Thunder Butte

November 25, 2005

Marriage and Child

Cece & Tommy at Thunder Butte (Click for a Larger View)

Cece used to go to the country dances with my brothers Joe and Neal. They watched over her and she enjoyed a good time. When she was about eighteen, Cece met Ted Dickinson at one of these country dances. He came to the ranch for a long time to see her. They went to the dances in the area and enjoyed a nice courtship. They were married by the Catholic priest at the Catholic Church in Lemmon. Ted was not Catholic, so it was not the formal church wedding. I remember the ceremony quite well because I was one of the people who stood for them.

With her new husband, Cece set up housekeeping in Lemmon. After the first year, their child was born—a boy they named Thomas Elting Dickinson. The “Thomas” was for her [and my] father and “Elting” for Ted’s father. Soon Tommy, Cece’s baby, was found to have Down’s syndrome. It used to be called “mongolism” because the child’s features were thought to be Mongol in appearance. We all loved the little boy. But the father, Ted, was demoralized. To make things worse Cece was unable to have another child. Their marriage deteriorated from this point on, for the next year or so, until they finally divorced.

When her marriage failed, Cece took a job waitressing at Gordon’s Cafe, a large restaurant on Main Street in Lemmon. My mother moved to Lemmon, rented an apartment upstairs over the Golden Rule Store, and took care of Tommy, the baby, while Cece worked. I also worked at Gordon’s [while attending high school in Lemmon], scrubbing floors, bussing dishes, washing dishes, and even helping Gordon with the preparation of meals. Things remained uneventful for the remainder of the school year, until my mother moved back to the ranch, where she was needed.

I am not clear on the rest of Cece’s life in Lemmon. But, when we entered World War II, Cece and little Tommy came to California with my brother, Joe, and my mother. During WWII, Cece worked as a waitress at the Alameda Hotel Restaurant. Her little boy, Tommy, died during the war while Cece was working and my mother was caring for him. The doctor said his heart literally burst. I think he was five years old when he died in Alameda. It must have been in 1943.

--John Crowley
Mike Crowley Friday, November 25, 2005


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