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Joy Wilcox Hartsock
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Rolfe High School Class of 1954

Remember when...

  • We skated with roller skates that clamped onto our shoes?
  • We paid ten cents to see the movie at the Rialto?
  • One could get most everything they needed at either Webb's Drug or the local dime store?
  • A penny postcard really cost a penny?

Just a few memories from growing up in the 1940's and 50's, quite possibly the best time in the world to be a kid and in one of the best places, a small town in the heartland of America. You know, one of those places where:

  • When you dial a wrong number you talk for fifteen minutes anyway.
  • You drive in the ditch five miles out of town and the word gets back to town before you do.
  • You can't walk for exercise because every car that goes by offers you a ride.
  • And, your classmates in kindergarten are your graduating class.

Looking back on those school years I feel fortunate to have experienced the lessons taught in a small town schoolhouse. I am not referring to the 3+3=6's but rather to those lasting lessons that we learned concerning values and friendships. Those lessons that empowered me to become an effective citizen, productive employee, and responsible family member. During my school years student rights were never discussed, I did not question authority or what I was expected to wear, ate my lunch without food fights, did not consider open-enrollment because of a curriculum that lacked in depth and course offerings, and would not have been disrespectful to a teacher, yet those years provided the tools and background to acquire that which I needed and evoke fond memories.

That is not to say that our small town preparation for adulthood did not have some gaps in it. For example, there was the lack of education concerning cultural and ethnic diversity. What a homogeneous group we were: Caucasian, farm reliant, Christian, of similar social economic status, etc. Soon after entering college I realized how naive I was concerning those that did not fit into the Rolfe mold. Speaking of naive, we learned to be so friendly and trusting of everyone. Admirable qualities, but not always appropriate in the city.

My purpose is to invite you to think about how having lived in Rolfe played a part in who, what, and where you are today. I've only begun to list the things that one might consider as assets or pitfalls learned from small town living. I hope you add your thoughts to mine. Rural communities are a slice of America that is dwindling, but thank goodness, not forgotten. Rolfe is one of the most important places in the world to me as it is where I, as well as my wonderful parents and siblings, was born and raised.


Mr. Ralph Mortensen, Superintendent of Schools in Rolfe, spent hours trying to convince me that I should go to college. So, I reluctantly filled in choice A on the list of occupational choices for young women that graduated in the mid 1950's The choices were:

A. Teacher
B. Nurse
C. Bride

Thanks to him, I have had the most wonderful job in the world! That of teaching kindergarten. However, after twenty years, enough is enough, no matter how great it is! So, I have started a new phase of my life called, "Do as I darned well please" and so far, I am enjoying it.

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