1956: Marion Gunderson’s Watercolors and Rolfe, Iowa, School Yearbook



This photo was taken on my* first birthday, which was in 1956. We are in the basement of the new house that we started moving into on Jan. 23, 1956. Clockwise, starting at the left, is oldest-sister Clara, Mother, Peggy (partially obscured, sitting on the couch), Charles (helping to open my gift), me (partially obscured), Helen (in dark clothing), and Marti (back to camera). I assume my dad took this photo. With us six children under foot, I wonder how Mother EVER had time to paint! I imagine my dad being supportive was a very important factor. (Click on photo to enlarge.)



In the gallery of thumbnail images in this post are images of nine watercolors by Mother (Marion Gunderson). Eight were definitely painted in 1956; I believe the ninth (Holy Family**) was, as well. In Mother’s 1956 journal***, there are twelve or thirteen dates for which she has entries indicating she painted on those dates.

Also in the gallery below are images of the 1956 yearbook of the Rolfe, Iowa, school district. Links to other Rolfe yearbooks are in the “Categories” column at this blog’s homepage. More yearbooks will be added periodically.

If you are wondering why it is a big deal to me to include Mother’s watercolors, a lot of it has to do with profits from prints of the watercolors being donated to the Rolfe Public Library. So far over $4,000 has been donated, much of it going to this project. If you have questions about the prints, you may contact me at mariongundersonart@gmail.com. You may also ask at the library or at Wild Faces Gallery (where the prints are made) in Rolfe. (BTW, for the library and for purchasers, everyone comes out better financially if prints are purchased in person — when possible — as opposed to online.)


Making the Thumbnail Images Larger

1) To see the thumbnail images in slideshow view, click on one of the images. Then navigate forward or backward through the images.

2) To magnify the images even more, once in slideshow view, click on the “Permalink” or “View Full Size” hyperlink.

3) After clicking on the “Permalink”  or “View Full Size” hyperlink, if you want to enlarge further, hover your mouse cursor over the image. As you move the cursor over the image, if you see a moving “+” sign, it means you can enlarge the image even further by clicking on it. (A “-” sign means you can’t enlarge it further.)



*Louise Gunderson Shimon  (youngest daughter of Marion)

**Holy Family — see December 1 entry toward the bottom of this post.

****Prints are available.

*** Entries from Mother’s 1956 journal include:

Jan. 2: 1st meal in basement [of new house]

Jan 16: Louise started on Pablum.

Jan. 23: Started moving to new house.

Jan. 30: Clara’s first high heels — for school concert and then 8th grade graduation. Art Ass’n meeting at Lena Vaughn’s in afternoon.

Feb. 6: Johnson Bros. of Ruthven started moving old house.

Feb. 9: Rolfe band had thrill of a concert with Rafael Mendez, trumpeter. Clara wore formal for the first time.

Feb. 20: Deane sold 25 cattle.

Feb. 22: Deane to Sioux City with 19 cattle brought 19¢ a lb.

Mar. 1: Johnny Zeman started working for us.

Mar. 5: Painted with Art Ass’n at Maud Herrick’s. [Does anyone know how I might contact Maud — if still living — or Maud’s family? I believe Mother gave or sold a painting to Maud. If so, I’d like to try to track down an image of it.]

Mar. 6: Painted horse picture.

Mar. 20: Dial telephones installed.

Mar. 25: Louise baptized. She behaved perfectly.

Mar. 30: Oat seeding started.

May 18: Deane to W’loo [Waterloo] to get 70D J.D. tractor that he is to run on experimental basis.

June 18: I painted with art ass’n at Lena Vaughn’s. [In this link’s photo, Lena is “Lena Wiegman.”]

July 10:  Oat combining started.

July 23: I painted Lenox bird picture this afternoon.

July 30: Painted with Art Ass’n at Agnes Neal’s.

Sept. 12: I painted picture of a Bull.

Sept. 24: John Young [2011 photo] took over Bill Brinkman’s Standard Service Station.

Sept. 27: Art Ass’n met here.

Sept. 21: I painted zinnia picture.

Oct. 18: Painted Sculptured Head with ass’n at Myrtle Sabo’s.

October 29: Painted with Art Ass’n at Bertha Van Alstine’s barn in Gilmore — did corn picture.

Nov. 10 and 11: John Deere pheasant hunters here and Evelyn Jirsa [wife of Emil Jirsa]. Poorest hunting yet.

Nov. 19: Sorosis [women’s book review/social club] at Lucerne’s [Hunter, I assume]. Marie  [Hauck?] reviewed Virgil Hancher’s travel diary. [Virgil Hancher graduated in Rolfe’s class of 1914. Before July 2013 I’ll post the 1913 Rolfe yearbook which includes several photos of Virgil.]

Nov. 21: Report cards. _____ had F in deportment. [May or may not be a family member.]

**Dec. 1: Busy — worked on Christmas picture for living room. [I believe this is the Holy Family painting, where Mother also used a cutwork technique. I have one of her paintings of a young woman where she used a similar dark wash and the same cutwork technique to create the outlines. My painting is dated 1958.)

Dec. 10: Painted with Art. Ass’n at F. Beneke’s.


* * * * * * * *

Photo collection sources may be furnished upon request.

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


4 Responses to “1956: Marion Gunderson’s Watercolors and Rolfe, Iowa, School Yearbook”

  1. cghoover Says:

    A few quick comments: I’d never seen that picture of our family. What fun! I remember that we lived in the basement and upstairs bedrooms before the main floor was finished. I believe we even had a (cooking) stove in the basement for a while.

    I’m surprised Mother’s journal didn’t contain an entry for the reception Mother and Daddy hosted for Gov. Hoegh at our house in April or early May. Daddy was an advisor for Gov. Hoegh’s unsuccessful re-election campaign. Pam and I were allowed to wear hose and heels (generally reserved for eighth grade graduation) for the first time because we helped collect plates and glasses from people attending the reception.

    What fun to see how you’ve combined painting, the RAM and entries from Mother’s journal. And what fun to see her interweaving of farm events, family events with her paintings.

  2. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Clara, the photo was in the tall black scrapbook that Mother put together for me. I’ve often wondered what photos are in the other photo albums Mother made for siblings. (Did she do one for each of us?)

    I know Mother commented some on Governor Hoegh. I’ll go back through and see what those comments were. Of course, I chose to include in the post Mother’s comment about me starting on Pablum instead of anything she wrote about Governor Hoegh and Daddy helping with his campaign. What was I thinking?!

    It’s fun to read about you and Pam being allowed to wear hose and high heels and collecting the plates and glasses. I bet everyone at the reception thought you two were most delightful.

  3. Peg Says:

    I’ve never seen this picture before either! LOVE! (I just wish I could see myself better. :-)) I do have the big, black album Mother made for me. My thinking has always been that she made one for each of us, but maybe that’s not correct.

  4. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Hmmm…Peggy. I wonder what is in your album that could be material for the blog…that might tie in somehow. I know. I wish I could see you (and all of us) better, too. I wonder what it was like for Charles to have FIVE sisters!!!!!

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