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Islea Ricklefs Graeber
Countryside Condominiums #305
1102 St. Luke Drive; Spencer, Iowa 51301
Rolfe High School Class of 1939

It's been a long time since I strolled the halls of ole' Rolfe High. Having lived on the farm south of town my fondest recollections of those years are the joy of reading and studying by electric light and using bathroom facilities with running water. And it was there as a freshman that I met Jerry - a town boy. We kept company for six years and married on August 5, 1942. It was the very day he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and pilotís wings in the U.S.A.A.F.

Electricity via the R.E.A. came to the farm the fall of 1939 after I had left for college. I was enrolled for classes at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls (now U.N.I.) in the Kindergarten-Primary Curriculum. From there I went on to teach first and second grades at Rembrandt, Iowa for 90 dollars a month or 810 dollars for the nine-month contract. From that I was able to save $300 and repay $300 of my college debt. Following WWII, I taught first grade at Rolfe. Alice Mortensen (the Superintendent's wife) and I were the first married women on the faculty. Because of the teacher shortage the school board had to reverse its policy of hiring only single women.

My love of English, Language, and Grammar was and still is a great influence in my life. Perhaps my fine high school instructors (the Misses Hendrickson, Teiteman, Wilson and Marcum) instilled in me the joy of the printed word.

When the most recent Pocahontas County History book was being assembled in the 1970's, I contributed the biographies of the Ricklefs, Bendixen, and Graeber families. From this my writing endeavors were sparked. I developed the family tree histories for my son Steven and daughter Marsha. I then began writing special letters to special people for special occasions.

Beginning in 1980 when my only grandchild (Heather Swanson) was born, I noted each year's progress and activities and put them in letter form for each birthday. These were developed into a story line such as "Life Is A Journey", "Life's Many Doors", "Life is Like a River," or "Life Is Like a Vapor Trail." Just this past birthday after she left home for college I used the theme "Life in the Bigger Pond." These letters are kept in a beautifully bound book. Years from now as she reads them, I hope she says, "Wow."

Other special letters have gone to family and friends on their fiftieth birthdays. So many folk dread this milestone. For me, reaching 50 was an outstanding time in the period of growing older. We are thought of being middle-aged, but how many of us can expect to see 100? One thing is certain. We have enjoyed more yesterdays than there will be tomorrows.

I maintain the sixth decade of oneís life is the greatest! At 50, most of us are still blessed with minds that think clearly and bodies that move freely. Many of our responsibilities are diminished. The children are grown, away at college or on their own. With any common sense planning, financial stability should be established. Social life should be rewarding with a circle of friends sharing common interests or diversions whether it be at the bridge table, dance floor, golf course, bowling alley, bingo parlor, or library. (Heaven forbid the gaming casinos) There should be time for traveling, hobbies, reading or advanced study, dining out and just plain contentment.

By this time in life one needs to be watching more sunsets and looking for the rainbows, taking more walks in the woods or fields or just down a country gravel road. One needs to appreciate silence, the comfort of soft voices and gentle handshakes.

I've lived through the sixth decade--would that I could once more. By the seventh it takes a little more effort to climb those stairs and to see the printed page or hear the sounds from all around or just keep up with everyday demands. Life expectancy has so extended since early in the century that we marvel at how well we cope. We could term this era of rapid technology advancement, the "Age of Bewilderment."

Those who are now enjoying their fifties are famous as the "baby boomers" (born following WWII when all the fellows returned from having served their country.) So you are prime to take the time to enjoy the fun and camaraderie of the upcoming R.H.S. Alumni Reunion. BE THERE!!!

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