Arno Hafemeister entered the UW Madison in the fall of 1935, arriving in Madison knowing only George Gresch (Mike's grandpa), and Larry Polzak from Antigo. 70 years later Arno said he really appreciates the fact that he had friends at DTS and remembered "Once a brother, always a brother".
He lived at the house at 935 University Avenue his first 2 semesters, and he roomed with George Gresch, Larry Polzak, and Milton Weisner from Sturgeon Bay. He also remembered good friends Al Fernbach, Arnold Kurth from the Wauwatosa area, Leonard Josephson and Bob Gallegan from the Ashland area. All of those brothers are now gone, Milton Weisner just passing about 2 or 3 months ago.
George Gresch had invited him to stay with the group, which had one spot open. Job prospects were lean in Antigo, and Arno's dad encouraged him to have a go at college, if he could work his way through. At this time, the house had 14 men in all, in 8-9 rooms. Arno and George slept on the top of a double bunk bed donated by Otto Gresch (Mike's great-grandfather), from a logging camp near Antigo. Milton Weisner and Larry Plzak slept on the bottom. Brothers, this lends new meaning to a "double"! Brothers did their own cooking at the house and many brought potatoes, chickens and vegetables from home. Arno did not do much cooking, so he paid $1.00 per week for food. George worked at the Gardner Bakery from 9pm to 1am and barely stayed in school. Arno recollects that a year or so before he went to Madison, the group was called the "Farmhouse Fraternity", and that group decided to be a part of the national fraternity, Delta Theta Sigma, becoming the Gamma Chapter. I can't remember from my pledge days the very earliest history of DTS, but I would bet on Arno's version!!
For his third semester, Arno got a part time job working at the Stock Pavilion, taking care of the horses and cleaning stalls. There were two rooms tucked away on the third floor, and he had one of them at no charge, in exchange for work. He said that they had a well trained horse hooked up to a dump cart, and it would go all around the Pavilion so he could load the cart up from the horse stalls, and then take it out to a 28 acre corn field not far from the Pavilion, pull a pin, and the whole load would dump. No tractor power in those days! Once in a while, his boss would bring a shotgun out to the field and shoot a bunch of Starlings. Arno would then gather them up, take the breasts out of them, and could make a nice meal out of them!! One time he had cleaned about a dozen of them, ready to eat, came back to his room and found that someone had helped themselves to his meal.
At this time there were 13,000 students on campus, books and tuition cost about $80, and it cost 10 cents to travel on the bus anywhere in Madison. At the time, hamburgers and ice cream cones could be purchased for 5 cents (if you had the 5 cents).
Arno spent 3 semesters in Madison, but after the death of his mother, he left school with 42 credits. In 1937 he planned to join the Navy, but then got a chance to work for the State of Wisconsin, testing milk from purebred cattle; the only problem was that this job required a car. So, Arno hitchhiked home to Antigo to get the $85 down payment from his dad, hitchhiked back to Arlington where he had located a 1931 Model-A car with 38,000 miles on it. He paid $235 for it, $85 down and $28 a month for payments. On the way to Arlington, his ride had a flat tire, and everyone pitched in some money for a spare. After putting gas in his "new" car, he had less than $5 to his name. But, he had a JOB-drove all over the state testing milk, and was paid 3 cents for every mile driven. Gas cost 10-12 cents per gallon at the time.
A number of years later, Arno came back to Antigo, worked with George Gresch in his Allis Chalmers dealership for a time, and later he and his wife Violet started their own Case dealership in Antigo, which they ran successfully for decades. Two of Arno's sons, Peter and Gary, followed in their father's footsteps and were Ditzers in the 60's and 70's. Arno is now 93+ years old, retired and still lives in Antigo. Just a really nice guy!!
W9670 Highway 64 East
Antigo, WI 54409