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More Lindbergh Montana memories

I wrote this yesterday  from Polson, Montana, nestled on the south shore of Flathead Lake, where my wife and I stayed overnight in our motor home. That afternoon (April 17), we traveled a short distance north to Kalispell, where we were evening guests of the Northwest Montana Posse of Westerners, a history group that meets at the Northwest Montana History Museum in Kalispell. They invited me to speak about my latest book, Lindbergh in Montana, and to sign copies of the book.
Saturday, we were in Livingston, Montana, at Wheatgrass Books, for an enjoyable book signing. And, thanks to store owner Lisa Snow, I met and had a delightful conversation with a friend of hers who grew up in the Charles and Ann Lindbergh “orbit” in Darien, Connecticut. That woman is Mona Lewis, who lives in the Livingston area and has been a Montanan much of her adult life, ever since she attended Montana State University in Bozeman in the 1970s.
Lisa mentioned my book to Mona after seeing a reference in the book to Mona’s late mother, Jean O. Saunders, who had moved to Montana in the 1980s with her husband, Allan, who also is deceased. During my research for the Lindbergh book, I came across an article in the Great Falls Tribune, published in 1997. It described Jean Saunders’ service as secretary to the Lindberghs at their Darien home from 1957-1975, her job here ending the year after Charles died in Maui. Her mother’s employment by the Lindberghs spanned the time when Mona and her two younger brothers were growing up in the same neighborhood as the Lindberghs. Jean and Allan Saunders and their children frequently interacted with the famed flyer and his equally renowned wife, as well as with their younger children, just coming of age.
Before she died, Jean Sanders wrote a memoir of that time, My Life with the Lindberghs: A Personal History 1957-1975.  Mona was kind enough to give me a copy of the memoir, which I’ve been reading as time allows during our travels.
So far, I’ve found two interesting tidbits that document visits that Charles and Anne Lindbergh made to Montana in the 1960s. Both involve Land Lindbergh, their second-oldest son. Land and his older brother, Jon, partnered to buy a western Montana ranch in 1965. Jon continued to work in Seattle and left day-to-day management of the ranch to Land. I knew about that part of the Lindbergh story and mentioned it in my book. Land is now retired, and he still lives with his wife on the ranch property. I’ve conversed with him several times by phone and email. I had hoped to meet him last summer when my wife, Cathie, and I last drove through this part of the Treasure State, but we were unable to make arrangements to chat over coffee.
With that background in mind, here is what Jean Saunders added to my story.
Saunders, who studied voice and became an accomplished singer in her 40s, said she was “doing my vocalises” (voice lessons) when the Lindbergh were in Montana in 1966. She said Anne Lindbergh wrote to her from Missoula in May that year and described what she was seeing.
“We are now on Land's ranch near Missoula. It is beautiful country, but very cold for May—it snowed yesterday! We are delaying a few days here so we won't be back Wednesday night as we planned and may not get a reservation back until Saturday, arriving home Saturday night late.”
It was Memorial Day weekend, making it difficult to get reservations, Anne said. She added her hope that the Saunders were having better weather in Connecticut.
“See you next week,” she said in closing.
Saunders’ memoir also mentioned the wedding of Charles and Anne’s youngest child, their daughter Reeve, which took place on Land’s ranch.
Saunders said the wedding was a family reunion for a family with children who were young adults and who were already scattered across the U.S. and into Europe. Four of the five Lindbergh children attended, along with eight grandchildren. Land and Susan had two children, Jon and Barbara had five, and Anne, often called Andy, the Lindbergh’s other daughter, came with her young son.
“Reeve, lovely in (a) long white dress and floral headband on her blond curIs, took her father's arm, ready to be given away to the man she had chosen, walking to him in the bright Montana sunshine.”
Mona, thank you for sharing your mother’s delightful writing about her memories of a near-magical time a half-century ago. They enrich my story.

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Jamie Larson