Archive for the ‘Pocahontas’ Category

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

January 23, 2011

To make sense of this post, it would probably help to refer to Part I. While Part I definitely is about the summer of 1949, this Part II post is more of a potpourri about the general location (past and present) of Arlene Brockney’s story of when she was a teenager in 1949. Also, referring to the post titled Pocahontas, Iowa: One Subject Equals Two Paintings will explain about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) almost identical watercolors of the Pocahontas grain elevator, painted the same year as Arlene’s story…1949.

This is an eBay photo of Pocahontas, Iowa. The camera is at the east looking basically to the west. In the upper left corner is just a tad of Highway 3 with what looks like one car on it. Also at the upper left is what I'm thinking is a gas station at the location of the current Pocahontas branch building of the Rolfe State Bank. The water tower in this photo no longer exists. The grain elevator annex (the 2nd tallest large building in this photo) was not present at the time Mother (Marion Gunderson) painted her two Pocahontas grain elevator watercolors. According to the Pocahontas County History (1981) the 200,000 bushel annex was built in 1954. Also according to the history, a new 400,000 bushel silo (not in this photo) was built in 1970. From that, I assume this photo was taken sometime between 1954 and 1970. You can also see the car dealership in the bottom center of the photo. The train tracks in this photo run from southeast (lower left) to northwest (upper right) along the southwest side of the grain elevator. After looking closely at Mother's watercolors of the Pocahontas grain elevator, I see that the railroad cars were between her and the grain elevator. With that in mind, I'm assuming Mother painted her Pocahontas Grain Elevator watercolors at a vantage point south or south-southwest of the grain elevator. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

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My research about Mother’s vantage point for her two 1949 Pocahontas grain elevator watercolors included my talking with Bob Bellows, Rolfe State Bank Vice-President. Bob works at the branch office in Pocahontas. On my behalf, he conducted research of his own. According to Bob’s source, there had been a double-wide trailer where the Rolfe State Bank branch building now sits. Bob and I are assuming it is the same trailer in which Arlene Brockney lived. (Arlene’s story is in Part I.)

Bob also said there was a DX station (as Arlene also mentioned) closer to Highway 3. The DX station was owned by Jerry Hotovec. The DX station was sold and another building built at the same location in the mid-’60s. This building was the Superior 400, which later became a Gulfstream station, and then was the Pro Coop’s cartrol (i.e., credit card-only station.) The former location of those businesses is now the location of the current bank branch parking lot. It is sandwiched between the Highway 3 and the south side of the branch bank building.

The Rolfe State Bank branch in Pocahontas opened in September of 2001…in a trailer (different than the one Arlene mentioned) which was to the south of the current RSB building. On March 1st of 2004, the Rolfe State Bank moved from the trailer into the present branch building.

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(Click on photo to enlarge.)

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*In case you missed it, here is my oldest sister Clara’s comment from Part I about Mother’s watercolors of the Pocahontas grain elevator.

I remember going with Mother once when she painted the Pocahontas elevator. Although we probably were with other members of the Barr Art Association, I don’t remember if they were there or it was just Mother. Nor do I recall how old I would have been, but if it was this painting, I was probably seven.

One thing that we didn’t discover until recently is that sometimes Mother created more than one painting of the same thing. We think it’s the same, but when we look closely we discover differences. That’s true with this elevator painting. We don’t know if Mother was so intrigued with the painting that she did another, if she was trying to correct a flaw (she always thought of something that could be improved), or if she was creating another painting for someone else.

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

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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.

Corn Harvest 2010: Section 13, Roosevelt Township, Pocahontas County, Iowa

October 13, 2010

Yesterday and the day before (October 11 and 12) I had the back-to-roots glorious experience of being in the midst of corn harvest. The video (below) is from yesterday. The vantage point is Gunderland, the farmstead between Rolfe and Pocahontas where I was raised.*

In the first 2 1/2 minutes of the video, the John Deere combine and tractor move at a snail’s pace along the horizon. During that portion they look like a slow-moving dot.** They still look like a dot when the combine dumps corn on-the-go into the moving grain cart out in the field. At about the 2 1/2-minute point, the tractor and combine separate.

Then the footage gets close-up and more interesting (i.e., worth waiting for). The grain gets hauled to Gunderland and dumped there into a holding wagon. An auger then maneuvers the grain upward to the top of the grain bin so it can be stored in that bin. Even though I grew up on a farm, I found it fascinating to watch this process, especially the mechanics of the machinery.

Update: I tried to repost the video with the first 90 seconds removed. Because, in the editing/exporting process, the video lost a lot of its clarity, I stuck with the longer/original version. If you want to do something else during the first minute or two until the tractor leaves the field and then watch the last four minutes, you’ll see the most illustrative portions.

*My mom (Marion Gunderson) and dad (Deane Gunderson) moved to this farm site in 1945. They had the existing home built in 1955-56 and moved in in early 1956 when I was a few months old.

**I took the video with my pocket-sized Canon ELPH, so zooming wasn’t a viable option.

(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

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

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

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

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.)

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.

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

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.

Cathrine Barr’s Influence, Mother (Marion), and Barr Art

June 8, 2009

(Aside from the photos and caption text, this post is taken from page 114 of the Pocahontas County, Iowa, History, compiled in 1981 by the Pocahontas County Historical Society Members and Friends, copyright 1982 by the Pocahontas County Historical Society, Rolfe, Iowa.  If you have anything–including photos–regarding Barr Art and/or Cathrine that you’d be willing to share, please comment at the post at the top of this page and/or email me at mariongundersonart@gmail.com.  Thank you.)

“Throw away your fear and timidity. Polish up your gambling spirit, and pick up your brush, ready for the dare.”

Mother (Marion) and Daddy (Deane) Gunderson with their first four children, (L to R) Clara, Martha (born October 1948), Charles and Helen.  The future Barr Art Association began meeting just months before this photograph was taken, while Mother was pregnant with Martha.  (Click photo to enlarge.)

Mother (Marion) and Daddy (Deane) Gunderson with their first four children, (L to R) Clara, Martha (born October 1948), Charles and Helen. The future Barr Art Association began meeting just months before, during the summer of 1948, while Mother was pregnant with Martha. (Click photo to enlarge.)

That’s exactly what happened when, in the summer of 1948, Cathrine Barr, a commercial artist and illustrator from Weston, Connecticut, came to Rolfe to visit her mother, Myrtle Anderson, and her grandmother, Addie Beam. This was the first of several summers from 1948 to 1952 when Cathrine organized classes and taught watercolor painting. Her emphasis was on basic techniques, originality, creativity and working directly from subject matter rather than copying other works. The classes proved popular, and each summer enthusiasm for the art of watercolor grew until the students numbered about 76 persons from Humboldt to Spencer, with a large nucleus in Pocahontas County.

On October 25, 1949, a group of these students met in the Shaw and Shaw Law Offices in Pocahontas to organize an Art Association. Marion Gunderson, Rolfe, was the first president, and Maude Herrick, Gilmore City, was the first secretary.

The name "Barr Art Association" was adopted in the fall of 1951, the same fall that my sister, Peggy, was born.  Here Mother (Marion) is pictured with (L to R) Clara, Martha, Peggy, Charles and Helen.  I (Louise) was born in the fall of 1955.  The artwork on the wall was painted by Charles.

The name "Barr Art Association" was adopted in the fall of 1951, the same fall that my sister, Peggy, was born. Here Mother (Marion) is pictured with (L to R) Clara, Martha, Peggy, Charles and Helen. I (Louise) was born in the fall of 1955. The artwork on the wall was painted by Charles. (Click photo to enlarge.)

It was not until the fall of 1951 that the group adopted the name of Barr Art Association, giving recognition to the person who had been their teacher and motivation.

The purpose of Barr Art was “to promote and stimulate interest in art.” This they accomplished in two ways. First and foremost was meeting regularly in each other’s home or else on location to pursue what they had learned from Cathrine. Secondly, they exhibited together annually at such places as the Blanden Gallery and the KVFD “Little Art Gallery” in Fort Dodge, sidewalk art shows, various women’s clubs and churches, and at Regional Amateur Art Shows sponsored by the Iowa Arts Council.

The Association thrived through the ’50s and ’60s, but in the late 1970s interest dwindled and the group disbanded.

Barr Art Association was “open to anyone interested in the various arts.” Its members painted together and enjoyed the satisfactions of artistic endeavor that only a group of working artists can enjoy in an atmosphere of relaxation and creativity.

To view names of many of the people who attended Barr Art, and also the communities they represented, click here.

If It Weren’t for Ruth Simonson and Reigelsbergers . . .

June 8, 2009

(For background information to this post, please scroll down to the first post in this blog, “Watercolors to John Deere.”)

Last September, my father’s (Deane Gunderson) former farming neighbors, Joe and Norine Reigelsberger, returned to my father three of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolors. (Mother passed away in 2004 at the age of eighty-five.)  Each painting was of an Iowa grain elevator including one at Gilmore City, one at Pocahontas, and one at Rolfe, painted in 1951, 1949, and circa 1950, respectively.  I am fortunate to now display these paintings in my home.

Last spring after I left the three paintings at Wild Faces Gallery (aka “Mona’s”) in Rolfe for Mona Majorowicz to frame, Ruth Simonson from Rolfe was in the gallery.  Ruth noticed Mother’s paintings and took a more…