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David and Jan Rafoth – Step on a Land Mine and Live to Tell the Great Story

In the short amount of time I spent with David and Jan Rafoth from Dubuque, I could tell that they have led interesting lives. And what constitutes an “interesting life” you may ask? For starters, how about stepping on a bomb and living to tell the story? Not enough for you? … Well add-on finding out where you are going to live based on a nice random car ride. Read on, hopefully you are as entertained by their stories as I was listening to them.

How did you hear about Runde’s?

Well we were looking to trade our car and we had previous experience with Runde’s and Al Kloft and we were treated right the last time we were here. After we saw the Cadillac in the paper we called Al up and he said “we’ll have it washed up for you to come and see it”. You guys were very fair and we ended up buying the car.

On a ranking of 1-10 what would you give Runde’s?
We’ll give you a 1… Is that the “good” side of things?…
Well … Good would be about an “8” and a “10” would mean everything was Great!  It’s like the gymnastics scores in the Olympics.
Oh, we’ll give you a 10 then, geesh – whatEVER. Everything was perfect.

How do you know Al?
I kind of knew him through a friend but mainly we know him from buying a truck from him. I think he sold us the truck within an hour. There was no hassle, I was very happy with everything.

Tabby’s – They look like a fun cat.

What do you use the truck for?
We think of ourselves as we’re half-farmers… even through we’re retired. We live out in the county and have to trim trees and all that kind of stuff so we always have to do something around the area.

Where are you guys from?
We live in Dubuque. But now we live here “half-time” where we live here for the holidays and big gatherings. But for about four or five months we live in North Carolina.

How were your holidays?
They were good, BIG gatherings.

Do you have any pets?
We have one cat named Sammy. He’s a Tabby cat. He rides down to North Carolina with us whenever we go. He sits back there in his little box and never makes a peep, he’s a great cat.

Now he can have a nice ride in the Cadillac.
Yeah, we’ve had eight Caddies so far, we just like them.

What do you like to do around the area?
We like to ride motorcycles, we both have Harleys. We spend a lot of time on the river and we just sold our boat, but we have a lot of friends that still have boats which is even better. We also do a lot of entertaining like dinner parties and stuff like that. Otherwise we have a house in the country that requires a lot of maintenance and care.

What kind of food do you guys like?
She makes some great Italian food.  Sausage, Sauce, Pasta, Beef and Pork Tenderloin…the works.
You are looking pretty hungry there David.
Yeah, I haven’t had lunch yet so food sounds pretty good right now.

How long have you two been together?
17 years. Married 17, hanging out for another 5.

Do you remember your first date together?
I think we went to Timmerman’s. We knew each other through other people and we both belonged to the chamber and had our own businesses. We had a lot in common and just kind of hit it off.

Al tells me that you had some pretty close encounters when you were in the army?
Yeah, it was during my two years in the Vietnam War. My squad was hot on the trail of some of the enemy and we were observing them as they went through their same trail for several nights. So when we finally pursued after them, we went through their trail and they must have caught on that we were watching them and might go after them because there should not have been a trip wire on their own trail.

It was pitch black when my foot sank down into the ground to the point where my knee was level with the ground and I thought at that point that it might be a trap. So my Sargent came up and checked it out and felt down around in the hole and said “you’re stepping on a trip-wire”.

That must be ranked up there as one of the worst feelings ever… So what could you guys do at that point?
Not much. None of us were sure what would happen if I were to step up, whether it would go off or not. So the Sargent got everybody back and took all my stuff with the men at a distance and told me to build my nerve up and spring up out of the hole and try to run as fast as I could to avoid getting killed. So I did, and nothing happened. So we marked the spot and we came back the next day and dug out the trap… it ended up being an artillery shell, that would have got all of us. We had our demo guy put on some C4 and blow it… it actually blew a hole about three feet deep.

Wow, I’m glad you lived to tell the story.
I kept the trip wire and still have it to this day. Since then I have had the mentality that nothing can ever scare me again.

You said that you live in North Carolina?
Yeah, we live in Asheville. We love it there because it’s really accepting… there really isn’t “racism” or anything like that, everyone just kind of fits in. They really promote themselves too.  They are all about local restaurants and produce and they do a great job of keeping commercial.  After we retired we were just looking for a place to get away from the extreme snow that we have here in Dubuque. We just happened to drive around for a spot and found Asheville.

So, you just kind of drove around for a place to live?
Yep. Oh, and if you haven’t heard of the Biltmore House there, you should Google it. It’s absolutely beautiful.

What is the most important invention created?
Technology in general. It seems like something new comes out pretty much every week that seems pretty important.

If you were to win the lottery what would you do with the money?
I think we’d give a lot of it away. We’d give to our church and to those who need it. Maybe we’d come back here and buy a couple more Cadillacs. We never really dreamed much of winning the lottery. We’ve had a great life together and we only need so much stuff… we have too much stuff already.

That’s all the questions I’ve had for you, if there’s anything you’d like to add you are more than welcome.
It’s a really nice experience here. A lot of people, including ourselves, think “Oh geez, I have to go in to buy a vehicle.” Sometimes we don’t even want to bother. But we don’t feel that way here. We always enjoy ourselves and I appreciate the experience you guys offer. And tell Al “thanks again” for the deer sausage he gave us!

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