Monday, February 15, 2021

Lisa Klungseth's Journey to the United States and a New Life - Part 3 of 3

In Part 2, Lisa's train was just coming into Minnesota at nightfall: 

Now it is dark and I cannot see anything. It is raining and I am waiting eagerly for time to go by. I sat and thought about how strange it was that Adolf could not come to meet me before this. When we got to Brookings – two hours before Huron – I went out to the corridor to get some air. Two men with long visors on their caps came in. I didn’t pay any attention to them. Then suddenly I heard someone say “Lisa.” It was A. who had taken the bus to meet me. He was as happy as a little boy to see me again. We talked as acquaintances then, but then when I saw the gleam in his eye, I recognized him again. When we got to Huron we took a car trip around the town and had a long talk. We would go to his place in Huron and be there for the night because he had to be at work at 5:00.

When we got into the house I got the surprise of my life. He had not been there for three weeks and it was completely terrible. It was two railroad cars which stood together, making a square. The windows had been broken by hailstones and the sand had come in. There was no place where you could sit. It smelled like manure and tar because there was tar paper nailed over the holes. There was nothing to clean with and I used a roll of toilet paper to take off the worst. My head was aching from all the traveling and I wanted both to throw up and to sleep. There was nothing of that to do. I had a wish to leave because the dirty mess was the worst I knew. Adolf didn’t really know what we should do. I had a desire to drive out to the farm, but for his sake I stayed. He had bought a light-blue nightgown which would have fit my mother. I had joked with him and written that I was as heavy as my mother and he had believed it. We slept very little, because it didn’t take very long before the alarm clock went off and he went to his job. I laid down and slept and made a kind of meal at 10:00. When he came home at 12:30 he was done and then we drove around the town. I did not like Huron. One must be familiar with the town before one likes it there. I was really anxious to come out to the farm. We got there at 6:00 in the evening. I received a hearty reception from Janice, Barbara and Everett. They had cooked a chicken, really good food. Adolf had kept rockets from the Fourth of July and we had a big party that evening. I warmed up Norwegian chocolate and we ate cream and cakes.

The days which came afterwards were completely different than what I had thought. The children had taken care of the house by themselves for three years. There were no decent places other than the kitchen, and everything was very messy. One room had been used only for storage. That room I decided to use for a bedroom. We were agreed that we should be married August 3, and there was a lot that had to be done first. I cleaned and tidied the house for three weeks. We talked with the pastor, ordered cards and sent invitations to 70 people. We hardly slept. We worked, talked and joked as a couple of youngsters.

We planned to get married at the American Lutheran Church at 1:00 and eat lunch at a hotel at 2:00. Mary and Ove with their family came to Yale in the morning. I was so anxious that Magda and Lars would get there. Yes, at 10:00 they came with two children. We were so happy to see each other. I rode with Magda to the church. She and Lars were our attendants. Early that morning I had to get up and clean the outdoor toilet because the hens had been there.

When I got to the church there were flowers for me from Adolph. There was one flat bouquet for a corsage, a small one for my hair and one for the table. I got a large bouquet from Anna and Kristian. We put that on the table with a Norwegian flag in the middle.

We had 62 guests and many gifts. The lunch consisted of ham sandwiches, a piece of cake, a piece of pie, coffee and wedding cake. We had grape wine with which to skål, only one glass for each person.

Oluf was toastmaster and there were many speeches. After the meal Mary, Amanda and I packed up the gifts and then we walked around and visited with all the guests. At 5:00 we were done and drove home to Yale.

When we got out to the car it was all written on in white letters “Just married,” etc. Behind the car hung a long row of tin cans on a string so when we drove they rattled with a terrible noise. All of Huron could hear us. All over people would turn and have a good laugh. When we got home the house was full of people. It took a long time before we could get in and make coffee at Yale and show them around and drink a little beer.

When I got home, I had to take off my wedding finery and put on another dress so I could serve coffee. When some of the guests had left, we made supper. Oluf and Kari and Nora were with us at Yale and it was really fun. Nora was just as nice as in my childhood, and when we go to Canton we will visit her.

Lars, Magda, Maren and Kenneth stayed at Yale until Wednesday morning. Then I rode with them to Salt Lake City. That trip is described in more detail later in the book.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Lisa Klungseth's Journey to the United States and a New Life - Part 2 of 3

 Continued...  Lisa's boat entered Manhattan and they prepare to disembark:

July 5.

It was a lot of work to depart from the Stavangerfjord. We stood in a line. We sat here. We sat there. We waited. We sweated and when we had come past all the counters on the boat, there was customs to go through. I was fortunate there, but many had to pay for antiques and cloudberry jam. Travelers Aid took them and some of us and helped us out of the station. There we sat for many hours, but finally we got into a train and could leave. I am writing while the train is going.

This fast train is very noisy. It was a big relief to come into it and leave New York, which we didn’t like and couldn’t do anything there. The conductor was very pleasant. It took a long time and we were starving, but we had to get through it in order to leave. Many think that it made them nervous, but not me. There were so many enjoyable sights here that one does not have time to be sad. We complained a lot, were hungry and sat, and waited and sat. Between New York and Philadelphia there was mist which was there the whole time. But afterwards there was more farmland. The wheat is ripe and some that was combined lies on the ground. Here are horses and cows and red soil along the railroad lines. The dirt is red and sun-dried and the sand is red sand. I see big green fields, but the train goes so fast that I can not see what they are. There are many more hills. We have very quick stops at the stations. The houses are quite pretty, red and white, but the towns are messy. There are many ironworks and factories all over, and rarely a greenhouse. Here are woods all over, but I can not see what kind of trees are there. The train cars are just like ours. Your seat is reserved when the ticket is sold. The dining car is very pretty but chilly. The food is good. You can get a pillow for the back of your head for 25 cents. This is not a sleeper car.

The houses often have chimney pipes on top of them and often tapered roofs. The train cars are very large with red upholstery on the seats and white paper under your head. There are 72 seats in each train car. Close to the towns the houses are built of red bricks, but often decorated with something that looks like gray bricks. The railroad stations are dirty. There are no flowers and plants. They look like the east train station in Oslo.

It is certainly warm outside. I use sunglasses inside the car. There is a Negro who wakes us up when needed. Here are pine and fir trees that we are passing, tall ones. I see seven hen houses on a hill, and only white hens. I see a red barn. This looks like a farmyard in Gottland. We are going faster now. There are hardly any trees. There are some hills in the distance or only flat land. The Negro comes in and brings us fruit and chocolate and other good things. Here is land, land, land. Just like before we got to Harrisburg it ls very beautiful. There are large lakes, rivers, but rarely any boats. There is soot from the ironworks. We stand a long time underground. From where we are we have to walk up many steps. The Americans are certainly not any better than we are.

A soldier is coming home. There is a big reunion with his wife and children. It looks like it is usual and approved, yes, that the women clothe themselves with light and airy sleeveless dresses. People drink colored water. I have not yet drunk the water. I had coffee in New York and coffee on the train, and not anything more. It is not hot. I am not thirsty. I am enjoying myself. Here it is a delight to sit in the dark shadows under the ground and the Negroes serve coffee for 50 cents for a cup of coffee – 3.50 kroner. Yes, yes. Then we start up again, very quickly. Yes, we will go far tonight.

Early this morning, 6:20, we came to Chicago. There I was separated from all those I knew from the boat and with many good wishes I came to my first northwestern station. Alvin was going to meet me but I didn’t see him. But when I had walked a little, he and his wife and Halvorsen and his wife came. They had been looking for me. I had been to Travelers Aid and got the best service I had gotten so far in America. The service at Union Station was very poor. I carried my suitcases myself and they were heavy.

Alvin seemed a little reserved and embarrassed at first, but I got a hearty welcome from them when I went back to see the schools in Chicago at last. He invited me many times and I believe he meant it. This is a much nicer train. It is Sunday and outside it is so clean here. The other train was so messy. We see much more ____?_______ on this side of Chicago. It is more neat and orderly. Here it is also flat but not so _____?_____. At 12:40 we stopped right outside a church. The train did not blow its whistle. It is so still, so still. People are coming in cars and stop outside. Here are flowers outside all the houses. Everything is painted nicely. Here now and then we find meadows at the same time.

There are no Negroes here, only in the dining car. People look more French and Spanish. There are many with brown eyes and dark hair (both Alvin and Anne had brown eyes). There is a completely different type of people than yesterday. These are all well-dressed people. They stand proudly by the train cars and surround us as we drive through. Here are also _____?_____ fields. There are no places to set your cups down and no place to put trash either, and there is nobody who throws them away. It is not permitted to smoke in the train car, only out in the corridors. It is clean in the bathrooms and there are two sitting places for those who want to sit and comb their hair. There are drinking cups and paper towels.

The woman who sits by me has IKE on a button on her handbag. In Chicago a man came into a café. He had a waitress stand beside him and had a picture taken with a sign which said IKE between them. It was most likely a picture for the newspaper. This picture is all over and is an advertisement for Eisenhower.

We have left Sparta and are in Wisconsin. There is a beautiful landscape. There are low hills and large farms, trees of many kinds. Land, land, plenty of land. There are 30 cows standing together and sun, only sun. Some are drying hay. There is a flat landscape. It is 3:25. There are well-kept buildings on the farms. The cows here are either black and white or red and white. There are kilometer-long fields of corn. I see windmills and the first cabbage field. This is the finest I have seen in this country. We are at West Salem at 3:20.

Now we are coming to a long, long marsh. There is a small bird down there with colored feathers. We are coming to LaCrosse. There are 18 strange ducks on the bank of a large lake; no, it is most likely the Mississippi. Now we are coming into Minnesota.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Lisa Klungseth's Journey to the United States and a New Life - Part 1 of 3

This journal, written by Lisa in Norwegian, starts aboard the Stavangerfjord, 25 June 1952: 

Leaving from pier 1, exactly at 12:00 noon after getting flowers and people’s kisses, tears and waves, the boat left Oslo in bright sunshine. The baggage was not opened again after they had searched it. I passed by four counters without a question, all the papers were in order, except the vaccination attest which had to be entered into the form. Mari, Daiel and Mari Kjersti from Elverum, Arne Velo and Giskere(?) were on the pier and stood and waved and I held a large bouquet I got from them. It will decorate our dinner table.

A little after the boat departed, an announcement came on the loudspeaker that we should eat lunch. We had to stand in a line to get tickets for the meal. We got them and also were assigned places which we would keep for our meals. I was assigned to table #16. It was a table for four people and I was excited about who I would get as tablemates. First came an old man from Duluth in Minnesota. He has lived in America since 1948 and had been home in Fredrikstad three months (a business man).

The next one who came was a Swedish man, named Anders Hager. He had heard about the American war in Korea. He was on a travel permit with the Swedish Embassy and would come back often. The third one was from Drammen. He was going to Vancouver to fish for salmon. So I became the only woman at the table, and we were all traveling alone. We ate roast beef with vegetables and afterwards we got coffee and a piece of cake.

I am temporarily alone in a cabin #463, bunk A on the E deck. It is roomy with two sinks, hot and cold water. There are three closets. There is a small place for suitcases. Right outside the cabin is a large laundry room. There are six washstands and one enclosed bathtub. There is an ironing board, which can be used between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and after 5:00. You have to sign up to use the bathtub ahead of time so that you get a turn. (There is a bench you can sit on while you wait.)

It is now 2:20. We are out in the Oslo Fjord by Oskarsborg. The flag is flying. It is blowing quite briskly now, and most of the people have disappeared from the top deck. I have already had my first fright. When I was going to open up my door and get my writing book I couldn’t find my pocketbook where I had the keys. I looked all over in my purse. Keys, 200 kroner, gone, gone. I ran up to the deck where I had recently sat. There they lay alone on a stand. A man had seen that I laid them there and he stood and smiled when I came. I can tell you that I was relieved.

There is a Negro on the boat. He looks like he is enjoying himself. If I could speak English I would talk to him.

Mrs. Asbjornsen from Tromsø is traveling on the same boat. She has two boys with her – 8 and 14-year-olds. They are going to Edmonton in Canada where her husband is working.

Supper at 6:00 was weiners and all kinds of toppings for sandwiches, open-faced sandwiches, coffee and tea. I was so hungry that my stomach was growling. It is 8:00 so I will take a bath and wash off my Oslo dirt. I have greeted a teacher from Holmenstrand whose name is (Borghild) Borgny Steen.

Our dishwasher has only one good eye. He cleans off the smørgåsbord table and likes to joke with us.
At 10:00 at night we were docked at Kristiansand for one and one-half hours and we didn’t get to go on land.

June 26.

I woke at 7:20. Breakfast was served until 8:00 with porridge and milk, an orange, bread and many toppings, coffee.

At 9:00 we got to Stavanger and were there for two and one-half hours. Mrs. Kvielsen (in a cabin to Vancouver), her three children and I went on land and looked at the cathedral, the parks and the harbor.
Dinner was at 12:00 with lamb stew, Victoria pudding, crackers and cheese. I was with an acquaintance named Tangen and his wife from Lillehammer and Borgny Steen, a teacher from Holmenstrand.

We got to Bergen at 7:00 in the evening. Mrs. Steen was going to wait while I made a long-distance call to Tysse, but when I came out on the deck she was gone. Therefore I only walked a little and then got back onboard again.

After awhile many came onto the pier. There were more and more on the balconies. Here there were also flowers and activity, but not as it was in Oslo. The crew was so busy and they sold many things – cards, stamps, long-distance telephone cards, and answered many questions. They will be happy when we get out to sea.

Yes, we finally are soon coming out to the North Sea and will have some bad weather. I slept Thursday night and felt good on Friday, but Friday night and all day Saturday and Saturday night I laid flat on my bunk. I ate Dramamine and got two kinds of pills. It helped a little. I ate all of my meal and threw it up right away. Then I ate a little more and slept. Today we met the ship Oslofjord at 10:30. Then the weather got better and I hope it will be better where we are going.

Friday night there was a movie in the dining hall. Today at 11:00 there were church services in the auditorium. Pastor Yuve gave quite a short talk, only half an hour.

It is foggy and rain so it is best to remain below deck. The days become quite long. The American women are really very nice. They like America and think they have it easy. I don’t think their clothes are any different from ours.

They tell that married people have their rings on their left ring finger. They have all their rings on their left hand, never on the right. An engagement was never longer than a month. They think we Norwegians are dumb who have such long engagements. They buy their clothes readymade and bread that has been baked. But why most Americans wear glasses, I have not been able to figure out. Here are many who travel during vacations and visit people for two to three months, such as I do. But most of them do not have such long trips.

July 1.
Yesterday I saw two films. In the auditorium they played two films from Utah. One film was photographed in the Geographic magazine of June 1952. This can be purchased in Norway. The other one was from the war. They were in English and I did not understand everything. Today we have gotten our customs number. We have gone into the toll department to show what we are bringing with us. We stood in a line by a large table in the auditorium. A pursor helped the unfortunate people who could not speak English, and two others handed out the cards. Yes, we talk and hear a lot about America. I have gotten acquainted with many people, mostly Americans.

Mrs. Steen still writes songs and will perform in the auditorium with what she has done. It is cloudy weather so I have not taken any pictures yet.

I have been walking around the boat. The crew consists of 308 men and girls. There is a bakery, a cafeteria, slaughter room, potato peeling room – 13 sacks for each dinner. There is a store, a library, barbershop, beauty parlor, a room where you can bathe, a laundry room, ironing room, hospital with a place for 24 beds, a doctor and three nurses. Today there will be a children’s party in the auditorium.
Lillemo from Brentforth, S.D., 68 years old. He was a banker in Norway for 48 years in America. He said that he froze so much in Norway that he is traveling back from Ryfylke. He did not find a wife.

1 kilo of coffee is 14 kroner.
1 kilo of butter is 14 kroner. Both are very expensive.
Norwegian chocolate is much better than American.

July 2.

There is a little rough sea today. I don’t feel well. I took a suppository and felt better. The entertainment this evening was quite interesting. There was a dance for an hour and a half. I have darned stockings and struggled to fix my hair. I am bored with so much free time. It is not easy to write. Finding land would be the best. We have seen land today, Newfoundland.

No, the next time I travel to America I will fly. This is too much time to waste, and too much time to be outside. I am gaining weight with all this good food and now I see that I have to do something about it. I have not been diligent to read or learn English yet.

July 4.

I am writing in my bed at 6:30 a.m. Yesterday we had a nice day with Mrs. Brita Horperud and Jens Lillemo. I took pictures of them to have for later. Mrs. Roseth and I have become very well acquainted. She says she will come to my wedding even if she isn’t invited. She is going to invite me for a two-day visit in Chicago with her daughter, but has not invited me yet. The weather is beginning to be warmer. Today we will have the captain’s dinner at 6:00. Tonight we come into Manhattan. I hope and pray that the heat will not be too stifling. Then I am not able to do anything.