Taking root: Famiies that stayed

Members of the Menotti family from Dickinson at the Grand Canyon in 2009. Pictured, from left, are Ron Bussey, Janet Bussey, Madelyn Menotti, Fred Menotti, Carolyn Suderman, Charles Suderman, Kathy Menotti and Robert Menotti. The Menottis were among the original Italian families that settled in Dickinson.


The Menottis were among the original Italian families that settled in Dickinson. They came to America in the early 1900s in search of work.

Fred L. Menotti, a retired Monsanto employee, still lives on the tract of land his father, Fred Menotti, purchased when the family arrived in 1914.

“We spoke Italian at home because my grandmother couldn’t speak English,” Menotti said. “But my father was adamant we had to speak English once we walked out the door. They were all anxious to be American. They all wanted to be here and wanted to contribute. My dad felt very strongly about being American.”

His father fought for his new country during World War I. But he was best known in Dickinson as the owner of Fred’s Place, which he opened in 1938.

The family business thrived as a pit stop for workers who moved supplies for the war effort along FM 517, because they provided a keg drink and plate of homemade food quickly and conveniently, Menotti said.

“It was successful enough that my father could afford to retire,” he said.

Menotti worked there himself after completing a tour of duty in World War II before embarking on a 30-year career at Monsanto. He and his wife still live on the same piece of land his father bought nearly a century ago. Menotti said he and his late wife, Madelyn, stayed in Dickinson to raise a family and stayed for the community and church life.

“As our generation grew up, we scattered around the country,” Menotti said. “But what kept me here, other than that cute little lady I made my wife, is the community and my church.”

Menotti’s sister Lily Hays also shares a piece of the original Menotti land since the siblings share a backyard. His daughter Carolyn Suderman lives in Dickinson with her husband, Charles, who is on the Dickinson City Council.

His son Robert lives in Houston and daughter Janet Bussey lives in Longview.

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