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Rolfe Memories
Dan Offenburger
Shenandoah, Iowa
Rolfe High School faculty member in the 1960's

So when I began writing these "Rolfe Memories," I was horrified to realize that at first I could not remember Miss Marcumís first name. It must have been "Miss," as in "We all had such respect for her that we couldnít call her anything else." What a magnificent lady!

It is appropriate to mention Miss Edna Marcum at the top of the list of Rolfe thoughts. I always remember what the faculty "word" was on why everyone paid such close attention to this wonderful principal. Standing in front of the RHS study hall, she spoke in the quietest of voices. That required that all students and teachers be quiet, as they strained to hear what she said.

I was a teacher and coach at RHS from 1962 through 1965. This was a time that I married and then later we had our first child. As a bachelor, I joined Coach Jack Head when we rented sleeping rooms from farm widow Anne Weishaar. Having Anne cook our evening meals was like having our own personal mother or grandmother. Virtually every evening, Jack and I found a new way to tease widow Anne about a neighborhood fellow who was an available single.

The relatively young faculty probably lived a life as a sub-culture from the rest of the community. We had our own community center, so to speak. That was at the school building, where most evenings there would be a gathering of people such as Superintendent Chuck Underwood, John Dobrovolny, Keith Maxon, Jack Head, Phil Faaborg, Al Gilbertson, Gene Elder, Tom Farrell and others. Sometimes, it was busy-busy-busy doing school work. Other nights, it was fun and games, with shuffleboard on the chemistry room tables a favorite.

On one occasion, Maxon, Head and I drove a school bus to Des Moines. We packed it with scrap foam rubber from a manufacturing plant. We needed a landing pit for the high jump and pole vault, and thatís how you did it when you didnít have much money in the activity account.

Iíll segue over to the important part of my memoriesÖthe studentsÖby remembering one of my all-time favorite memories of faculty relating to students. We had a students-versus-faculty touch football game on the playground west of the school. I seem to remember Wayne Hopkins or Don Van Gorkom cross body blocking a couple of men teachers into the merry-go-round, and all of us on both teams having a great laugh.

Rolfe kids were great, as students and in later years as adult friends. Perhaps 25 years after I left Rolfe, I apologized to Skip Carlson and Steven Pedersen for not letting them play much in basketball when they were seniors. I had by-passed these two football stars, in favoring of playing underclassmen. "I think I was sacrificing your senior experience to build my personal future," I told them at the reunion. In the final game of the season, circumstances led me to play Skip and Steve, and their maturity let them be stars. I realized then I had made a mistake. When I offered my apology, their answer was, "We wondered if you would ever realize that."

It seems like many of my classes were in the large room at the north end of the second floor. When I would get too noisy, Mr. Underwood would walk down the hall, look in, shake his head and close the doors.

I learned more lessons than I taught. When I was having two-a-day basketball practices during the Christmas holidays, Kenny Bennett said to me one day, "My dad wants to ask you if you realize that two practices today means four round trips to bring me and return me home. Thatís expensive at nine miles one way." The inconvenience for farm kids had never come to my mind.

Some of my best kid experiences came in the summers, when I coached softball and baseball and drove the bus to swimming lessons in Pocahontas. My last summer, we built the new baseball-softball field across the tracks by Duff Petersonís home. What a wonderful gathering of adult volunteers that project was!

On another occasion, I rubbed shoulders with townfolk when I was picked to give the homecoming pep rally speech after a parade on Main Street. Lo and behold, my Shenandoah, Iowa, high school classmate David Shaw came to visit. There is something embarrassing about having a friend from oneís youth on hand when you are being a poor manís Knute Rockne.

On other occasions, I had a great deal of fun giving a series of pep rally talks before games with Pocahontas. My specialty became one of imitating the portly Charlie Weatherwax, who coached many Poky wins with his folksy, ultra-casual style.

I wish I could tell the Rolfe kids, parents and townfolk I knew just how much they meant to me then and since. I would like to name names and recount many experiences. But each one mentioned would leave ten or one hundred yet to join the list. It just isnít possible.

I will close with one anecdote that is a personal favorite.

I felt I had bridged the gap and become personal friends with many people in the Rolfe community. Among the men, we had developed a good bit of give-and-take. They would get on me about coaching decisions. I would kid them about being second-guessers. In my final basketball season, we had a big tournament game on the home floor. I was nervous. The crowd gathered perhaps two hours early, as people made certain they would have a seat. To pass time, I went upstairs to the school office. I wrote out a "Second Guesserís Suggestion Sheet," and ran off about 50 copies. It gave the fans the opportunity to make suggestions: Which defense to open the game? Should we press? What about special plays on jump ball situations? What do we do on offense? I passed them out to men in the crowd. And forgot about the matter.

Forty-five minutes later, pre-game introductions had been completed and I was engrossed in the huddle with the Rams. Important final strategies. And then I felt a tug on my sport coat sleeve. I looked up, and there they were.

Fifty second-guessers stood in line and each one made me accept his completed form, before we could begin the game.

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