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The Pettinato family lost four young men in World War II. Fighting racism.

June 29, 2015
Goofy high school kid autographs my uncle Carl Bonde's year book in 1940.  Only Romolo Pettinato is not just any goofy kid.  He was destined to die in WW II.  Same as Carl.

Goofy high school kid autographs my uncle Carl Bonde’s year book in 1940. Only Romolo Pettinato is not just any goofy kid. He was destined to die in WW II. Same as Carl.

June 26, 2015

I’m still in search of “Bud” Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr.: Penny and I drove into Glacier Park to the trailhead for Huckleberry Mountain Lookout. The guide map said the trail was 5.6 miles. Why walk to this particular lookout?
Carl was employed as a fire lookout, according to his sister Corinne, for several summers in 1940 or 1941 or 1942, even, at Huckleberry Mountain. My first impression of the trail was that anybody who hiked through this splendor would eventually want to be a forester. Gorgeous. Ferns, mosquitos, wildflowers, spiders, dirt, rocks, lots of conifers. Forestry. In fact, that was Carl’s major at the university in Missoula for the year and one quarter he went before being inducted into the army for WW II.
That’s why I was so excited, even though I am 66 and tired and retired. And kind of lazy and weak. I’ll tell you I was more worried that I wouldn’t have the physical strength for the long hike uphill. The official sign at the Huckleberry Mountain trailhead said “6 miles.” P. and I. ended up walking 12 miles today. Same as what Carl would have done for work, only he would have stayed up on top until the end of the fire season, some time in late August, early September. In 1940, +/- a year or two. I don’t know!
Best of all, in my imagination, we would be arriving at the top of Huckleberry Mountain to encounter a lookout who could say, yes, here are the lookout diaries dating back to 1906. Which one was your uncle? Carl Bonde? Oh. Here are his, right here and here and here. His lookout structure burned in the mid-1940s, but his books survived. No they didn’t. Or maybe they did, I still don’t know. The lookout was there, just nobody in it.
No lookout person. It wasn’t really a tower, just a cabin (seemed a bit smaller than the one we spent summers in—maybe 12×12 feet—but with lots of windows), complete with catwalk and interior with firefinder, atop a smaller storeroom with a padlocked door. I marveled that the tower was fastened down with short guy wires. Also the outhouse was fastened down with a cable (high winds???). P. and I looked through the windows, then returned.
We spent about 4 hours struggling up Huckleberry Mountain, 3 hours hobbling down. Saw two deer. Not white tails. They didn’t spook. P. and I were too tired to scare them. We just trudged past them. I got kind of worried about bears at that point, but we saw no blacks, no griz. We saw very little wildlife. We saw lots of wildflowers and plants, including the huckleberries. I can’t remember all of the flowers, so now I am seeking a guidebook.

When Penny and I arrived at Izaak Walton Inn at Essex we were pleasantly surprised that we could get a room without a reservation. Then I saw the brass plaque on the wall with the list of World War II dead. I immediately recognized some of them as being high school classmates of my uncle Carl. I copied the names:
Ross Armstrong,
Leslie Cornelius*,
William J. Gee,
Allen W. Havens,
Paul D. Havens,
Fred C. Huggins,
Everett Page,
John Page,
Russell D. Page,
Filbert Pettinato,
Frank Pettinato,
Romolo Pettinato*,
Russell Pettinato,
William R. Schultz,
Jack C. Scott,
Owen Wright,
Robert Wright.

I posted Romolo Pettinato’s inscription at the beginning of this piece. Here is the one from Leslie Cornelius:

Leslie Cornelius

You see, my quest has expanded from being strictly about my uncle Carl, to being about his high school classmates. Consider the Pettinato family that lost four young men.

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