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Ambiguously queer (?) WW II Hero

November 3, 2015
An illustration from Carl's WW II infantry textbook.

An illustration from Carl’s WW II infantry textbook.

Carl R. Bonde, Jr.’s high school sophomore year. November 2, 1940.

His parents had recently moved for the third time, this time to five acres on the southern edge of town. For the first time, they were buying the property. On a hill.

Carl turned over in bed after peering at his alarm clock. Eleven-fourteen. Bull! He had forgotten to wind it. Again. Carl had a pretty good idea of the time. He had heard his older sister Carol clumping downstairs in her fashionable shoes. Jesus it was cold! The weather was freezing and their bedrooms was upstairs, unheated except for whatever came up the long straight stairs. The house had a homemade wood furnace in the basement that heated the air that came up the register in the living room. Smelled like pine smoke.

He pulled his head further under the covers. He could see his breath in the dim light of dawn. The windows were translucent with frost. Carol will take at least half an hour in the bathroom, he thought. He had to pee. Other mornings he would go downstairs, run out the kitchen door and take a leak against one of the trees. It was too damn cold. He used the “can o’ pee” option.

Carl pulled the coffee can from under the bed, got up, did his business, jumped back under the covers. Just a little piss on his underwear. Didn’t matter what he did after he peed, some urine always dribbled out.

Anyhow, he got almost warm again after thrashing his legs back and forth a couple of times. He didn’t get quite as warm as he wanted, so he got up, pulling on a couple of layers of clothes. Long handles, then denim pants lined with flannel. Socks.

His parents were up and his mom had fixed oatmeal. He wanted a cigarette, so he hunkered over the heat close to where his dad sat in his overstuffed chair and lit up. He loved talking about hunting with his dad. They would certainly go out next weekend. The light snow made stalking deer easy.

Carl’s sexual preference was ambiguous. One of those who signed his year book was a boy who wrote, “Dearest Carl.” Another advised him to “Leave the wimmin alone.” For the sake of more fun, we can suppose he was gay. I asked Carl’s friend, Bill Moomey, if Carl had a sweetheart somewhere but apparently he didn’t. Bill just said, nope. Bill told me about a gay sailor he encountered on the USS George Washington in November, 1944. Bill said at that time, it was his first exposure to an openly homosexual man. That tends to rule out that Bud, who he had known intimately through nearly a year of rigorous outdoor infantry training, was gay.

Carl had a propensity for clowning, disrupting, the usual stuff of high school boys. Carl was also very bright. He would later score near genius on an Army aptitude test.

Carl walked to high school down to the dirt road, then four blocks more. He was on time, as usual, but he wasn’t much concerned. He knew that his sisters had been high achievers in high school. Band, orchestra, excellent grades, after school jobs. Buddy had no time for that. He liked to hunt and fish. He was applying to work as a fire lookout in Glacier Park.

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