Leaving Sioux City: Dee Dee

Better times: the author and her grandfather Harley “Dee Dee” Semple (1964)

(Sioux City, Iowa)

Monday, May 5

I wake up at 6:00 a.m., ready by 7:00. I splurge and take a taxi to the bus station, there by 7:30 ꟷ this is one bus I don’t want to miss.

I’m not angry with Mo and Dee ꟷ well, maybe a little with Mo, but only because she was so ridiculous the other day. I wish they understood that this is something I have to do and would do eventually anyway. I’m not running away to get even with them for the Cherokee bit ꟷ

I’m running to my new life.

Once, when I was four, I ran away from home. I wanted to be in the movies, and I thought that one had to run away to do that. I was not angry at anyone ꟷ it was just something I had to do. Hours later, when Dee Dee and Uncle Dude found me wandering around in the dark, they snatched me from the street, and slid me into the car.

It was deep into an Iowa winter. I wore only a red snowsuit; they must have felt relieved to find me alive and okay.

I bawled and pitched a fit; I was so angry with them for thwarting me. They just didn’t understand I wasn’t running away to leave them but to find something else.

I would come back.

Running Away…

Obviously, I was too young back then, but I’m not too young now...

I show my ticket to the agent and check the footlocker at the desk ꟷ fortunately, no one questions my business. I sit and wait.

Dead time, but, nonetheless, necessary.

At 8:45, Dee Dee, alone, slips through the station door.

Oh, oh.

Dee Dee spies me and slides toward me.

Before I can even open my mouth, Dee says, “Before you say anything, just hear me out.”


“I’m not going to stop you from going.”

“That’s good.”

“I just want to make one more plea ꟷ”

“My mind’s made up.”

“You’re breaking our hearts ꟷ”

“I’m sorry about that ꟷ”

“No, you’re not ꟷ you wouldn’t be leaving if you knew how much this was killing us.”

“I have to go.”

Dee Dee sighs. “Stay a few months, get a good job, save up some money ꟷ think about what you’re doing.”

“I’ve had several, long months to think.” Like I’m going to fall for that ploy again. “I’ve made up my mind.”

“You know, your grandmother was going to call Cherokee and report you as a runaway, but I told her it wouldn’t do any good.”


“She might still do it. Once she’s decided something, you know how she is.”

“I know.”

“I was hoping to reason with you.”

“Dee Dee, I’m leaving in a few minutes.”

“I see. You know, you’ll always have a home back here.” Dee pauses. “If you ever need a bus ticket back to Sioux City, just call.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“I despise Jeff Brown with all my heart; he has only one thing on his mind ꟷ”

“It’s time for you to go,” I say, turning away.

Without another word, Dee Dee disappears, through the crowd and out of the terminal.


(Greyhound bus)

The authors actual bus ticket receipt

The bus has just pulled out of the station, and we’re headed out of town, toward Des Moines, where I’ll pick up my next connection to York, Pennsylvania: a long journey. Des Moines, Chicago, Pittsburgh. York. 

Goodbye, Sioux City and Woodbury County ꟷ

Good riddance to Cherokee and all of Iowa.


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“Leaving Sioux City: Dee Dee,” © copyright 2013 - present, by Jennifer Semple Siegel, may not be reprinted or reposted without the express permission of the author. Published in Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment


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