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Recalling Bijou Hills

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Pat Surat

Just a few memories....

Wayne and I came back to SD to visit in the spring after we were married in June, 1968…it was around the time that Robert Kennedy was assassinated in California and I remember we listened intently to all the coverage on the radio. We spent a week here and I remember being enchanted with South Dakota and thought we should make a move back here! Dad wasn’t so sure – he said we would make plans to move back in a year or so but I think he thought I’d forget about it. Lisa was born in October of 1968 and we got serious about the move in the beginning of 1969. Had our little U-Haul trailer behind our 1967 Ford car – Lisa in the back seat on top of her crib mattress. Stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Surat for quite a while till we got a trailer set up right at their back door. Moved into the house in the fall of 1976, driest year on record. I went to work as a teacher’s aide 1970 at the colony. Agnes Graves called me and asked if I was interested in the job. Then Alana was born in 1972.  Christi came in 1977, then Jr in 1978. I started the school term before Jr was born but quit after his birth. Linda Hosek was hired to replace me.

I remember the very first time it snowed in the fall of 1969 – ran outside to “play” and feel it – so thrilled! Now, not so much 😊

Enjoyed going to the dances in the late 70’s, early 80’s…often took the kids and they all learned to dance.  Saturday night at the Pukwana Ballroom was the highlight of the week.

Took a few vacations through the years to California and also went to the Hills when we could…Dad’s family all came very often in the summer months to Bijou…spring, summer and fall were busy for Dad on the farm. 

Dad officially “retired” from farming after he sold our cattle several years ago. We are enjoying our retirement but most of all, we treasure the time spent with our kids, grandkids and greatgranddaughter.

Wayne Surat, Jr

In the early 1920’s Bijou Hills had a population of 350 people. The “roaring 20’s” were a very promising period not only to the residents of Bijou Hills, but to the entire United States. There were a number of businesses in Bijou Hills including a pool hall, which my great-uncle Floyd Houska owned, and a small convenience store which my grandparents would soon own. When the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression hit in the 30’s, people started gradually packing up and leaving Bijou Hills. By the 1940-50’s, the population in the town of Bijou Hills was scarce. However, Bijou Hills was still a popular place. The only two businesses in the town - the pool hall and convenience store - attracted several people from around the area during the week and especially during the weekend. My father can remember “the town being full” during the late 40’s and early 50’s. By the 1980’s the pool hall was no longer running but my grandparents still kept the store going. Even I can remember farmers stopping by for a pop and some chips. At the present time, in the actual town of Bijou Hills, only 2 people reside there: my parents Wayne and Pat Surat. My grandma Ruth Surat moved to the Platte Care Center 5 years ago, and we recently celebrated her 102nd birthday.

Ruth Surat

January 2013
The hey day for Bijou Hills was in the 1920s before the bank closed. On Wednesday and Saturday nights you could hardly park your car on Main Street. The barber had to hire another barber in the pool hall to keep up. My brother Floyd Houska ran the pool hall. He had to break up fights every once in awhile. When I was a teenager, I developed osteomyelitis, a bone marrow infection due to the gun metal stockings I wore. I was unable to walk. My brother Bueford Houska carried me to school and my mother packed my wounds with hot carrot poultices. I eventually recovered, and was able to walk.

Wayne Surat

June 2017

Currently being updated as Wayne Surat is long-winded.  Please check back.

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