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History of everything … and everything.

February 7, 2022

February 6, 2022

In the beginning our people came from somewhere in Africa where they lived thousands of generations.  I don’t know how they made a living there.  Did they catch fish?  Did they eat fruit and nuts and berries?  I have more questions. Please.  If they ate fish, how did they catch them?  Net? Hook? Trap? Once on our way back from Alaska to Montana, we stopped on the side of the road where a kid or two ran down the embankment to a creek where they chased a 8-inch trout out of the water.  Like that.  Did our Africans chase fish out of the water?  I rarely fish, except when visiting my nephew, Chris, in Ketchikan, Alaska, where he is a tourist guide.  He catches wonderfully delicious fish:  halibut, shrimp, crab.  He lives there through the warm months and his door is open to me.

I get a lot of my information listening to a podcast “History of English.”  Turns out many languages can trace back to the Indo-European roots, some 4,000-5,000 years past.  Sanskrit, Germanic, Romantic, Persian, Greek.  Lots of languages.  Linguistic roots help trace actual human ancestors.  English is a Germanic language with lots of borrowed words from Latin and French.  Helps to know the history of England.

Our African forebear’s offspring eventually migrated northward and eastward toward India and around the east side of the Black Sea.  (I visited there a few years ago on a boat with my daughter-in-law, Susanna Gaunt.  She was the only person there whom I recognized.)  I have a photo, somewhere.  Turns out the politics in Istanbul were sketchy and Susanna grabbed my arm when I took a picture.  I didn’t know how sketchy things were!

So.  My collective memory of these early ancestor’s migrations is sketchy.  Lost in antiquity.  We’ve covered quite a few thousands of years by the time they finally got to Asia.  For some reason the grasslands there afforded them a living.  They lived in family-size communities and ate what they could find or what they could kill.  At first they were nomadic.  They must have suffered through many hard winters.  Think how we suffer yet today!  Winter on the steppes!

This would be perhaps 4,000 years ago.  They knew their mothers but not their fathers.  They invented pottery.  Well, they needed some way to carry water.  I suppose they could make a water vessel out of an animal skin.

I don’t know what people elsewhere on the globe were doing, such as the Chinese, the Americans, the Australians.

Today, linguistics scholars have been able to trace our language back to the Indo-European roots of 4,000 years ago in Asia.

Once on the steppes of Asia our ancestors learned to tend flocks and employ oxen.  They learned how to tend crops.

The way west took them around the north end of the Black Sea.  I don’t suppose their migrations took them much farther than the next hill or over the next creek.  Many littles made a lot.  And so on.

They migrated ever westward over many generations toward what is now central Europe and into Germany.  

Some of our recent forebears stayed in what is now known as low Germany, others migrated farther north to Scandinavia by land or by water.  Hard to know which.  This is all about a thousand years ago.  If our forebears could speak to us we wouldn’t understand much what they said.  These would be the precursors to “old English.”

My great-great grandmother lived in Vang, Norway.  Her name was Berit Bonde.  She was awesome, a farmer.  

Berit and Einar Bonde

My great-great grandfather lived near Bremen, Germany.  He was Gottlieb Struckman, a mine worker.

Both individuals quit their European countries about the middle of the 1800s, for differing reasons. 

Berit Bonde’s couldn’t afford to feed her children in Norway, so she walked with her husband and their kids from Vang to Oslo.  Then they shipped to the United States.

Gottleib Struckman had to get the hell out of Northern Germany for political reasons as did others of his republican party, about 1850.  There was a lot of violence there.  

Berit and her husband Einar eventually settled in Nerstrand, Minnesota to farm.  Their son Torsten, my great grandfather, built a stone house there that still stands.  He married Ingabor Hougen.

The Bonde stone house in Nerstrand, Minnesota. Carl is 2nd from the left, in boots.

My grandfather, Carl, was a younger one of a dozen or so of their kids.   Carl moved to Montana to seek a living as a grocer in Buffalo, Montana, then Kalispell.  Carl Bonde and Ellen Wichstrom had my mother, Helen, in 1912.

Gottlieb settled in Hanover, Illinois and he farmed 160 acres.   His son, my great grandfather, George, was also a farmer.  A republican, he served as Justice of the Peace, and as village president of Bartlett, Illinois.   He was an American Civil War veteran for the Missouri Union Army being chosen first sergeant, then getting promoted to lieutenant.  He married Christina Busche.

My grandfather, Emil, was one of their five children who moved to Montana to homestead.  He was no good at farming, so he taught school in Big Timber, Valier, and Malta, Montana.  Emil Struckman and Agnes Powers had my father Robert.

My parents met in Missoula in 1931 at the university.  That’s one of the things college is good.  Young men and women mate with each other and learn the skills to keep house and work at jobs that pay the bills.

My intent to write the history of the universe could have started in the primordial swamps of Africa, or perhaps among the non-living molecules of the cosmos.  

After all, all living things are composed of non-living molecules.

Africa may have been linked up with Australia and the Americas in those earliest times: Pangea.

In the beginning I entered a world that was already very old, and I was young.  The world seemed to be dozens of years old.

Most of the action had happened, the mess had been cleaned up, swept and mopped, and only a few broken toys and roller skates were available to me.  Leather straps to some sort of contraption one could wear on his shoe to make it look like a “cowboy boot.”

I asked my mother where I came from.  She sat me next to her with her photograph album.  I remember seeing an image of a young woman holding a baby.  Black and white, Spring of 1949.  That was me.  The woman in the photograph looks lovingly at her baby.  Mother smoked her adult life, dying of cancer in 1976.

In the beginning was the Word.  Or so the Bible would have us think.  Mother gave me a Bible and I couldn’t get into it, although I tried to read through the book of Genesis.  The stories didn’t track the way other stories did.  I tried to be very religious when I was in the second grade, walking down the alley to the Bickle house to ride with them to the Episcopal church for Sunday school.  I made a few attempts, but gave up.  For one thing, my mother gave me a dime for the offering.  Later I found a nickel in the alley.  The next week I told the Sunday school teacher I forgot my dime.  Then I showed the dime to my mother.  Somehow she guessed I didn’t find it in the alley the way I had found the nickel.

In the beginning, God sat on his throne, thinking.  [Thanks, Mark Twain.]

In the beginning.  Men knew their mothers only, not their fathers.  [Thanks, I Ching.]  The world is as new as ever!  I’m almost 73 and don’t know the plan much better than I ever did.  

I wish I could make some sense of the world; I’d share with my grandchildren.  Many generations of creatures have gone extinct on our planet.  Giant dinosaurs, huge forests of ferns and trees, trilobites, clams, snails. Ammonites.  Fish and giant birds.  Like Mark Twain said, giant fish.  And coal to fry them on.

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