State’s hunting and fishing bring family to Java area
By Sandy Bond
For all the men that go to sea in ships, there have always been loved ones who sat at home and worried. Technology may have changed things a bit, but commercial fishing is still one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.
So it is with the families of the crew of the Marcy J., a 55-foot commercial fishing trawler. Dan (Thelman) of Java, is one of two captains of the Marcy J. based out of Kodiak, Alaska. They troll the Bering Sea for the fish of the day, which might be halibut or pollock depending on the season, wife Maleah said. However, crab is far and away the deadliest catch.
Dan and Maleah and youngest daughter Paige could have chosen to live anywhere in the country, but have chosen Java because of the phenomenal hunting and fishing. Returning home after several weeks at sea, Maleah and Dan have been installing decks and planting flowers to make their new house a home. Maleah is working at the Municipal Bar and Liquor Store and Paige is taking college classes via the Internet and is working as a cashier at Paylessfoods in Mobridge. They share their home with their two Boston terriers, a Chihuahua, a hairless rat named Pumba, and a rooster, Hugh Hefner.
The youngest of four children born to Roy and Shirley Maxey, Maleah and her older siblings, Trudi (Tyler), Pamela (Schaefer,) and Gordon grew up in Oregon where their dad was a long haul trucker, construction worker and aircraft mechanic.
Their mom is a phenomenal cook and Maleah’s sister, Trudi, learned her lessons well. Maleah spent her childhood climbing trees, catching frogs, and riding horses. She never thought that her lack of the culinary skills would one day haunt her.
“Mom is my inspiration,” she said. “She makes it look so easy. Everything Trudi and she cook comes out great. It’s just not fair!”
After graduating from Laurelwood Academy, she attended Phagans School of Cosmetology. She was employed as a teller for US Bank and as a secretary for a construction firm before finding employment at Fred Meyers, a huge department and grocery store in the west. She met Dan through mutual friends. Following their marriage they were urged to visit the McCall, Idaho, area by Dan’s best friend Roger Philips, an outdoor and sports columnist.
“It’s beautiful there 12-months out of the year,” she said, “and, because Dan could live anywhere, we moved there.”
Dan continued to be engaged in the commercial fishing industry and, although the family continued to worry, federal mandates have made commercial fishing somewhat safer for the crews.
The search for king crab is particularly dangerous because it is done during the peak season of December and January when the sea spray freezes on the crab pots and triples the weight each boat is carrying, she said. The men have to risk life and limb to chip away the ice that is forming before the weight can sink the boat.
“Because the job is so dangerous,” she said, “every boat strictly enforces zero tolerances for drugs and alcohol.”
Dan knows when he returns there will be a good, home-cooked meal. Maleah is a fast learner.
“My favorite dish to cook when time is limited is pasta, pasta, pasta,” she said.
Maleah’s most memorable cooking catastrophe occurred when she attempted a peach pie made with fresh peaches, and her grandmother’s legendary recipe for homemade pie crust.
“I just cut up the peaches and threw them in the pie,” she said. “No one told me that I had to peel the peaches first,” she said. “What I ended up with was a fuzzy and yucky mess!”
She had only been to South Dakota once before when she visited Mt. Rushmore with her family. She is learning to love the state. Dan knew that South Dakota had some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the country. They located their new home through the Internet.
Although Maleah is reluctant to go duck hunting, somehow, she said, she has no problem with pheasant hunting and deer hunting.
She and Dan look forward to visits from their sons, Jason and Sean, their families and her two “grandbabies.”