Archive for January, 2012

1951: Marion Gunderson’s Watercolors and Rolfe, Iowa, School Yearbook

January 26, 2012

This post includes the 1951 Rolfe, Iowa, school yearbook. It also includes images of four watercolors painted in 1951 by Mother (Marion Gunderson). Lastly, it includes a 1952 photo of my five siblings. Hanging on the wall in the photo’s background is one of Mother’s 1951 watercolors.

If you don’t care about the watercolors or family photo and just want to see the yearbook, scroll down quite far and you’ll see the yearbook images. Clara is on the third-grade page. On the last five pages of the yearbook, notice the names of the sponsoring businesses. Out of those 52 businesses, I believe only one or two still exist under the same name. Also, I didn’t know that the  McIntire Funeral Home was also an ambulance service!

If you do care about the watercolors, information about availability of prints is available at the end of this post.*

Click here for one or more 1940s Rolfe school yearbook(s).

Click here for one or more 1960s Rolfe school yearbook(s).

To enlarge any image, click on it once (or twice to enlarge it even more).

UPDATE: I just realized that the yearbook images cannot be enlarged as much as in previous postings. (By clicking on the yearbook images, they can be enlarged to several inches wide by several inches high. But they can’t be enlarged as much as previously possible.)  I’m checking to see if I’ve set something wrong or if there are limitations.

UPDATE #2: I just found out that there’s nothing I can do about my concern expressed in the Update immediately above. If you want to see any of the images larger on your monitor, let me know and maybe I could email a few to  you or add them one-at-a-time to another post or some other work-around.

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What does this photo have to do with the year 1951? The main thing is that hanging on the wall is the "Railway Station and Grain Elevator" watercolor (shown immediately below) of Gilmore City, Iowa, painted in 1951 by Mother (Marion Gunderson). I assume the photo was actually taken in 1952, since the baby in the photo is my sister Peggy; she was born in late 1951, the same year Mother painted the Gilmore City watercolor. L to R: My siblings Clara, Charles, Helen, Peggy and Marti. I was not yet born. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


"Railway Station and Grain Elevator" at Gilmore City, Iowa, watercolor painted in 1951 by Marion A. Gunderson. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


"Depot" Rolfe, Iowa, watercolor painted in 1951 by Marion A. Gunderson. (Click photo to enlarge.)


"Baby's Shoes" watercolor painted in 1951 by Marion A. Gunderson. (Prints are not available but possibly could be if there is interest.)


"ISU Heating Plant" Ames, Iowa, watercolor painted in 1951 by Marion A. Gunderson. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

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1951 Rolfe, Iowa, School Yearbook

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*A partial inventory of prints of 30 of Mother’s watercolors is available at the Rolfe Public Library and Wild Faces Gallery, both in Rolfe, Iowa. Prints may also be purchased online as well as directly from me (Louise).

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


School Signage

January 14, 2012


Yesterday I walked past this school sign. Is the same question popping into your mind as popped into mine?

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

Baby It’s Cold…Out…Side!

January 12, 2012

Nachos (along with a brewski) from the Taco House at Okoboji, Iowa. This view is from the southeast tip of West Lake Okoboji, Iowa. October 4, 2011. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Just two days ago on January 10, 2012, I was walking outside in Iowa in maybe-mid-50s temps. Wearing sweatpants and a short-sleeved t-shirt. Except for one quickly melted fine dusting of snow several weeks ago, the weather has made it seem like an extended fall, until yesterday..

Yesterday the wind picked up, it snowed, and it is COLD! Any Iowan knows that even now, these teens-temps and blustery wind are mild for Iowa winters.

Because I’m so used to seasons, I’m ready to see some real snow (and at the same time have everyone be safe and sound). Of course, since the ground is frozen, even if it snows the moisture won’t be absorbed very well into the frozen ground. At least Mother Nature won’t have forgotten how to give us some form of precipitation. For those of you who don’t know, in about the northwest third of the state of Iowa, last late-summer and fall we were lacking in any substantial rainfall. The result: little moisture in the ground before it froze this winter. This means little moisture so far for next spring’s crops. If we get snow now, it will likely run off the frozen ground until the ground thaws.

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For my 2009 photo of Taco House nachos, beer and a West Lake Okoboji sunset, click here. For the same from 2010, click here. The photo in this post, and the 2009 and 2010 photos are all taken from the exact same vantage point.

BTW, this post is the 300th for this blog!

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

My 2012 Iowa Caucus Experience — Part II

January 6, 2012

…Continued from Part I.

At first I thought it was a no-brainer to just read the speech provided by the campaign. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write my own speech. Yes, I did a lot of copying and pasting from material Newt’s campaign sent out, from what Steve Deace (conservative radio show host) and others said, and also a few points of emphasis from Bill (my Constitution-proponent husband).

I combined all of that with my gut.

Late Tuesday after the caucus, a friend emailed asking me which candidate got my vote. I replied saying I had voted for Newt. I also said, “I can’t regurgitate what he says or defend very eloquently my defense* of him if someone pounds me for details, but I know that every time I hear him speak, I have absolutely no doubt that he is absolutely remarkable for our country.”

Monday and Tuesday were pretty much t-shirt-and-sweatpants days as I developed my speech. The morning of the caucus, on the news I heard that speakers would have about three-to-five minutes to speak. My speech was 3 minutes 45 seconds. I practiced it maybe fifteen times, speaking loudly, giving lots of eye contact to the walls of various rooms in our home, and giving it in different brightnesses of lighting so that I would, hopefully, be prepared for whatever kind of setting I might be in when reading aloud at the caucus.

In hindsight, I’m so thankful for my 1970s high school art-teacher-speech-coach Carla Jones. Even though Betty Knoll was the official speech sponsor, Mrs. Jones was the teacher who offered constructive criticism, during her art classes, to my readings of interpretive prose in the weeks prior to speech contests.

Back to Tuesday night. I was nervous. Approximately 241 Republicans and a few Democrats showed up at the caucus in Perry. (This included four precincts that met together for the candidate preference vote.) About 10 minutes into the caucus, those who wanted to speak were invited to stand in line in the front of the room and wait our turn. Up we went. Then we were told that we’d have two minutes to speak.

Uh-oh. Two minutes meant I needed to cut out quite a bit of my speech. What to cut out? Everything in my speech was important. It had already been cut way back from my original draft. I’d already cut out some points that I thought were next-to-vital.

I was in the middle of the pack of speakers. I imagine there were about 15 speakers. There was one pro-Gingrich speaker before me, and two after me. The one before me touched on some of Gingrich’s successes as Speaker of the House. So, I pretty much omitted those aspects from my speech. I read a bit from my speech, and ad-libbed the rest. One of the things I ad-libbed about was the following. A gentleman from the Texas Railroad Commission was in line before me. He said he represented Rick Perry and told the crowd that, sure, Rick Perry doesn’t have the greatest debating skills. He went on to say that Barack Obama does have good debating skills, but that they haven’t gotten him anywhere in the White House, and therefore strong debating skills in a candidate/future President aren’t important. (Remember, this was the Rick Perry supporter talking.)

In response, when it was my turn, I said about half of what I originally intended to say. In addition, I kind of repeated what the Texas guy said (in the previous paragraph). Then I said we can say all we want that debating skills aren’t important, but that the eventual GOP nominee has to be able to debate successfully in order to get TO the White House. (I.e., since the GOP doesn’t currently have anyone in the White House, we don’t really have the luxury to say that debating skills, once in the White House, make no difference.)

Anyway, I was kind of proud of myself for thinking on my toes on that aspect. And, I was proud of myself for sifting through my speech WHILE I was speaking to determine what I should include, leave out, and paraphrase. That is so unlike me.

Out of the approximately 240 people in attendance, Rick Santorum came out a strong-finishing first. Then Ron Paul. Then Mitt Romney a third with Gingrich close behind at 4th. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann received few votes.

I knew the negative ads had likely hurt Newt’s campaign quite a bit, although I was hoping people would respond to substance. Anyway, while I was hoping that Newt would fare better, fourth was better than fifth or sixth. (When I got to the caucus, the Ron Paul people were so seemingly obvious with their t-shirts, talking with people while carrying tablets and forms around, etc., that I thought maybe Ron Paul might walk away with first place.)

This photo was taken in Des Moines at about 10:00 PM, January 3, the night of the caucus. I'm (Louise) pictured with Newt and Callista in the background while Newt is giving his serious and positive post-caucus speech. (Cllick on photo to enlarge.)

Before we went to the caucus, Bill and I said that immediately after the caucus we’d decide if we wanted to go to Des Moines for Newt’s caucus party.

After the caucus, a friend of mine from Ankeny called to compare notes about her caucus and the one I attended. I told her that Bill and I were thinking about going to Newt’s party in Des Moines and would she pretty-please meet us there (even though she had voted for another candidate…although she wasn’t necessarily 100% sold on who she voted for).

Meet in Des Moines we did and we had a ball brushing shoulders with other Newt enthusiasts. The wife of a higher-in-the-food-chain supporter of Newt was able to get Newt to autograph a copy of my speech. I was thrilled, but not as thrilled as I was to once again listen to Newt talk with fire in his belly about the future of our country as tied to the Constitution, and sharing that moment with Bill and my Ankeny friend.

Newt, Callista and their crew needed to leave the building soon to (at ~11:55 PM, I later learned) fly out of Des Moines on their way to campaign in New Hampshire for that state’s primary in just a week. Sigh. I figure I’ll either never get to come close to meeting Newt again if he becomes President, or else maybe I will have a chance if he doesn’t make it that far and I get to meet him at another of his book signings.

For those of you who have yet to see Newt on the campaign trail in your state, if you have a chance, please go listen to him speak, if only for what he has to offer of historical value. What he has to offer is fascinating. Also, he seems as genuine to me as they come. He’s a little bit like me. I say it how it is and it sometimes gets me in trouble. Also, I don’t come across very “nice” when I’m backed into a corner and have to defend myself. I don’t like the trouble into which either scenario gets me, but I do like that I’m true to myself and that I don’t wimp out. I think when people do the contrary, progress can be inhibited.

Ok, so, yesterday Bill and I were wondering if pretty much everyone at the Perry caucus (and likely other places) had their minds made up before they entered the caucus.

Today I was at the local Subway. There I saw a recently-retired well-respected community-minded gentleman whom I knew had attended the caucus. He is someone with whom I have never really brushed shoulders. I think I’ve even been a little intimidated around him because I figured he was Mr. Community and in comparison I felt timid. This example shows how wrong perceptions can be. This gentleman went out of his way today to say to me about my speech, “You did a REALLY NICE JOB with your speech the other night.” Then he paused and more quietly said, “Your speech made me change my vote.”

:  )


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If you’d like for me to send to you a digital copy of my speech, autographed on caucus night by Speaker Gingrich, you may email me and request a copy.

*I intentionally said “defend” and “defense” in the same sentence.

Click here to go to the home page of Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.

My 2012 Iowa Caucus Experience — Part I

January 6, 2012

I’m going to write about my January 3, 2012, caucus experience as if it were for my personal journal. (Almost. Not 100% candidly, but close.) I don’t journal often and later wish I had a record of those moments especially important to me. I’m too lazy to write a post here and a separate private journal entry so, here goes. Hopefully when 5-year-old grandson Jackson is 25, he’ll enjoy reading of my experience. Just as I enjoy reading my dad’s speech from when he campaigned in 1968 to be a delegate to the National Republican Convention.

The basic premise here is that I believed in something and felt that I shouldn’t sit back and let others do the work to promote what I believed in. And, that now, with the event in the past, I feel really good about it.

It has to do with promoting a conservative candidate. If you don’t want to read any more, just click out of this post. If you do want to read further, scroll down past the dotted/blank space (below) and read on. I realize that by posting this, I may alienate some readers. However, I hope that my posting at this point is ok with readers, since, now that the caucus is past, I’m not trying to persuade anyone to vote for “my” candidate. (I guess…unless you are from out of state and your caucus/primary hasn’t taken place yet.) I’m just really excited about my experience and want to record it. And share it with those who want to be shared with.











In Tuesday night’s Iowa caucus, I spoke on behalf of, and voted for Newt Gingrich. Anything of a political nature is so unlike me. I’ve been on the core committee (co-chair in 1989 and chair in 1999) for two bond referendums for new school buildings in Perry. Other than that, I’ve pretty much been a political wallflower, too timid and too non-versed (I thought) to feel like I could develop an opinion 100% on my own.

The contrast is that in the last five years before the caucus, I’d been in the presence of Newt three times (now four) to listen to him speak regarding how history relates to our nation’s future. (Two of those times were book signings.) My gosh. Why couldn’t Newt Gingrich, instead of Marshall Farley, have been my high school history teacher? Newt makes history come alive for me. He made me feel like I was crossing the Delaware with Washington. He made me feel as if I was at Pearl Harbor in 1941. He made me feel as if I was present when the Constitution was developed and signed. And, for me he connected it all to our country’s future. For me his methodology makes everything such a compelling history lesson that Newt doesn’t need to turn on some fake, kiss-babies campaign smile.

Callista Gingrich, me (Louise), Bill (my husband), and Newt Gingrich at the Santa Maria winery in Carroll, Iowa. December 29, 2011. (Click on image to enlarge.)

I’m a conservative (not necessarily Republican) by nature. I have been for several years. The difference in recent years, due to Newt, is that I now have a fire lit under me.

So I started to pay more attention by watching, when possible, this fall’s debates. I saw more of the same from Newt during the debates. Then I saw all the attack ads targeted at Newt, while Newt was trying to wage a positive campaign. And I got disgusted.

On Thursday night before the caucus, Bill and I drove to Carroll to, once again, listen to/see Newt. Callista was with him. What a pleasant experience. (Callista kept saying she really liked my camera. I thought, “Oh sure, she probably doesn’t know anything about photography, and is just saying that. Little did I know that one of her loves is photography. She provided the photography for one of the books authored by Newt, Rediscovering God in America.)

On Facebook I had written about seeing and listening to Newt in Carroll, “We really enjoyed Newt. It’s the third time I’ve seen him over the past five years (second time for Bill). Each time he seems so much like a younger version of my educated/no-nonsense/strict-but-gentle dad who “didn’t know anything” until I “got it” as I got older. Bill is more versed in history, the Constitution and what’s going on today than I am. So, a lot (all?) of what Newt says reinforces what Bill already knows/believes. For me, listening to Newt is like getting a comprehensive (connecting history with the present and also connecting disciplines) education instead of a campaign speech. We like that. Even though he is very intellectual and has expertise, his answers/explanations meet with common sense and resonate with my value system. He’s pragmatic and his answers are no-nonsense, non-scripted. He seems so genuinely passionate about his concern for our future. And throughout his entire speech and Q and A, he did not say one negative thing about any other GOP candidate; he was 100% positive. All of that just makes us just really, really enjoy and trust the guy. On top of that, no plastic about him. (We also enjoyed Callista. I had assumed she would seem artificial. She seemed very warm and personable.)”

That night at Carroll, I signed the attendance sheet, including providing my address and phone number. When I provided the number, I knew I was setting myself up to get a call from the Newt campaign. (I’d not yet received one.)

The Friday before the caucus, I received that call, although when I answered the phone, I had no idea who the caller was, since I only could see that it came from a 515 area code number. I’m not sure why I stayed on the line, because for all the other calls (bazillions of them) I would hang up as soon as I realized it was a political call (even though many of them showed up on caller ID as a local-looking 515 phone number). For this one particular call, I stayed on the line. It was a recording saying that Newt was going to have a teleconference call and that I could dial in to participate. I could even ask questions.

Dial in I did. On Friday. Again on Saturday. And a third time on Monday. It was fascinating to listen to all the questions people asked each time, and to hear Newt’s sincere, personalized responses.

On Friday evening Bill and I had a voice message saying that I had volunteered to give a speech at the caucus on behalf of Newt. Typically I think that assumption would have prompted me to return the call and firmly let the caller know that I had NOT volunteered to do any such thing. I’d only provided my phone number.

However, I think I was kind of titillated by the idea of giving a speech in support of Newt. I was especially drawn in because I knew I believed in what Newt stands for and I didn’t think it was right to just sit back and rely on other people to use their energy to stick their necks out on a limb. So, I made the return call…saying that I’d be glad to provide a speech. I was told that I’d receive a letter that I could read at the caucus, or I could write my own speech.

(I’ll post Part II tomorrow, January 6th, or over the weekend.)

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When in Carroll, I recorded a little video of Newt’s speech. Unfortunately, I didn’t begin early enough to record the “history lesson” part. But, if you’d like to see the other (i.e., campaign) segments, if you’ll email me, I’ll send a link to that video.

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

The Iowa Caucus: 36 Years Ago

January 2, 2012

The following is my dad’s (Deane Gunderson) Bubbles in the Wine column about Iowa caucuses. This article was originally published in the Rolfe [Iowa] Arrow on January 15, 1976, just four days before that year’s caucus.

I’m a conservative and will be voting in Iowa’s Republican caucus tomorrow night, January 3. I am solid with my choice, but (for now, anyway) feel that I’ve designed this blog for topics other than pushing my political beliefs onto others. I’ll save that for my speech at the caucus tomorrow night. (Am I nervous to speak? Yes!) Or for anyone who wants to private-message me. If you are wanting to know for whom I am voting, feel free to email me and I will tell you.

Contrarily, if you’d like to comment on your thoughts, feel free to do so below. Or, private message me about your thoughts, as well.

For now, here’s my dad’s column.

“Jan. 19 Political Caucuses”

Bubbles in the Wine (column) in the Rolfe Arrow

by Deane Gunderson

First published 36 years ago…January 15, 1976

There have been press releases and official notices of political caucuses, Republican and Democrat, to be held January 19. [Remember, this was written in 1976 and that the 2012 Iowa caucuses will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, January 3.]

A rather unique thing happened this year. The Democrat State Chairman and the Republican State Chairman held a joint news conference and issued a joint news release, “. . . we challenge people to demonstrate their concern for responsible government by attending one of these caucuses.”

It used to be that the Republican and Democrat organizations did a good job of ignoring each other, especially the other’s good points.

The above joint announcement should be taken as a sincere feeling that more participation in political activity is a good thing for the country.

I was surprised to be asked a few days ago if these caucuses were open to anyone, or if they were just for the party committee men and political workers.

Emphatically — the caucuses are open to anyone who wishes to indicate that he or she has the slightest inclination to make his desires known through one of the parties. Obviously, party structure would break down if it were permissible for a bunch of Republicans to attend a Democrat caucus and make decisions — or vise-versa. Likewise, independents without any purpose except to undermine the organizational framework should not be allowed to make decisions.

I’m sure that either party will welcome anyone who shows any indication whatsoever to make his voice heard through that party structure. You do not have to be registered. Just be one who could be eligible to vote November 2 and be a resident of the precinct for the caucus you attend. (See notices in last week’s paper.) [In 2012, you will need a photo ID that includes your current address, for example, your driver’s license. If you’ve moved and your current address is not on your photo ID, you will need some proof of your current address, for example, a utility bill including your address.]

The purposes of the party caucuses, both Republican and Democrat, are to:

1. Name a precinct committeeman and committeewoman who will serve as members of the county central committee for that party.

2. Elect delegates to the county conventions which in turn will elect delegates to the state and district conventions. The state and district conventions will name delegates to the national political conventions, thus naming the candidates for which you will be making a choice for president Nov. 2, 1976.

3. Suggest resolutions and platforms which will be considered at county, district, state and national convention.

While you might consider the impact at the local caucus level to be very small, every idea will have a hearing and be voted on in a democratic way and, if accepted, ushered on up the line to the proper point of application (state, national — or county, for that matter). Be there January 19th. [Or, in 2012, tomorrow, Tuesday, January 3.]

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If you want to know more about this year’s Iowa caucus, click here. And, remember, some elections win or lose by just one vote. Heck, my dad got one vote one time at the county level…and won!

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