|Russian's Quest for the Good Life
Fulfilled on Ross County Hill Farm
Ex-Soldier of Czar Finds Peace Here
By Quentin Foley
Fourteen hundred feet above the floor of Upper Twin valley lives a man who has found happiness, peace and security at the end of a quest that began 43 years ago, in Russia.
Morris Alexander Bodkin, a soldier in the Czar's army, was tired of war. He had just fought the Boxers in China and now the Czar had declared war on the Japanese. Morris Alexander started his search for a country where a man was free and not a slave to the state. That was 1904. He was 25 years old.
Morris Alexander went first to Belgium, but a king ruled there too. Then he heard of a land of the free to the west and he caught the next ship for the United States.
Prospered in Kentucky
To South Newport, Ky., Morris Alexander took his wife, Rose, also a native Russian, whom he had met and married in New York. There they found that it was truly a land of opportunity. Morris Alexander became a stone mason, then a contractor, building some of the finest homes in South Newport and the St. Paul's church. He prospered and quietly amassed a small fortune, so he and his wife settled back to rear their five strong, healthy children, three boys and two girls.
Then came the depression and Morris Alexander held too many second mortgages. Those who had purchased the houses he had built could not pay him and he therefore could not pay the bank. Mr. Bodkin was not a man to take bankruptcy. he settled all his debts, though it cost him all his savings, and the quest for peace and security began all over again.
His children were grown and had left home. There being just he and his wife, he decided to go back to the land. He purchased 100 acres high above the Upper Twin valley in paint township, Ross county, and resolved to live on what the soil produced.
As Mrs. Bodkin put it, "We are just camping out. Our wealth is the wealth of the land." Mrs. Bodkin was planting some gladiolus in her front yard at the time and she said, "You see I will be gone some day but these gladiolus will be here forever."
Soil conservation is inborn in Mr. Bodkin He has carefully terraced his garden plots and all his fields are contour-plowed. "I have a hundred acres here and I could use a plot, wear it out, and prepare a new plot, but that is wasteful," he said. "This is a rich country but the land has been badly used."
Ease Up With Years
The Bodkin experiment was in full operation until last year when old age (Mr. Bodkin is 70 and Mrs. Bodkin is 65) forced them to work on a smaller scale. Until then they had raised their own vegetables; a fine orchard furnished fruit; they had a dozen milk cows to furnish milk and butter; a small herd of sheep gave wool and meat, and 14 goats added meat and milk. They raised wheat which they ground into flour and made their own bread. The wood ashes from the fireplace dropped into the cellar where they were collected to furnish lye for soap. A windcharger furnished electricity and a huge cistern, 11 feet deep and 11 feet wide, on the hill above the house, furnished tap water in the kitchen under natural pressure after passing through a charcoal filter Mr. Bodkin made himself.
Rises at 5 a.m.
Now the windcharger has been replaced by a Delco system and Mr. Bodkin has disposed of most of his stock, but he still rises at 5 a.m. to till his fields.
A son, Bernard, has come back home to live, after serving his country in the Seabees. his return pleases Mrs. Bodkin, especially, for she remarked, "The one thing I missed were my children and their little ones They would all come for a visit every once in a while, but I was lonely when they would go."
Their (...missing text...) the Kaizer steel (...missing text...) California; one, Philip, at Pittsburg, Calif., the other Wesley, at Oakland, Calif.one daughter, Miss Lillian Bodkin, is a secretary in Philadelphia, and the other, Mrs. David Bella Chandler, lives in West Los Angeles, Calif., where her husband is a scenario writer for Louis B. Mayer.
Mr. Bodkin keeps abreast of the times through the medium of his radio, and prophesied "This country will never be subjected by another nation. It is too large and strong."
Philosophizing, he said, "If a man doesn't mind work and loves the soil, he should do as I have done. I have found peace, security, and happiness and I would not care to live otherwise now."
Mrs. Bodkin sitting on her cool front porch, remarked, "Look at the beautiful view we have, it alone is worth a million dollars. In the summer time the hills below are like a green velvet carpet and in the winter a soft, white blanket of (...missing text...). Here we are free."
The quest had ended, (...missing text...) had been found.