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The absent photograph

October 21, 2016

Carl Bonde’s high school graduation picture, 1941.

Absent from the high school photographs on the wall in our dining room—the framed images of three teenage girls—is their brother, Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr.

When will I get tired of thinking about him.  Certainly long after you are tired of reading about him.  I guess I should write less about his absence and more about his presence in my mind, my imagination.  For one thing, he was really FUNNY.  You asked him where he was from and he was apt to tell you a minute-long soliloquy about the beautiful Flathead Valley and the Mission Mountains, the numerous lakes in the valley, such as Bitterroot Lake.

Carl was drafted into the Army in 1943, sent to England, then killed aboard a troopship by a U-Boat torpedo Christmas Eve, 1944.  He never had a chance.

Corinne was Carl’s oldest sister and also lived the longest of any of the girls, about 92 years altogether.  I didn’t start my quest to write about Carl until after Corinne died, unfortunately, because she would have been a great source about his early life.  Still, Corinne did tell some of her life, although to hear Corinne tell it, life started at high school and didn’t end until she retired as documents librarian from the Washington State Library in Olympia.  She lived about 25 years after she retired.

Also, Corinne clearly was a scamp and, although she couldn’t help telling some of her escapades, she tended to gloss over them, thus obliterating many fascinating stories.  For example, Corinne was married to a shady character named Gordon Smith, but the marriage was annulled.  I think her mother hit the ceiling when the two took off across Montana on a motorcycle.  This was back when motorcycles looked like souped up bicycles with motors and head lamps.

She was much older than Carl, so Carl may have observed his big sister with the wide-eyed fascination.  How much older?  Corinne was born in 1910, Carl was born in 1923.  Therefore, when Corinne was 18, Carl would have been five.  Old enough to know what was going on, but too young to know why.

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