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time capsules to be opened
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Rolfe Parade and Opening of RHS Time Capsules
by Helen D. Gunderson, RHS Alumni Web Site Editor
July 12, 2006

It was a rainy, gray morning when I arrived on Garfield Avenue (aka Main Street) at 9:45 am on July 8, 2006. I was there to watch the Greater Rolfe Days parade and prepare to videotape the opening of two time capsules from the Rolfe school property following the parade.

Because of the inclement weather, there was some doubt whether the two parades—a kid's parade and the main parade—would be held. However, after a short delay, both were carried off as though there had been no problems, whatsoever. complete blog-like story

Time Capsules from Rolfe School to be Opened
Left: RHS time capsule retrieved from the cornerstone of the three-story building built in 1917. Right: RHS time capsule originally placed in pillars on south side of building by the class of 1928. Foreground: 12-inch rule. Photo by Helen D. Gunderson. Click on image for a larger view.
by Helen D. Gunderson, RHS Alumni Web Site Editor
June 22, 2006

Last winter, when a deconstruction crew razed the three-story section of the Rolfe school, the workers extricated a time capsule from the rubble. It is a pale blue, metal box with spots of rust that measures six inches wide, four-and-a-half inches high, and 11 inches long and has a loose-fitting top.

The box was found in a carved out section of the cornerstone and most likely had been there since 1917, when the facility was built. The supervisor of the crew gave the container directly to Superintendent Joe Kramer of the Pocahontas Area Community School District, who is currently keeping the box at the district's central office in Pocahontas.

Joe is also safe-guarding a box that was removed last winter from the west of two pillars — built by the class of 1928 — that stood at the south entrance of the Rolfe school. That box is a mix of pale blue and rusted metal. The top is soldered in place, and there is a rudimentary handle made of rusted wire.
Most likely, the wire was used to lower the box to the bottom of the pillar. That box is eight-and-a-half inches wide, eight inches high, and 14 inches long. Apparently, that box was opened in 1978, materials were added, the container was resealed, and it was put back in the pillar.

Neither of the two time capsule boxes have been opened.

When I talked with Joe about the boxes earlier this week, he said, "Linking the past with current life is exciting, and the time capsules are vehicles for doing that. The school board and I share an interest with the Rolfe community and alumni regarding the history of the Rolfe part of the district."

There has been a bit of consternation in the Rolfe community during the past few months regarding custody of the boxes. That is understandable, considering that the razing of a historic school building can evoke grief — especially in a small town that is losing its sense of vitality — and in the midst of grief, there can be a mixture of strong feelings and misunderstandings.

That said, however, I whole-heartedly support Joe and the way he has handled custody of the boxes. The building was razed and the boxes were removed from the Rolfe facility during his watch. He is responsible for the safe-keeping of the boxes and has held discussions with the PAC board about what to do with them. As Joe said this week, " I am the guardian of those boxes right now in order to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to view the opening of the boxes. The opportunity should not be for a group of select individuals."

Joe is working with Bill Winkleblack, representative of Rolfe Betterment, Inc., to organize a ritual for opening the boxes. The event will be held at the Rolfe Community Center following the Greater Rolfe Days parade on July 8. Joe said that members of the school board intend to be directly involved in opening the boxes. He also anticipates that the contents of the boxes will be on display in Rolfe — perhaps at the public library — for an extended period of time after Greater Rolfe Days until the school board decides where the materials will be permanently archived.

Joe has asked me to photograph and/or scan the contents. I will not have access to the materials prior to the public ceremony when the boxes will be opened, but I will do the work following Greater Rolfe Days. Images of the materials will be posted on this web site and provided via CDs to the PAC school board, the Rolfe library, and the Pocahontas library.

Joe came to Pocahontas to serve as superintendent in 2005 after serving as an administrator in at BCLUW. The district consists of the towns of Beaman, Conrad, Liscomb, Union, and Whitten in central Iowa. While at BCLUW, Joe oversaw the razing of a school building and helped the district decide how to open and display the contents of two time capsules from that building. The items in the capsule sealed in the cornerstone included a photograph of all the students and staff and the building on the day it opened, a list of the students enrolled in the school, and a newspaper article about the opening. What Joe remembers most from the second time capsule were the single-sized boxes of laundry detergent and other common household items — all with the price marked on them. The second box at BCLUW also contained newspapers.

I will keep in touch with Joe and Bill as plans evolve for the opening of the Rolfe time capsules and displaying the contents. Check back for further information.

Rolfe Alumni Scholarships for 2006 Awarded
Photo credit: De Sindegard (Click the picture for a larger picture.)
Graduating high school seniors, Krista Winkleblack and Jacob Brinkman were awarded the first ever Rolfe Alumni Scholarship on May 16, 2006, at the awards night for the Pocahontas Area Community School District. They each received $300 for their honor.

The Rolfe Alumni Scholarship was established at the 2005 Rolfe all-achool reunion with donations from Rolfe alumni.

Jacob plans to attend Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where he will major in biology and wrestle on a wrestling scholarship. Krista plans to attend the University of Iowa, where she will major in business management.

Jacob is the son of Robert Brinkman (RHS 1980) and Joanne Pullen Brinkman (Sioux Rapids–Rembrandt 1980). Robert, Joanne, Jacob, and his two younger brothers live on the family’s homeplace farm near Highway 15 southwest of Rolfe. The farm was established by H.D. and Nellie Brinkman. Robert is a farmer, and Joanne is the secretary for the superintendent of the PAC School District. Jacob also is the grandson of David Brinkman (RHS 1932), Darlene Westerman Brinkman (Plover circa 1939 ), Larry Pullen (RHS 1957 ), and Judy Wagner Pullen Reis (RHS 1960).

Krista is the daughter of Bill Winkleblack (RHS 1973) and Jeanette Behrendsen Winkleblack (RHS 1976). Bill is executive vice president of the Rolfe State Bank, and Jeanette is a nurse for the PAC School District. Krista also is the grand-daughter of Russ Winkleblack (RHS 1950), Jeanette Alig Winkleblack (RHS 1951), Virgil Behrendsen (Gilmore City 1946), and Donna Smith Behrendsen (RHS 1950).

On June 29, 2006, we received the following thank you note from Krista.

Dear Rolfe Alumni,

I am very thankful for being presented with the Rolfe Alumni Scholarship, and I feel so blessed to have such a generous community supporting me. It is wonderful to be a part of such a close knit community that truly works hard at maintaining a viable society.

There are many benefits to growing up in small towns like Rolfe and the education I received here was one of them. I will always have many fond memories of attending the Rolfe school from kindergarten through 8th grade and consider my years at the Pocahontas Area Community Schools a great experience. I plan to take the knowledge acquired there and use it to further my education at the University of Iowa as I develop a career in business management with an emphasis in human resources.

Thank you again for the scholarship I received - Rolfe will always hold a special place in my heart.


Krista Winkleblack


A book recommendation
from RHS web site editor
Helen D. Gunderson (class of 1963)
April 16, 2006

Yesterday, there was an interview with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, on National Public Radio on the Science Friday program of Talk of the Nation.

Most of the discussion focused on the corn industry. I believe that the U.S. society in general, but especially people connected to Iowa and Iowa agriculture, should become aware of the issues that Michael presents about our nation's dependency on corn, the effect of corn on nutrition, the true costs of Ethanol, and other topics. There are reviews of his book at Amazon. Of course, the issues are not issues simply for the Corn Belt states. The issues are in large part due to federal legislation, which is influenced by voters from all states and by corporate interests.

Because I was running errands on Friday while the show was aired, I heard only a few segments of the interview via my car radio. However, I have heard complete interviews with Michael on other topics and have enjoyed his book, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World. It is extremely informative about the history of the apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato. If you read it, you will get a whole new sense of what Johnny Appleseed did and did not do.

Today I talked with a friend, Matt Liebman, who is head of the sustainable agriculture program at Iowa State University. He said that Michael had spent a lot of time in Iowa, talking with sustainable ag leaders as part of his research for The Omnivore's Dilemma.

You can listen to Michael's interview on Talk of the Nation. I have also been told that Michael was interviewed on Fresh Air on NPR earlier in the week.

I encourage you to read some of the reviews, listen to one of the interviews, or get a copy of the book. Michael's thoughts would make great fodder for discussion at the family dining table, local coffee shop, farmers coop, public library, or classroom. They would also provide a good base for a book club or other organization looking for a program topic.

A Journal Entry printer-friendly PDF file

Recorded late in the afternoon on March 14, 2006, by Helen D. Gunderson at the site of Rolfe's recently demolished three-story school building that was built in 1917. Helen is a 1963 graduate of Rolfe High School and editor of the Rolfe alumni web site.

It is a chilly, breezy day with bright sun and a few wisps of clouds. The space where the old, three-story part of the school stood is now simply air. Seeing the site at this stage has a much heavier and more mystical impact on me than observing the demolition several weeks ago when the building was knocked down.

I feel a vast cavern inside me. The old building is not here at all—not even the foundation. There is an excavated hole in the ground to the north and northeast. I suspect those were the only areas where there were basement-level rooms. Much of the sub-ground area has been filled with dirt, but there still is the cavern. Along the edges are a few large, broken slabs of concrete from a parking lot or sidewalk.

Rolfe school property. Photo by Helen D. Gunderson on March 16, 2006. Camera faces north. Click on image for a larger view.

In the space where the building stood, there is nothing except a truncated umbilical cord of a hallway that used to connect the west section to the east wing. There are two gray, steel fire doors blocking the hallway. The walls on both sides of the doors are broken, revealing jagged concrete blocks underneath the brick siding. The window in the red, side door is shattered with a large, gaping hole. The glass looks like crystal-clear shards of ice.

The scene has a deep impact on me but is hard to describe. The orange security fence draped around the perimeter of the building site is worthless and looks like a giant, long ribbon that is distorted as though it is a discarded candy wrapper.

There is no activity here—just a chilly breeze with dogs barking and chain saws roaring in the distance to the west. There is also a dog barking in the lot south of the school. The wooden, red benches in front of the school have been left in tact, albeit they are scruffy. There is no monument to the school.

This is when I begin to equate what I am currently experiencing with what I have felt when facing the finality and mystery of death? Where is the dead person now? Where is Mother? Where is Grandpa? They existed at one time. They had souls. They were alive, and now—they simply are not here.

In much the same way, the old part of the school building simply is not here, and I wonder where it went—in a metaphysical sense. Of course there are pragmatic tasks ahead. The job of clearing the site is not completely finished. The rest of the cavern needs to be filled. Decisions need to be made about the east wing of the building.

This scene is a reminder of places in California where nature has sucked an entire neighborhood or town into a hole. However, it is not as though Rolfe’s three-story school building has disappeared into the ground. No, the building has been knocked down, and the demolition crew worked hundreds of hours, sorting the brick from the other rubble and hauling it all away. But the large hole remains in the ground.

The only way that the old part of the building will continue to exist is in photographs and memories of it. For many of us those memories are indelibly imbedded in our minds and psyches—for better or worse.

The space where there once was a three-story building is empty, but in that open area, there were relationships and activities, too numerous to fathom, from1917 until a year ago. There is also much history and memory connected to the site. However, it is now simply open space and not at all aesthetically pleasing. What will remain as a physical monument to the school? Nothing?


As I sit in my car, preparing to drive away, the mantra repeats itself in my mind, “There is nothing there. The building is gone.”


A lot is happening fast regarding the fate of the gym and the rest of the school property. We will try to keep you up to date via our message board.
Note on April 16, 2006.

We apologize, but the message board has been malfunctioning. You can read messages that have already been posted, but new messages don't work well due to gremlins in the software. We apologize for any inconvenience.

And we have posted photos taken during the week of January 23, 2006, of the demolition of the three-story section of the Rolfe school that was built in 1917.

We have also posted an archive of articles from the Pocahontas Record-Democrat about the decision to close the Rolfe school.

Three-story Section of School Has Been Razed

On Monday, January 23, workers began to demolish the three-story, west section of the Rolfe school building that was built in 1917 and is now under the jurisdiction of the Pocahontas Area Community School District.

At a hearing on February 13, the PAC school board agreed to give all of the Rolfe school property east of the railroad tracks to the town of Rolfe.

Freecycle Web Site Worth Checking Out
We have discovered a web site for the Freecycle Network. It is is made up of  individual groups across the globe and is a grassroots movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is run by a local volunteer moderator. Membership is free.

We used the network site to find the Story County Freecycle web site that serves central Iowa, and soon we posted that we had some window shades to give away.

The network was started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. It provides individuals and non-profits an electronic forum to "recycle" unwanted items. One person's trash can truly be another's treasure!

As the Story County Freecyle site says,

Our goal is to reduce waste by connecting people who are throwing away unwanted items with others seeking the same items (and have a little fun in the process). No item is too big or too small; but since this is a FREEcycle list, ALL items must be 100% (that's right, you got it) free.

Freecycling lies somewhere between the garage sale and the dump, and is much cooler than either. It's an innovative concept that harnesses the power of the Internet to do what the Internet does best -- eliminate the middleman and empower the individual. Unlike traditional charitable organizations that accept people's castoffs and sell them for low prices in unappealing shops (or end up taking them to the dump anyway), freecycling allows for personal contact between donor and recipient -- each gets exactly what they want, and nobody is considered a 'charity case.' (Indeed, many freecyclers both give and receive items on a regular basis.) It's a perfect consumer-friendly circle: no overhead, no intermediaries, no money changing hands, no waste and no catch, and everyone's happy.

Archives of Bulletin Board Essays and Photographs


Bulletin board page from 2005.

Bulletin board page from 2004.

Gazette editor Helen Gunderson writes essay about war and peace.

Chris Simonson becomes obit editor
Alum honored for law practices
Class of 1977 reunion
Class of 1962 reunion
Interesting commentary
Rolfe alumna carries Olympic torch

Winter Weather and Twins
Romance and Friendship (we've lost the file)
March Madness
No Man is an Island —  Reflections on PACS Commencement
Class of 1951 and DMT Reunions plus a lot more about DMT
Thoughts about Patriotism
Food for Thought about Simplifying the Holidays

RHS Book of Essays Available for Purchase

We've published a book of the essays from this website. It includes editorial material not available online as well as photographs and some artwork by Darlene Brinkman. Order yours now or purchase one at the Rolfe State Bank or Mary's Bookshelf at the Pocahontas Pharmacy.  The deadline for submitting essays to be included in the book was September 30, 2001; however,  new essays for the web site are always welcome. 

click here for information about the book
click here for a book order form
click here
for essay guidelines
click here to read current essays on-line

Submitting Information

If you have information you would like posted on this page, please contact us the who, what, when, and when of the announcement or story. Submitted items should be consistent with the terms of service of this website. We also encourage you to send ideas for our monthly theme as well as feedback about this site.

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