Alumni Reunion 2013
Are They Now
time capsules to be opened
RHS alumni scholarship recipients
school building is gone
bulletin board archives
book of RHS alumni essays
submitting website information
Rolfe Parade and
of RHS Time Capsules
by Helen D. Gunderson, RHS Alumni Web Site
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
A book recommendation
from RHS web site editor
Helen D. Gunderson (class of 1963)
April 16, 2006
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
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
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.
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
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
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.”
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
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.
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
have also posted an
archive of articles from the Pocahontas
Record-Democrat about the decision to close the
Three-story Section of
School Has Been Razed
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
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
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
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.
information about the book
here for a book
here for essay
here to read
current essays on-line
If you have information you would like
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