“Blockhead" by Marion Dozier, 48HrBooks

Marion is a born storyteller. In conversation with her, the tales just keep coming, interspersed with her laughter — at herself and the haunting memories of her younger life.

As one of four Zwolenski daughters to a father who wanted only a boy, Marion grew up in the 1940s and '50s, a time that was an ongoing nightmare for too many kids amid the hidden angst in rural, poor America. This was before there was any Child Protective Services and parents could do pretty much what they wanted to their helpless offspring. He was a big and handsome man — well over six feet.

The father’s name for all the girls was ‘little sons-a-bitches’ and it was not an endearment. 

“We grew up watching the dog get beat up and the cows shotgunned. Their tails broken for some infraction. The cats kicked out of the way when they came to wrap themselves around his feet. I knew the way he walked in from the barn and the way he swung the milk pails whether we should run and hide or pour him a cup of coffee."

When the girls' mom finally got a job in town, it meant they were left alone with him, and — as a defense — one sister was always on the lookout for him.

One wonders, reading the book, where it all will end. Despite the cruelty, she loved and respected her father who only Marion’s mother could handle. Combine a stubborn streak, a love for all the abused animals, and a fruitless attempt to understand a brutal father, and a grim future, Marion finally decided she just must be a "Blockhead."

Instead, Marion grew up to become a longtime community political and civic activist, and served eight years as a Billings City Council member.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.