Archive for the ‘John Deere’ Category

Johnny Zeman: Long on Loyalty, Know-how, and Getting Things Done

December 22, 2010

In this 1961 photo, Johnny prepared the seedbed with John Deere 730 tandem tractors pulling two 14-foot tandem discs and a 30-foot harrow. This configuration was designed by my dad, Deane Gunderson, who in the early 1940s was an engineer for the John Deere Tractor Company in Waterloo, Iowa. The tractors could also be used separately for lighter fieldwork during the summer. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Bubbles in the Wine (A Rolfe [Iowa] Arrow weekly column)

March 20, 1975

by Deane Gunderson

Johnny Zeman, long on loyalty, know-how, and getting things done, a 145 pound bundle of tough muscle and porcelain innards. The muscle is just about as good as it was 19 years ago when he started to work at Gunderland, and his know-how and a few other things have improved a good bit in the last few years.

No longer will Johnny be slowly turning Irving Cornwell’s corner at 7:59 a.m. (winter hours) with his six-soother at his side. We’ll miss the convenience to us in the little things as well as his sincere desire to get the crops in and out properly and quickly.

Johnny...and Johnny. (Year unknown. Click on photo to enlarge.)

Johnny had his funny side. One night he was relaxing in the old tavern (now extinct) near the coin laundry. A friend along the bar said he was going up to the (old) Midway to see what was going on there, and friend left. Johnny thought, “I’ll just duck out the back door and slip up to the Midway and be nonchalantly at the bar when friend comes in the front door of the Midway.”  Johnny was scurrying back behind the buildings in pretty good darkness with a smile on his face, no doubt, when he unexpectedly found himself scrambled with sandburs, broken shipping crates, and cinders in the bottom of an abandoned basement drive-in entrance to one of the buildings.

Johnny and Daddy at Gunderland. (Year unknown. Click on photo to enlarge.)

On another occasion, Johnny called up about 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and suggested that he go up to Les Allen’s to pick up some equipment so that we’d be ready to charge into our work more quickly Monday morning. I told Johnny, “No, just let it go — we’ll take care of it in the morning.” Nevertheless, half an hour later, Johnny called from Allen’s to say he had encountered a couple of horses in the middle of the road and his car was over in Martin DeWall’s field. “I’ll come to get you,” I said. We looked for the horses, [but] didn’t find them although we could see where they had been. Later I took Johnny home and by then Johnny was concerned about what discipline he was going to get, because he had outright disobeyed me. “No, Johnny,” I said, “it’s just that at certain times you ought to keep away from that car.” “You mean to say that I’m not going to get laid off, or have my wages docked or anything like that?” Answer: “That’s right.” Whereupon Johnny said, “O.K., then, give me some more ell.”

Once when visiting in California, I was regaling my dentist uncle with some of Johnny’s antics, telling about  how Johnny liked to get to the tavern after work and tell his buddies about how we (or he) did this today, and we did this much this week, etc. My uncle said, “Yep, that’s his fraternity.”

Best regards Johnny, LaVonne and the kids, and fond memories from Gunderland.

* * * * * * * *

Johnny passed away in 1989.

Click here to read a few more of Daddy’s “Bubbles in the Wine” columns, including his story about how he began his BITW column. I’ll be sure to post more of them in the future. I have his permission, and the Pocahontas Record-Democrat‘s, which now owns the Rolfe newspapers.

If you want to learn more about the John Deere configuration and didn’t already see it when I posted my dad’s obituary, click here for a 1964 Fort Dodge Messenger article about it. The article also includes another photo of Johnny.

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.)

Deane C. Gunderson (Obituary, 1964 Fort Dodge Messenger Article, and Links to Additional Articles)

July 21, 2010

Daddy at the age of 88 in 2007. He looked just like this (including the sparkle in his eyes) until within days before he passed away on July 1st, 2010. The only difference from this photo and seeing him in “real life” was he typically had his shirt collar buttoned and was a true blue Iowa Stater wearing his self-handcrafted ISU bolo tie! (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Deane C. Gunderson, age 91, died on Thursday, July 1, 2010, at the Israel Family Hospice House in Ames.

Deane Charles Gunderson, son of John Christian Gunderson and DeElda (Lighter) Gunderson, was born on September 16, 1918, in Roosevelt Township, Pocahontas County, Iowa.  He graduated from Rolfe High School in 1935 and received B.S. degrees in Agricultural Engineering (1939) and Mechanical Engineering (1940) from Iowa State College.

On July 23, 1941, Deane Gunderson and Marion Abbott were married in Ogden, Utah.  They resided in Waterloo, Iowa, for nearly four years while Deane worked as an engineer for the John Deere Tractor Company.  In 1945 Marion and Deane moved with their three young children to the farm southwest of Rolfe where they continued to live for six decades.

Deane was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, president his senior year and president of the House Corporation for 24 years.  He was active in the Republican Party, Community Chest and Lions Club, and a Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League.

Deane was a member of the Shared Ministry of Rolfe.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Rolfe State Bank.  He was involved in public education for 25 years, having served on the Rolfe Community School District Board of Directors from 1966 to 1981, and as a Director and Treasurer of the Iowa Association of School Boards from 1971-1991.  He also served on the Board of Governors of the Iowa State University Foundation.

In 1980, Iowa State University awarded Alumni Recognition Medals to Deane and Marion.  He was an avid Cyclone fan and in 1975 created an 11½-foot, welded sculpture of Cy that stood at the north end of the ISU football stadium for many years.  In 1981 Iowa State named Deane as Cy’s Favorite Alum.

During 1975-1977, Deane wrote a weekly column, “Bubbles in the Wine,” for The Rolfe Arrow.

His interests included farming, education, mathematics, welding, land surveying and farm drainage systems.  He specialized in creating larger combinations of farm machinery* for increased production per farm worker.  He seemed to have friends wherever he went and enjoyed engaging them with his stories.  He was proud of his children and delighted in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  He was a generous person, encouraged others in their endeavors and was noted for pointing out life’s wonders, including Sputnik, the Pythagorean theorem, bean seeds germinating, a fox den in a creek bank, and the West Bend Grotto.

Deane was preceded in death by his wife, Marion, his parents, and one son, Christian Gunderson.  He is survived by his son Charles Gunderson and wife Gloria; daughters Clara Hoover and husband Harold, Helen Gunderson, Martha Carlson and husband Michael, Margaret Moore and husband Jeffrey, and Louise Shimon and husband William; seven grandchildren: Christina Gunderson, Timothy Gunderson, Kevin Carlson, Joshua Moore, Jonathan Moore, Abigail Shimon and Kathryn (Shimon) Moon; three great-grandchildren: Michael Williams, Addison Valletta and Jackson Johnstone; and several cousins.

A memorial service will be held at the Shared Ministry of Rolfe at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 31.

In lieu of flowers, Deane requested contributions be made to the Rolfe Lions Club (P.O. Box 101, Rolfe, Iowa 50581).

* * * * * * * *

*If you have time, I hope you will click TWICE on this photo to read this 1964 Fort Dodge Messenger article about one aspect of my dad’s engineering. (With clicking on the photo just once, the text will likely be too small to read. This is posted with permission granted by The Messenger.)

Daddy’s obituary will be in today’s (July 21st) edition of the Pocahontas Record-Democrat. It will also be in this Sunday’s (July 25th) edition of the Fort Dodge Messenger, the Ames Tribune and the Des Moines Register. Sometime later I’ll post a bunch of photos of Daddy; in the same post as his obituary somehow just didn’t seem to work for me.

If you are able to attend Daddy’s service and luncheon afterward, please be sure to let me know you are there. (I felt so bad that I missed some people who were at Mother’s service.) Also, if you can’t attend the service but think you will be in Rolfe later in the day on the 31st or sometime that weekend, it would be nice if you’d email ( or call me to let me know; maybe we could work out a way to have our paths cross.

(Cy’s Favorite Alum)

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

Bubbles In The Wine by Deane Gunderson (February 27, 1975 — Part II)

July 27, 2009

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

(You probably won’t understand Part II below unless you first read Part I.)


“Bubbles In The Wine” by Deane Gunderson, February 27, 1975 * (Part II)

My father, Deane Gunderson, played on this John Deere softball team during his 1940 to 1945 employment with John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa.  (Click photo to enlarge.)

My father, Deane Gunderson (back row, far left), played on this John Deere softball team during his 1940 to 1945 employment with John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa. During this employment he attended the meeting described in his February 27, 1975, "Bubbles In The Wine" article. (Click photo to enlarge.)

About thirty years ago [in the early- or mid-1940s] the John Deere Experimental Men’s meeting was being held in Moline and a good friend of mine from the Waterloo factory, Emil Jirsa, was to give a talk on the development of the John Deere Powr-Trol (hydraulic) system, then in its infancy.

Emil wasn’t much of a talker and he didn’t have the handsome, slippery appearance of John Connally. He was, as a matter of fact, just the opposite, and I suppose the audience was expecting a dull halting speech, hoping to get on to the next topic or to get into the bar, where each engineer would have the opportunity to brag about what he had dreamed up. more…

John Deere: Like Great-Grandfather, Like Great-Grandson

June 10, 2009

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

From 1940 until 1945 my father (Deane Gunderson, now 90 years young) was an engineer for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa.  Because he had a perforated eardrum, he was not able to serve in the military.  In his 1981 (or 1980) oral history, he said that, while at John Deere, “I did various jobs, experimental farm testing, drafting, I was project engineer for a year.  One of the most interesting phases of it was more…