Monday, November 14, 2005

My Moms life

The picture above depicts a family photo shot in 1932 my Grandmother Dagny is holding her first born...A daughter named Ingjerd also known to me as my Mother, Pronounced in English as Ingrid. Standing next to her, my Grandfather's Dad [name sadly unknown]. His Son, my Grandfather Trygve and Sister to his side. The Great and Great, Great Grandmothers to the other, both of which I've heard stories about but I couldn't tell you their names.

My mother told me that she absolutely loved her Grandmother, She lived a little walk from my mom, and mom used to go to her house to help with the baking for the community, they baked once a week the breads and pies or cakes and it was an all day affair at the bake house. They would barter their baked goods for the other things they needed, such as eggs or fabric or whatever else they needed.

All the people in the community had a job that kept their family in the supply's they needed. They even traded with the fisherman for supplies like sugar.

Now My grandfather was a Carpenter and a painter. Mother said he was one of the best around, he was very meticulous. He would of course trade his skills for the other things they needed such as pigs, chickens, and sheep and shoes for the family. My mother never had tasted beef until she came to America. They hunted Reindeer and Elk was their red meat and wild birds also. Fish was another meat they eat a lot of due to the close proximity to the coastline.

In my Mothers family there was 6 kids, 3 girls, Ingjerd,Sonja,and Osa also 3 boys, Tor, Tom and Einar. My mom, being the eldest of the bunch. Sadly there are only 2 boys left.

In my Moms time the children went to school but they did 2 years of schooling in one year and graduated in the 8th grade. After that they either married, or got jobs and some joined services such as Merchant Marines, or the Coast Guard. If your family had money you traveled. My Grandfather would travel to the States to do his Painting and then come home with the money, I think he was a adventurer and was bored in one place. He wanted to live in the States due to the amount of money he could make here.

That's Mom told me of a vision she had of America and the money trees and the streets being paved in gold. I remember thinking how naive and even snickering about it with my siblings, but as I grew up I all to soon realized that she was so sheltered by only getting to know what the family allowed them to know.

My Grandfather was stern and you didn't piss him off by no means...another words he didn't spare the rod from the tales I've heard. My Grandmother didn't dare push his buttons so to speak either. I know that she had ways of getting her way though; Mom said they would go to Grandma for protection. Hmmmm...I wonder what that was.
Grandpa could be loving also, there were many tales of wonderful "God Jul's" or Christmas' and the homemade presents, also presents that were bartered for. I know that he must have done the shopping in his travels.

My Great Grandfather would dress as "Nisse"...The Norwegian "Nisse" is not like his American relative Santa Claus. The Norwegian "Nisse" differs from both Santa Claus and St. Nicholas. Which, in most homes is more or less identical to Santa Claus. The "Julenisse" brings presents to all the nice children on Christmas Eve.

But only after you ate your Lutefisk...
Lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) must surely be the strangest culinary effort credited to the Norwegians, Everyone of course is not a devotee of lutefisk, but those who are defend it vehemently. Others go to the opposite extreme and claim it's a national disgrace and give it to Norwegian-Americans as joke to watch them try it and become grossed out. I suggest as a tradition make Norwegian donuts or something, they can keep the Lutefisk!

Sorry for the side track but you had to be forewarned back to the Julenisse... He is not as shy as Santa though, since the "julenisse" delivers the presents himself. He does not come down the chimney in the middle of the night. Now on Christmas Eve it is important to remember the Nisse with a bowl of porridge. This insures that the Nisse will be happy and continue to watch the family farm. If you forget, he is full of mischief and will play tricks on you.

Now church was another thing that was big in her family, The Lutheran faith was their belief, you went to church every Sunday without fail, I don't think the kids tried as hard to get out of it then as they do now due to the socializing that was done there.

Now let me touch on a subject that left an emotional scar on my Mom for life...The German Invasion in 1940, there are many stories that I've heard, and some that begged to be told and were to hurtful to even speak of. I know anytime there is a forced invasion these things happen but to see the pain in my moms face when she spoke of this was horrifying. The German soldiers did and had whatever they wanted, age was no matter. Yes, I'm referring to rape and pillage.

They took families hostage to get their young boys to go and fight with them because they knew the Norwegian country sides, they took their food, slaughtered their livestock to feed their troops. The Norwegian people were so overwhelmed by their presence. They did eventually form groups of men known as the Norwegian resistance that would go and sabotage the troops and try to take back either their own people or take back some supplies needed to survive.
The Norwegians to protect their families would burn their churches to destroy church records such as birth certificates, Meanwhile Germans were going from town to town trying to find the young men by going to the churches and getting birth records.
So now it is very hard to do any genealogy work on my particular family history due to the destroyed records.

I don't even pretend to be a historian on this subject, I only know what I've been told and was completely freaked out by what Moms family must have gone thru.

At the age of 15 my Mom came to the land of "Opportunity" via Ellis Island. She spent 7 days and 7 nights aboard a ship, Nausea, and the fight to get sea legs were common. She stepped off the boat into America and was somewhat disappointed...No money trees, No streets of gold.

They already had a place to stay, My Grandfathers sister lived here by now and helped them get situated. My Grandmother died shorly after that in New York from white swelling disease more commonly known as Cancer nowadays. I almost believe that was why they came for better doctors, But I'm sure the kids were kept completely oblivious to this.
Can you imagine coming to a foreign country and nobody speaks your language and if they do they will only teach you American dirty words to get a good laugh. It must have been so hard.

Now, the resolution to my story.

In this day and time I'm thankful to have had the life I've had. I'm thankful to have had the many blessings and the advancements in the way we do things now. I guess I'm thanking my forefathers for their insights and hard work to make things as they are now.
I'm also thankful for not having to live the atrocities that so many have had to live before us.
from one of the first born Norwegian-Americans in my family...

3 Left A Love Note :):

Jeannie said...

Makes you wonder why we moan so much doesn't it? About that lutefisk - isn't lye corrosive? I would think it would be extremely bad for you!

Sweetilicious said...

Well it used to be a method of preserving meat or fish. I think its soaked and then boiled to remove all the lye and salt, What I neglected to tell you is that it turns kind of jellied in the process...Its just gross!
I know it would be bad for me and it would never get passed my tongue, My son got his gag reflex from me in this case.

D.T. said...

OMG...what a touching story. I mean, even though, you cant trace your family as far back as you'd like, I think your doing one hell of a job right now. You may not know so much, but what you do know, can start off your family history book. And the rest can be filled out by your children's children. Just leave out the part of lutefisk...that's just plain nasty.