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His Nephew Moved Back to Montana

April 8, 2013

Where to start my story of love.  My brother and I had just moved back to our home town, Missoula, from Seattle and it was probably April, 1969.  I was 20, Tom was 25 and we looked hip.  We were hip, not pseudo hippies at all:  we wore dirty ragged clothes, had long hair, bushy beards, and Tom drove his ’53 Chevy hard top, probably barefoot.  I even had a blue paisley pajama top that I wore as a shirt with my jeans. Tom’s jeans had a patch on the butt because, as he said, they were “shot in the ass.”  Of course, in those days we thought we were extreme; someone even yelled at us from a passing car advising us to cut our hair.

The glowing feeling that we were freaks did not last long.  We drove around Missoula all day and visited any place with a “rent” sign.  No one would.  One landlord told us that he didn’t know what our habits were. “Well, I don’t know your habits!” he had said, and we mimicked him as we drove.  This was interspersed with “Get a haircut!”

We drove to Peter Koch’s long low house near Kiwanis Park almost beneath the Van Buren St. bridge, just off of Front Street, on Hartman Street.

At the door Peter told Tom that he could stay with him.  I hoped that meant me too, so I followed my brother in, carrying my sleeping bag.  Tom and I had guitars too.

Peter’s rented house had three rooms in a line:  living room with Peter’s large bed blocking the front door.  Handwritten sign on the outside of door that said “This Door Does Not Exist.”  Peter had a stereo, some drums, striped rugs hanging on the wall, ashtrays, perhaps a chair, all this was his room.  Map of Paris.  The kitchen, where the entrance did exist, was painted white.  Stove, fridge, sink and some cupboards.  Peter showed us a large bag of brown rice; his insurance against starvation.  He got his rent money from a mysterious relative’s trust fund.  The farthest east room was Peter’s library/guest room with several mattresses.  Tom and I moved in.  We walked with Peter to Cipolato’s Broadway Market where he bought a jar of marmalade and a can of Medaglio D’Oro coffee.  Peter only bought really good stuff.  Perhaps that’s why he was so skinny.

What does this have to do with my uncle Carl R. Bonde, Jr.?  Everything.  Carl was always in my mind.  Remember he was a misfit too, just 26 years before me.  I say he was a misfit because he did poorly in high school even though he was very capable and intelligent.  He was in mind because I was liable to be conscripted into the army for Vietnam, just as he was for WW II.

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