Archive for September, 2010

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

September 29, 2010

Sharon (Wickre) Rickard with her parents and sister in front of their feed/grain office building, approximately 1947. Clockwise: Barbara and Henry Wickre with daughters Sharon and Beryl. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


This post includes the fifth audio segment of my conversation last spring with Sharon (Wickre) Rickard, formerly of Rolfe, Iowa, from 1944-1960. There’s more detail about Rolfe in the first four segments. This tying-up-loose-ends fifth segment is about 6 1/4 minutes long. Part of it includes me referring to Rolfe’s 1980-81 oral history project and me reading an exerpt from a book about conducting oral histories. My favorite part of Sharon’s recording is what she said in the last 25 seconds. Click on the following link to listen to the fifth segment: SharonWickreRickardDPart5A

Since Sharon mentioned several businesses in Rolfe during the 1940s and 1950s, I wanted to research the locations of those businesses to provide an accurate map. I am providing a map, but it is sketchy. Don’t bet your life on the accuracy of locations of the stores/businesses. If you have additional information to provide about Main Street (i.e., Garfield Street) in Rolfe during the ’40s and ’50s, or corrections, please be sure to let me know. You may do so by commenting below or by emailing me at . (If you comment below, the only person who will see your email address is me.)


Rolfe, Iowa. If you click on the map twice, you'll magnify the text.

The bulk of my information is from the Centennial History Rolfe, Iowa, 1863-1963, the Pocahontas County, Iowa, History compiled in 1981, and conversations with Sharon, Clara (Gunderson) Hoover, and a handful of other Rolfe natives. Again, PLEASE, if you have anything to add about Rolfe’s history (anything from soup to nuts…not just about stores, etc.) or to correct (whether it is from the ’40s or ’50s or earlier or later) please comment below or let me know via email. Thank you.

Click here to view (and print if you wish) the above map in pdf format.

If you enjoyed reading this series of posts, just think how interested people would be in knowing what you recall! One step further…if you have photos you think might be of interest, I hope you might scan them, or be willing to let me scan them and share in the same manner that Sharon did.

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


OooooOooooooOooooooooooohhhhh (La La) — Part II

September 22, 2010

Five posts ago I was excited to include a tease about the newest prints of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolor, Churchyard, painted in 1954. I got sidetracked in subsequent posts. Finally here is the full image of predominantly rich purples and blacks with tombstones of oranges and moonlight. YES! If you look closely at the painting, you’ll see that Mother somehow “painted” the tombstones and church with magical moonlight! This IS a fabulous painting.

Churchyard prints are available in two sizes: Medium (13.25" W x 10" H, $25). Large* (Limited Edition, 20.35" W x 14.25" H, same size as the original, $45). (Click on image to enlarge.)

As a kid, did you ever go with a bunch of kids out to a cemetery when you really weren’t supposed to? At night? When your parents thought you were probably doing something worthwhile? If you didn’t, maybe you were a better “good kid” than I was! (I was good…just not perfect.) I was once at a cemetery at night when I wasn’t supposed to be…the Old Rolfe cemetery. Summer of 1969. Although this painting** is not of Old Rolfe, when I look at the painting, I’m “there” in that adrenaline-flowing creepy night when small town kids will be kids. Oooooooo…OooOOoooooooooo…OOOOoooooooooooooohhhhhh! La La!

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In this photo is Mother's handwriting on the back of her original of Churchyard. It appears that she included this painting in one of her exhibits, but did not want to part with it! (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Although Churchyard is festive for the fall season, it doesn’t shout “Halloween.” I typically rotate it with other artwork, but also have been known to display the original throughout the year.

*To help cut down on framing expenses, when bordered with a 2″ mat, this large size (20.35″ W x 14.25″ H) fits perfectly in a standard size 18″ x 24″ frame. I’ve seen one Churchyard matted with a single orange mat. Another was accentuated with a double mat of two shades of purple.

Prints may be obtained by contacting me (, by purchasing at Wild Faces Gallery (712-848-3399) in Rolfe, Iowa, or by ordering online at (At the eCRATER site, Churchyard is in the “Year-Round or Seasonal” category.)

**Mother’s note about Churchyard says, “Done from newspaper clipping.” My family does not know the location of this particular churchyard.

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

Monarch Migration

September 19, 2010


This past Friday I was painting our new siding. (Ugh, but a penny saved is a penny earned.) I glanced over at the wildflowers and saw a plethora of monarch butterflies.

I don’t know where I was in elementary school when we studied the life cycle of a butterfly! I definitely learned from this web site. Before studying the site, I thought that maybe the thing that appears to be sticking out of this butterfly’s mouth and into the flower was its tongue. Um, nooooo. It is the butterfly’s proboscis.* The web site at the above hyperlink offers this explanation about the proboscis:

Now many people do not know exactly how the monarch butterfly food is consumed. Well, a small little pipe, like a straw, which is coiled under its head most of the time is what an adult monarch butterfly uses to suck up all of the nectar from plants. The straw is called a ‘proboscis’. This is the reason that all monarch butterflies generally stick to an all-liquid diet; it is very hard to suck up any solids with a straw like that for your mouth.



I hope you’ll click on at least the first/top photo to enlarge the detail.

*Click here for Merriam Webster’s definition and pronunciation of “proboscis.” According to Webster’s, there are two correct pronunciations.

For anyone who just happens to be wanting to write an alphabet book based on alliteration, “monarch migration” could be used for the “M” page. My favorite alliteration children’s book is Graeme Base’s Animalia. I love its “L” page…”Lazy Lions Lounging in the Local Library.”

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

A Beautiful Birthday in Heaven

September 16, 2010

L to R — Front row: Mary Deane (cousin of D.C.G.), Clara (daughter #1), Charles (son), Michael, Tim, Addison, Marti (daughter #3), Daddy, Peg (daughter #4), Jon, me (Louise, daughter #5), Abby and Katie. Back row: Jack (married to Mary Deane), Hal, Gloria, Nicole, Jeff, Claire, Jackson, Bill and Joe. Absent: Helen (daughter #2) and grandchildren Christina, Josh and Kevin. (Click on photo once or twice to enlarge.)


Many happy returns of the day of thy birth,

May sunshine and gladness be given,

And may the dear Father prepare you on earth

For a beautiful birthday in heaven.*


Ninety-two years ago today on September 16, 1918, my dad, Deane Charles Gunderson, was born on a farmstead at the southwest corner of section 24 of Roosevelt township, between Rolfe and Pocahontas, Iowa.

This family photo was taken two years ago immediately before Daddy’s 90th birthday celebration at Dan and Roger Allen’s Bud Barn in Rolfe. That same barn was originally at the location where my dad was born. Roger and Dan had the barn moved into Rolfe in 1982.

In this photo Daddy was definitely having fun; in everyday life, the twinkles in his eyes were even more evident, indicating the imminent telling of one of his many chuckles-worthy “stories.”

In an effort to help with understanding who is who** in the photo but to also allow somewhat for privacy, I indicated the first name for each person in the photo. If you are curious about any of the familial relationships of those mentioned, feel free to ask me in an email.

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*Mother (Marion Gunderson) included this verse in her collection of favorite quotes/readings. As I was growing up, and as recently as Daddy’s 91st birthday, when we were seated around the round oak table at Gunderland with cake in the middle of the table and celebrating a family member’s birthday, we would recite this verse just before the blowing out of birthday candles.

**Is “who is who” correct? This web site says it is, and we KNOW that everything on the web is correct!!! I remember at dinner at that same round oak table, Daddy would oftentimes correct my grammar. I could use one of his grammar lessons now!

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

Corn Silk and Rainbows

September 14, 2010

Yesterday I was at Gunderland, the rural Rolfe, Iowa, farm where I was raised. Harvest there is just around the corner.

I hope you will click on these photos to magnify the detail, especially the photo immediately above.

On my drive home I saw this double rainbow southeast of Rolfe, somewhere between Manson and Knierim. You might need to actually click on the photo to see the faint second rainbow. I didn’t notice, until I clicked on the link in this paragraph’s first sentence, that in the second (small) rainbow, the colors mirror the order of those in the larger rainbow.

If you live in the Midwest, these green and golden corn stalks at Gunderland are similar to your everyday view. For those of you living in other regions, this September 13th photo gives a visual that harvest is near, if not already started in some areas.

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Today is the first day for the ear-of-corn header for this blog. I messed around with the text color, never finding what I thought seemed just right. I asked my grandson what he thought of the text color, to which he offered his advice saying, “The name [the text] is the same color of the corn, so you should leave it that way.” So, I will!

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

From a Better Seat

September 10, 2010

True to form, I’m deviating from my blogging train of thought by interrupting my own blog post series. (I.e., about the “Ooooh La La painting and also about Sharon Wickre Rickard; I’ll finish those next week.)

This photo is in honor of tomorrow's ISU vs Iowa game. What, where and when: Iowa State koozie and Taco House nachos at West Lake Okoboji this past Wednesday.

With the Iowa State/Iowa game tomorrow, I would be remiss if I didn’t post something acknowledging my allegiance to ISU. Being a 1976 Iowa State graduate, I do have that allegiance; I also have an allegiance to Drake University where Abby and Katie received degrees. They were also intently involved with Drake’s athletic program. Katie pitched and hit exceptionally well for Drake University where she was a Division I First Team Academic All-American. Abby was a manager for Drake’s women’s basketball team during four of her six years of pharmacy school.

When Iowa State plays Drake, I root for Drake; otherwise, I favor Iowa State. When neither is playing, I hope any team from the state of Iowa pulls out a W.

On September 2nd when I attended Iowa State’s first home football game, I had a lump in my throat and misty eyes for much of the first quarter. I told my sister, Marti, that it was tough being at an ISU game for the first time without Daddy. She replied with (and, I love her perspective), “Maybe he was watching from a better seat.

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

OooooOooooooOooooooooooohhhhh (La La)

September 9, 2010

Mother's (Marion Gunderson) signature on one of her 1954 paintings.

Yesterday I was in my (“our” to many of you) hometown of Rolfe, Iowa, to approve the proof of another of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolors. Four members of my family, including my dad, have been offering prints of Mother’s watercolors for sale; the profits go to the Rolfe Public Library (Trust) where Mother worked for thirty-five years.

The most recent project partially supported by profits from sales of prints is the digitizing of 101 years (1888-1989) of Rolfe newspapers. Mother indexed at least 99 years of those papers (1888-1987) for genealogical purposes; the digitizing of entire newspapers for free online (Internet) availability is a perpetuation of her labor of love.

As a result of my dad’s falls (the first one being on May 4th) and his passing away on July 1st, I’ve been on hiatus from fundraising. However, on the assumption that fundraising continues to go as well as it was before May 4th, the Rolfe newspapers will be available online in keyword-searchable format in early 2011. In addition to prints sales supporting the project, to expedite the completion of this project, donations* to the Rolfe Public Library Trust are very welcome.

Back to yesterday…. The above image is from the painting of which we are most recently offering prints. I’ll post the full image within the next couple of days. For now, I’ll just say that although these particular prints can transcend seasons to be displayed year-round, if you are looking for unique, elegant-yet-fun artwork for Halloween, this is your ticket!

Yesterday I approved the proof of another of Mother's (Marion Gunderson) watercolors. We are now offering prints of 22 of her watercolors. Although inventories vary, prints may be purchased and/or ordered at the Rolfe Public Library, Wild Faces Gallery in Rolfe, or through me.** Also, I'm 99% positive I'll be hosting an open house in Bill's and my Perry, Iowa, home on Thursday, November 11, and Saturday, November 13 (and maybe Sunday, November 14). (Click on photo to "feel" the watercolor paper texture.)


*If you wish to contribute toward the newspaper project and can’t or don’t want to print the donation form, quick and easy steps to accomplish the same are to 1. mail or deliver your contribution to the Rolfe Public Library (Trust), 319 Garfield St., Rolfe, Iowa, 50581. 2. If you are writing a check, make sure to make it payable to the “Rolfe Public Library Trust,” and 3. write “newspaper project” on the memo line.

**For more information about the newspaper project or about prints, feel free to contact me via email at . I am also available by appointment. Prints may also be ordered online.

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


September 6, 2010

Please click once (or even twice) on this photo to magnify the detail and "be there."

This photo was taken this past spring on April 17. On that day, (L to R) Joe (Katie’s husband), Katie (Bill’s and my younger daughter) and Bill set out the dock at West Lake Okoboji for the summer season.

The dock was designed and made by my dad (Deane Gunderson) in the mid-1970s. It’s a unique creation. If you’ve already seen it, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t seen it…well… sometime I’ll post “the rest of the story.”

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll click on the photo to enlarge it and to enjoy the balance it portrays…in more ways than one.

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

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

September 3, 2010

To better understand the following post, click here to view Part I. Both posts include details from my communication with Loel Diggs regarding the 1950s and…well, you’ll just have to read.

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Louise: I see you mentioned the year 1955 in reference to the photo of the pickup [immediately below]. Is that the model year of the pickup in the photo?

The Diggs' 1955 Chevy pickup. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Loel: Yes, the pickup is a 1st series 3100 Advance Design 1/2-ton 1955 Chevy Pickup. The “Advanced Design” body styled pickup was manufactured from 1947 to mid-year 1955 with minor styling changes and mechanical improvements occurring for every model year. In the photo [immediately above] is what it looked like when Dad brought it home from the Chevy dealer in Rolfe.

Louise: I know you said that your dad bought it. Was it a pickup that anyone in your family could drive, or was it meant to be for you? And, when did you become the official owner?

Pictured here is the Diggs' 1955 Chevy pickup and 1949 Chevy car. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Loel: The pickup was purchased for the sole purpose to serve as the Diggs Farm pickup. Dad, myself and Mom were the drivers of the pickup, but having only the family car and  the pickup for me to ask for, such as on Saturday nights or date nights, the pickup became my preferred daily driver.

Loel: Dad liked customized accessories, added to vehicles, as I did, so his comment was: I could add any accessory I wanted, as long it was my $s (my 4-H calf monies) that were spent on the pickup accessories. That helped me  get the pickup, just about (not always) any time I wished to drive it for something other than farm use. I purchased the pickup from my Dad in the summer of 1980, driving it from the farm to Watertown, SD, where I have kept it ever since.*

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Louise: When you mentioned doing business with the mill (i.e., taking your corn and oats to the mill, etc.), was it always with the mill that Wickre’s had? Or, sometimes was it ever with any other  mill?

Loel: The only mill that my folks did business with was the Wickre mill.

Louise: When you said in your paragraph, “By the time we had the pickup…,” about when are you  referring to…was that by 1955?

Loel: Up until that  time my folks had no pickup. My folks considered a pickup to be a non-essential piece of equipment to effectively run the farming operation. Two tractors and the necessary farm implements were all that were needed.

Louise: Do you think the reason the imprinted sacks only saw the original fill was because they were then sewn into something (like the dresses, aprons, etc.) and didn’t have a chance to  get used for subsequent fills?

Loel: If my Mom liked the print, then the sacks never saw another fill of feed. If the design was not of what anyone wanted, then they might see multiple filling or be used as cleaning supplies as other fabric bags were used on the farm.

*Pictured here is Loel's 1955 pickup this past July 4th, the same day it was entered in the Watertown, South Dakota, holiday parade. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

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