Monday, May 22

Sharing Memories Week #21 - Syttende Mai Parade

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

Yesterday a Syttende Mai parade was held in Park Ridge, Illinois. I did not attend. I have not attended since the parade left Chicago. Boy, that was decades ago.

A little explanation is necessary. The Syttende Mai is the 17th of May. It is the day Norwegians celebrate the writing of their constitution in 1814. When I was a kid it was a day of national pride for those of Norwegian ancestry living in Chicago. It is hard to believe that Chicago once held a large Scandinavian immigrant population. The Swedes hung out in North Park, Andersonville and Lake View. The Norwegians were in Humboldt Park or Logan Square. In any of those neighborhoods today you would be hard pressed to find a person of pure Norwegian or Swedish blood. In a lot of ways I really wish I lived in a part of the country that still has folks that relate to being Norwegian. Stoughton, Wisconsin is one of those places. I highly recommend their Norwegian Heritage Museum "Livsreise". At the left of this blog is a link to it. But Chicago.....no.

When I was growing up those Chicago neighborhoods were already beginning to break down, turning into dirty, depressed, crime ridden areas. They were the neighborhoods of the Scandinavian grandmas and grandpas who just couldn't leave the old neighborhood even though their more educated and affluent children, now married to folks of all different back-rounds, had long since done the "white flight" thing and escaped to the suburbs. The Syttende Mai parade drew them back if only for that day. It was held in Humboldt Park and was a pretty big affair, bands, floats, dancers. We would meet in Grandpa and Grandma's apartment on Pierce Ave. and walk to the park.  After the parade we returned to their apartment for coffee and cake. Lots of fun and flag waving but you got out of there before the sun went down. It just wasn't "safe" anymore.

1964 - my sister, waiting for the parade to begin
Time passed. Grandpa died and Grandma moved back to Norway. The old Humboldt Park Norwegians died or joined their kids in the burbs. The Syttende Mai parade left Humboldt Park and also fled to the suburbs. It moved to squeaky clean Park Ridge. I did attend a Syttende Mai parade in Norway one year while visiting my grandma. Park Ridge? even Norway? It just wasn't the same. It wasn't Humboldt Park.

Funny thing...many of those same Chicago neighborhoods are now doing a turn around. They call it "gentrifying"and it costs big money to live there.  Sure, you can again walk the streets in relative safety but I don't feel like I would belong there either.
Where are the grandmas? the coffeecakes? the Norwegian flags?



Gratulerer med dagen!





Monday, May 15

Sharing Memories Week #20 - Uncle Arnold saves Thanksgiving

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

My mom died in the spring of 1975. That Thanksgiving my Dad thought he would do Thanksgiving as we always had done. He invited my Uncle Arnold who was my Mom's divorced brother and my husband and myself. I had been married maybe two years at this time. I have to give my Dad credit that he was trying to keep the holidays the happy festive family time they always had been. He was going to do Thanksgiving for us all, all by himself.

It should be noted that my Dad came from a different time and place than men do now, He brought home the paycheck and my Mom took care of all the household duties. Their husband/wife division of duties was very clear cut and very traditional. When my Mom passed my Dad had no clue how to even boil water. I gave him a recipe for stovetop chili. My Uncle Arnold lived in Dallas Texas but his ex wife and kids were in Minnesota so between places he would often swing by our house. He told me once "please teach that man another dish!. All he eats is chili. The pot stays on the stove constantly and he just keeps adding more stuff to it! If I never again have chili it will be too soon!"

Thanksgiving was a good 6 months after Mom's death and Dad seemed so proud and confident of his abilities. "I don't need any help he said proudly." As we arrived I saw potatoes and veggies simmering on the stove, buns and stuffing ready to go into the oven. Pretty impressive for a guy who half a year ago had no clue how to turn on the burners. "I don't smell the turkey yet" said my Uncle Arnold who snuck a peek into the oven. "Mel,,,,this turkey is raw! How long have you been cooking it?"  "20 minutes" said my Dad confidently, "just like the instructions said." Uncle Arnold just looked at him incredulously, "20 minutes a pound is what it said and this turkey must weigh 18 to 20 pounds!".

Well, Uncle Arnold put the veggies on hold and reset the oven. We had our Thanksgiving later than expected but we all had a good time laughing over Dad's cooking ability and reminiscing about all the great family Thanksgivings we had in the past with Mom and those future holidays which may be different but also promised to be good in their own way.

1973 Mom and her brother, My Uncle Arnold






Sunday, May 14

Happy Mother's Day to my Grandmas!


This Mother's Day - Meet my Grandmas!


Grandma Kallman and me                     Grandma Sevald and me


my paternal grandmother
    Lydia Abrahamson Kallman                
b. 25 Feb 1890 Östra Frölunda, Älvsborg, Sweden         
d. 23 Apr 1978 Chicago, Cook, Illinois USA  
             
  my maternal grandmother
 Dagmar Gundersen Sevald
b. 10 Jun 1900 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway
 d. 12 Jun 1991 Skien, Telemark, Norway


Monday, May 8

Sharing Memories Week #19 - Get a Job

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

Shortly after my sixteenth birthday my father took me to apply for a Social Security card. Today all children need a Social Security number for their parents taxes but at that time you got a card when you were old enough to get a job. My Dad then told me "time to get a job". There was no option here. My Dad came from the "you don't work you don't eat" culture and he felt the best way to prepare me for life was to push me into it. I was born in the midst of the "baby boomer" years. This meant that there were hoards of teenagers competing for jobs. College graduates were working as busboys and bagging clerks. I found a part time job my junior year at the Sun Drug store 2 blocks from my house. Sun Drugs is still there although now it is a CVS pharmacy. My starting wage was $1.60 an hour! Big money to me at the time. I was envisioning all the wonderful things I could buy. I worked 2 nights a week, Tuesday and Thursday 6 to 10 and Saturday 1:30 to 10. by my estimation that was 16 x $1.60 or over $25! We stocked shelves and manned the front register. My Dad picked me up every night I worked. I told him not to come in to the store. It was "too embarrassing". Big mistake. After that he waited for me at the corner outside the drug store, right under the street light so I would for sure see him. Then he would call out my name in a goofy voice as I left the store or wave at me furiously. Sometimes he would wear a goofy hat, fake mustache or worse yet this awful hugh trenchcoat. He would squat down and do this goofy walk where he looked like a dwarf all the two blocks home. My work friends thought he was hysterical. Me? Not so much. No wonder anymore where my son got his off the wall goofy sense of humor. Not funny then but It has given me lots of happy goofy memories of my Dad since.


At some point someone must have been taking money out of the  register because we all had to take a lie detector test and were questioned  by the police. Looking back at that I would think, for sure now and most likely then also, it was probably illegal to do that to minors without even notifying their parents, let alone without legal representation. But what did we know? Here comes the real "crime". My first paycheck. I couldn't believe it! Where was my $25? I went home in a huff to show my Dad who I was sure would straighten it out for me. Wrong again. "Taxes", he said "for the government and the state".  Then he informed me a certain percent went to the church, a certain percent went to savings for college and he had me sign my check, give it to him and he handed me a lousy five bucks.


Life lesson learned. Welcome to working, tax paying America.


Love you Dad,