HJ - Fulk Family Generations of Graduates

Jimmy, Dale, Kalen and Kameron Fulk show off their individualized T-shirts stating which generation they are that graduated from Clarinda High School. The picture was taken Sunday, May 19, when Kameron, the fifth-generation Fulk, received his diploma. The fifth generation was Harrel Fulk. (photo submitted)

Clarinda High has plenty of traditions from Southwest Iowa Band Jamboree to homecoming parades to playing Shenandoah in every sport imaginable.

Having a Fulk family member graduate could be another Clarinda High tradition.

Sunday, Kameron Fulk was the fifth generation of a branch off the Fulk family tree to walk across the stage and receive a Clarinda High diploma.

“It took 97 years for five generations,” said Dale Fulk, a 1973 graduate, and Kameron’s grandfather.

Despite the longevity, the Fulk family is not a Clarinda original. Family history has its first Iowa location near Bloomfield. The Fulk family settled near Clarinda in the late 1800s.

“Harrel was a triplet,” Jimmy said about his father who graduated in 1922. “One died at birth and the other, Pat, dropped out of high school.”

Common at the time, some boys in farm families only went to school through eighth grade. Jimmy said he remembers being told as a kid some German-descent families also did not send their children to high school.

“There was high school initiation back then,” he said about the right of passage for new high school students. “Harrell was cutting corn with a knife and cut himself. He got bandaged but also got out of initiation,” he said. “Pat (who didn’t know what happened to Harrel) said if they were going to treat him like that, he wasn’t going to high school.”

Harrel’s wife, who was Gladys Annan, was one day’s difference in age, but graduated from Clarinda in 1923.

Born in Clarinda, the Annan family lived in Texas during some of Gladys’ school years and eventually returned to Clarinda. School credits in Texas didn’t transfer which forced Gladys to be part of the class of 1923.

Jimmy went to Clarinda High School when the building was located near 12th and East Main streets, where Clarinda school district now parks its buses near the former football field. He finished in 1948.

Jimmy said he and other teammates would walk to the field for football practice from the former middle school, where the library is now.

“You were supposed to run,” Jimmy said with a smile.

“You only run when the coaches were looking,” Dale interrupted with a laugh.

Jimmy played football and was the starting center on the basketball team.

“I weighed 124 pounds,” he smiled. Clarinda played Atlantic, Creston, Shenandoah and was part of the Hawkeye 7 Conference.

“And we always wanted to beat Shenandoah,” he said.

Some things haven’t changed in Clarinda.

Another common strategy with farm families with kids in school is Jimmy lived in town during the school year. The family farm is in East River Township.

“I haven’t ventured far from home,” Jimmy said.

While in school, Jimmy took classes similar to today from vocational agriculture, algebra, English and the sciences.

“There was one semester of typing and one semester of bookkeeping,” Jimmy said.

“Yeah, I know what a typewriter is,” Kameron said defending his generation by dramatically using his finger to demonstrate pushing the keys on a typewriter.

“And you slide it back over,” he said about the part called the carriage.

After high school, Jimmy joined the Air Force but served for about a year. Because of his dad’s declining health, Jimmy was granted a hardship discharge and returned to the family farm which he took over.

“And it’s still out there,” he said.

Jimmy estimated more than 80 students in his graduating class.

The generations of Fulks have shown the difference in enrollment over those years. Dale said he was one of 115 in 1973. Kalen was one of 96. Kameron is one of 72 graduates this year.

Dale’s high school years were part of a change in Clarinda High operations. The class of 1973 was the second class that had ninth, 10th and 11th grades as part of high school. The 1990-1991 school year was the first year ninth grade was at the high school.

“School was school,” Dale said. “I enjoyed it. Forty-six years later we still have an outstanding faculty. They respected us and we respect them.”

What has happened after high school is what has touched Dale.

“Afterward, we became friends. There was Dean Moore, dad knew him,” Dale started to explain. “He taught all my siblings and my kids. Years later, I saw him in a store and greeted him as Mr. Moore. He said, ‘No, I’m just Dean,’ Dale said. “No, to me, you will always be Mr. Moore.”

Moore was from Braddyville.

Dale said there are others from his high school years who are still in town or the area from Gordon Kokenge, Jean Negley, Bob Briggs, Richard Mowery, Carol Batten, Harryette Larson, Bill Lawrence and Betty Black.

Like his father, Dale also took traditional classes including vocational agriculture, accounting “it was called bookkeeping back then,” and business law. At the time, Clarinda High also offered Latin taught by Alice Howland.

Dale was also in school when the country was involved in Vietnam.

“That was not an issue with my classmates,” Dale said. “The draft had ended when we got out of school. The military was not an option, but not mandatory,” he said.

Dale said his high school years was also when many in Clarinda wen to “scoop the loop.” People would drive through town mingling with others also driving. But there was a route to take.

“There was an A&W where PCSB is now on South 16th. We went north on 16th, down Washington to the former Super Valu, turned around, and went back the same route,” he said. “A&W had a big enough parking lot you could pull over and talk to your friends and enemies.”

Kalen Fulk, a 2000 Clarinda High graduate, said he saw how advances in technology influenced high school education and the town itself.

“The Internet was just getting into school. We had big iMac computers,” he said. “Today it’s nothing but computers.”

Clarinda school district finished the second of three years phasing in computer tablets to students. The middle school started in the fall of 2017. The high school finished their first year and Garfield Elementary will receive the tablets next school year.

If it was not computers, Kalen said “Car phones, not cell phones, were just getting started. People had bag phones,” he said about the portable telephone that was in a carrying case about the size of a loaf of bread.

Kalen claims the scoop the loop route was not exactly the same route as what his dad drove.

“We’d start near where Runza is now. Subway was in there too. There was always a crowd. You’d go up 16th to where Johnson Tire used to be. Then go east of the post office on your way to Kum and Go,” he described.

The one of three siblings, Kalen said he was the only one who did not get a school permit to drive.

“Mean old dad didn’t get him one,” Dale laughed.

Kalen added to his dad’s explanation.

“My older brother Reg had one. I didn’t get to drive to school like my younger sibling did. The school didn’t move. I didn’t move. But younger sister Molly got one,” he said.

Kalen had finished school by the time Molly received her school permit.

Kalen and his classmates grew up as they evolved from riding bicycles to driving cars.

“When you found bikes on front lawns, you found your friends,” he said remembering his grade school days.

Kalen graduated before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Gas was $1.01 before all of that,” he said. “Gas went high after that and it may have ended scoop the loop.”

Kameron has had some of the same experiences the others had in high school.

“It’s gone by fast,” he said about his high school years. “Like grandpa said, we still want to beat Shen.”

Although the Clarinda-Shenandoah rivalry may not be as strong as it was during Kalen’s or Dale’s time in school, Kalen said people can change and other things become more important.

“I know of rivals who became very good friends after school,” he said.

The 2019 Fulk graduate has taken colleges classes through Skype, a program where students and the instructor are in different places, but communicate through monitors and speakers.

“Last year was pencil-and-paper. This year, it’s the iPads. I feel for the kids who don’t have a Bluetooth keyboard,” he said.

Kameron does not remember writing cursive since third grade.

“You don’t have to write your name in cursive on checks,” he asked.

Kameron is considering vocational school to learn about climate-control systems and plumbing. Continuing to live in Clarinda is also preferred.

“There is a certain number who wanted out of Clarinda,” Dale said. “They got married, had kids, some come back and realized Clarinda was not a bad place to be. I’m sure every class through history has experienced that.”

Kameron wants to provide the sixth generation of the Fulk family to earn a Clarinda High diploma.

“I hope there is another generation. I hope so. I want to stay around here.”

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