West Sioux / Siux Oeste

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

OUR WALL-MOUNTED MATCH HOLDER (click here) came from West Sioux Hardware in Sioux Falls (specifically West Sioux Falls), South Dakota. West Sioux Falls is an area of the city of Sioux Falls, the largest city in the state of South Dakota, with a current population of around 177,000. When San Geraldo was growing up there, the population was around 60,000 — and it was still the largest city in the state. West Sioux Falls was fondly known by locals as West Soo. SG didn’t realize until he was well out of short pants that the name wasn’t Wessoo.

The store began life as a grocery and then expanded to become an everything store: Groceries, hardware, farm supplies, feed, and more. Their motto was something to the effect of “If you can’t find it at West Sioux Hardware, it probably doesn’t exist.” During the 1930s, even the area post office was housed in the grocery store.

SG’s grandfather and great-uncle both worked at the store; as did his mother, who was the bookkeeper; his mother’s best friend; and SG himself in later years. SG started making the window signs for the grocery when he was 12; yes, he was underage, worked illegally, and got paid off the books. After his great-grandfather retired, even he spent hours there “minding the store”.

SG’s grandparents had the matchbox hanging on their basement wall next to the old gas heater. We’ve had it for years and finally I decided it needed to be displayed instead of hanging on a hook in our kitchen hidden among the utensils, so I mounted it on the terrace. I looked for small dried flowers, especially dried lavendar but was unsuccessful. So, I filled the matchbox holder (temporarily) with plastic lavendar from a local bazaar.

When I was at L’Occitane a few weeks ago, I found the shop to be teeming with dried flowers. Little yellow balls and clusters of lavendar everywhere. I told the salesperson I had been looking for lavendar for ages. She was elated and ran to the back of the shop. I thought she’d return with a little cluster of yellow and lavendar dried flowers. But she returned with a large box, which she excitedly opened to show me what was inside. It was a free gift with purchase (I had of course spent enough). A wall planter with all I need to grow my own lavendar.

Not quite what I had in mind, but I didn’t have the heart to say I simply wanted a free handful of dried lavendar and whatever those yellow flowers were. And I’m supposed to be a ballsy New Yorker. Now I have to spread my seed and grow my own (lavendar, not balls).


NUESTRO PORTA CAJA PARA FÓSFOROS (haz clic aquí) vino de la Ferretería de West Sioux en Sioux Falls [Cascada Siux], Dakota del Sur. West Sioux Falls es un área de la ciudad de Sioux Falls, la ciudad más grande del estado de Dakota del Sur con una población de 177,000. Cuando San Geraldo estaba creciendo allí, la población era de alrededor de 60,000, y seguía siendo la ciudad más grande del estado. West Sioux Falls fue conocido con cariño por los lugareños como West Soo. SG no hizo hasta que estuvo fuera de los pantalones cortos que el nombre no era Wessoo.

La tienda comenzó la vida como una tienda de comestibles y luego se expandió para convertirse en una tienda de todo: comestibles, ferretería, suministros agrícolas, alimentación, y más. Su lema era algo al efecto de “Si no puedes encontrarlo en West Sioux Hardware, probablemente no existe.” Durante la década de 1930, incluso la oficina de correos del área se encontraba en la tienda de comestibles.

El abuelo de SG y un hermano (un tío abuelo) ambos trabajaron en la tienda; al igual que su madre, que era el contable; la mejora amiga de su madre; y SG mismo en años posteriores. SG comenzó a hacer las señales de las ventanas para la tienda de comestibles cuando tenía 12 años. Sí, fue menor de edad, trabajó ilegalmente, y se pagó fuera de los libros. Después de que su bisabuelo se jubiló, incluso él pasó horas allí “ocupándose de la tienda”.

Los abuelos de SG tenían la caja de fósforos colgando en su muralla del sótano junto al antiguo calentador de gas. Lo hemos tenido durante años y, finalmente, decidí que debía mostrarse en lugar de colgar en un gancho en nuestra cocina oculta entre los utensilios, así que lo monté en la terraza. Busqué pequeñas flores secas, especialmente lavanda seca, pero no tuve éxito. Entonces, llené la porta caja (temporalmente) con lavanda de plástico de un bazar local.

Cuando estaba en L’Occitane hace unas semanas, encontré que la tienda estaba llena de flores secas. Pequeñas bolas amarillas y racimos de lavanda en todas partes. Le dije a la vendedora que había estado buscando lavanda para las edades. Ella fue eufórica y corrió hacia atrás de la tienda. Pensé que ella volvería con un pequeño grupo de flores secas de amarillo y lavanda. Pero ella regresó con una caja grande, que abrió con entusiasmo para mostrarme lo que estaba dentro. Fue un regalo gratuito con la compra (por supuesto, pasé lo suficiente). Una maceta de pared con todo lo que necesito para hacer crecer mi propia lavanda.

No es lo que tenía en mente, pero no tenía el corazón para decir que simplemente quería un puñado libre de lavanda seca y lo que eran esas flores amarillas. Y se supone que debo ser un neoyorquino con cojones. ¡Ahora tengo que esparcir mi semilla y cultivar la mía (lavanda, no cojones).

• Before it grew into West Sioux Hardware (and everything else).
• Antes de que se convirtiera en Ferretería de West Sioux (y todo lo demás).
• Left: San Geraldo’s great-uncle Jack. Around 1915.
• Izquierda: El tío abuelo de San Geraldo. Alrededor de 1915.
• Hardware, Farm Seeds, Feeds and Farm Supplies, Work Clothing, Wisconsin Engines & Parts.
• Ferretería, semillas de la granja, fuentes y suministros agrícolas, ropa de trabajo, Motores Wisconsin & Piezas.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

30 thoughts on “West Sioux / Siux Oeste”

  1. What a story this little green tin match box has! I think that is why I have always loved hearing the ‘story behind the item’. I can see why SG kept this all these years as he is part of its legacy. Probably why I got into the antiques business in the first place.
    Thanks for this history. Much appreciated.

    1. Jim:
      I’m the same. I love the stories behind personal treasures. Even a simple tin matchbox becomes special.

  2. Love the old photos. The top one reminds me of the small farm town in Western Minnesota that I became familiar with in the early 1970s (about 140 miles NW of West Soo). It looks pretty much like the town I knew–only the age of the cars is different–the angled parking was/is still a thing. The town also had the same kind of hardware store–on Main Street (actual name)–owned for generations by the same family. You could find anything in that store. Since I love hardware stores, I spent a great deal of time wandering up and down those worn wooden-floored aisles, with shelves reaching up the 12′ ceiling, looking at items that had probably been in inventory since the 30s. A real treasure trove. Only a memory now–like all too many of the Midwest farm towns since ravaged by corporate farming takeovers.

    1. Mary:
      I, too, love hardware stores — especially those old-style stores. I could spend hours in them. Here, the traditional hardware store has a front counter that keeps you from browsing the aisles. You have to ask for what you want. SO disappointing. I have rarely passed a vintage hardware store without browsing.

  3. What a great story and even better used of the matchbox. Im surprised you didn’t use a croc? Bwahahahahahaha

    1. Mistress Borghese:
      I hadn’t thought of Crocs. I could do an entire wall in a rainbow of Crocs and fill them all with dried flowers! Or YOU could!!!

  4. Love the bit of history and using the matchbox for something new.
    Carlos’ favorite scent is lavender and every time I smell it I think of him,

    1. Bob:
      Lavendar is a scent that always reminds me of grandmothers (in a good way). Now I’ll think of Carlos, too.

  5. I’ve heard of Sioux Falls, SD! Never been there though. Love the old tin matchbox — my grandma and everyone else had one of those on their walls when I was young. They were handy too! Putting lavender (real or otherwise) in yours is such a great idea!

    1. Debra:
      SG was the first person I ever met from South Dakota. A typical New Yorker’s (NYC) joke was that no one actually lived in North or South Dakota. They just had to fill space on the map. When I met SG in Boston, I had friends who immediately said, “South Dakota? People are actually FROM there?” I remember those match holders from my childhood, too.

  6. Oh, that lavender (plastic or not, really, who cares) looks beautiful against the green of the box, and the history is fabulous!

    1. Judy C:
      Yeah, at a glance the plastic lavendar doesn’t look bad. Still, I would love dried lavendar (and the addition of the yellow ball flowers would be nice, too). I planted the lavendar seeds yesterday. Wierd contraption that is never going to produce flower!

  7. The plastic lavender looks pretty good, actually! Good luck getting the real stuff to grow. I planted lavender seeds a couple of years ago and got not a single sprout. Love the match dispenser and the old photos.

    1. Steve:
      I planted the seeds yesterday. The planter is a very strange thing and the instructions didn’t really match what I had. I have no hope of growing lavendar. Might have to buy some online!

  8. Some day I must tell you of the many very young years when I thought the Native Americans in westerns were the mighty Sue Indians. Never mind. That knowledge must be buried deep in the same recesses of my mind that can’t figure out what the heck a matchbox is. Anyway, it’s a nice piece of family history and looks lovely with the flowers.

    1. Deedles:
      I promise to not tell anyone about the Sue Indians, although I can guarantee you wouldn’t have been the only child to think that. I’m not surprised you don’t know what a matchbox is. That was way before your time. In the old days, there were sturdy wooden matches that you lit by striking them against a hard surface (preferably slightly rough) surface. (Can you imagine?) They were often loaded into dispensers that hung on the wall in a kitchen, basement, cellar, or work area, when stoves and ovens and other things had pilot lights that needed a match to ignite. The holder works kind of like a straw dispenser. You take a match from the bottom and the pile shifts down to replace it. Fascinating, isn’t it?

      1. See, a matchbox to me is the thing that’s bigger than a matchbook that holds loose matches and sits on my mantle. I think I saw long matches in a movie or two, and didn’t put it all together. The word never came up in a crossword puzzle. It is very fascinating to me. Thank you for the extra knowledge.

        As for the Sue Indians, you don’t want to know how I pronounced Sioux when I saw it somewhere. Let’s just say my creative little mind silenced the i and o. It’s amazing I made it to 65, all things considered.

      2. Deedles:
        Oh, man, now that sux! But no worries. I live with someone who I’m amazed has made it to 72. Have I ever told you the larynx story? Maybe that one’s due on the blog.

      3. I feel silly. I thought the matchbox held those little free paper packets of matches that people used to pick up in restaurants and some other places.

  9. That is one storied and well-traveled matchbox! What a nice family memento to have still in use too….Your L’Occitane shop gives out bonuses?! Of all the L’Occitane products I’ve purchased in the past 3 years, the only “extra” gift with purchase I’ve ever received was a nice velour towel. I hope you grow lots of lavender for your matchbox and that it doesn’t prove to be catnip for Dudo & Moose, LOL!

    1. Tundra Bunny:
      This is the first time I’ve received a gift like that. It’s made by a company in Spain, so maybe that’s why. Unfortunately, they could have kept it. I planted the seeds yesterday and it’s an odd two-piece contraption that didnt’t work the way it should. I don’t think I’ll ever see flowers. Catnip would not be a disappointment.

  10. Maybe the lavender will work on your terrace. Wouldn’t that be wonderful to smell? And now you have brought Wessoo history to your place in Spain. Wonderful images.

    1. Wilma:
      From the looks of this planter (the seeds are planted), the only way I’ll have lavendar on the terrace is if I buy a mature plant. We have SG’s grandmother’s original ice cream scoop (100 years old), too!

  11. Funny that SG thought it was Wessoo because Mother often made up names for people and places and I didn’t know the real names for years. Love what you’ve done with the matchbox and would like real or fake lavender of my own.


    1. Janie:
      Had I not known about West Sioux, I would have thought Wessoo, as well. I almost never heard it pronounced any other way.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      I had heard so many stories about West Sioux Hardware in our first year together that I was really disappointed to learn the store had closed. SG has some incredible historic photos.

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