Archive for the ‘Grain Elevator’ Category

Pocahontas, Iowa, in the Summer of 1949 (Part I)

January 20, 2011

In November of 2009 the Des Moines Register published an article about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) work and her watercolors. The timing of the article coincided with the open house at Bill’s and my Perry, Iowa, home. At that open house, prints of Mother’s watercolors were sold with the profits going to the Rolfe Public Library Trust.*

Pocahontas Grain Elevator II Prints are available in three sizes: Medium (Limited Edition, 10" W x ~12.3" H, $25), Grand (~18" W x 22" H, $50), and Largest (20" W x ~24.5" H, same size as the original, $70). (Click photo to enlarge.)

The watercolor featured in the Register article was that of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator, shown at the left. The article caught the attention of Arlene Brockney of Waukee who lived in Pocahontas in the late 1940s and is the daughter of Viola Jacobson.

Arlene’s recollection of the grain elevator construction is as follows.

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Pocahontas Elevator, Summer of 1949

My family lived west across the street while it [the grain elevator] was being built. They worked all day and night pouring the cement. For the workers there was a huge night-light that was also great for evening walks.

My mom went to work at the Ideal Cafe at 5 o’clock in the morning. As she would leave the house for work, the construction crew would holler down to her their orders for breakfast. That way, hot food was ready for them when their shift was done.

When the elevator was finished, my mother and two sisters rode to the top and waved at me. Our lot is now in the approximate area of the parking lot for the branch office of the Rolfe State Bank.

 

The building in the foreground is the Pocahontas, Iowa, branch of the Rolfe State Bank. As a teenager, Arlene Brockney lived in a trailer that, in the 1940s, was in the vicinity -- just north -- of what is now the location of the bank building. The grain elevator that Mother painted is behind the bins in this photo. The street at the far right is Highway 3 running east/west. The camera is pointed primarily east. (Click photo to enlarge.)

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Arlene said she was 14-years-old and detasseled corn that summer of 1949. She said that the night-light for the construction crew was like a helicopter hovering. Arlene chuckled when she said that the light did not allow for privacy, making her glad that the elevator construction was completed by the time she started dating!

In the midst of the breeze of the summer nights, while on the ground, Arlene could hear the construction workers above talking. Well, actually mumbling with people below not knowing exactly what the workers were talking about.

At that time, Arlene’s family lived in a trailer on the Pocahontas property that is now owned by Rolfe State Bank.

(Click here to view Part II including what I think is a 1950s or ’60s aerial photo of the Pocahontas grain elevator.)

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At this link you’ll see information regarding prints of Mother’s watercolor (shown above) as well as where you may purchase them in Rolfe. Prints may also be ordered online. Mother also painted the Rolfe grain elevator and train depot (two watercolors) and Gilmore City grain elevator and depot (one watercolor).

*All profits go to support the digitizing of 101 years of Rolfe newspapers so they will be accessible online. Hopefully they will be online in March.

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

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A Designer’s Perspective

March 17, 2010

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Grain Elevator, Rolfe, Iowa, by Marion Gunderson, circa 1950. Standard size limited edition -- 13.25" W x 17.25" H, $35. When matted, fits in standard size 20" x 24" frame.* (Click photo to enlarge.)

Kathleen Beeler is an interior designer friend who several months ago saw a few of Mother’s original watercolors. Kathleen plans to incorporate fresh-looking artwork in her home and wanted to take a look at prints of Mother’s watercolors…mainly the agriculture-related ones.

Yesterday I took prints to Kathleen’s home for her to try in various rooms. (I felt like the Fuller Brush man.) Kathleen was/is so pleased with her finds. Knowing that Kathleen has a design background that I trust, I got goosebumps thinking how pleased Mother would have been listening to Kathleen ooh and aah about Mother’s work. “They fit my house, my lifestyle and my husband’s background.”

What really made me “see” Mother smile was something Kathleen said about the ag-related prints/originals, for example of the Rolfe, Iowa, grain elevator that was destroyed in a 1969 fire. Or the Iowa State University heating plant** (that Mother painted a watercolor of in 1951) that no longer exists. Kathleen kept commenting about how even though the watercolors were painted decades ago, they haven’t faded out of style. She said, “They aren’t stylized. They are sophisticated. They are contemporary portrayals of something in America we’re losing.”

Exactly.

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* Click here for size/price information about prints. All profits from sales of prints go to the Rolfe (Iowa) Public Library.

** Within the next few months, prints of the Iowa State University heating plant watercolor will be available.

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

1940s Construction and Watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, Grain Elevator (Part II)

February 18, 2010

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In 1949, Mother (Marion Gunderson) painted two watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator/concrete silos. (Information about those two and other watercolors is available at “View and Order Prints.”)

Mother's (Marion Gunderson) signature on one of her 1949 watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.

Not long before Mother painted those watercolors in 1949, Mike Hood, formerly of Pocahontas, watched that same Pocahontas grain elevator being built. The following is a continuation of Part I of Mike’s recollection. Most of the information below is about Mike’s family, but gives a “visual” of the 1940s. Mike was 8 or 9 years old at that time. As you read the rest of his essay, try to imagine looking through his eyes as a child…more than sixty years ago.

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By Mike Hood

(continued from Part I)

We had a pony named Fancy and a lovely little four-wheel black buggy with yellow wheels, that I was the right age to use. I could harness the pony and would drive the rig for hours in a hay field of about 10 acres south of our house. That house still stands on the west side of the road one-quarter of a mile north of the Pocahontas County Courthouse. (Grandfather Michael Linnan’s name is on a wall in the courthouse because he was a County Supervisor when it was built in the 1920s.) I remember that sometimes I would meet my cousins and give them a ride for that last quarter mile on the little buggy. I remember, too, that they would be dead tired from the hard work of pouring concrete for those long 12-hour shifts.

Pocahontas Grain Elevator II prints are available in three sizes: Small (Limited Edition, 10" W x ~12.3" H, $25). Grand (Limited Edition, ~ 17.9" W x 22" H, $50). Largest (20" W x ~24.5" H, same size as the original). Click photo to enlarge.

Jim’s and Frank’s motive, of course, was money for college. Their father, Uncle Charles Linnan, of rural Laurens, rented a 160-acre farm and was not extremely money prosperous in those days. Both of those boys graduated from the University of Iowa. Jim Linnan had a successful career at Ruan in Des Moines, and was the mayor of Clive, Iowa, when he died suddenly of a heart attack in the spring of 1970.

My uncle Bill Linnan was the father of Donald Linnan, of Storm Lake and former County Engineer of Buena Vista County, of Fr. Roger Linnan, who continues as a popular parish priest who served at Jefferson, Manson, Spencer and even now in his 70s at Haywarden, and of Karen Brown, who is married to a retired dentist from Montana, now retired in Sioux City.

All of those cousins were college graduates and were an inspiration to me. I was an editor at Successful Farming and Country America magazines, and now oversee our several farms and photograph antique tractors for calendars.

I remember very clearly sitting on the roof of the chicken house on that Pocahontas farm and counting five concrete grain elevators in what must have been the summer of 1950. Those would have been at Pocahontas, Havelock, Plover, Rolfe and Gilmore City. Obviously, the concrete grain storage technology caught on very rapidly.

We moved from our wonderful Pocahontas 160-acre place to a 305-acre farm bordering Columbia, Missouri, in March of 1951, and in a few years I would be hauling wheat to an old-fashioned tin-sided elevator on hot July days and nights. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright called those grain elevators the skyscrapers of the prairies. Indeed!

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

1940s Construction and Watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, Grain Elevator (Part I)

February 16, 2010

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Pocahontas Grain Elevator II prints are available in three sizes: Small (Limited Edition, 10" W x ~12.3" H, $25). Grand (Limited Edition, ~ 17.9" W x 22" H, $50). Largest (20" W x ~24.5" H, same size as the original). Click photo to enlarge.

The November 10th, 2009, Des Moines Register included an article about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolors and the Rolfe, Iowa, 1980-81 oral history project.* Published alongside that article was a photo of Mother. Also included with that article was this post’s photo (at left) of one of Mother’s painted-in-1949 watercolors of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.

Enticed by that Register article, including the image of Mother’s grain elevator watercolor, Mike and Sally Hood of West Des Moines attended the open house.

After the open house I remembered Mike’s telling of his first-hand story of the 1948 or 1949 construction of that same Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.  At my request, Mike was generous to pen that story and allow me to post it here.

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By Mike Hood

(formerly of Pocahontas, Iowa)

It was exciting to be a little boy perhaps 8 or 9 years old in Pocahontas, Iowa, in the summer of 1948 or 1949 when they were building the huge concrete silos** to enlarge and modernize the main grain elevator in town. It was particularly exciting for me because my Uncle W. B. Linnan was supplying all of the concrete from his Ready-Mix plant on the east edge of town for this structure. (The Ready-Mix plant still stands much as it was then!) Also, two older cousins, brothers Jim and Frank Linnan, who were college students at the University of Iowa, were living with us and working on this project, which was a very good paying job with good hourly wages and, of course, long hours.

I remember that once they started pouring concrete for the grain silos, they had to continue nonstop until it was completed. They used slip forms that were jacked upward and were filled with wet concrete as the construction progressed. As I recall, my cousins worked long 12-hour shifts and walked home from work to our farm.

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At this point, I’m interrupting Mike’s essay. I’ll include the rest of it in the next post.  (Part of the remainder of his essay includes information about Mike’s family that he included for his daughters.)

For now, to quickly learn how (or to refresh your memory) the slip forms to which Mike referred were/are used to construct concrete grain elevators, please watch this 33-second YouTube video.

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* This oral history project was spearheaded by Mother.

** The silos to which Mike referred are the silos painted twice by Mother in the 1940s.

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

Savoring Independence Day

July 4, 2009

Grain elevator, Rolfe, Iowa.  Photo taken by Clara Gunderson Hoover, June 2009.  (Click photo to enlarge.)

Grain elevator, Rolfe, Iowa. Photo taken by Clara Gunderson Hoover, June 2009. (Click photo to enlarge.)

INDEPENDENCE DAY, celebrating:

Who: the Second Continental Congress
What: the Declaration of Independence
Where: Philadelphia
When: July 4, 1776
Why: to declare the Thirteen colonies “Free and Independent States… Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown” of King George III. *

* http://www.answers.com/topic/independence-day

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The Farmers Coop and a String Bikini — Part II

July 1, 2009

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(To read Part I before reading this Part II, click here.)

~ Submitted by Marti (Martha Gunderson) Carlson

The mornings, in particular if it was raining, often found several regulars from the farming community gathered around the front office for coffee and pastries – and very colorful and/or funny stories, not all necessarily fit for feminine ears. more…

The Farmers Coop and a String Bikini — Part I

June 30, 2009

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~ Submitted by Marti (Martha Gunderson) Carlson

My very pleasant baptism into the working world started the summer of 1966 following high school graduation when I reported to the Farmers Cooperative* Company in Rolfe, Iowa – in a dress and heels! more…

Watercolor and Fire in Rolfe, Iowa

June 25, 2009

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Rolfe grain elevator watercolor by Marion Gunderson, circa 1950.  Click photo to enlarge.

Rolfe, Iowa, "Grain Elevator" watercolor by Marion Gunderson, circa 1950. Limited edition prints size 13.25" W x 17.25" H are $35. Click photo to enlarge.

Mother (Marion Gunderson) painted this Rolfe, Iowa, Grain Elevator watercolor in approximately 1950. As the article below describes, this grain elevator burned on November 12, 1969. I was in eighth grade that fall. The only recollection I have of the elevator and/or it burning was that my father (Deane Gunderson) took me into town that night. Staying in the car, we watched the blaze from a distance, probably near/at the golf course.

As can be expected, viewing the colors of this watercolor image online, the colors and detail look different in contrast to the actual print and original painting.

Rolfe elevator fire article 1200 W

Click photo to enlarge (and then, if your computer allows, click again to enlarge even more). Posted with permission from the Pocahontas Record-Democrat.

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I obtained this article copy by looking through microfilm at the Pocahontas (Iowa) Public Library. (It’s easy as pie to view the microfilm, entertaining, and free.) I did not include the article’s photos because on the microfilm they are almost 100% blackened.

If anyone has a photo of this grain elevator before, during or after the fire, I would appreciate seeing it (and posting if permission would be granted).

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The Updike Grain Company.  Click photo to enlarge.  From the collection of the Rolfe Pro Cooperative.

The Updike Grain Company. Click photo to enlarge. From the collection of the Rolfe Pro Cooperative.

The article includes history regarding previous Rolfe grain elevators. One mentioned in particular is the Updike Grain Company, shown in this black and white photo.  The Updike Grain Company was destroyed by fire on November 29, 1914.  Before it was destroyed, it was located on the site where the future Charlton Grain Company elevator (in Mother’s watercolor) was built.  Also shown in this photo is the J. & W. C. Shull Lumber and Coal.

The last paragraph of the article mentions C. L. Gunderson (Charles Lewis), my great-grandfather.

For information about prints availability, please click here.

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Gilmore City, Iowa — Rich Watercolor, Rich Heritage

June 24, 2009

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"Railway Station and Grain Elevator" at Gilmore City, Iowa, painted in 1951. 17.25" W x 13.25" H limited edition prints are available, $35. For those who wish to display the watercolors of the Rolfe, Gilmore City, and Pocahontas I grain elevators in a grouping, we have chosen this standard size for all three. Also, if matted, a standard sized frame may be used instead of a custom frame.

"Railway Station and Grain Elevator" at Gilmore City, Iowa, painted in 1951. 17.25" W x 13.25" H limited edition prints are available, $35. For those who wish to display the watercolors of the Rolfe, Gilmore City, and Pocahontas I grain elevators in a grouping, we have chosen this standard size for all three. Also, if matted, a standard sized frame may be used instead of a custom frame. Click photo to enlarge.

On my monitor, this digital image is not nearly as rich-colored and vivid as the actual painting/print.  I love that Mother (Marion Gunderson) included three landmarks in this Gilmore City, Iowa, watercolor.

Gilmore City, Iowa, June 22, 2009.  Click photo to enlarge.

Gilmore City, Iowa, June 22, 2009. Click photo to enlarge.

Last night I took photos from approximately the same vantage point I believe Mother had for this Gilmore City painting.  I’m including a day-old photo to compare with Mother’s 1951 watercolor of Gilmore City.

According to the Pocahontas County, Iowa, History compiled in 1981, “Misfortune struck in the spring of 1947 when a fire of undetermined origin destroyed the main wooden elevator in Gilmore City.  That fall the Board voted to replace the destroyed structure with a new cement elevator.  This was to be the first elevator made entirely out of cement in this part of the country.  The Board of Directors and the managers spent many long hours of study on the plans of this new 125,000 bushel capacity elevator.  The cost of this new facility was approximately 60 cents per bushel capacity or $75,000.”* more…

Pocahontas, Iowa: One Subject Equals Two Paintings

June 16, 2009

Pocahontas Grain Elevator I Limited Edition prints are available in the original painting size of 13.25" W x 17.25" H, $35.  Click on photo to enlarge.

"Pocahontas Grain Elevator I" Limited Edition prints are available in the original painting size of 13.25" W x 17.25" H, $35. Click on photo to enlarge.

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In 1949, my mother (Marion Gunderson) painted two versions of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator.  For the longest time, my family thought there was only one version.  In her photo album, Mother had a snapshot of her watercolor I now call Pocahontas Grain Elevator I (Pocahontas I for short).  It is one of the watercolors Joe and Norine Reigelsberger returned last September.  (For an explanation, see  “If It Weren’t for Ruth Simonson and Reigelsbergers…“as well as another post.)

Decades ago, my mother gave to my husband, Bill Shimon, a different, but almost identical painting of the Pocahontas grain elevator.  I call Bill’s version/painting Pocahontas Grain Elevator II (Pocahontas II for short).

As mentioned, until last September, I thought Mother’s snapshot was of the painting she gave to Bill.  How excited I was to learn from Reigelsbergers that they had the “snapshot” painting of the Pocahontas grain elevator.  Both paintings are now displayed in Bill’s and my home.

Because the two Pocahontas paintings are somewhat similar, I am pointing out two main differences between the paintings. Click here to see photo of second painting.