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Faded photograph at 4 a.m.

July 17, 2016

Four o’clock doesn’t seem too early to be up writing when I can’t sleep.  I look at old photographs like this one here.  My sister Carol looks to be about four years old in this shot taken at her grandparents’ place on the SCN_0446outskirts of Kalispell, Montana.  She was born in February, 1939, so this would have been taken in 1943 with her grandpa, Carl T. Bonde.  Carl is holding a bowl of chicken feed.  I imagine Carol’s dad, Robert Struckman, took the picture with his 4×5 Graflex.  I still have the negative and, as a child, I played with a couple Graflex film holders my mother kept up in her closet.

Carol’s fingers appear to touch Prince, part German shepherd, as Grandpa looks like he might be restraining him by his collar.  Or not.

In Europe in 1943, World War II seemed to be winding down with Germany being driven out of Russia, Italy, and France.  These happenings no doubt brought some relief to Carol’s grandparents concerned about their son’s safety as the United States prosecuted the war in Europe.  Mopped up the war, really.

In December that year, Grandpa wrote a cheerful Christmas letter to his brother Alfred that his son, Carl R. Bonde Jr., was in England with the “Limeys,” and that he and his army buddies made several trips into London to see the sights and drink in the pubs.

On December 23 that year Carl R. Bonde, Jr.’s 66th Black Panther Infantry Division abruptly–over just a few hours–pulled up stakes and embarked to France.

The week before Hitler had launched a last-ditch offensive in the Ardennes in an attempt to retake Belgium and France.  Thousands of American troops were mobilized.

Christmas Eve found the Carl Jr. and his buddies on rough seas in the English Channel just five miles from Cherbourg, France.  A U-Boat near the entrance of the harbor fired two torpedoes at Carl’s troopship.  The first one missed, but not the second.  The Bondes never saw their son again.SCN_0379

Carl R. Bonde, Jr., with his German shepherd, Prince.

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