In this part of the country, many people prefer working outdoors, making farming one of the most popular occupations here. It's a lifestyle often passed on from generation to generation. Jim Holy of Yankton is a person whose life fits both those facts - up to a point. He likes working outdoors and he does a job his parents and grandparents have done, but it isn't farming. Jim, now 79 years old and retired, is a third-generation gravedigger.
It began with Jim' maternal grandparents, Martin and Amanda Bartikowsky, who were in charge of the town dump as well as being gravediggers in Tyndall, a small community in Southeastern South Dakota. Leonard Huber of Yankton grew up in Tyndall and remembers Mrs. Bartikowsky as a color character. "She always dressed in a man's black suit and white shirt and wore a man's hat," he remembers. Mrs. Bartikowsky smoked a corncob pipe or chewed tobacco as she worked. One man commented she looked like "Mammy Yokum" from the old "Lil' Abner" cartoon strip.
Jim loves to tell stories about his spunk grandmother. "One time she got her thumb caught in the gears of a horse-drawn grist mill," he says. "She couldn't get it out, so she sent her son into the house for a butcher knife, and she cut off her thumb."
Read the entire story in the latest edition of Living Here magazine.
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