Monday, September 25

Sharing Memories Week #39 - Harry R. Soderstrom

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories
Lorine McGinnis Schulze of "Olive Tree Genealogy" blogspot in 2014 
suggested a 52 week challenge of writing down our memories.  
Well, I am in for 2017! The first Monday of each week of this year 
I am committed to using one of her 
to recall and write up a memory of one of my ancestors or myself

Last week was the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force. The United States Air Force became a separate military service on 18 September 1947. Before that, it was part of the Army, known as the United States Army Air Corp and during WWII as the United States Army Air Force. In honor of that anniversary, I am proud to bring you the WWII story of one of our own family members. 

Harry R. Soderstrom, my father's cousin.

Harry was born in 1922 and graduated from Moline High School just as the world was entering WWII. If you read the article below you will see he was "cited by his squadron commander for meritorious achievement in accomplishing with distinction numerous operation missions over enemy occupied Europe." He was the pilot of a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber and mind you he was only 22 years old at the time! I've done a little reading on the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, you may also be interested and can find that information HERE. "The coolness, courage, and skill displayed by First Lieutenant Soderstrom upon these occasions reflects great credit upon himself and the Armed forces of the United States."






a member of "The Greatest Generation"

First Lieutenant 
Harry R. Soderstrom
born: October 15, 1922 Moline, Illinois
died: June 28, 2010 Columbus, Indiana



Enormous Thank You! to my second cousin, Sally Liljegren Thomas, who has kindly shared these photos and information about her uncle Harry with the family.






*click on photos to enlarge for easier viewing. 
If you wish to download a copy of individual photos in the collage,
 they may be found under the tab Family photos at the top of this blog.*

Monday, September 18

Sharing Memories Week #38 - All girls should know how to sew

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories
Lorine McGinnis Schulze of "Olive Tree Genealogy" blogspot in 2014 
suggested a 52 week challenge of writing down our memories.  
Well, I am in for 2017! The first Monday of each week of this year 
I am committed to using one of her 
to recall and write up a memory of one of my ancestors or myself


I don't see this at all anymore, nor did I see this much when my kids were young. Perhaps it was a 50-60's thing. Matchy matchy outfits. I guess a sign of a good mother in the 50's was having a line of clean well behaved kids wearing matching outfits preferably handmade by mom. Puhleese. How I hated this. When I was very young and it was just my one sister and myself, my Mom was totally obsessed with this idea. She shopped at a small children's boutique on Irving Park Rd. called Anderson's. My sister and I would get matching dresses or coats. Or, we had matching outfits but in different colors. It made me so mad because my sister, who was cute and blond always got the more colorful item and I, the flaming redhead was doomed to the same outfit in blue or brown. My sister once said; "You hate the outfits? what about me? I get the hand-me-downs so I have to wear the same dorky outfit twice!"  She had a valid point didn't she? 


→ My mother took a long time choosing these matching outfits. We were going to be on a WGN children's TV show called "Here's Geraldine". Some friend of the family worked on that show and got us tickets. Because TV was in black and white Mom searched hi and low for black and white dresses so she would know exactly what we would look like on the TV. The dresses had a little clump of red cherries at the collar and my Mom removed that and replaced them with a Norwegian pin. She didn't want to confuse family members who may see gray cherries. Even then at 7 or 8 years old the logic of that was totally lost on me.


As the family grew, maybe because of the expense, she no longer shopped at the children's boutique but began to make the matching outfits. Get a load of these matching blouses and jumpers and my poor brother in a matching vest. Makes you wish for the days of black and white again doesn't it?


 Being traditional and practical also, Mom thought all girls should learn how to sew. Sewing was also taught in the  public school. All the girls from 5th grade on were required to take "Home Economics" and all the boys were required to take shop or "Industrial Arts" as they liked to call it. Aside from the obvious sexist implication, I think it was a good idea, although it wouldn't have killed me to learn how to use a screwdriver also. The sisters didn't get into it but I really enjoyed it and made lots of my clothes as I was growing up. I even made the bridesmaids' dresses for my wedding. I made a few dresses for my daughter but more and more children's clothes were made in China with cheap labor so soon there was really no point to sew children's clothes. For years my sewing machine sat idle, only being used for the occasional alteration, repair or Halloween costume.

Just a few years ago one of my sisters in law mentioned that she really loved quilts. After I checked out the prices, whoaa,  I thought I could make her one and a new hobby was born with some old, not forgotten, skills. My husband also uses the sewing machine for repairing his boat or smoker/ grill covers etc. The guy who aced Industrial Arts as a kid needed some basic lessons in the art of the sewing machine. I guess I sometimes forget that the sexist attitudes of the past hurt not only young girls but young boys also. Mom was half right. Everyone should know how to sew.






***the quilts I have made so far are displayed on my Pinterest board HERE***

Monday, September 11

Sharing Memories Week #37 - The Aunt I didn't have, Gerd

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories
Lorine McGinnis Schulze of "Olive Tree Genealogy" blogspot in 2014 
suggested a 52 week challenge of writing down our memories.  
Well, I am in for 2017! The first Monday of each week of this year 
I am committed to using one of her 
to recall and write up a memory of one of my ancestors or myself

Gerd Sevaldsen was my mother's older sister and my grandparents' first child.

On a visit to Norway, my Grandmother confided to me that she was pregnant with Gerd when she and Grandfather Paul married. Knowing how strictly religious she was I dared to question her on her, shall we say, timing? "But I was engaged!" she vehemently protested. Apparently in rural Norway in earlier times marriage was the religious event. The engagement or trolovelse was recorded by the parish priest with generally two witnesses present. It was the binding agreement between man and woman and the woman often joined the man's family at this time. They would later post banns at the church and the religious event would take place a few weeks after at the discretion of the local priest. If the young couple was expecting, as they often were, the marriage ceremony was expected to be performed before the baby's birth. No one thought poorly of this as it was the intention that mattered. Dagmar and Paul were married in Skien February 22, 1922. Gerd was born May 14 of the same year.

"My most beautiful baby" is how Dagmar referred to Gerd, her firstborn. She had dark hair and brown eyes like Dagmar and a sweet disposition. Paul left for America when Gerd was just 15 months old. He sent money and prepaid tickets for Dagmar and Gerd to join him. Gerd never made it to America. They were scheduled to leave for Kristiana just a few weeks after the Christmas of 1923. Dagmar hesitated to celebrate Christmas with her family as her youngest brothers, had just had the measles. Her mother, who feared she would never again see her daughter after she left for America, begged her to come, believing the boys would not be contagious. She was wrong. Little Gerd got the measles which swiftly turned into pneumonia. Dagmar had to bury her baby in an unmarked paupers grave and board the train for the three-hour ride to Kristiania alone. Pauls sister wrote her brother in America telling him of his daughters' death. When Dagmar arrived in America Paul never questioned her. In fact, they never even discussed the child or spoke the name "Gerd" again. Dagmar felt he blamed her for the little girls' death. Dagmar kept this picture of her "most beautiful baby" on her dresser always.


my Aunt
Gerd Sevaldsen 
born:14 May 1922 Gjerpen, Telemark, Norway
         died:14 Jan 1924 Gjerpen, Telemark, Norway   


      

Monday, September 4

Sharing Memories Week #36 - Labor Day, choosing a profession

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories
Lorine McGinnis Schulze of "Olive Tree Genealogy" blogspot in 2014 
suggested a 52 week challenge of writing down our memories.  
Well, I am in for 2017! The first Monday of each week of this year 
I am committed to using one of her 
to recall and write up a memory of one of my ancestors or myself


Today is Labor Day, a day to honor working people. My husband and I are now retired but we worked and worked hard. How does someone "choose" their occupation? My husband is a carpenter and I am a nurse. I don't believe there was ever much thought about choice of occupation for my husband. It just came naturally to him. His father, grandfather, great grandfather and so forth back quite a few generations had been woodworkers, furniture makers, and/or carpenters back in Germany. He grew up and picked up the skills from his Dad? or was it in his DNA? Whatever the reason it was an occupation that seemed natural to him, he enjoyed and was good at. Bingo. For me it was different.

The females of my mom's generation generally assumed a woman may work outside the home, will get married and then retire from the working world to raise a family as the children came into the picture. I grew up in a time of change for women. As a third grader I wrote an assignment saying I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. With my generation came the rise of feminism but still most females going to college (at least those that I grew up with) considered mainly teaching or nursing as appropriate. I don't remember any particular "calling" or anything toward nursing. Most every third grade girl wrote they wanted to be either a teacher, a mother or a nurse.



 I entered college after high school but three semesters in I had taken enough credits to technically be a junior and was therefore required to declare a major. I had no clue what I wanted. There were so many baby boomers that college graduates were working as bag boys in the Jewel. Besides I was in love and wanted to get married. I dropped out of college. My mom cried when I told her but I was determined and married the next year. Three years later we had a new baby and a new house and what we considered a large house payment. $333.00 principal and interest! Makes me laugh now but it was a big amount and tough going then so I took a job at a local hospital as a nurses aid. I chose that job strictly because I could work nights and would not have to pay a babysitter. A few months later I looked around and thought to myself; why am I working hard like a dog for $4/hr and those nurses sitting at the desk ordering me around are making twice that? A friendly older nurse told me I could get a nursing degree through my local community college. I checked it out and found out that my earlier college credits would be considered and they even had a "tot spot" which was a cheap and good child care alternative for kids age three and up. Our daughter was only two but potty trained and tall for her age. I spent some time prompting her to repeat "my name is Laura and I am three years old" holding up 3 fingers for effect. I truly had not a clue what I was getting into. My eyes were on the $8/hr prize.

I made it through the training the first year hiding the fact I was now pregnant with my next child. Things were a bit different then. Many of the instructors were not keen on mothers in the program and although it was now illegal to discriminate against you if pregnant, the instructors often found other ways to purge you from the program. I was found out but was told if I missed anything due to the pregnancy I was out, period.  Erik was due in February but he must have known because he arrived a month late waiting until spring break! After spring break I did my required surgical clinical rotation. The anesthesiologist kept pushing a laundry basket toward me. He later told me I looked rather pale and thought I perhaps was sick and ready to hurl watching the surgery, I explained that no I was fine but a little tired on my feet as I had just delivered a 10 lb baby 2 1/2 days previously!



My husband, God bless him, worked a 7 day week to pay for the schooling. I had a child, was pregnant, going to school and working nights. Dog tired, it all seemed like a blur to us but it payed off. Three weeks before graduation I was offered a position. So I didn't really have a "calling" to be a nurse, choose nursing or did I sort of fall into it? I don't think it matters. The hours worked great for someone with children, the pay was good and I enjoyed the work.  I also felt pride in my position as a registered nurse and made some lifelong friends. And, most importantly, I believe I did a good job.