May 19, 1987

Dear Geneva

I got the pictures back & see you got yours too - I was so glad to see all the pictures of you & Maxine & her daughters & the Johnson family - I thought of you all many times over the years - I thank you so much.  Geneva, you asked me in your letter if I had heard about the fire in Minot - Yes I heard it on the national news & meant to tell you about is in my letter.  I have so much on my mind - I hope that everything is all cleared up there now.  With that fire - it has warmed up to the eighties now, 83 today - I cut my yard today - I bought a riding lawn mower last summer in a rummage sale seems like I told you this - that same machine in Sears Roebuck store cost a $1000.99¢ I got it for $150.00 - its a craftsman, I want to send you five more pictures to loot at - have you ever been to Mrs. Risbers home in Niobe - my gramma - the last time I was there was in 1936 - I was in the C-C-C-Camp then in the winter of 35 & 36.  I came home in spring - I had bought a car a year before that - it wasn't very good so I drove to Stanley with it & then I traded it for a 29 Chevy coupe & give $100.00 the boat - so a while after that we got word that Gramma Risberg was sick then & I took mother up there, Allen was with me - She was around 83 then - so she died then - so I want you to see these fine pictures - But like to have them back.  I will put the address & stamps on the envelopes - & when the mail man comes there with mail to Babtism home - then he picks up the & takes it to post office.  Don't he - thanks for sending the paper clipping out of the paper about the election & family.  I remember Chester & Clifford & Ruth.  I think Cliff was around my age - I read your letters over many times Geneva - now then I want to talk about that mean gramma & that mean Emil - Mother told me a lot of things as we lived together for many years about all this - & how you had to pack up a suitcase & take your daughter & leave.  This is very disturbing & hurting to me - Mother said that Gramma broke you & Emil up - & she broke up Alice & Victor when they lived on the Bodeen farm.  Mother & me were there one time, I'm trying to think what year it was - any way Alice was telling mother how mad she was at granna Johnson that she was a big butcher knife that she was going to use on her - she showed us - then too she bugged George & Annie at Niobe too, she broke them up too.  Gramma she told Annie to divorce him & she could get anybody, even a banker.  George he was a nice man & had a good job there & they sure had a nice home there I remember it all so well & the last time me & mother was there & Annie all of us was there & we were getting ready to go home - we were all in the living room & Annie was crying very hard.  They were losing their home then & getting a divorce - then - I think this was in 1935 or 36 - it was sad - Charlie told me how he went over there with a team of horses & helped them dig the hole for the basement of the house when they built it.  Yes, that women I called my gramma, she broke up these marriages - she was right down mean & an evil woman - her & Emil should of been put on the carpet & bring them to justice - who told you that you should get out & make your own living.  Charlie Johnson's son inlaws - If I could of been there - lets say in Minot or Stanley or Niobe I know now I would have to have your consent first - & if you said yes - I'd of taken you to Bismark, North Dakota to see the governor.  A lot of men when they grow up to be a man then they look around for a woman a guy like Emil & he found one to get married, you are married & stand before a minister & the minister asks hm to hold up his right hand & he'll say do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife & he says I do - then the minister will say do you promise to this woman to live with her & protect for better or worse - he'll raise his right hand & say I do.  I now pronounce you man & wife & then he'll bind it with a kiss - you done your part - But he never done his - & you had the law behind you & you had your daughter as witness how he & gramma abused you and Maxine - & all I can do now is talk about it - its all passed now for many years - I know how it is with you & me & a lot of us we hate to say anything - people like this should be brought to justice - it should never be left undone.  I have been to a lot of trials here in the court house - I just want to tell you this now what happeded to mother us kids back home on the farm - as you know my dad died when he was 32 years old & I was 5 years old - & then you remember Oscar Swenson he had a nice farm home about two miles west of our place - so after dad died that man he farmed our home place for 7 years & had a full line of horses machinery of all kinds - mother was oing to get married & I already called him my step dad I used to go down there at his farm home & sleep with him - in winter months& summer - in morning when it was cold he'd get up & build fire & put the coffee on then we'd get up & have coffee & ten make our breakfast - then we'd get milk pails & go out to barn & feed the horses & cows - He'd tell me to go up in the hay move & put had down to the cows & horses then we'd milk & bring the milk in & separate it then we'd go out & we'd pump water for the cows & horses - the finest drinking water not very deep well a little pump I could pump my self - I'm maybe 7 or 8 years old - this farm was a very nice farm home a 160 acres almost level - Geneva, I thought the world of this main - then after he had been with us for 7 years - he got sick - he'd eat & then 5 minutes later had to go out & puke it up throw up everytime he ate - then it went o for quite a while mother tried hard to get him to go to the Doctor & hospital & he went to Biskmark hospital & had a operation - he had cancer.  They couldn't do nothing for him - & then his Bro was notified in Minneapolis & him & his wife came out to our place then had to have a dale of his farm & everything & sell it - then we had a big farewell party for him before his Bro & wife took him back to their home in Minneapolis - before they left he came over to my mother & said to her I hate to be you now - there we were left alone again - so then he lived a few months & then passed away.  Mother couldn't go to the funeral so they sent pictures to us so we could see.  Mother had 3 little boys to care for then after a few years went on, I guess I was 14 or more we got 2 milks & started raising cattle till we had 10 milk cows & had 22 head of cattle & raised hogs to o & mother raised chickens & turkeys.  I have two cream cans going to Mandan, North Dakota, one going & one coming back all summer long - then we'd put in potatoes & garden too.  Then the depression came & the dust storms for 10 years - then we had to morgage our cattle couldn't saize no feed for them - we lived on the ????? farm place for 10 years when we had all them cattle & one of our neighbors farmed the place from the Winnona Savings Bank in Minnesota, then when mother was left a widow at times people liked to pick on a woman who is left alone with children then one time out cattle got our of our pasture & this man that was farming the homeplace sent his oldest boy down there to pick up our cattle - I wasn't home at the time, I was working out - But Walter was home & when hecame through the yard with our cattle, my Bro Walter asked him what he was going to do with our cattle - then he jumped off of the saddle horse & hit my Bro Walter.  My Bro gave him a hellava beating.  The neightbor asked what happened to him & he said Oh the big Bodeen kid beat up on me.  So then after that then this boys dad came down to our place & there was a water well across the road we used to pump water for our milk cows & there was a hay rack laying on the ground there & he took a necyuck laying on the ground there & he chased my Bro Walter around this hay rack many times But - But couldn't get near him, if he did he might have killed him - then come time after that don't remember how long - & all the gossip that went on for years - & one day we come home from town & the gate by the barn was open & one of our milk cows was missing & my mother wrote a letter to Governor Langer, you remember when he was governor, don't you Geneva.  & he wrote a letter to Stanely, North Dakota to the authorities there, I never will forget this I'm just a little boy then & the Sheriffs & lawyers came about 5 men & we were going to take him to court they had been over there before they came to our place & warned him - so after they had been over to our place then for a while then they told me to walk up there & get our milk cow, which I did & led her home with a rope - it was only a half of a mile - then there was an old lady who lived 3 or 4 north east of us she lived alone lost her husband & then she lost her son in World War I & she got $10,000 & got it at $75.00 a month till it run out - any way she heard all the gossip that went on around there & a lot of the neighbors would go over there & bring sandwiches - cake - donuts - coffee & everything, then they'd sit down & eat it then one time right after this happened me & mother went over there & this old lady she told my mother - she says you sure put that man in his place & she shut up all these people with all their gossip she says you don;t hear one word no more.  A while after that this man came over to our place for something, I don;t remember what it was for, but when mother & me came out & stood on the porch he took  his hat off & said how do you do to us.  He bothered us no more.  We were always good people we have never been in jail - we never been arrested at no time.  We were taught to go to church & sunday school.  When you talk about going through hell - Geneva, you are not alone.  When my mother & I left the farm & all we had left was our cattle, furniture we had a sale & came out here to Montana & start a new life for ourselves - Mother was a very dispondent woman - she cooked on farms for men till she was 57 then we moved into our home here, she got highblood pressure then - then later she got heart trouble & then she got hardening of the arteries - & then she got arthritis, suffered with that for 14 years, I seen her sit on the rocking chair & cry many times - it was hard on me to see her suffer - were mother 's standing on this picture with the Lewie Nelson Family as they buried gramma Risberg - & I look at her & I get tears in my eyes that she is gone - look at her so many times.  So all the years we lived her in Great Falls.  4 times I had to call the police - just on account of mean people around - it has been very hard & hell working for other people, a lot of them don't know respect for working class of people - & then to metnion about Emil again if he would of been a good husband & father - look at all the grandaughters & grandchildren he could enjoy now, today you & I we have seen many people die in the Bodeen Family - the Johnson Family & the Lewie Nelson Family & now we are gettin gold too - I hate to see it - I don't like to die - this is Monday evening & I'm sitting outside & writing your letter its all green here now the trees are almost all leafed out now - My yard is so pretty its like a park - there is something else I want to tell you - there's a couple I know here, his wife was born in Jamestown, North Dakota & she had been trying so hard to get her birth certificate for 20 years & couldn't get it.  She was very upset about it - so finally she got on the phone right in her own home & called the Governors office in North Dakota & his secretary answered the phone - & she told  how she had been trying to get her birth certificate for all them years - & se told them she was going to sue the state of North Dakota for withholding her birth certificate & believe you me they got to working on it & she got it in  no time,  She showed it to me this is what I was going to write you about - its a long letter & there is so much trouble in the world.

& best wishes to you
Clarence Bodeen

P-S - I got your picture in a gold glass frame, you look good for your age - & like I said I'm sending you five pictures to keep & I'm still waiting for them two pictures to come on the mail from this person before I send these five to you.  I'll have to write them & hurry them up - I'm tired of waiting - you take care now.  That man that made all that trouble for us - that stole our milk cow from us - he took that straight razor that he shaved with for many years & went out to the barn & cut his throat with it, his wife found him dead there - this was in 1942.