have to be out in it now," he said. "When I’m inside all the time, the winter doesn’t seem nearly as long."

He and Darlene stay warm in their sunny house in Garnavillo. Their son, Terry, and his wife, now live in the house on the farm.

 Sylvester has had a camera since he was a boy. He has snapshots of his family and the neighbors shoveling out the snow plow when it got stuck. In those days the snow plow was a caterpillar with a plow on the front.

"It would come down and open the road in March,"  Sylvester said. "The plow would push all it could, but it would get stuck. The men would come with shovels and break up the crust."

After the snow, there was mud. Sylvester has a picture of his truck stuck in mud to the top of the tires. On May 23, 1939,  Sylvester took a picture of the corn planter standing in snow.

"In 1925, the year I was born, there was frost every month of the year,"  Sylvester said. "They lost their apples and gardens. In those days you had to be really tough. Families helped families and neighbors helped neighbors."

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