Standard Oil and Candy Cigarettes


What I remember as the Standard Oil station (earlier known as something else and more recently known as Ropa’s Restaurant) in Rolfe, Iowa, was knocked down today, December 2, 2011.

I was in Rolfe this afternoon for about 90 minutes. When I drove into town, this old Standard station building was standing. When I left, it looked like this (below).


The former Standard Oil station in Rolfe, Iowa. Looking southeast from the northeast corner at the stoplight intersection in Rolfe. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


My earliest memory of this building is from when either my sister Peggy and/or I had an appointment with (I think?) Dr. Clark. His office used to be in the building across from the former Standard station (pictured above). After the appointment, Peggy and I crossed the street to the Standard station where we purchased candy cigarettes. When Daddy (Deane Gunderson) came along and picked us up, Peggy and I proudly displayed for him our candy cigarettes. I bet we were so proud that Peggy and I each probably had one dangling from our lips.

Up until this part of the blog post, I’m just sort of imagining the scenario. But…Oh — my — gosh. When Daddy picked us up he was so livid that we had candy cigarettes. He angrily drove straight home and went straight to the incinerator to burn them.

At the time I had no idea how addicting cigarette smoking could be, nor any other factors associated with smoking. However, because Daddy was so upset, to this day, I’ve never smoked one puff of anything.

It’s odd that his disgust had this lifelong impact as opposed to making me rebel. Maybe there needs to be a little more of that type of parenting today. Of course, sometimes it really is difficult to determine if a parent’s action will result in the intended reaction from a child, or unintended rebellion. All I know is, I’m so thankful for that put-the-fear-of-God-in-me parenting moment from my dad.


Taken from the post office parking lot corner in Rolfe, Iowa. Looking east. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


* * * * * * * *

I’m sure there is a lot of history associated with this building. Maybe sometime I’ll do some research. However, if you remember something about it, feel free to comment at the end of this post, or email me.

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


6 Responses to “Standard Oil and Candy Cigarettes”

  1. Clara Hoover Says:

    It would have been a surprise to drive into town and discover Ropa’s wasn’t there, but it must have been even more of a surprise to have it disappear almost under your nose in such a short time.

    When I was growing up, Rolfe had three gas stations. This one (Standard Oil) was operated at that time by Bill Brinkman. As with most gas stations, an attendant would come out and you could ask for full service. That meant someone would not only fill your tank, but would wash the windows and check the oil and maybe the tires.

    At the time, Slim Davidson and Don Davidson owned the Chevrolet dealership (now Wild Faces Gallery). They sold that dealership to Bill Brinkman sometime before I was in high school. The Standard Oil station was owned by a few other people (John Young, maybe, and later Max Page) before it ceased to operate as a gas station. I believe the building was unoccupied until it became Ropa’s a few years ago.

    When I was in high school, Rolfe had two other gas stations. Phillips 66 (west of the current post office and east of the railroad tracks) was owned by Dick Bierstedt. Conoco, owned by Monk Taylor and on the east side of main street (behind the Presbyterian Church), was a popular noon hour destination for high school boys.

    Because of their design, I wonder if two other buildings might have been gas stations at one time: The Sunnybrook Drive-In at the far north end of main street, and the Rolfe Recycling Center, formerly the Dairiette.

    People seemed to develop loyalties to certain businesses. Our family always bought gas at the Standard Oil station. We purchased groceries at Hauck’s and later at Super Value, but Grandma always shopped at Olney’s. Yes, Rolfe had three grocery stores in one block! Three barbers. And at least two bars. People frequented their favorites.

  2. Margaret McKim Says:

    Both articles very interesting. Thanks Louise and Clara.

  3. Peg Moore Says:

    Just a follow-up from Clara’s: Immediately before Ropa’s opened, Ginny Ferguson’s cafe was open for many years. I forget the name. I think we always called it “Ginny’s,” but maybe I’m wrong. Good grief! That wasn’t *that* long ago!

    Also, I don’t remember that candy cigarrette experience at all. Though I do remember once in gradeschool when candy cigarettes were handed out as treats in school for someone’s birthday. Of course, as little kids, we were clueless at the time.

    And always intriguing how kids internalize things differently. I definitely had just a tad streak of “rebel” in me. But I’m a perfect angel now! Hahaha! 🙂

  4. Clara Hoover Says:

    How could I forget about Ginny’s?

  5. Marti Says:

    Gosh, hard to have another building in the center of town disappear.

    I remember Daddy’s reaction to candy cigarettes and smoking in general. Thank goodness I quite long ago.

    Did Roger Bennet ever own the gas station?

  6. Doug Hilton Says:

    Max Page owned the station for years.

    It was later a Convenience type station and my mother Velma Murray worked there

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