Dirks Family

History and Genealogy

Marcella Eileen Dirks

By Gretchen Dirks

Marcella Eileen Dirks arrived (born) at the Marshall Farm near Fonda on July 20, 1929. Just in time for dinner. It was on a Saturday night at as busy time when threshing as going one. Her hair was dark and an inch long. She had 3-sisters and 4-brothers to welcome her. She was baptized that fall in the Evangelical Church in Pomeroy.

When she was a half-year-old she went with me to Chicago on an excursion over Labor Day. That was only $4 round trip from Fonda to Chicago in those days. She cried and cried and we couldn't do a thing with her. She much have been terribly scarred but as soon as we got back home and see seen Brownie (the dog) it was all over and she was glad to be home.

She was a real climber and crawled on top of everything and sure rough. She would fall and get hurt every time. She started to walk when she was 1-year old.

She was daddy's little girl. He bought her a nice red hat when she was real small and to the barn she went with the rest of the kids. One of the cows got after her and that scared them all. Another time she fell into the stock tank and about drowned, lucky an older brother (Fred) was there to pull her out.

She started to school when she was 5-years old, had her tonsils taken out when she was 10-years old and they grew back, and had to have it done all over.

Don Piercy, Sr.

The Don Piercy Sr. of Newell speaks about his life, a slogan that may visit describe it is surely "Been there, done that."
As printed in the Buena Vista County Journal, January 21,1998

Don, age 68, is a lifelong resident of Newell, IA and has experienced many aspects of life growing up in a small rural Iowa. His bubbly personality, easy-going character, and his distinctive laugh are well known among the residents of the Newell community.

Don grew up in rural Newell. His father, Ernest patch farmed and hauled mail from the post office to the train depot.

'Sometimes when school was called off in the middle of the day because of bad weather, I would have to do the mail route for dad,' Don commented all bright eyed. 'I remember one time around Christmas the mail pouch was so full, that it was to heavy for me to hang it up for the train to grab it. I can still see the train passing me by as I stood beside the track with the bag in my hand,' laughed Don. 'All I could do was wave as it went by.*

Don graduated from the Newel Public School in 1947. Soon afterwards, at the age of i8, he as asked by the school if he would like a job driving his car around to pick up kids for school, since the school bus was not big enough to accommodate everyone. "This really raised quite a stir with one of the parents because of my age," stated Don matter of-factly. "We had a big meeting over this at the school after my route, but we got things ironed out and I continued picking up kids in my car.'

In 1948 Don's uncle, Herb Piercy, retired from bus driving for the school after several years of service, giving Don the opportunity to take over the regular bus route with a full size bus. He continued working for the school through 1951.

In 1950 Don met Marcella, 'a Varina girl', at a dance at Cobblestone in Storm Lake. The two were married a few short months later and will soon be celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary this coming October.

In 1951 Don decided to take up farming so the couple moved to an acreage northeast of Fonda. In 1954 the couple purchased a acreage west of Newell where they farmed unlit 1962. Don's farming endeavors found him raising approximately 20 milk cows, 30 stock cows, some hogs, calves and one horse over the years. 'We never had any sheep." stated Don laughing in his familiar carefree manner, 'I thought we had our hands full with what we had.'

In his free time from farming, Don also hauled and delivered coal around the Newell area. '"Virge Minden had fallen and broken his leg while working in the lumber yard," shrugged Don. "He usually made the coal deliveries for the folks in the area, so l just filled in for him while he was laid up, Marcella also helped."

In the winter of 1957-1958 this kind-hearted man also helped out Hanson Produce located where the vacant lot now sits north of Olsen-Culp.) "I cradled eggs and also ran the pick-up route for eggs and cream," commented Don. "I usually did this after I did all the chores in the morning and tried to get done before it was time to do the evening chores.'

In 1962 times were getting a little tough our on the farm with falling prices, so Don accepted a job at the Newel Elevator driving the feed truck. "I delivered feed for eight years, "Don recalled. "Then in 1970 they offered me the position as feed plant manager." "I took George Bringle's place there and he moved into office,' Don continued. "I worked there for the next 20 years, until I retired. That's where I got the nickname 'Doc'," "Farmers used to call in an say "hey do you have something to put in the feed for this, or, my hogs need a little of that. They called me 'Doc' because of the medicine I could add to the feed," he chuckled. "I still answer to that today, too.'

During his years at the elevator Don also helped his brother-in-law Bill Wessendorf, at the Standard Station. He joined the Newell Fire Department in 1964, where he served for 26 years. "One of the most interesting fires I remember was when the Storm Lake Department called for our assistance with a fire at the Super American Station by the late,": Don said "We drove the old Ford Truck over and were just up to the cemetery when the gas tanks blew and a ball of fire went into the sky." "All we could do was set up and pump water out of the lake to try and keep things cool," recalled Don. "We were there for several hours."

Other memories included several rescue calls involved cars hitting the train before the lights were put up at the intersection of M54 and the train pile-up behind the elevator in 1966. "Baldy Jensen and I sat up all night with the fire truck watching the cars to make sure there were no ammonia leaks or fires breaking out." Don mentioned. "One car jumped the track causing them just to pile on top of each other. They were all refrigerator cars except for the one car load of cattle in the middle of them all. The cattle ended up having to be shot. It was quite an evening."

In the spring of 1972 Don and Marcella brought Wallen's Variety Store that was located where the present Post Office is. They renamed the business Piercy's Variety and so relocated across the street due to the expansion of the band and post office. "Marcella did most of the work at the store," commented Don, "We had a good business for 12 years, but the turning point was the opening of Gibson's Department Store in Storm Lake. People were good to us, but we just couldn't compete with the big businesses."

Don also served 12 years on the Newell City Council, as a member of the First Congregational Church Board and taught high school Sunday school for years.

In 1990 health problems caused this vibrate man into early retirement from the elevator after 28 years in the feed department, and also retirement from the fire department. "My hip was giving me a lot of problems," stated Don. "But I've been feeling pretty good since they gave me a new one. I'm so thankful that I can go like I do now."

Don's early retirement now finds him opening the E&L Cafe in Newel for five days a week at 6.00 a.m. "I just came in for coffee one day and got up and started pouring coffee and helping out because they were busy, and the rest is history." Don said laughing once again. "It keeps me up and going."

The energetic young-at-heart man doesn't stop with his work at the cafe, he is also known as the man about town who helps some of the elderly people with various aspects of life. "Oh, I keep busy driving people to the doctor, running errands, checking tires, getting groceries, just a little of this and that," stated the humble man. "It's something I enjoy doing for people." "You should see the seat of my pickup, I've got notes all over so I don't forget to do something."

It still doesn't stop there. Don also helps out the City of Newell by driving garbage truck when needed and he also assists the emergency services by driving trucks to get repaired and he has also hauled water on occasion during fires when the department was short handed.

Don is the man about town. Rarely is he seen without a smile on his face that soon infects all around him. He is always concerned about others and the welfare of the community.

The biggest change he has noticed to the town is the decreasing number of businesses on Main Street.. "In the 50's there were businesses everywhere," he recalled. "We had a jeweler, three to four barbers, three restaurants, three to four pool halls, a beer joint where Witzke's Repair is now located, one where Farmers Option is and then of course Louie's Tavern." "We had a big stockyard by the tracks, just east of the lumberyard." Don continued. 'We've lost a lot of ground, like most other small towns. It would sure be nice if we could at least get someone to move into the old Standard Station again.

Don continues to find jobs of everyday life. He brings a smile to the faces of all he meets. He remembers where he came from and continues to help the community and its residents to look at the brighter side of things and to live everyday to it's fullest.

"Marcella and I sit and think about where we've been and what we've done," reflected Don with a thoughtful look in his eyes. "The world's just turning so fast, and before we know it, it's the weekend again."

"This has been a nice place for us to raise our three kids, and to experience all that life has to offer," he concluded with a smile.