Nunns resurrect town’s old Alaska totem pole

Margaret Nunn courtesy photo

The town’s totem pole during its spring makeover.

Council woman Margaret Nunn shows her joy for the guardian she calls Mr. Totem Pole April 7. (Cinthia Stimson / The Glenrock Independent photo)

Cinthia Stimson,

By Cinthia Stimson


Not quite a year ago, Margaret Nunn was taking one of her customary daily constitutionals through her town when she took a look at the old totem pole on the corner of S. 4th Street and W. Cedar and thought to herself, ‘What a sad piece of artwork in our community.’

The totem pole, at least 70 years old but likely more, is reportedly from the coast of Alaska’s rainforest and was brought to Glenrock by former pharmacist Clinton Hooley, according to Glenrock Mayor Bruce Roumell.

After seven decades at home  in the community (and who knows how old it was before it even landed in eastern Wyoming) time had definitely taken it’s toll. The totem needed some tender loving care in the form of filling in old cracks, some new wood here and there, and new paint, and Nunn, who is on the town council, decided she was the woman to see that it would happen.

“I have always loved the totem pole. I went to council and asked them who wanted to volunteer to be on the totem pole committee?” Margaret said.

The other council members, Roy Kincaid, John Moulton, Boots Faunce, and the mayor, were all on board with the idea. Margaret’s husband, Bob Nunn, volunteered to be on the committee (little did he know at the time he would be ‘the’ committee).

Originally, Margaret said she thought students at the high school might like to take the restoration project on, however, it turned out the pole needed more work than anticipated.

“I had no idea it was going to be such a big project, but it was kind of the students to offer. Then public works took the totem pole to the old Sharps building, which turned out to be full of good lighting, was warm, and had a place for Bob and I to wash the paint brushes. My husband said there was a lot of damage to repair. He filled the bad cracks in and repaired it, then we scraped it and cleaned it.

“Then it was ready for a paint job! We had several coats of primer, then two coats of colors. I know it had been painted at least twice before, as we chipped off two different layers of colors. People asked me if I was going to paint it in traditional colors, but I wanted something bright and sunny. Bob fixed the wings, too, and attached them better. The totem pole has a strawberry-red head – he’s probably the only totem pole in the world with a head that color! Bob didn’t pick that color, I did,” Margaret chuckled, obviously delighted with her attention-getting choice.

Margaret remembers when the pole used to stand in front of the drugstore back in the 70s.

“It was there in 1972 and 1976, when my children were born. I imagine the totem pole has seen many new babies grow up in Glenrock. I am so happy he’s there again for our town’s future – for another 100 years.

It was then that resident and former town building inspector Scott Gilbert designed and built a new base for the pole, so the repaired wood at the bottom wouldn’t have to sit in the ground again, where, over time, it could rot.

“I am so thankful for Scott. The permanent base and plate he designed will prevent moisture from getting into it and, if it needs to be moved in the future, it can be, without damaging the pole,” she said.

The town crew very gently placed the pole back on it’s customary corner March 17.

What originally started as a little freshening-up project for the standing piece of art history turned into a labor of love for Margaret and Bob.

“Do you know how to be happy? Paint a totem pole with your husband, then go home and have a cup of coffee. My husband and I spent many happy hours this last winter painting the pole together on  winter’s days. Now it’s up again for other people to see and create memories with,” she said.


Glenrock Independent

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