February 1, 2016

Dagmar's Stories - Arnold's "sensitive" hearing

remembering one of the many stories my grandmother Dagmar shared with me


December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor Hawaii and America entered World War II. Dagmar's son (my uncle Arnold) had just turned sixteen the previous September.

Dagmar's beloved Norway had been invaded and fell to the Nazi army in April of 1940. King Haakon VII had escaped and was in exile in London. Dagmar's small immediate family in Chicago were cut off from their extended family in Skien, Norway. Until the war's end they would have no clue as to the fate of their family in occupied Norway.

Dagmar's son, Arnold was one of the many patriotic American young men (and women) who enlisted after Pearl Harbor. Perhaps because his Norwegian uncles Rolf and Oddvar, who he had been close to, had both worked as sailors, Arnold chose the Navy.

The problem was that Arnold was underage. He was only a junior at Kelvyn Park High School in Chicago. He needed a parents signature to enlist. My grandfather Paul's English was good and he never could have been persuaded to sign such a consent for a young boy. Dagmar, who rarely left her immigrant neighborhood, spoke poor English. Arnold tricked his mother into signing consent and was inducted before she realized what had happened.

Spitting mad at Arnold, but more in fear for her only son, Dagmar took the "L" downtown and got on a train headed for Boston. She would NOT be dissuaded until Arnold was home.

Dagmar came home the next week proud that she had "talked to Arnold's commanding officer himself". She had explained, in her thick Norwegian accent, that Arnold was unfit for service. As a child he had broken both his eardrums playing with firecrackers and his hearing was very "sensitive". She felt she had fixed the situation and certainly the Navy would send the boy home where he belonged.

The Navy promptly made Arnold Sevald, with the "sensitive" ears, a sonar operator on one of its cruisers in the South Pacific.


U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Ancestry.com, Original data - Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy  Ships, Stations, and Other Naval Activities, 01/01/1939-01/01/1949;  A-1 Entry 135, 10230 rolls, ARC 594996. Records of the Bureau of Naval Personal



Arnold did return home after the war and got his high school diploma. Uncles Rolf, Oddvar and the remaining family in Norway also survived the war.




 my Uncle 
Arnold Calvin Sevald
     b. 18 Sep 1925  Chicago, Illinois
d. 26 Nov 1983 Dallas, Texas






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