Archive for February, 2010

If It’s Not an Elephant Tusk It’s a(n)…..?

February 28, 2010

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Ok, so maybe it’s not so difficult to guess what is in this post’s photo, but it makes at least two people think of an elephant tusk (sort of).

By the time you go to bed Tuesday evening I’ll post an explanation for this photo. (The explanation has to do with one of the photography toys I received for Christmas.)

Coming up within the next two weeks — another mention of the 1940s and the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.

Click photo once (or even twice) to magnify detail.


(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


Pioneers from Kaua’i, Hawaii, to Rolfe, Iowa

February 23, 2010

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Because I’m catching up on communication regarding Rolfe’s oral history project and I’m also having fun with Jackson, I’ll likely not post again until Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime, if you’d like to read the history of the previously mentioned Tip Top Motel & Cafe on Kaua’i, click here.

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By clicking once (or even twice) on this image of two photos taken eight days apart, you'll magnify the detail.

The top photo was taken nine days ago as Bill and I were driving around the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. The bottom photo* was taken yesterday, February 22, 2010, as I was driving around rural Rolfe, Iowa. The sign in the lower photo is on the farmstead of Mick and Sue Reigelsberger…which is also the original home of Mouser, and is 1/8 mile from where my father, Deane Gunderson, lives.

I’m not wild about the winter of 2010, and especially would not be if I still had a 35-mile work commute, but I do enjoy experiencing seasons. What a work ethic our pioneers had, enduring the elements, for us to enjoy life as we know it today.

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I’ll be back to the blog in about a week, or maybe before if timing works out.

* Photo-posting permission is granted by Mick Reigelsberger.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

The Tip Top Motel & Cafe (at Lihu’e on Kaua’i)

February 20, 2010

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I have another 1940s-Pocahontas-grain-elevator story, but I don’t have it ready to go yet. However, when I do post it, you’ll find it is just a t-a-d, very loosely related to the post below.

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Banana pancakes with "homemade kettle cooked Guava Pineapple Jam" at the Tip Top Cafe, Lihu'e, Hawaii. (Click photo to "t-a-s-t-e"!)*

Three days ago Bill and I returned from a business trip to Hawaii.  Our Oahu destination was predetermined. We also fit in a day-trip to Kaua’i. Our Valentine’s Day trip involved an approximately 100-mile, 30-minute-each-way round trip flight from Honolulu (Oahu) to Lihu’e (Kaua’i).

When we arrived at Lihu’e around 9:00 AM, Bill and I asked the airport shuttle driver and also the car rental attendant where we should have breakfast. (After all, the best people to ask for advice are the locals.) The first (actually only) recommendation given by each was Lihue’s Tip Top Cafe.  What a great recommendation.

I rarely have pancakes…not because I don’t like them, but because of how I feel after I eat them.  I am so glad I ate the banana pancakes with guava pineapple jam at the Tip Top Cafe.  Mmmm, mmmm, good! I hate to admit it, but I also doused my pancakes with coconut syrup. Um, and added a little bit of maple syrup, too. Soooo good. (And, my tummy felt fine afterward.)

(Did you click on the photo yet?)

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*Photo-posting permission is granted by Jonathan who runs the cafe that was started in 1916. Because the cafe is now combined with a motel, it is also referred to as the “Tip Top Motel & Cafe.”

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

1940s Construction and Watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, Grain Elevator (Part II)

February 18, 2010

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In 1949, Mother (Marion Gunderson) painted two watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator/concrete silos. (Information about those two and other watercolors is available at “View and Order Prints.”)

Mother's (Marion Gunderson) signature on one of her 1949 watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.

Not long before Mother painted those watercolors in 1949, Mike Hood, formerly of Pocahontas, watched that same Pocahontas grain elevator being built. The following is a continuation of Part I of Mike’s recollection. Most of the information below is about Mike’s family, but gives a “visual” of the 1940s. Mike was 8 or 9 years old at that time. As you read the rest of his essay, try to imagine looking through his eyes as a child…more than sixty years ago.

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By Mike Hood

(continued from Part I)

We had a pony named Fancy and a lovely little four-wheel black buggy with yellow wheels, that I was the right age to use. I could harness the pony and would drive the rig for hours in a hay field of about 10 acres south of our house. That house still stands on the west side of the road one-quarter of a mile north of the Pocahontas County Courthouse. (Grandfather Michael Linnan’s name is on a wall in the courthouse because he was a County Supervisor when it was built in the 1920s.) I remember that sometimes I would meet my cousins and give them a ride for that last quarter mile on the little buggy. I remember, too, that they would be dead tired from the hard work of pouring concrete for those long 12-hour shifts.

Pocahontas Grain Elevator II prints are available in three sizes: Small (Limited Edition, 10" W x ~12.3" H, $25). Grand (Limited Edition, ~ 17.9" W x 22" H, $50). Largest (20" W x ~24.5" H, same size as the original). Click photo to enlarge.

Jim’s and Frank’s motive, of course, was money for college. Their father, Uncle Charles Linnan, of rural Laurens, rented a 160-acre farm and was not extremely money prosperous in those days. Both of those boys graduated from the University of Iowa. Jim Linnan had a successful career at Ruan in Des Moines, and was the mayor of Clive, Iowa, when he died suddenly of a heart attack in the spring of 1970.

My uncle Bill Linnan was the father of Donald Linnan, of Storm Lake and former County Engineer of Buena Vista County, of Fr. Roger Linnan, who continues as a popular parish priest who served at Jefferson, Manson, Spencer and even now in his 70s at Haywarden, and of Karen Brown, who is married to a retired dentist from Montana, now retired in Sioux City.

All of those cousins were college graduates and were an inspiration to me. I was an editor at Successful Farming and Country America magazines, and now oversee our several farms and photograph antique tractors for calendars.

I remember very clearly sitting on the roof of the chicken house on that Pocahontas farm and counting five concrete grain elevators in what must have been the summer of 1950. Those would have been at Pocahontas, Havelock, Plover, Rolfe and Gilmore City. Obviously, the concrete grain storage technology caught on very rapidly.

We moved from our wonderful Pocahontas 160-acre place to a 305-acre farm bordering Columbia, Missouri, in March of 1951, and in a few years I would be hauling wheat to an old-fashioned tin-sided elevator on hot July days and nights. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright called those grain elevators the skyscrapers of the prairies. Indeed!

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(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

1940s Construction and Watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, Grain Elevator (Part I)

February 16, 2010

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Pocahontas Grain Elevator II prints are available in three sizes: Small (Limited Edition, 10" W x ~12.3" H, $25). Grand (Limited Edition, ~ 17.9" W x 22" H, $50). Largest (20" W x ~24.5" H, same size as the original). Click photo to enlarge.

The November 10th, 2009, Des Moines Register included an article about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolors and the Rolfe, Iowa, 1980-81 oral history project.* Published alongside that article was a photo of Mother. Also included with that article was this post’s photo (at left) of one of Mother’s painted-in-1949 watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.

Enticed by that Register article, including the image of Mother’s grain elevator watercolor, Mike and Sally Hood of West Des Moines attended the open house.

After the open house I remembered Mike’s telling of his first-hand story of the 1948 or 1949 construction of that same Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.  At my request, Mike was generous to pen that story and allow me to post it here.

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By Mike Hood

(formerly of Pocahontas, Iowa)

It was exciting to be a little boy perhaps 8 or 9 years old in Pocahontas, Iowa, in the summer of 1948 or 1949 when they were building the huge concrete silos** to enlarge and modernize the main grain elevator in town. It was particularly exciting for me because my Uncle W. B. Linnan was supplying all of the concrete from his Ready-Mix plant on the east edge of town for this structure. (The Ready-Mix plant still stands much as it was then!) Also, two older cousins, brothers Jim and Frank Linnan, who were college students at the University of Iowa, were living with us and working on this project, which was a very good paying job with good hourly wages and, of course, long hours.

I remember that once they started pouring concrete for the grain silos, they had to continue nonstop until it was completed. They used slip forms that were jacked upward and were filled with wet concrete as the construction progressed. As I recall, my cousins worked long 12-hour shifts and walked home from work to our farm.

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At this point, I’m interrupting Mike’s essay. I’ll include the rest of it in the next post.  (Part of the remainder of his essay includes information about Mike’s family that he included for his daughters.)

For now, to quickly learn how (or to refresh your memory) the slip forms to which Mike referred were/are used to construct concrete grain elevators, please watch this 33-second YouTube video.

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* This oral history project was spearheaded by Mother.

** The silos to which Mike referred are the silos painted twice by Mother in the 1940s.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

To Be or Not To Be…Valentine Pink. That is the Question.

February 12, 2010

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Recently when I was taking photos of Sammy and Miss Kitty (our two cats), I noticed for the first time the discrepancy in the colors of Miss Kitty’s and Sammy’s noses. Miss Kitty has a Valentine pink nose. In contrast, Sammy has a dark colored nose.

Our veterinarian was at our dinner party a couple of weeks ago. I took the opportunity to ask him my very important question: “Why do some cats have pink noses and others have dark noses?” I anticipated an explanation of a phenomenon. However, that phenomenal explanation is simply, “It’s in the genes.”

Now, maybe all of you reading this are thinking, “Duh, Louise, the answer to that question is just common sense.” But, I do know that I wasn’t the only one at the table that night wondering the same thing!

Miss Kitty and her Valentine pink nose. (Click photo to enlarge.)


Soft-spoken Sammy. (Click photo to enlarge.)


Best buds, Sammy and Miss Kitty. (Click photo to enlarge.)


(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Betty White, the Super Bowl, and Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Chicken Dip

February 10, 2010

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On Sunday I watched about half of the Super Bowl commercials. I know this is a delayed comment, but my favorite commercial was the Snickers commercial with Betty White.

One of our pre-game appetizers was carrots, celery, and tortilla chips served with Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Chicken Dip. Mmmm, mmmm, good.  I’m not much of a one for really spicy food.  This dip had just the right amount of kick to keep it interesting, but not so much that it couldn’t be tamed with a swig of ice water of beer.

Instead of Frank’s Redhot sauce, “our” dip was made with Louisiana’s sauce, and without the crumbled blue cheese. I think the crumbled blue cheese would make it even better. But, even without the blue cheese, the dip was addicting. (Just one more bite. Ok, now, really, just one more “one-more” bite….)

My plan is to, by Friday evening, publish a fluff (but I think fun) post. After that, it might not be until the end of next week before I post again. When I do, I plan to post comments from two people who witnessed the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator being constructed in the late 1940s. That grain elevator was painted twice by Mother (Marion Gunderson) in 1949. (Information about prints of each of her Pocahontas grain elevator watercolors is available on this blog at “View and Order Prints.”)

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Winter-affected School Days

February 8, 2010

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This morning this school bus got stuck at the edge of our lawn. On the other side of the bus is a county snow plow. One of the drivers is shoveling snow from the back wheel well area. (Click photo to enlarge.)

My initial thought this morning was that it probably wasn’t the wisest decision for local school districts to hold classes today. However, believing in the “walk a mile in the other person’s shoes” philosophy, I realize I’m not aware of all factors involved. I’m just glad I don’t have to make those cancel-or-not decisions, when many districts are already facing the difficult and potentially controversial task of determining how to go about rescheduling those “snow” days.

Winter weather has prompted some Iowa districts to cancel nine or more school days. (Yes, if you live in Iowa, you already know that, all too well.) And…it is only February 8th. Needless to say, this winter I’ve been so thankful I don’t still drive the Perry-to-Ankeny commute.

However, I did have a stinky commute once when I was in grade school in the ’60s. I remember when, early one winter morning, we learned that buses wouldn’t be running complete routes, but that any students who could make the trek to school should attend. I was so excited because Gunderland (our farmstead) was on a gravel road that couldn’t be reached by the school bus that day.  Wahoo!  I didn’t have to go to school.  But, oh, no.  My dad, impressing upon us the value of our education, loaded us up in the tractor-pulled manure spreader and hauled us to Cornwell’s corner (4/10 mile away) where we boarded the school bus.

(Ok, it probably wasn’t a “stinky” commute in the manure spreader. Daddy more than likely had the spreader cleaned out and it was probably odor-free. But, it makes for a good story!)

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(Most likely due to the weather, our local district dismissed classes at 11:00 this morning.)

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Mouser and D.C.G.: A Match Made in . . .

February 6, 2010

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Mouser and D.C.G., fall 2009. (Please click photo to "see" the chemistry.)

I remember when Clara, my oldest sister, called me on the morning of November 30th, 2004, to tell me that Mother (Marion Gunderson) had just passed away. I immediately drove from Perry, Iowa, to Mother and Daddy’s rural Rolfe farm home that we so fondly refer to as “Gunderland.” Several family members and I were at Gunderland with Daddy for the next several days.

“Right now” I so wanted Daddy (Deane Gunderson) to have a pet. I thought a pet would help comfort him with Mother being gone…maybe even help increase Daddy’s longevity. On one of those mornings while still at the farm I was SO EXCITED because I looked out Daddy’s (and Mother’s) kitchen window and saw a dark-colored cat roaming near the garage. I was just sure this specific cat was sent by God to be a companion for Daddy.

Later that morning, I realized that God had awhile back really sent the roaming cat to the farm home of Mick and Sue Reigelsberger (neighbors 1/8 mile down the gravel road). It turned out the cat was temporarily visiting Gunderland and would soon meander back to its Reigelsberger home.

In the following year or two, every couple of months I’d make a half-joking-half-serious comment to Daddy about how fun it would be for him to have a cat. He made it known that under no uncertain terms should any of us give him a cat. It’s funny how, when I was little in the ’60s, it was ok for us to give to Grandma DeElda a parakeet, but two years ago it wasn’t ok for us to give Daddy a cat. (Although it wasn’t so funny when Grandma died and the parakeet then came to live with us at Gunderland! No one competed for the honor of cleaning Pretty, Pretty’s cage.)

However, within the last year, Mouser showed up at Gunderland. As Sue Reigelsberger indicated in her comment regarding a previous post, Mouser is a transplant from the Reigelsberger farm (although, I didn’t know that until awhile after Daddy claimed Mouser as being his cat). Any cats showing up at Gunderland had been shooed away by my dad…until the day Mouser showed up. On that day it was like love at first sight for my dad. I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Red Flower Watercolor by Marion A. Gunderson

February 3, 2010

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In this trio of originals of Mother's watercolors, Red Flower, painted in 1969, is at the right. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Several of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) original watercolors were on display at the November open house. These originals were either loose and displayed on tables, or framed. Open house guests were informed that if they had an interest in having a print made of any of the displayed watercolors, to make me aware of their desires. If there was enough interest in prints of any particular watercolor, I’d consider making prints available.

(Click image twice to enlarge.)

Two women attending the open house expressed interest in this Red Flower original. Voila! Because of their interest, prints of Red Flower are now available in three sizes.

Small unmatted*: 7″ W x 10″ H; $15

Medium: 10″ W x 14 3/8″ H; $25

Large: ~13.5″ W x ~19.5″ H limited edition; $40 (The original has the same dimensions.)

Wild Faces Gallery in Rolfe, Iowa, intends to have available at least one print of each size. I plan to have the same inventory at my home. The Rolfe Public Library plans to have at least one print of Red Flower available; however due to space/storage constraints there, the library might not always have one of every size.

If you are interested in viewing and/or purchasing a print(s), feel free to do so at Wild Faces Gallery in Rolfe (712-848-3399) or at the Rolfe Public Library (712-848-3143). You may also view and/or purchase prints by contacting me at In addition, I am happy to ship prints.

These Red Flower prints are gorgeous. Just take my word for it. These prints are g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.

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* From time to time we’ll have this small size available with a pre-selected double mat option. The matted print will fit in a standard size 11″ x 14″ frame. When this pre-selected mat option is available, the matted print will be $29. We’ve started offering this matting on more small-sized prints because at the open house this option to fit in a standard size frame was so popular.

To see images of additional prints of Mother’s watercolors, click on “View and Order Prints” at the right side of this blog’s home page.