Archive for August, 2010

Rolfe, Iowa, in the ’40s and ’50s: The Wickre Story (About those feed sacks…)

August 31, 2010

After I posted in July about the feed sacks available in the 1950s (and maybe the ’40s?) from Barbara and Henry Wickre’s Climax Feed and Grain in Rolfe, Iowa, I was pleasantly surprised to receive more information from Loel Diggs about those sacks.

Loel is the son of the late Emma and Tom Diggs. He is a 1956 graduate of D.M.T. (Des Moines Township school) which is a little more than four miles northeast of Rolfe, Iowa. (Before my junior high years, which were from the fall of 1966 through the spring of 1969, the D.M.T. school building had become the Rolfe Community School District junior high building. My Rolfe graduating class of ’73 was the last class to have “eighth grade graduation” from/at D.M.T.)

Loel emailed to me the following information about the sacks mentioned by Sharon (Wickre) Rickard in previous posts. His initial information prompted my reply of several questions which resulted in his also telling me about his pickup.

Our email conversations and photos supplied by Loel went as follows.

Here is the Diggs' Farm pickup "loaded for the trip to town" (i.e., Rolfe). (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Loel: I liked your last posting on the Climax Feed & Grain. When in high school (and Dad had bought the pickup) I would take our corn and oats to the mill, have it mixed and ground with feed concentrate, sacked and taken back to the farm and used to feed the flock of laying hens being raised. By the time we had the pickup [1955], the imprinted feed sacks had pretty much disappeared and the concentrate or feed additives were being supplied in paper bags. However, the accumulation of prior cloth feed sacks, from the farm, were the feed sacks that were filled with the mixed and ground feed that I hauled back to the farm.

Loel: I do remember the imprinted feed sacks. Those were the sacks that Mom and my sister would make into dresses, aprons and other stuff. The imprinted concentrate feed sacks, as Sharon states, were delivered  to the farm with their delivery truck or would be brought home by my folks. Then the grinding and mixing of the chicken and other needed ground livestock feed was done on the farm. It was ground with a tractor-belt-driven stationary hammer mill that was hand fed with a scoop shovel.

Loel: If Mother or my sister liked the imprint on the sacks, the imprinted sack only saw the original fill of concentrate feed. Some of the non-imprinted sacks would be made into dish towels, or used over and over again to contain the prepared feed that would be brought back to the farm to be fed. I always enjoyed taking the grain to town (to get it mixed and ground) because it allowed me a chance to get off the farm for a couple of hours during the day.

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This next set of emailed Q. and A. is in response to Loel’s first comments (those immediately above).

Louise: Are the imprinted sacks the ones that had the stripes and other designs on them that Sharon talked about in her first and second audio recording segments? And, the non-imprinted ones just plain?

Loel: Yes. The imprinted sacks were the ones that had all different designs as imprinted fabric does today. The non-imprinted sacks were just plain sacks with no identification on the sacks other than an identification tag sewn into the stitches to close the sack. Some feed sacks would come with a brand name imprinted on the fabric (such as FELCO Feeds). If Mom was going to use these, she would first bleach the sacks until the imprint would disappear off the fabric before being made into dish towels.

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Later this week I’ll post Part II of Loel’s and my communication in regard to Climax Feed and Grain and also about Loel’s 1955 Chevy pickup.

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


1. Three Little Kittens … 2. I Spy

August 26, 2010

On Friday, July 30th, after my dad’s (Deane Gunderson) private memorial service, the rest of my family hung out at the farm, including “touring” the out-buildings. To our surprise, three little kittens were discovered nestled in a big open box in my dad’s shop. The little kittens were obviously offspring of Janie who has taken up residence at Gunderland (the farm) along with my dad’s adopted cat, Mouser.

Since July 30th no one had seen the kitties, although Janie is always around for a handout of food. I was beginning to wonder if something unpleasant had happened to the kittens; however a week ago, by accident I discovered that they are safe and sound.

While at the farm last week, I walked out to my dad’s shop. As I walked, I kept looking down at my feet to avoid tripping over scrap metal. In my “looking down” state I raised my gaze just a tad, maybe due to sensing some movement? Right there were Janie’s three kittens. “Oh! You sweeties! You’re alive, you’re alive, you’re alive!!!!!”

Janie and her three kittens outside of my dad's shop. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

One of Janie's three kittens. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Not only did I spy the three kittens and Janie; I also spied one of the metal rounded rectangles like those my dad used for feathers for his 11 1/2-foot statue of Cy.

In the photo immediately below, it’s difficult to see the “feather.” Because of that, I attempted to outline it with four arrows all pointing to the edges of the piece of metal.

Janie, her three kittens, and the metal "feather" like those my dad used for Cy's feathers. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

This next photo is of one of the “feather” pieces that my dad gave to me a few years ago.

Several years ago my dad gave to me this "feather" metal piece. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Sometime I’ll post more about the pieces of metal that my dad used for Cy’s feathers. A hint is that he found them at Art’s Way Manufacturing in Armstrong, Iowa.

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For the next few days I’m with Jackson, my grandson. After Labor Day I should be back to posting more regularly.

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


August 20, 2010

Over the last several days I’ve pondered what kind of volunteerism I should partake in*, now that I won’t be spending time visiting Daddy (Deane Gunderson). I’m not sure if I’ll get involved in something brand new (new to me, anyway) or if I’ll go out on a limb with something unfamiliar.

Last night as I was just about to leave the farm to return to Perry, I decided to make a last-minute run into the Rolfe library. As I left the library I saw the as-all-American-as-apple-pie example of volunteerism: Glenn and Sarah Munson and their dog, Ranger, were watering the hanging flower planters that line Main Street. Sarah was driving the pickup down the street stopping at each planter long enough for Glenn to water each planter. And, Ranger was…supervising.

I know that Sarah also helps with the City of Rolfe’s web site, and their pickup has a “Fire Fighter” sign on it. I’m pretty sure that both of those things are just a small representation of their dedication to their community and beyond.

For most people reading this post about volunteerism, it is probably like preaching to the choir. But, I don’t sing in the choir.


This view is of Highway 15 (a.k.a. Main Street) in Rolfe, Iowa, looking north. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


If you look carefully, you'll see Sarah in the pickup driver's seat. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


(Click on photo to enlarge.)

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*Yes, a dangling participle here. If you have a better way for me to word it, feel free to let me know!

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

Rolfe, Iowa, in the ’40s and ’50s: The Wickre Story — Part IV

August 16, 2010

This Rolfe Homecoming pin belongs to my sister, Clara, who was in the same graduating class as Sharon. When this pin was sold at Homecoming time in 1958, Clara and Sharon were juniors; I was yet to turn three years old.

This post includes the fourth (of a total of five) segment of a conversation I had last spring with Sharon (Wickre) Rickard, Rolfe High School class of 1960.

To listen to Sharon elaborate about many topics, including her success selling Homecoming pencils in the early 1950s, click on the following link. This segment is 6 minutes long. SharonWickreRickardDPart4


Sharon is shown here in front of the office at Climax Mill and Feed, later known as Climax Feed and Grain, in Rolfe, Iowa. (Even later, the office location behind Sharon became the Farmers Co-op grain elevator office.) The mill was purchased by her parents, Barbara and Henry Wickre, in 1944. Can't you just see this little girl selling those Homecoming pencils in Rolfe's "beer joints" in the early '50s?! (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Last spring Sharon and I talked about former Rolfe Public Library personnel. This image is of page 219 of the 1981 Pocahontas County History. When Mother (Marion Gunderson, lower right in the above image) retired in 1998 after working 35 years at the library, Bette Brinkman became the library director followed by Karen Kerns. Penny Tilden is the current director. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Sharon and several others mentioned that the Rolfe Public Library used to be at the location of Rolfe’s current post office (shown on the map posted with the third segment). From there, in 1954 the library’s collection was moved to the building pictured above.

One octogenarian said he thought, but wasn’t sure, that before it was at the post office location, that the library was in the basement of maybe the “old bank building” in Rolfe. If you have a tidbit or a lot of information specifically about that, or in general about the former libraries, if you would email that information to me (at or comment below, it could help satisfy inquiring minds. (When a person offers information to me via personal communication, I do not include it on the blog unless I have permission from that person.)

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To navigate to the posts that include the first three segments, click on these links: first segment (9 1/2 minutes), second segment (7 minutes) and third segment (6 1/2 minutes).

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

Rolfe, Iowa, in the ’40s and ’50s: The Wickre Story — Part III

August 7, 2010

Click on map to enlarge text.

In April I talked with Sharon (Wickre) Rickard about her years of growing up in Rolfe, Iowa. Today’s post includes the third of five segments of our conversation. It is about 6 1/2 minutes long and may be listened to by clicking on this link: SharonWickreRickardDPart3 (Links to the first two segments are included below.)

During this third segment, Sharon mentioned locations in Rolfe indicated on the map to the left. Before talking with Sharon, I didn’t realize there had been a public library in the location where the post office now stands.

Sharon also recalled band uniforms. I don’t know if the band uniforms in the photos below were the same that she mentioned; if they weren’t, surely they were similar.

The photo immediately below is actually two merged photos of the concert band from the 1960 The Ram, the official yearbook of the then Rolfe Consolidated School, Rolfe, Iowa. Notice that in the second photo (from the same yearbook), on the drum it says “Rolfe Consolidated School”…not “Rolfe Community School” which is what we called it when I was in high school in the ’70s.

1959-60 Rolfe Consolidated School Concert Band. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

LEFT SIDE of the above photo — Back Row: Mr. Gulbranson, Linda Rickard, Steven Hodoway. Third Row: Susan Lawton, Carol Jean Bennett, Judy Sime, Jim  Wilson, Mary Jane Truelson, Pam Jordan. Second Row: Joann Gaskill, Karen Kirchner, Rita Wax, Dallas Ives, Sara Olerich, Mary Ann Brinkman. First Row: Sandra Ives, Janice Hansen, Janis Loss, Judy Lieb, David Graaf.

RIGHT SIDE of the above photo: Back Row: Judy Jordan, Richard Farlow, Henry Olerich, Kenneth Graaf, Robert Dixon, Marvin Dornath, Linda Leadley, Bruce Beckord, Linda Robinson, Joann Loss, Mary DeWolf. Second Row: Nancy DeWolf, Sharon Wickre, Linda Hughes, Mike Brinkman, Janet Jordan, Helen Gunderson, Ben Lehnus, Rachel Heald. First Row: Mary Jo Lehman, Gwen Heathman, Carol Biedermann, Carol Sandvig, Clara Gunderson, Julie Bielefeldt.

1959-60 Rolfe Consolidated School Marching Band. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

In case you missed them, the first audio segment (9 1/2 minutes) and second audio segment (7 minutes) were posted with accompanying photos in July.

If you got all engrossed in the band photos and forgot to click on the link in the first paragraph (for the third segment), I hope you’ll listen to it now or sometime when you have 6 1/2 free minutes.

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

Splooshing and Rejoicing

August 2, 2010

Today I was home alone after having a tear-filled and fun-filled weekend with family and friends. We buried my dad’s (Deane Gunderson) ashes at a family service on Friday. On Saturday morning we had a community memorial service followed by unwinding with family and friends at Roger and Dan Allen’s Bud Barn* in Rolfe, Iowa. (Roger and Dan are such salt-of-the-earth very, very special friends of my dad; they were instrumental in helping make it possible for my dad to live on the farm until his first fall in May.)

In-between the two services, on Friday was the unveiling of a 3′ x 3′ granite plaque honoring my dad. (Roger and Dan had the idea of the plaque several months ago. The original plan, before my dad passed away, was that Rog and Dan and my family would surprise my dad with the plaque earlier this month.)**

Also, on Friday evening we had a “tour” of Gunderland (the farmstead where my dad lived) with Bill periodically being tapped as a tour guide. Later that night a bunch of us played the won’t-let-you-be-inhibited-game of Quelf.

So, today being at home by myself was the first opportunity for reality to start setting in. My emotions splooshed all over the place with me missing my dad yet knowing that I’ve always been so fortunate, including, well…just getting to comfortably be with him so much and learn from him. I know the bottom line is…..”This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Here is my dad's 11 1/2-foot-tall statue of Cy located in Rolfe, Iowa. In the foreground are my dad's seven grandchildren. To the left is the 3' x 3' granite plaque that was unveiled this past Friday. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

On my t-shirt is an image of my dad's Cy statue...the same as the statue on the plaque. (Click on photo to enlarge plaque text.)

I’ll get on the ball and post the remainder of my conversation with Sharon (Wickre) Rickard. Over time I’ll certainly have more photos and information about my dad’s and mom’s lives, as well. (Obviously, I’ll post much more about my mom’s watercolors.) For now, here are a couple of photos from Friday’s plaque unveiling. (Oh, and…if you want a fun game, for sure, Quelf is it!)

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In case you missed my dad’s obituary, including links to various articles about him, click here.

*At the Bud Barn site’s home page you’ll hear song lyrics written in 1984 explaining a little about the Bud Barn. The Bud Barn was originally at the farmstead where my dad was born in 1918. The barn was moved into Rolfe in 1982.

**The plaque is there for all to see…up close and “personal.” If you have a chance, I hope you’ll stop by to see it. Even if you are a Hawk fan I think you’ll appreciate my dad’s art of design and welding.

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