Dorothy Maris "Dorotha" Spear
Last updated 22 Dec 2021 in Spear–Johnson Family.
Born: 31 Jan 1927 in Draper, Jones County, South Dakota, United States
Died: 10 Oct 2020 in Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Father: Kenneth Maris Spear (1891 – 1975)
Mother: Ethel Caroline Marshall (1895 – 1995)
Spouse/Partner: James "Jim" Lester Dickey (1926 – bef 2009)
Married: 30 Jun 1946 in Murdo, Jones County, South Dakota, United States
Graduation: (Murdo High School) 1945 at Murdo, Jones County, South Dakota, United States
School: (Southern Normal School (Summer Session)) 1945 at Springfield, Bon Homme County, South Dakota, United States
Employer: (Newberry's Department Store) Bet 1962 and 1965 at Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Employer: (Gambles) Bet 1965 and 1973 at Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: 1 Apr 1930 at Lincoln Township, Jones County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: 1 Apr 1935 at Lincoln Township, Jones County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: 1 Apr 1940 at Lincoln Township, Jones County, South Dakota, United States
Occupation: (teacher) Abt 1945
Residence: 30 Jun 1946 at Murdo, Jones County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: Abt 1948 at Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: Abt 1949 at Piedmont, Meade County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: Bet 1949 and 1952 at , Custer County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: Aft 1952 at Caputa, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: 29 Oct 1995 at Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: 3 Mar 2008 at Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Residence: Sep 2009 at Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Maris' History (Depression Stories, Dorotha Dickey)
[This story was written by Dorothy Maris (Spear) Dickey. It was one of several responses to a request for stories (for a class project) about living during the Great Depression.]
On a cold snowy winter night on the last day of January in 1927, Dorotha Maris Dickey came into the family of Ethel and Kenneth Spear.
She came home to Draper, South Dakota to be greeted by 2 older sisters and grandparents and aunts and uncles.
She grew up on the farm, and attended grade school at Lincoln Crest Rural School and attended Murdo High School, graduating in 1945. She attended Southern Normal School at Springfield, South Dakota so she could teach school. It was during the war and they were desperate for teachers so a person could teach school with just a summer's session of college.
I remember the depression quite well. I was about 6– 7 years old when the wind blew unceasingly, tearing the good top soil from the fields and the rain wouldn't come so everything withered and the dams dried up.
Dad did all he could to keep us fed and warm. We had a big house that was well built, so it was warm but I remember the snow coming and blowing into huge drifts between the barn and the house. We made tracks to the barn and then used these tracks all winter long.
I also remember there being no grass or crops; my dad cut Russian thistles while they were green and stacked them for feed. Stacking them green made them about like silage, and the cattle loved them. That saved our herd.
We had to haul our drinking water as the well we had was very hard water and the soap would just gum up when you tried to use it. My uncle ran a water truck and he would bring us 400– 500 gallons at a time, and put it in our cistern. We had a hand pump in the basement, so we only had to go down stairs to get water.
On Saturday night, which was bath night, Mom set up the round wash tub, and filled it half full of warm water and the bath procession began. First, Grace, the youngest, took a bath, then I took a bath, and next was Eva, then Cora and finally Mom and Dad took their turn. We just added more hot water for each person.
I stayed in the dormitory in Murdo to go to high school. The folks would take us in on Sunday night and then pick us up on Friday night to go back to the farm to help out over the weekend. This was the time that I met and fell in love with Jim Dickey. He walked across the school room and I leaned over and told the gal across from me that "I am going to marry that guy!"[sic] She just looked at me and "NO" you aren't. I fooled her.
This went on for my four years of school. I had part-time jobs after school, house cleaning, and also fixed hair to help my expenses. There was little time for play. It was during the war so there was no extra activity at the school. We helped a couple times when the whole town did an "iron picking up" day for war use.
One of the things I remember best is that we never went hungry. My Mother was a good cook, and knew how to make the same thing taste different for each meal.
I also remember that my Dad worked for the WPA one year. He would leave early Monday morning with a four horse team and work helping build dams for the week. The next year, he broke his leg when his horse slipped and fell so he was laid up for a couple months. Between Cora staying out of school that year, and my Uncle Ed, they kept the farm going until he healed. That year, Mother got a job sewing in the WPA sewing room in Murdo and drove there daily, taking Grace, the youngest, with her. She was a very talented sewer, and made our plain clothes special with little things sewed on them, or a fancy collar or something. And they always fit! She usually made each of us a nice heavy jumper or dress for winter, and would put a lace collar on it. We would wear these dresses all winter along with the long legged underwear for warmth.
My Mother always had a large garden behind the house and we would can the produce and put it in our storage room in the basement. It looked so nice to go down there and see the shelves lined with beautiful jars of food. We also butchered beef and pork for our own use. She canned meat, put meat in a crock with lard over it for storage, and usually had the hams smoked or cured. They hung in the garage to cure. Then she took them to Murdo and had the meat market slice them. So good.
We had very little entertainment; no money for movies or anything. Dad belonged to the Farmers Union there in the community, and they provided parties for families during the winter and ice cream socials in the summer. They always had a big picnic on the Fourth of July. Then on Sundays, we would go to Draper to church, another part of our education.
I left the family fold after I graduated from high school and taught school for a year. During this year, my parents decided to sell the farm and move away. My dad had catarrh, which we call asthma or allergies nowadays and he had to get out of the dusty land. Also, his health deteriorated, and they moved to Hot Springs and bought a motel where they made some money for the first time in their married life. I did not go there as I was teaching, then decided to get married instead of checking out life in Hot Springs. I lived in Murdo the first 3 years of our marriage, then Jim was offered a job as an electrician's helper, so Jim, Janice Marie (our little girl), and I moved to Rapid City.
Being a rural minded boy, Jim was not happy living in a big city so after a couple years he found a job on a dairy farm about 20 miles out of Rapid City. We stayed there for about 18 months and during that time we endured the big forest fire of 1948. That was scary. Hal was waiting to be born and to this day, I think that forest fire marked him. He has an arrow shaped area on his chest that is dark and the rest of his skin was lighter. Soon after that we moved to Custer State Park and he worked there for a couple years, doing all kinds of work including hunting elk and buffalo for the locker plant.
By this time we had 3 little tots, Janice, Larry, and Hal and in 1952 Jo Ann was born, early, and only weighed 3 pounds 10 ounces. I put her in a shoe box to bring her home, she was so short. But she never quit growing.
From there, we took a leap of faith, and went 30 miles or so north of New Underwood onto a ranch down on the Belle Fourche River. It was way out of the way, and a long ways from school but we stayed most of the winter there. Then I couldn't take it any more so I went to the employment office and talked to the man there, and after a few minutes, he said I have a place to have Jim go; I haven't sent anyone out there yet, as I wanted a special kind of person to go there. We went there, and Carl Ham hired him. We stayed almost 20 years.
We moved to Caputa and went to work at Hams Dairy where we stayed for over 20 years. It was a sad day when we had to leave there, due to Jim hurting his back and having to get out of the wet dairy barn. The kids said "how can we ever go home again?" But we moved into Rapid Valley and Jim went to work for the water company there. We stayed close friends to the Hams to this day.
We moved to Rapid City, and Jim went to work at the Rapid Valley Water Company and finally bought the Rapid Valley Hatchery where he stayed until his health made him get out of there. Janice and Larry took it over, and they are doing very well with it. I am sure Jim is smiling down on them.
I went to work in Newberry's Department Store from 1962 until 1965 when I got another job and better pay, at the Gamble Store. I stayed there for 8 great years. I quit when Jim bought the hatchery, as he needed me to help him there.
Jo, our other daughter, was looking for a job, so I got a chance to go to work out at the Mall, so I let her have the Hatchery job, and I went there to work,. I stayed there for 10 years. Retiring in 1990, I have just done part time work here and there since. But wished I could work more, as I enjoy working and the people.
Jim had bought a house down the road from the hatchery and we moved there in May 1991. I am still there, doing volunteer work for a pastime.
Life has been hard, but good for me. I expect to spend at least another 10 years or so before I leave this earth for a better home in heaven. I am now 83 years old and pretty good health so I will make it!
General Notes and Anecdotes
Though her given name was Dorothy Maris, as an adult she would often go by the name Dorotha or Maris. In her own early life story, she calls herself Dorotha. [story-depression-stories-dorotha-dickey, (multiple sources)]
Research Notes (Conflicts/Spelling/Followup)
The Great Depression story by Dorotha Dickey follows the same sequence of movement from Murdo to Rapid City to Piedmont to Custer State Park as other sources, but the timeline not only differs from other sources, but is also internally inconsistent. (She notes a move to Rapid City after 3 years so marriage [so, about 1949] and a couple of years later [so, about 1951] to a farm 20 miles outside of Rapid City [corresponds to Piedmont] where they stayed for about 18 months. However, while in Piedmont she notes enduring the "big forest fire of 1948." If the move to Rapid City was about two years into the marriage, the dates would line up better, but the "couple of years" before the move to Piedmont would need investiagtion. However, this inconsistency would affect every relative date. [story-depression-stories-dorotha-dickey]
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