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Memories of Bombee

By Kenneth Monsebroten, Prisoner of War

In 1972, I married a beautiful young lady named Sherrie. As a result of that marriage my only daughter was born. Shirley Ann was soon nicknamed 'Cissy' and she became my best buddy. When she was old enough to start talking, I became her 'Bombee'. Every other father in the neighborhood was either Dad or Daddy; I had to be a Bombee. When I entered the house after work, she would squeal "Bombeeeee!" as she ran to me on fat little legs. All too soon she learned that a sad sounding voice that begain with "Bombee" was all it took to get her wish or escape a nap time. When Cissy was little more than two years old, a parole violation sent me back to prison. My wife filed for a divorce, and I lost my little buddy. Those are memories of terrible heartache.

Over the years thoughts of big eyes, pigtails, short, fat legs and a tiny voice calling "Bombee!" often brought me to tears and prayers in the same instant. I would pray that my little buddy was safe, loved and understood, wherever she was, and that whoever her new stepfather was, he would be a kind, loving and understanding person. God, how I loved and missed my little buddy! Those are poignant memories.

As the years passed, I was to survive three major prison riots. One was described as "a prison blood bath" in the newspapers. I once fought an exhibition fight with a top ten ranked heavyweight contender from Seattle. He pounded some memories into me that I'll not soon forget. He never did knock me off my feet, however. I guess I'm kind of proud of that fact. Those are violent memories.

I was on a national television program called '48 Hours' as a spokesman for the transitional release of prison inmates a couple years ago. A famous commentator interviewed me for over 10 hours to get 42 minutes of tape. They make you sit real close together on TV, and this commentator had bad breath. He didn't have any glass in his glasses either. When I asked him about his glasses, he said they were called 'props' in television language. I told him they were called 'phony' in convict language. He laughed to cover his embarrassment. Prisoners learn to do that too, you know, laugh when their feelings are hurt. Those are cynical memories.

After the program aired I received many visitors. All it took to see me was a call to the prison superintendent, saying that they had seen me on TV, and the visit was approved. Most who came to see me were media types; some were even famous. They all seemed to have a rumpled, hurried look about them; the pressure of making deadlines no doubt. Those are mostly boring memories.

One day I was called to the visiting room to see a Mrs. Dan Holden; another reporter, no doubt. When I entered the visiting area, she was stood looking out the window. The tall, trim, professional look about her made me sure she was the woman I was told desired to see me. She began to turn as I approached her and I extended my hand as I introduced myself saying,"Hi, I'm Ken."

Facing me now, she looked directly at me for the first time. In an emotional, quaking voice, she greeted me saying, "Ohh, Bombeeee . . ."

Now that's the greatest memory of all.

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