Posts Tagged ‘Grain Elevator’

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.

A Designer’s Perspective

March 17, 2010

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

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.)