My name is Banita Jean Bowdon Di DeMott and I was born in Butte, Montana on August 4th. Nineteen forty two. I was born in Butte, Montana in August. Nineteen forty two. My parents are Harrison Cresswell, Boden and Elizabeth Ann Powers. I was baptized in the Catholic Church when I was just a few weeks old. My mom and dad raised me in the Catholic Church I grew up in on the flat in Butte, Montana, and I attended St.
John’s, the Evangelist Catholic school, from first grade through eighth grade. I graduated from St. John’s in May of 1956. We had Catholic nuns teach us at the at the great school. They were excellent educators and I feel I got a very good education when I went through all my schooling. But the nuns gave us an awesome foundation of what we were going to have in years to come. While I was in St. John’s, I was in the choir.
We all had to be in the choir when we were in seventh and eighth grade and we were able to get out of school when there was a funeral mass at the Catholic Church right in the same on the same campus, because we used to sing the funeral masses and we would sing them in Latin. They don’t do that anymore. And so I feel I lived in the very best part, a time when we I have all of these precious memories.
When I was in second grade at St. John’s School, that we had very rigid regulations and restrictions, we had to there was no running around that. The nuns were very good disciplinarians. And we all told the mark and we didn’t question anything that that we had to follow or that we were told to do. One day I went to school and I guess I must have been bored this day in second grade. And I decided that I was going to have a piece of gum in school.
We weren’t supposed to have gum in school, even in our pockets. And I decided that this one day the nuns weren’t going to see it and I was going to get by with it. And of course, that didn’t happen. And the nun who was Sister Mary Geneseo, as I can recall, she saw me chewing gum and came over and asked me what was in my mouth. And I told her and she looked at me and she said, you know better than to have gum in school, go spit it in the trash can.
And so I did do that. And then at the end of the school, when we were to be dismissed, about three o’clock, she came over to me and she suggested that I sit in my desk, that I not get up and go home with the rest of the kids when they were dismissed. So she dismissed all of the other kids row by row in a single file, in a straight line out the school. And she came back into me and talked to me about chewing gum in school and why we can’t do it and why she asked me why I did it.
I couldn’t give her a really acceptable answer. And so she said, well, there has to be a consequence with whatever you chose to do. So she gave me about four pieces of big, huge, long pieces of colored construction paper. And she told me that she wanted me to cut them up into little pieces about the size of the stick of gum that I had I had been chewing earlier in the day. And so I cut them all out.
And then she said, now, one by one, you have to chew that construction paper. Well, I was in school for a long time. I walked home because I lived in the city of Butte and about, oh, probably seven or eight blocks. And I didn’t come home at the regular time. And my mom was worrying about me. And so she called the school and that she found out that I had to stay after school. And she came over to the school in no time flat and wondered why I was at school, why I hadn’t come home.
And so then nun told her what I had done and what the consequence was for me. While Mom was really upset, No. One, she was upset at me for chewing gum, but she was more upset that the nun had kept me in school without the principal calling home and telling my mom that I wasn’t going to be home at the regular time. And so Mom got really mad at the nuns and she told me that I was to get up and I was to leave now and I wasn’t doing any more construction paper.
So I guess that was the end of my trying to get things passed, the nuns or my mom. And that was the last time I ever gum in school. And actually I was a pretty good student from then on out, but that’s my gum chewing memory that I have. I was about two years old and my great uncle came to visit my mom one afternoon. His name is John Kelly and he was my mother’s uncle. So he was actually my great uncle.
And I was just like two years old. And he came to the house and the men always wore hats in the olden days back, and it was like nineteen forty four. And so he came in, he sat down on the sofa, took his hat off and he was the first bald man I had ever seen. He was bald up here with just a little bit of hair here, not, not a whole lot. But he had little hair just around here but he was totally bald up here.
I had never seen a bald headed man before. And so I went over to him and being a little two year old girl and I was shy, but I just couldn’t get over that bald head because it was kind of shiny. And so I went over to him Mormons in the living room. She was pregnant with my sister. And I just asked him, excuse me, sir, but why don’t you have hair on your head? And he looked at me and he started laughing and he said, Well, I was out in the park one day, Cindy on a park bench, and some birds came over and picked out all my hair up there.
And that’s why I don’t have any hair. And I thought I asked, well, did it hurt? And he said, no, it didn’t hurt. But that’s why he doesn’t have hair. It just never grew back. And so from that day on, I well, I know I shouldn’t say that. I have always been frightened of birds. I have never liked birds to be by me. I like them at a distance. I think they’re very beautiful, some of them.
And but I never like to touch birds. I don’t want birds by me. And I just often wondered why that that happened. And it was, you know, when I got a little older, I remember this story of being with Uncle John and asking him this question. And I am just wondering if perhaps that might have been the reason why I am just scared to death of birds. I don’t like to be by him to this day was because Uncle John came and said the birds picked out all of his hair and.
Anyway, I’m thinking maybe that was the reason why I just have such a distaste for birds now, even even yet, I don’t like to be by birds. I think they’re very beautiful and they’re in a cage or if they’re out in their own space and their habitat, but not anywhere by me. So that was one story I would like to share with you. My mom had had the baby, we were still living on John Dye Street in Butte, and I had my little sister Harriet as a sibling now.
And I had my I was still sleeping in the morning when my mom had gotten up to get my dad breakfast and out to work. And I woke up and the room was dark and my crib was against the wall and right to the front of my crib at the foot of my crib. Mom and dad had a chest of drawers and the room was an exceedingly big. And so we were kind of squished in there. But there was a crib in the chest drawers and on the top that just drawers.
My mom had her perfume and she had some lipsticks and a little face with a flower in it. And I had in my crib, I had all my stuffed animals and I had stuffed animals all around my crib. I had just all kinds of stuffed animals, one of which was a bear about this size. And his name was Coco. He was he is bear with brown legs and part of his head and brown, black and brown brown arms.
And then he had some yellow on him, on his hands and on his feet and his tummy was yellow and then he had yellow around his nose. And so he was in bed with all the other animals and money. And I got a hold of my mother’s lipstick and thought this was really great stuff. And I had seen Mom put lipstick on her lips. And so I put lipstick on my lips and all over my cheek. And then I went put lipstick on my stuffed animals, too.
And about that time, my mother came in and saw what I had done and she had just had the baby. She wasn’t feeling really good, is just trying to get over childbirth. And she was a very nervous, stressful person. And when she saw what I had done and she saw the mess, lipstick even landed on my blankets and it was on my sheet. It was a mess. And Mom had such a job to pick up and she wasn’t feeling well.
She really got upset with me. And I was not a child to get into trouble or to make people feel bad. But at the age of three years old, I really took a turn for my mom and that was something I always regretted. But I was just a little girl, three years old. And I guess if I had if I had to do over again, I surely wouldn’t do it. But when I was three years old, I wasn’t thinking about that.
I did not like to be by birds or any anything that had wings and webbed feet and beaks because of the story of Uncle John, I just love Swan the Swan. I love the Robins. I love the birds. I love to hear them sing. But they have to be beyond an arm distance from me for me to feel safe in this one year we lived on Arizona Street still and my brother wasn’t born. So it was before 1956 and I was taking piano lessons about three blocks from where I lived in Butte.
And this one day it was springtime. It was like March, and there was no snow on the ground in Butte. But the it was a gray day and the wind was blowing and it was cold. We were wearing winter coats and we were wearing scarves and hats over our head because it was it was a chilly day and. Anyway, Dad, instead of having me walk home from my piano lesson, he was home, and so he decided to come over and pick me up from the.
Your from the piano lesson, so he he came over, brought me home, and it was just around Easter time and in the spring and Harriet wanted at this time, Harriet wanted a little colored chick. At the time, it was really popular to have little chicks and they would somehow make the little yellow chicks pink or blue or lavender or green or whatever color. And Harriet really wanted a colored chick so she could have a chick for spring and Easter.
And my mom and dad got her one and I didn’t want one. I didn’t want one. I told them not to give me one, but they didn’t want to play favorites. And so. They got me a chicken, too, and I don’t know whether it was pink or blue. I really didn’t care because I didn’t care about chickens. But anyway, I saw Harriet, my sister and a neighbor, friend of ours in the yard, and each one was holding a little chick.
I could see those little chicks. And I knew that we had them at our house because mom and dad had we had them for a week or so and. Anyway, we drove into the garage and I said, Dad, I’m not going to get out of the car, and he asked why? And I said, because Harriet and whatever that little girl’s name has a cheer, each has a chip in their hand and they’re going to wait and jump out at me and scare me to death, put a chick in front of me as I’m walking into the house.
And my dad got kind of upset with me and he said, no, they’re not going to do that. And I said, yes, they are. Well, he kind of got kind of upset with me. And he said, Bonnie, you’re old enough to realize that they’re not going to do that. And he said, you get out of the car now and you go into the house. And dad was was very gentle and very timid and very kind.
But he he was strict. And so I knew he meant what he said. And I said, Dad, I’ll get out of the car, but I am not going to go up. I’m not going to leave the garage. So I got out of the car, closed the door. I wouldn’t leave the garage. My dad said Harriet and whatever name was isn’t even around there. Just go in the house. And I said, no, they’re behind the bushes, behind the garage or someplace.
And they’re going to jump out at me when I get out and walk to go into the house. And my dad got kind of upset with me and he said, Now, how old are you? You know, just just go, Mom’s getting dinner and she’s going one dinner. And I did. And so I said, no, I’m not going to go. And he said, Bonnie, you have to go now. And so I timidly left the garage and he was certain that Harriet and the little friend weren’t there.
Well, anyway, I got about a third of the way down the walk and here come those two girls jumping out from behind the tree or wherever they were. So we couldn’t see them. And they came over and they did exactly what I knew they were going to do. They put the chickens right out in front of right out in front of me. I could one of them may have even the wings may have touched my face, I don’t know.
But anyway, I started screaming and crying and I was older, I, I shouldn’t have done that. But I did well, instead of my my dad’s wrath being toward me now, my dad’s wrath was toward my sister and she really got it. And we ended up both going in the house crying at the same time, crying for very different reasons. The end of the story is we got to keep those chickens. Harriet took care of them.
I had nothing to do with them. But Harriet never, never tried that trick again. I still love my sister deeply. I graduated from St. John’s in May of 1956, and then I went to a public high school, I did not go to the Catholic High School in Butte, but I went to public high school and I was a student there for four years, graduating from Butte High School in May or June of 1960. I was a real motivated student.
It was hard for me to learn. So I had to spend a lot of time doing homework and getting my assignments done. But I did the best I can. When I was in high school, I did. I took all of the regular classes I had to teach and some of the classes I took were French. My great aunt Emily Powers taught French and so I took French. I just about had to. And then I also took home ec and oh, I, I took the I didn’t take too many math, I took some math, but I took some science and then the language arts, the, the reading, the literature, the of the writing because I really that was, that was my, that was my love and that’s where my, my interest was, my talent was there.
I wasn’t really, really good in math, although I enjoyed learning and then science, I really always liked science. So those were the major things I took in high school. I was a member of the dog club. I really like dolls. They’re my love. And so I was a member of that club. And then I also, of course, joined the French club. And that was that was a really good experience. And I have fond memories of of all of those things that I did.
I didn’t go out. I did not date in high school. I was not at all interested in in the boys. They were my friends. But I didn’t want to date. I didn’t date. I didn’t go to any prom, wasn’t interested in that. But I had fun and I had my girlfriends that we played tennis together. And we would just go to the soda fountain shop and and just visit over a root beer float or a chocolate soda or whatever.
And that was kind of my high school career when I was a junior in high school and a senior, I worked as a dental assistant for my family dentist in Butte. He trained me and for a while there I thought that maybe I would like to be a dental assistant. But as I got to be a senior and I thought about all of the opportunities that were ahead of me, I decided that maybe I didn’t want to be a dental assistant after all, although I really enjoyed it.
OK, after I graduated from high school in May or June of 1960, I worked for my family dentist as a dental hygienist through this summer. I had worked during my senior year in high school there. I continued working during the summer. And then in August of 1960, I moved to Dillon, Montana, and I enrolled in Western Montana College of Education. I decided I wanted to be a teacher. And so for the first time in my life, I left home when I moved to Dillon and it seemed like I was moving to the end of the earth because I had never left Butte.
I had never I always been with my parents. And so this was a first time experience for me. And I I didn’t realize at the time that Dylan was so close to Butte, it was only 60 miles away. And yet that day that I left Mom and Dad’s house to go to Western, I thought I was moving to New York City. And I just had a lot to learn. But I went to Western. I wanted to major in elementary education and home ec.
But the year that I got there, they were going to have Home EC just one more year and then they were going to phase it out of the curriculum. So I had to I wasn’t going to be there and able to get my mind, my other major in home ec. And so I decided I’d major in elementary education and English. And that is that’s what what I did. I started on that course and I followed it through for the four years that I was at Western.
I graduated from Western in May of 1964. I had earned I went through summer school one of the summers there. And then I saw I was through a little before that, my regular, my class. And so I was able to start working on my master’s degree. But at that time, way back in the early sixties, if you have if one had too much education, they it was difficult for them to get a job. And so I didn’t want to pursue my masters right then because I was afraid I was I wouldn’t get a teaching position.
So after I got my bachelor’s degree, I went one summer to get my. Work on my masters, but then I stopped because I wanted to have an opportunity of getting a position somewhere, so I guess that’s about all I have to say about my college years. I did enjoy going to college. I met a lot of wonderful friends. I had lots of wonderful experiences. And I grew up at that time in college. I really felt that it was a necessary thing for me to do to get away from home.
And it it was I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to go to college and to to mature and to grow up and learn to make my own decisions. OK, when I was in college, they suggested the first year that I not work because it was such a new experience for me to, no. One, be away from home and to be going to school and a bigger institution than Beauti was. And so they just encouraged me.
They being the people in the financial aid at the at the college, encouraged me not to work my first year. So I did not I had worked at the dental hygiene as a dental hygienist in for Dr. Kiley, and I had saved my money to go to school. So that pretty much got me through through school the first year. And I also did get us a loan from the federal government for and people will laugh now. But at the time it was it was a big sum of money to me.
Twelve hundred dollars. For my four years, and that allowed me one hundred dollars per quarter, there were three quarters in a in a year unless I went to summer school and then it would be four quarters that allowed me a hundred dollars per quarter to apply toward my tuition at Western or and or the board and room. And then the other money I had to come up with myself. So after my freshman year in college, I then got jobs.
And when I was in Dillon, I worked at Dr. Evans’s office. I was a dental hygienist for him. And then through working as in his dental office, I also got a job on Saturday cleaning his his office section of that building. And from there, other people, a lawyer and then. I can’t remember what the other person was a lawyer and somebody else had an office in that building and they hired me to clean their offices. So by the time that I was a senior in high school, I was cleaning over half of that building on Saturdays for the different professional people who lived there.
And then I also cleaned private to private residences in Illinois. And then I worked at the theater in the and so those were the three jobs that I had while I was going to school, which enabled me to get my degree and to get all of this all of the miscellaneous expenses taken care of so that I could graduate. So that’s that’s what I did while I was in Dillon. And then when I graduated from college, then I made sure that those people had other applicants that they could have interviewed so that they wouldn’t be out anybody.
They wouldn’t be out of having people there to help them, either clean houses or or the offices or work at the theater. So that I always had some people who were willing to step in and take over that those jobs. After I graduated from Western, I while I was still in my senior year of college, I started applying for jobs and. Anyway, at one point in time, I had in my senior year, I had the county superintendent of schools over in Beaverhead County, Dillon called me and I was called me and asked me if I wanted a teaching job.
And I thought she was maybe talking about a job for the following school year. And of course, I was looking for a job. And she when I talked to her for a few minutes, I found out that she needed a teacher right then and there. I was taking one class that I needed for my bachelor’s degree, which was advanced speech. And then I was taking classes to work toward my master’s, my graduate studies. And she told me she needed to teach her for six weeks, which was would be at the end toward the end of the school year, because the teacher out at Wisdom had passed away and they had six more weeks of school.
And she wanted to know if I would go out there and take Mrs. Davenports place. While that would have meant that I had to quit school and go out to the Gibbons’ school, which was out in the middle of nowhere and in the big hole out toward wisdom. And I thought about that for one day. She told me she could give me twenty four hours to think about it, make my decision, or else if I wasn’t going to take it, she would have to find someone else.
So on the twenty four hours I prayed about it and I decided yep, I will quit school and go out to Gibbons’ for that six weeks, which meant that I would have to take summer school because I had those credits that I that I had started taking and I had to to finish classes. So I quit school. I went out to Gibbons’ and taught there for six weeks. It was a little one room schoolhouse with a teacher right next door to it.
And I had, I believe, six students in my class. One student was a first grader, one student was an eighth grader. And then I had the other four students were two of them were in fourth grade, one in fifth and one in sixth grade. And so I taught there for two weeks, six weeks and graduated the oldest Wayne else from eighth grade. And he went on into Beaverhead County High School the next year. So anyway, that was my first experience at being a teacher on my own.
And so then I was trying to find they were they already they were going to have a teacher out there the following year at Gibbons School and I was looking to go out of state some place because I wanted to really get away. And I thought that it would help me grow up just a little bit more. And I thought maybe something else besides Montana. So I applied at several schools. I applied. I loved Utah and I applied at Ogden for teaching positions.
I applied to teach at Montpelier, Idaho. And then Great Falls, Montana, sent some staff down to Dylan to interview people who wanted to teach at Great Falls, Montana. Great Falls was an up and coming school school district and. They were hiring, they were building all kinds of schools, they were hiring all kinds of teachers, and they were paying for salaries, five thousand dollars a year and back in the 1960s, that five thousand dollars was a lot of money to sign a contract for to teach.
And I thought that. Wouldn’t be a bad experience at all, and I would love the money, and it was it was just Agaba money to me and to a lot of other young teachers just going out and western Santa. A lot of young people up to Great Falls. But I, I applied. But then I told them my application wasn’t I wasn’t interested anymore because at the time I was dating Jenny Dye and Jenny Dye was going to Western behind me.
He was a couple of years behind me and he, he told me that he really didn’t want me to go up to Great Falls, that he would like to have me teach wisdom because he went out on the two year certificate and taught up and wisdom and they could do that back then. Individuals could go to school for two years, sign a contract to teach at a at a school here in Montana anyway, and then just promise that they would go back every summer and work toward their degree until they they got their four year degree and they got their bachelors.
So he was out the two year teaching up at Wisdom. And he wanted me to stay at wisdom because he was at wisdom and he went to Dillon to take some classes. He didn’t want me in Ogden, Utah. He didn’t want me in Montpelier, Idaho, and he certainly didn’t want me up in Great Falls. And so he enticed me to go to wisdom and apply for a job because they had a position open at wisdom of first and second grade combination.
So I went to wisdom and in about a three minute interview, that’s all it took. I had that first and second grade job at wisdom. So Wisdom Montana was where I was going. Great Falls offered brand new teachers five thousand dollars a year. I signed a contract at Wisdom for thirty two hundred dollars a year. And that still was to me a lot of money because I had never made that money before. But and I signed it and I kept my agreement and I was at wisdom for a couple of years.
So that is I will come down here my and my career. Then I taught it wisdom for. I thought with them. One year, I taught a 1st and 2nd grade combination, and then I taught French to the seventh and eighth graders and then the following after I taught a year, then Jerry and I were married and then we both signed contracts for the following year to teach your wisdom again, I was teaching first and second grade. Jerry was teaching.
Third and fourth grade, and we were making things happen and we were having fun up there, and then we found out that I was expecting Baby and so I taught only a half a year that second year, second grade, half a year in French. And then I had had to quit or resign because our baby was due at the end of February. And so at the end of February, the beginning of February, I stopped teaching turn my class over to another teacher who came to take my place and.
Then I was out the rest of that year, although I did go back after six weeks and continue teaching my French to the seventh and eighth graders, and then the following year we were up there in wisdom again. And this specific year I didn’t teach in the public school at wisdom, but rather I had a private kindergarten in my apartment. They didn’t have kindergarten at there at the time and parents really wanted their children to have that kindergarten experience. So I decided that I would teach kindergarten in my home and I think I had seven or eight or nine little children come three times a week and I taught kindergarten in the home.
And that was a really fun thing to do. And then Jerry decided he wanted to go back to school at Dillon to to get his degree because this every summer thing was going to be just taking too many years to get it finished. So he said he’s going to quit teaching wisdom, too, and he was going to go back to school to Dillon and just go straight to get his degree. So we moved to Dillon. And during that time in Dillon, I.
I taught a little boy I tutored a little boy, I guess one little boy who had some learning disabilities and he couldn’t get through second grade, he couldn’t get through first grade, and he was very nervous. And he had some some special some special needs. And so I taught him the year and he was a marvelous little boy. And he just made all kinds of progress that year. And so I taught him the year that Jerry went, finished up his education and graduated with his degree in English as well, or elementary education as well.
And then I stayed home. We continue to have our family and I stayed home to raise my family until my fifth child, my oldest, my youngest child, was in kindergarten. And then I substituted for three years. And then I was able to go on and get a full time job when Tony started school and I worked at Karvelas then for 19 years before I retired. And that was probably almost seven years ago now that I’ve been retired. But I taught in Title one in junior high school, I taught Title one in kindergarten, and then I taught second grade for the remainder of my time.
So Karvelas and during the time that I was at home raising my children, I did daycare for 19 years in my home and I also did preschool for my the kids I took care of during the day. And I had some other children come because I taught preschool three times a week in my home and so my career spanned over, oh my gosh, many, many years, not all of it being in public education, but sometimes doing it in my spare time at my house.
I was born, as I said, in Butte on August 4th, 1940, to my mom and dad, Betty and Harry were both from Butte. Both of their families were pioneers in Butte, my mom’s family coming over from Ireland, my dad’s family coming over from England. And they pioneered Butte and they helped make the youth of the city that it was and that it is be it good or bad. Anyway, they’re dedicated people. We love you.
We have a very wonderful and personal and private heritage, and I’m so grateful for that. My mom was raised a Catholic and her family were all members of the Roman Catholic Church. My dad’s family were all Methodist people. In fact, my great grandfather was a Methodist minister, and before my dad met my mom, he was thinking about being a Methodist minister as well. So we had two different religious backgrounds in our family. We were we were taught to respect everybody’s beliefs.
But that being a Catholic, that was the important thing. And what my dad was very much a Methodist. And as I said, he was thinking about being a minister. But when he met my mother and they decided to get married at the time in Catholic history and back in that time period, my my mom really couldn’t have married my dad unless he was a Catholic also. And that that was just a standing rule, I guess, or maybe regulation, I don’t know.
But anyway, my dad loved my mom enough so that he joined the Catholic Church so that he and my mom could be married. They were married June 5th. Nineteen forty one in Butte, Montana. Mom, Sister Alice was her maid of honor. And my dad’s brother, Bill Bowden, he was their best man and they lived in Butte their entire lives. Their dad worked delivering cigars and cigarets and candy to the different bars and the grocery stores, the taverns in Butte.
My mom was a stay at home mom. She worked for the draft board before she and dad were married and she loved that work. She told me stories about her work as a stenographer and working on the draft board, and she never wanted to talk about World War two or listen to it. Any of the music that was popular back in those days, because she it all of these things brought back memories that reminded her of some of the Second World War.
And when the soldiers and the sailors and all of our servicemen and women, there were few women at that time going into the service, mom, they would leave you on the train and mother would have to be. She told me of the many times that she was in Beirut or in Bozeman, where she worked for a little tiny bit, standing by the doorway of the train as our servicemen and women were going were boarding the train to go to war.
And she would have to check their names off on these sheets of paper as they got on the train. And she she said that many of those young men and those young people, some of the women who didn’t ever return, and it really bothered her her entire life that so many of those young people who went to fight in World War Two never came back. And she’s the one who checked their names off on the sheets of paper. So that’s my mom.
My mom was a stay at home mom. She was a wonderful mom. She was always there for us. She always kept a miraculously clean home. And she she I, I had great parents. I was born of good Lehi parents. And I had a wonderful, wonderful childhood. My dad, as I said, worked delivering cigarets and soda pop and cigars and candy to the stores and butte and the taverns. And then he had his own ice cream store.
He started his own ice cream store up by Beauti school, and he really liked that job. But he wanted it was his own business. And to keep expenses at a minimum, he didn’t hire people to work there. He worked there, did it all. And Grandma Bowdon, his mom, would go and help him at the ice cream store so that he could and not not get paid. She just went down there to help him so that he could make ends meet.
But he was gone a lot and. Away from home, working really hard at that ice cream store in. My mom wasn’t very happy with that, so he eventually gave that up and worked, got a job at the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, which was what secured employment in Butte for most of the people, the miners and the hoisting engineers and the oil, all of these things that all these people that were employed by the mining company to make the ACM work.
And so dad got a job as an oiler oiling the machines in Butte. And eventually he worked up to being a waisting engineer, which he really liked. But it was a stressful job because what he would have to do is sit in a chair. With big machines that were very loud going on around him, and he had to bring the the hoist up and down now the hoists were like elevators, but they weren’t enclosed like elevators. They just were there was floor with sides of boards on them, not fancy at all.
And he would have to hoist this. He would have to take this cage. He was a hoisting engineer. He had to take this cage with the men on it down to different levels in the mine. So at different different levels in the mine shaft, he’d have to stop and let some of the miners off so they could work at this level. Then he’d have to lower the cage and some other miners get off at another level. And anyway, he did that until he had to quit because of his bad heart.
My dad worked at the as a racing engineer for a good many years, and in Butte, the mines would would offer the miners would often strike because it was a very union town. And so when contracts were up, the miners would strike unless they got a certain amount of pay increase. And so every four or five years, I believe it was not more than six years, the miners would usually strike in Butte for more wages. And my dad would be out of jobs.
So whenever my dad was working and the mines were going strong, my mom and dad would. I have to save their money so that they would have money put aside to pay their bills and so that we would survive as a family during the times that the miners were out on strike and sometimes miners were out on strike, oh, six months, maybe even a year. And so. Mom and dad had to look ahead to these times so that they could provide for for their family.
And so mom and dad didn’t ever have, you know, any much, very much money. They couldn’t go on long trips, although I remember going on a trip to Glacier Park with them. We went to Yellowstone Park and one time we were even able to come down to Utah. Those are memorable times, but they were few and far between. But they’re precious memories because they were few, but they were wonderful memories. Dad worked until he got really bad.
He couldn’t work anymore. He always took care of himself and watched what he ate. He was in really good physical shape. But as a child, he had had rheumatic fever and it affected his heart. And so he had heart problems his entire life because of the rheumatic fever. And so at one point in time, and I’m thinking back in 1970, I believe it was that the doctor said that he had to have a new valve replaced in his heart.
And at the time, this was a pioneer procedure. And they they weren’t doing it in Montana at all. They were doing it back in Rochester, Minnesota, and doing so dad and mom and grandma and Grandpa Boden and my brother Bill went back to Rochester and my dad went into surgery. They said the doctor said he was a really good candidate for surgery because he kept himself so healthy. And so anyway, he went into surgery, had the valve valve replaced, and he was in Rochester, Minnesota, for about, oh, I would say probably five weeks.
And during that time, he was hooked up to monitors and wires all over the place. And they would take him into like a gym and he would have to he worked up to where he was bicycling and he was lifting weights and and they had him all wired up. And just to make sure that his heart was working, he had a pacemaker in there as well as a new valve, and he was doing wonderfully well. And so they the doctors told him that he could go home, that back to Montana, and he didn’t have to come back for a year or two for an examination again.
And so they dismissed him on Saturday, August 15th of 1970, I believe. Might have been seventy one. I’m not sure. And they released him in the morning, which it was a Saturday, and they told him that he could start home the following day and they drove out to Minnesota. So they were going to drive back to Montana. And so August 5th, August 15th is a holy day of obligation for the Catholics. And so Mormon, my brother Bill and my dad were getting ready to go to Mass that day.
And Bill and my dad were out in the living room in the motel waiting for my mom. And they were going to go to mass. And my dad had a seizure of some kind and he slumped on the ground and he started foaming from the mouth. And my brother, my 14 years old, was with him and he called her mom and they called the ambulance and got my dad to the hospital. But he was pronounced dead. And after the autopsy, they found that even after all of the physical exercise that he had done at the gym at Mayo Clinic, that and he was doing so well and passed all of those physical tests that the valve in his heart broke away from his heart and that’s what killed him.
And so we lost that. August 15th of 1970, I’ll say they flew his dad’s remains back to Butte and mom and Bill and grandma and Grandpa Boden drove back and we buried a dad the day after my brother turned fourteen. My brother’s birthday is August 19th. He was 14 years old and we buried Dad on August 20th. So that’s the story. My dad, my mother stayed in Butte and she hadn’t had a job since she had gotten married, but she got a job at the junior high school in Butte and she was of a teacher’s aide.
And I got I received letters from teachers who worked with her in Butte. And they said that she was really the teacher. She wasn’t just a teacher’s aide. She was a teacher. And they they just really admired her and respected her. And as she got older, some of her former students that she helped in junior high school came back in. I saw mom again, and when she passed away last June, some of her former students talked to us and said how much they loved her and how much she she meant to them.
So that was my mom’s life. Mom worked and she she mom loved to play cards and she liked to sew and she liked embroidery and do bead work for her grandchildren, her great her great grandchildren. And so many of them have Christmas stockings that they hang up at Christmas time made by Grandma Betty. I met Jerry, my my first husband and the children’s father when I was going to Western Montana College, he was also a student there at the time we dated.
And I told him that before I would ever get married, which he really wanted to do immediately, that I was going to teach one year. I had promised my mom and dad that whatever I did when I went to college or when I went to a tech school or whatever I went to to be trained in a certain area, I would teach, I would teach, or I would work one year in whatever profession or occupation or scale or whatever that I had studied for.
So anyway. Jerry had to wait one year for me to teach, and that was when I was teaching you and my first and second grade that I had up there the last day of school was the twenty eighth of May of nineteen sixty five. And Jerry and I were married the next day, May 29th, 1965, and we lived in Dillon so he could go to school. He worked at the Roxy Theater. He was a projectionist and I got pregnant with David.
Our first child, he was born in February 1966, Lisa came in 1969, January 14th of 1969, and on December 26, 1969, we had John come to us and we couldn’t have expected or we couldn’t have received a better Christmas gift. They were only 11 months apart. That wasn’t very good timing. But they’re wonderful children and we wouldn’t have sent any of them back then. Harrison was born in nineteen seventy five and then six or six and a half years later, Tony came in nineteen eighty one.
So it wasn’t very good timing. We, we didn’t plan any of these, but we’re glad that every, every one of them came to our family. We raised our children in Corvallis. The kids went to school in Corvallis from kindergarten on through. Eighth grade, a senior in high school. I’m trying to think of when David went to a private kindergarten in BU taught by Marcia Merkley and then Lisa and John, then they didn’t have kindergarten in Corvallis when Lisa and John were in kindergarten.
So I neglected to mention this, I think back when in my career part. But I taught private kindergarten in Corvallis for two years. So I was Lisa’s teacher. I was John’s teacher. And then after that, I went to the school board and said, Corvallis really needs to have a kindergarten because parents really wanted that for their children. And so that’s why I went to the school board. I went to the superintendent. And finally the next year, they put kindergarten in the schools.
It’s still there. The children they have we had one kindergarten when I was there and I taught and I think I had 12 or 13 kids. I charged five dollars a month for the children to come to my preschool or my kindergarten. And now in Corvallis, that course parents don’t have to pay. But instead of just having one kindergarten with 12 or 13 little children in it, now they have four kindergartens with, I would say probably 17 or 18 children in each kindergarten.
So in that many years time, back in nineteen seventy five kindergarten and and the children being involved in this preschool activity and getting these learning experience has really increased in Corvallis and. Jerry, my first husband, taught school at Corvallis. He taught. He taught mostly fourth grade at Corvallis, and he was a teacher when he passed away in September of nineteen ninety nine. He, too had many people just tell me and other members of my family how much they admired him and what a positive impact he had in their lives.
And anyway, there there have been days in the Corvallis school district whether Jerry was teaching or whether I was teaching or whether our kids were attending school for many years. Now, we have no dies in the Corvallis school district. And it seems kind of funny, but they do have a scholarship in Jerry’s name that they give to a senior every year, a graduating senior who has applied for it. So in a way, there’s still a little tiny bit of dye in Corvallis.
I’m trying to think I retired from school in nineteen ninety nine. I believe in there someplace. No, I thought I don’t know when I retired. I’ve been retired for now. I was no I, I can’t remember when I retired from Corvallis. I’ve been retired about nine, seven years now. So that’s my family now. David and his family. David, Christine have a wonderful family. David has 12 children and they live down here in Moroni, Utah, Lisa Mary, Jason Miller.
And they have three children. They live in Lehigh, Utah. John is married and he has three children. But he’s getting he’s getting he was married. And then he is getting cele tomorrow to another Jenny, who is a wonderful, wonderful young woman. And she brings into our family six grandchildren. So we’re looking forward to that. And then Harrison is married to Hailey and they have three children. And Tony has a son, Ethan, who lives in Washington State.
So I have lots I have children. I have lots of grandchildren. And then David is a grandfather now, charity. His oldest daughter is married and she has my four great grandchildren. So we have I have a very, very special family. And I love them all so very much. When I was a little girl at St. John’s, I can remember the missionaries coming by, I was like five or six, seven years old. I can remember the missionaries coming by the house knocking on doors, wanting to talk to people about the LDS church.
My mother would answer the door and she would say, I am not interested in learning about your church. I have a church. My church is true. But if you’re ever in the neighborhood, I want you to feel free to come by. You’re always welcome here. In the summer, she would give them a glass of lemonade in the wintertime, a hot chocolate. They did. And the missionaries didn’t come very often by the house. But every once in a while they would come by and mother would sit and talk with them and they wouldn’t bring a lot of religion into the picture, but they were allowed in the house and.
Mom would always have a good visit with them. Of course, children and really talk then and I was so shy I wouldn’t talk anyway, but I remember them coming in their black suits, their dark suits and their ties and their white shirts. And mother would visit with them in the living room. That was my first. Thoughts and experiences I had with the LDS church when I was in grade school in Butte at St. John’s, I would ask the nuns certain questions, things that really bothered me.
And the nuns would say to me, Bonnie, don’t think like that. Don’t think of those questions. Just accept what you’re being taught. Those things that you question are called mysteries and mysteries were things that they they couldn’t answer. You couldn’t put your finger on why why this or why that or why they were thinking something else. And so. I I had these questions forever, and the questions were, and I’m just doing this off the top of my head, I’m trying to think, number one, why do babies have to be baptized right after birth?
Because the Catholics taught because they’re born in original sin, which was a sin that the Catholic Church taught that originally Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden by taking of the forbidden fruit. And babies are born with original sin. Well, in order to have that sin washed away so babies would be pure, they had to be baptized as infants, sprinkling on their head with sprinkling on their head. And so the Catholics always baptized their infants when they were just teeny tiny babies so that they wouldn’t have this original sin.
And I never understood that because I thought a heavenly father who loved their children, who loved his children and and the Catholic Church taught that that we are his children, why he would allow them to be born in sin when they were so perfect and they didn’t commit the sin. So that was one question I had. It was always considered a mystery. And another question that I had was why are why are people baptized with just sprinkling on the head?
Why aren’t they immersed in the water as Christ was? Because he was our example and our exemplar and the and then again would say, that’s a mystery. We just have to live with it and accept it. And that was something else that bothered me when I was like in second grade. And and I could never get answers. And I would ask when I got into junior high school, I asked the priests in my parish about this. When I got up to be a member of that, the Organization for High School Kids and Junior High Kids.
And I went to a public high school. So I went to to get my religion. I went to an evening class taught by the the parish priest. I would ask them the questions too. They were still mysteries. And there was one other question I had. Oh, I know they the Catholics always taught that there were three persons in one God. So it was just kind of like a three headed God, father, father, God. The Father got the Son and the Holy Ghost, but they were one person and I could never figure that one out.
That was the third thing that really bothered me again. I was told it was a mystery. So even as a young child, I had these questions, I had those questions and they couldn’t answer them. So I went on to college and I was still looking for answers. I was on a journey trying to find answers to these questions because I didn’t feel that they missed that they were really mysteries. I thought there was a real answer for them.
And so then I when I got to Western, my first roommate happened to be LDS. She was also from Butte, but I didn’t realize she was in my graduating class. We had like three hundred and seventy three people in my graduating class from high school and I did not know Jean Crooker. But when we got down to Western, she and I were assigned as roommates in our in our dorm. And so WoW’s we had lot I had lots of questions and Janie and I would stay up till one and two in the morning.
I would have questions and she would have answers. And they weren’t the answers that the nuns gave me. These were mysteries. Don’t worry about it. She gave me answers that seemed to me to be realistic, to be true. And that was my first inkling that I was on my journey. I was finding the answers that I went to several other churches as well at that time, always going to the Catholic Church on Sunday to to make sure that when when I left the church and I knew sometime I would leave the Catholic Church because they it didn’t hold what I felt in my heart.
And I knew at the time that I broke it to my mother, not my father, but to my mother. She would say I and I bet you been going to other churches, but your you haven’t been going to the Catholic Church. And I wanted to look her in the eye and be honest and with an answer of true honesty and love. I wanted to be able to tell my mom I have been to other churches, but I have never missed a Catholic mass on Sunday.
And so when I was a college, that’s what I did. I went to different churches. I went to the LDS church sometimes with Jeannie, but I always went to Catholic mass on Sunday so that when the time came, I. To be able to honestly tell my mom, yes, I went to Mass every Sunday and I did, and I did it to fulfill that to my mom, but also because I it was it was a tough thing leaving the Catholic Church because I knew it didn’t hold for me what it should hold for me, but it was still inbred in me and inbred in all of the my family before.
No one had ever left the Catholic Church. They may not have gone to the Catholic Church, attended mass and attended services, but still they were buried Catholic and they always admitted to being Catholic. So I was No. One, as far as I know, through all of the decades before. So it wasn’t a like thing that I that I that I did this. There was a lot of preparation. There was a lot of prayer and lots and lots of thinking and lots of lots of visiting and and meditating over this thing that I knew eventually was going to happen.
Anyway, I finally decided that I was going to be baptized. One thing kept me from it, I had the missionaries, the state missionaries give me the lessons and they wanted to have me baptized after the third discussion or so. And I said, no, I haven’t had all the discussions. I this is a serious thing for me. I’m going to wait, which I did. And the one thing that held me back from joining being baptized before I did was this idea of plural marriage.
And I could not understand it. I could not grasp it. And I told them that until I could come to grips with that and what it meant. And I just didn’t understand that, that I just couldn’t be baptized. And so I prayed and fasted for several months. I’m not going to say years, but I’m going to say several months before it came to me that and I read and I studied and I pondered until I came to grips with this idea.
And I believe and it came to me, to me and I believe that plural marriage is a celestial law. I believe we’re not living a soul in the celestial kingdom now, obviously, but that in time we will have plural marriage again. I don’t know why Brigham Young and the early days of the church, the people were. Some of them practice plural marriage, I don’t know. My father asked them to do this, and I don’t have to question father because I know that in due time I will understand all of this.
And I know in due time that I will be part of this, too. In the celestial kingdom, if I’m worthy to go there, we will have plural marriage. When I came to grips with this plural marriage thing, then I was OK to go on and to be baptized. And I entered the waters of baptism in Dylan Butte, Montana. Steak, I think it was the steak there in Montana. And Jerry, my husband, he wasn’t my husband at the time.
I was engaged to him. He he baptized me and confirmed me, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. When I went to Butte, I said Jerry and I weren’t married yet, but I went to Butte and I explained to my mom and dad what I what I had done, what I was choosing to do. I hadn’t been baptized yet, but it was about a week or two before I was what my choice was.
Dad accepted it because he had left his church to join the church for mom. I left the church not to join the church for Jerry, but to join the church for me and my mom. Except I did not accept it. She just said to me she thought I was going to hell, that I was damned. And I can understand where she was coming from because she had this ingrained in her this knowledge ingrained in her. And she really felt it was right.
And she told me I wasn’t allowed at home anymore and that she didn’t want any Mormon under under her roof, although she accepted the missionaries when I was just a little girl. But anyway, I left and she told me I wasn’t allowed home, Dad, and she didn’t bother with me at all, that dad would come after I got married. Dad, that would come down to wisdom and and see me and my mom’s dad, Grandpa Powers would come down and visit me too, as well as Grandma and Grandpa Boden.
But Mom wouldn’t have anything to do with me. And she didn’t have let my brother have anything to do with me. But right before I was baptized, I had a missionary interviews with the two missionaries in Dillon and they knew my situation. And they told me that sometime, someday, someday, they didn’t say when that if I prayed and fasted and that I if I lived a righteous life, that my mom and I would be closer someday than we had ever been.
And I, I believe them. They didn’t give me a time timeline and I did pray and fast. And it was just a little over a year. It was about a year and a half after my son David was born. I was anemic and wasn’t feeling really well, and I had been home like a week. My dad had come up to see me and to see David, his new grant, his new his only grandchild at the time.
And he went home and told mom that I wasn’t feeling very good. And the next day, about noon, mom called me on the phone and I answered it and I said hello. And Mom said, Hi, Bonnie, this is Mom. I want you to come home and I want to take care of you and the baby until you feel better. And I told her then that I, I was doing OK and that I didn’t have to, you know, she didn’t I didn’t have to go home for her to take care of me.
But I said, Mom, if you’ll want us to come home, we’ll be I’ll be in Butte this weekend. I said will come over to Butte and you can see your grandson. And this was the time that we we went over that weekend. And through the years, Mom and I have grown really, really close. And she told me just a couple of years before she passed away, she said, Bonnie, I thought for years you joined the church just for Jerry.
But she said, you told me you didn’t. And she said, I totally understand why you joined the church. And I know you were serious that you didn’t join just for Jerry. You join because you really felt it was the truth. And someone finally understood that. And she through the years she has been to. A baptisms of my grandchildren, of my grandchildren, her great grandchildren, she went to the MTC when Harrison went into a service mission.
She’s been down to the temple. When my son John was married, the first time she went down to the temple, couldn’t go in, but she was in all the pictures on Temple Square. She is so proud of my children. And anyway, I know that John has three children and we’re down here now because John is going to be called to Jenny Dye tomorrow. And I know my mom is just thrilled to pieces that John is going to find happiness with Jenny.
She is thrilled that we she has some more great she has some more great grandchildren that she can call her own now. And I know that when I have her work done for her that she’s going to accept the gospel, that she knows exactly where it’s coming from. And she knows now why back in June of 1964 that I I chose to join the church. And I just want to share my testimony that I know this church is true and that I love it.
I’m so thankful for the gospel in my life with the blessings that I’ve received. I’m so grateful to know that families are forever. And I am grateful for all the callings I’ve had in the church, for the growth that I’ve experienced, for all the beautiful people I’ve been able to serve and to meet and to work with. And I know that I will see all of my family members again. And I just pray that all of those who have passed through the veil will accept the gospel into their lives.
I have a lot of work to do and I, I understand the responsibility I have. And I just want to tell my children and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren how much I love them and how much I want us to be together forever. And I say this now, this day, I don’t even know the day I yes, I do. It is March. Twenty ninth and twenty seventeen.