Things you can learn in Kadoka

While the State of South Dakota would be visible from a space station and the town of Kadoka would seem no larger than a fleck of dust, this state and that little town share the values that all human beings cherish, but to which most pay mere lip service.

My immigrant grandmother moved to Kadoka around 1920 and operated a general store there until the late 1930s.  She was a very religious  Jew.  She had three daughters and a son who became my father.  With one brief exception, a family named Margolies, my family was the only minority religion in a town that practiced Christianity as I have come to understand and appreciate it.  They loved her, and she loved them.

When my Grandmother learned that in the town of Martin the businesses would charge Indians 10% of their $25 monthly allotment check for cashing the check and using it for merchandise, she thought it was not the right thing to do.   Word got out that there was a different kind of woman running a store in Kadoka who would not charge that 10% fee.   People drove 60 miles in open wagons and cold weather to grandmother’s store to save that 10%.  She learned to speak Lakota – just as she did English – both with a Yiddish accent.

Grandma ate only kosher foods, and observed the Shabbat (sabbath) strictly.  This meant no work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  Seems hard to imagine for a small shopkeeper.  You’d think that might have been impossible in that time and place, but she managed, with the help of neighbors and the help of a sister in Des Moines who sent her canned kosher meat.

I’ll continue this story in the coming days.  In the meantime, what stories would you like to share about your family’s early days in SD?

7 thoughts on “Things you can learn in Kadoka

  1. That’s a great story and it’s incredibly important to preserve our South Dakota history because so much is lost. Jean’s father Capt. Frank Soutar was involved at Camp Lodge and Camp Custer with the CCC….he was also Gov. Gunderson’s highway commissioner….as Gov. Gunderson was his father-in-law…..anyway, the first day Ben Munson,….later Dr. Benjamin Munson, MD…his first day at the CCC camp Ben goes into the office where he sees whom he’s later know to be my grandfather, Capt. Soutar. Ben says: “I’d like to talk to the head man.” As Ben told it, my grandfather looked at him and said “I’m the big nuts around here.” We don’t often have direct quotes from history, but this tells me alot about my Grandfather Capt. Frank James Soutar originally from Spearfish….whom I never met. A few words can be remembered and tell us alot about people. Thanks for sharing the story about your Grandmother….an obviously wise lady.

  2. Thank you for this glimpse of your family history and also a bit of South Dakota history as well. When we hear each other’s storieswe think less about how different we are from one another and we learn how much we all have in common. I find the comments and the stories therein also very interesting. My dad was in the CC’s during the 30’s and that piece about Ben Munson, Gentle Ben, was also very interesting. Good to hear his name again! Thank you.

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