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.

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