Unpacking Grandpa

Today’s post comes from Bill in Mpls

Here are pictures of my father’s father in one of his first performances as an American. He’s the one on the right. He was newly arrived from Sweden, having sailed in July, 1916 on a Norwegian-American ship, embarking from Kristiania, Norway. He was 20 years old and emigrated alone.

I say this was a performance because I see in these pictures an expression and reenactment of the mythology of America that new arrivals so frequently bring with them. My grandfather landed at Ellis Island and made his way westward from there. In America, Rickard Nilsson became Richard Nelson. I believe he had acquaintances or distant relatives in Grygla, Minnesota in the far northwest corner of the state. Sometime in the first year or so of his arrival, he traveled further west to Everett, Washington. There, or along the way to there, with a friend, he had these photos made. They were printed on postcard stock. Perhaps he sent one home to Sweden.

Almost everything I know, or think I know about this grandfather comes from physical artifacts or from peripheral research and speculation. He died when I was four years old. My father didn’t talk about him and I didn’t ask. To know him at all, I have to unpack the clues.

Even allowing for the invincibility of youth, it must have been frightening traveling across the Atlantic in 1916. German U-boat activity was heavy and being on a neutral country’s vessel was small reassurance. Over the course of the war, Germany sunk over 1300 Norwegian ships. That suggests that, despite the peril, my grandfather had strong motivations for leaving. My uncle once intimated that my grandfather had emigrated to avoid conscription into the Swedish army. Since Sweden was also neutral at that time (though it was being pressured by Germany for support), understanding the sense, if any, to that claim will require more study.

Grandfather stayed and worked for a time in Everett. I have an envelope dated December 1918 addressed to him in Everett and a business card from Everett Transfer and Feed Yard, where I assume he found work. A letter he wrote at that time (in Swedish) to the Swedish American newspaper seeks other Swedes with whom he might meet and socialize. Everett must not have been a Scandinavian hotbed. He sounds lonely and isolated.

At some point, Richard Nelson left Everett, Washington and returned to Minnesota. It was there, in Barrett, Minnesota that he met my grandmother. Like many parts of Minnesota, Barrett was heavily Scandinavian. My grandmother’s father was also a Swedish immigrant and her mother the child of Norwegians. It’s reasonable to conjecture that my grandfather was drawn to the area by the familiar, comfortable culture, the opportunity to use his native language, a chance to be his authentic self. That’s something all transplants crave.

When my grandparents married, it was in Minneapolis. My grandfather built a house for the family in Robbinsdale. He found work as a painter and in various kinds of maintenance. Most of his friends had Scandinavian last names. He had two sons, both of whom served in WWII. He finally became a naturalized citizen in 1943.

I think of him and of all my immigrant ancestors when the immigration talk gets ugly. We are all related to immigrants, some more immediately than others. At least one of us (I’m looking at you, P.J.) is an actual immigrant. We owe everything to those brave or desperate souls who picked up their lives and families and transplanted them here. We can honor them by regarding new arrivals, ones with unfamiliar customs and language and costume as kindred to our ancestors and cutting them some slack.

America at its best, at its most vital and dynamic, is always in the process of becoming something different.

What do you know about your immigrant predecessors? Any good stories?

73 thoughts on “Unpacking Grandpa”

  1. The reason I refer to pictures in the post is that I sent Dale two and assumed he would incorporate both. You really have to see them complete to appreciate the full effect:

    Buckaroos

    Hands up!

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    1. thanks bill
      that does change the perception markedly.
      in dales presentation your grandfather (you look just like him) is a swede in a hat (i like his hat i like his friends hat better. in both pictures)
      in your showing us the two pictures they are obviously in the true cowboy mode which had to be a kick for a couple of adventurous world travelers out for a jaunt. those chaps had to be dress chaps i cant imagine wearing those riding on my horse to keep the brush off my legs but maybe that tall grass in dakota i have heard about made padded chaps a luxury.
      my dad who grew up in fargo commented that a norwegian marrying a swede was a mixed marriage as much as a catholic and a jew or a black and a white back in those days.
      my family tree is pruned pretty close to the trunk. i know my grandfather and grandmother on fathers side nothing about their folks and my mothers grandfather and his folks but nothing about her fathers side. now i have an interest in the history but never did growing up.
      i went to ieland 30 years ago (wow) and had no agenda about ansestory on my mind and the irish wouldnt leave me alone. i am an irish indian polock and they told me what parts of ireland my people came from. i am a jones and gdandpa jb thought of himself as irish but there i was told jones is welsh but many welshman moved to ireland in the days before 1900 and considered themselves irish, but the hines, grimes on my grandmothers side of the family and the herbisons on my mothers side all had particular counties they came from and everyone knew who was from where. even what side of the county they were from. the clans had a center.
      my mother was talking the other night august 4th was her anniversary with my dad (65 years)and is now my daughter anniversary too as well (4 years) along with sherrilees birthday and president obama’s thrown in for good measure (i will remember your bd vs) and now i know obama lincoln and washingtons bd’s
      my mother was saying that my fathers mother had her father disapper. he was on his way from the bank with $30,000 and disappeared. they dont know if he left town with it or was robbed and killed. al they know is that was that.
      my dads dad came from a family of settlers who landed up near duluth and drank enough to make him a teetotaler. he was the perfectionist bricklayer who wore a crisp white shirt and bow tie with his pristine stetson open road to lay bricks each day. he would come home at lunch and change to fresh clean white shirt. he was a professional pitcher in the early 1900’s until he had to choose to settle down in fargo to raise his family. his cousin kingfish had a brother hung for cattle rustling.
      moms family had the gentlemen farmers from hoople north dakota i know nothing about (the herbison irish form ulster part of ireland) and on her mothers side all the interesting stuff with the indian who was a real philosopher and leader or men and a mother who was form polish royalty who escaped the overthrow back in the early 1900 with jewels sewn in her coat lining. her husband died and an awful man put a gun to her head and told her if she didnt marry him he would kill her children.
      my children get that from me and a bunch of german stuff from the various mothers i have furnished them with. dont recall hearing any good german stories along the way. rainer and van beulow with first wife and schierbeck and van etten with the second but no good stories from either. maybe i should ask if there are any so i can keep what little flame there is alive.
      i have interest in pursuing the liniage but it si not on the top of my list and my list is not getting efficiently ticked off as i go.
      thanks bill great post. more please…

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        1. Looks to me like those two photos where taken on the same day with access to different costumes. A state fair, perhaps?

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        2. I think (I assume) it was just a photographer’s studio, where the photographer had a painted backdrop and a costume rack.

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  2. What a great post, Bill.

    I once did a lot of genealogy work on my family. Alas, I’ve lost all the data I spent years collecting. Most of my ancestors were incredibly boring, especially on my dad’s side of the family. Or maybe they were interesting (like my sex addict grandfather) but successfully hid all the stories that would be fun to tell now.

    I had a great uncle Frank who married a large and opinionated woman. The two of them had epic arguments. When WW 1 started, Frank was one of the first to volunteer to join the fight. After the war ended, with no advance word, Frank showed up. His wife met him at the door. The two of them stared at each other through the screen door without speaking.

    “Jesus,” Frank finally said, “now I remember why I went to war.” He turned on his heel and walked away forever. There were rumors he went to Oregon, but nobody knows.

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    1. Stories like that are golden. Unfortunately, if they haven’t been passed down to you, they’re usually lost forever. One of the things I like to pay attention to when I am looking at genealogical records are instances where ancestors gave obviously incorrect information to census takers or to compilers of regional histories. On my father’s mother’s side, some Norwegian ancestors claimed they had immigrated in 1872, the year they showed up in Owatonna, Minn. Their oldest son, however, was born in 1870, in Chicago. In October of 1871, shortly before their arrival in Minnesota, Chicago had a big fire.

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  3. I don’t know, Tim, for not knowing much about your ancestors you sure offer a lot of intriguing tidbits.
    The idea for this post started with the photos. I’ve always been amused by the disparity between who the subjects appeared to be and their authentic selves. That led me to reflect on how the process of Americanization, especially for adult immigrants, is a kind of performance. And as with any variety of performance, some people are just naturally better at it than others.

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  4. All of my great-grandparents immigrated between the 1870s and 1890s — Germany, Austria, Norway and Sweden. My Swedish (paternal) great-grandmother immigrated to St. James with a friend at age 18. Her parents and family followed. She met my Swedish great-grandfather in St. James. He had immigrated with a brother and cousin, his younger brothers came later, moved on to Montana and Alberta. (I have a great photo of my grandfather in his leather chaps the summer he worked for an uncle in the Judith Basin near Great Falls, MT. He wanted to move there but my grandmother would have none of it, so he returned to MN to marry her and lived the rest of his life farming with beloved horses (better than tractors!), many of them untrained and “wild.” My grandmother was sure that he would be killed many times as she watched them race around the field. But he died at 91 in the nursing home.)

    My Norwegian (maternal) great-grand parents were married with two daughters when they decided to leave Norway. My great-grandfather’s brothers and sister also came to Minnesota leaving their parents with no children in Norway. Their mother died two years later, perhaps of a broken heart? My Norwegian great-grandmother never saw her siblings or parents again.

    My father’s German grandparents (and their parents and perhaps the whole village) first settled in Illinois, coming from West Prussia through Canada. They also ended up in St. James where my grandparents met.

    My mother’s German maternal grandparents came from Pomerania as a family on a ship out of Bremen and settled in the Waseca area. Her grandfather came from Sudetenland, a German speaking area of Moravia now in the Czech Republic, but was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was 18, his father and stepmother and half-brothers homesteaded near Heron Lake in Jackson County along with (it appears) many relatives and neighbors from their village. My great-grandfather left the family and walked and worked his way from Heron Lake to Janesville in Waseca County where he met my great-grandmother. They eventually ended up in St. James as well.

    Doing family history can be a fascinating unraveling of fact from fiction.

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    1. A whole passel of folks on my mother’s mother’s side also were Czech and came from Bohemia in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some came as early as the mid-1860s and all settled in the northeast corner of Iowa. On my mother’s father’s side, they were all German-speaking Swiss from Bern Canton and immigrated in the 1850s.

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    2. My maternal grandmother (a Lokken) grew up in St James and after my grandparents married (they met at Augsburg College where they were both studying to become teachers), they lived there for awhile. It was where my mother was born as well. My grandmother’s father had a butcher shop in town that he lost while my grandmother was away at school – in part because the farming economy was in downturn and the locals couldn’t afford to pay their bills.

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        1. Perhaps. Though now that I am farther into my morning coffee I am remembering that my great grandfather’s butcher shop was in Windom not St. James…though there was a stint in St James post-marriage for my grandparents.

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  5. Two quick little stories. One of my ancestors left Iowa to seek gold and silver in Colorado. He encouraged his younger brother to join him. The brother had an accident with explosives that blinded him. The first brother, riddled with guilt, put his arm around his brother and guided him back to Iowa, where he helped care for him afterward.

    In the late 1700s, a young man worked for his dad running a farm in New York state. The lad took a buckboard into town to get supplies. There was a fracas on the docks. A young woman had arrived from one of the Scandinavian countries, coming to America as a mail order bride. The man who had paid for her voyage claimed her as she stepped off the ship. She didn’t like him, and they fought. The young farmer clobbered the would-be groom with a haymaker blow that dropped him. The girl had no money and no place to go, so he offered her a seat on the buckboard. And–you’ve already guessed this–they fell in love and got married.

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  6. My maternal grandfather’s father, uncles and grandfather moved to Wisconsin from the family farm in Norway. They had been dairy farmers but the farming was not good in Norway in the mid to late 19th century, so one of the boys went ahead to Wisconsin, found a nice patch of land, and wrote back home for the rest of the boys to join him. So they sold the homestead in the Norwegian mountains, sold the cows, packed up a handcart and walked over the hills and mountains to the fjords where the got on a boat and came here. The great great uncle who had been the “ahead” team then went back to Norway to marry his sweetheart, with the intent that they would come back to Wisconsin once they were married. She, unfortunately, contracted tuberculosis shortly after giving birth and died, leaving the great great uncle with a baby and no wife to help him raise the child. He remarried, but wife #2 refused to move to America, so they stayed in Drammen, had a number of Biblically named children (he was Abraham…and I met Esther, the youngest child, when I visited Norway – she was well into her 90s then), and ran a general store. Family lore has it that Abraham and family were suspected during the Nazi occupation to be secretly Jewish (they were not) and friends and neighbors had plans for how and where to hide them if it became necessary. The brothers in Wisconsin variously married and had children. My great grandfather also had 2 wives, the first also dying shortly after childbirth, so my grandfather had a different mother than his favorite sister – one of two sisters who became nurses and never married (and where characters in their own right). My grandfather worked for a bit on the railroad before going to college and meeting my grandmother (and teaching in St James, Windom, Battle Lake and eventually at the “new” high school in Bloomington).

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    1. Your mention of serial wives and frequent post-childbirth death reminds me how, with high infant and childhood mortality, families would often reuse the same name for two, even three children, the earlier ones having died. If you were the third owner of a name, wouldn’t that feel like kind of a jinx?

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  7. The reality of immigration weighs heavily on me since Mr. Khan’s heartrending speech at the convention last week. The sheer gratitude, love, and patriotism shone like a beacon of light and reaffirmed our core American values. And how very blessed we all are to live here. It was unexpected and moving to be reminded by a grieving Muslim father with broken English who’d lost his son by fighting for our country. Although there were a few other eloquent speeches that week, his was authentic to the bone and entirely unscripted. I feel privileged to have such people among us.

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  8. To the best of my knowledge, my mother and I are the two only immigrants in our family. She emigrated from Ireland to Denmark in the fall of 1946, and I from Denmark to the United States in the fall of 1965. We both left our homelands because we had married men from our new country. I don’t think either of us fully anticipated the consequences of such a momentous move. Ireland and Denmark are, of course, a lot closer than Denmark and the United States, in terms of distance, but culturally I don’t think mom was prepared for how vastly different the Danes were from the irascible Irish she grew up among.

    Mom’s family was a hardscrabble family from Drogheda, County Louth, just about 20 miles north of Dublin. Her parents, uneducated, hard drinking, devout Catholics, had eleven kids: my mom the second oldest, and the first of only two daughters. They eked out a living as best they could, but the stories mom told of her childhood were harrowing, and often hilarious, not unlike Frank McCourt’s in Angela’s Ashes.

    As a kid, mom recalled, she and her siblings didn’t all have shoes, and only the kids who got up early enough on Sunday mornings to claim whatever shoes there were, could go to church. Oftentimes they would steal food from local grocers just to get enough to eat. One of her younger brothers got caught stealing an apple and was shipped off to a reform school as a result. He was one of the lucky ones, he actually got an education. Although mom claimed to have graduated from high school, it became increasingly obvious to me as I grew older, that she had, at best, a fourth grade education. What she lacked in education she made up for with innate intelligence, grit, charm, and determination.

    Granny worked all her life in a textile mill weaving Irish linen. She was an indomitable character, and I have vivid memories of her. A tall, slender woman with a very erect posture, she used snuff and liked her Guinness. I never met my grandfather, as he deserted the family when my mom was in her early teens. One day he simply took his accordion and disappeared. Many, many years later, 1970 I think, my parents moved back to Drogheda and bought a pub there. At that time mom discovered that her father hadn’t moved very far. He was still alive and living in Dublin at that time. This sojourn back to Ireland lasted only six years before they moved back to Denmark.

    Because my father was an adopted child, we know nothing of his biological father’s family, in fact, we don’t even know who his biological father was. We do know a great deal about his biological mother, and her ancestors. They all have roots in Denmark that we can trace back a very long time. He has a half-sister, Birgit, who just turned 90 and is still living in Copenhagen. She has a daughter – so a cousin of mine – who lives in Dearborn, Michigan.

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  9. Bill, I love those two photos. Quite the outfits. I’m wondering if you know why your dad didn’t talk about his father, Bill?

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    1. I really don’t. Since my grandfather was out of the picture so early, I didn’t have specific memories to ask my dad about. He never said anything negative to me about his father; he just never said much at all.

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      1. My daughter had a friend in high school. Leah was standing in a checkout line at Target one day when her father pointed to an older man in an adjacent line. The man had a shifty, feral look to him, and he seemed to be staring at Leah.

        Said her dad, “You know, that’s your grandfather.”

        Leah was stunned. She didn’t know she had a grandfather. Her dad said, “Yeah, he got involved in the Mafia. For many years now, nobody in the family speaks to him or acknowledges he is alive.”

        Family! It can be astonishing.

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        1. Now that you’ve opened the door to stories about families in general…

          I worked with an older art director named Lloyd Crider. He was a rather slight, sandy-haired guy. One day at lunch he told this story:
          ” Growing up, I never looked much like anyone else in the family. My dad was tall and dark. When I turned 18, I was called in for my draft physical. So I was sitting there with all the other 18-year-olds and struck up a conversation with the guy next to me. Over the course of the conversation, it came out that his last name, like mine, was Crider. We compared notes further and, unbelievably, he had the same birthday as mine. To top it all off, we were born in the same hospital. And you know, he looked just like my dad. I decided, there and then, to just let it be.”

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  10. My Dutch Grandparents were both born in Holland. My other set of Grandparents were both of English heritage and were born in the US. I don’t know anything about the immigration of my English ancestors to the the US.

    The father of my Dutch Grandfather returned to Holland leaving my Grandfather here with very few resources. The parents of my Dutch Grandmother took back a farm from my Grandparents during the depression when they couldn’t continue to make payments. Some of those old Dutch people were kind of tight fisted at least in the generation that came before my Grandparents. My Dutch Grandparents seem to have over come the tight fisted ways of their parents and were generous people.

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  11. Husband’s mother’s family were Scots who came to Antrim and Tyrone in Ireland as part of the Ulster plantations about the time of James I. Some left and came to the colonies (Virginia) in the late 1600’s. Others stayed until 1870, when his great great grandfather immigrated to just east of Glasgow to work in the coal mines. He died in a mine cave-in in 1878. His widow and 7 children moved to Ohio in 1883, to work in coal mines and steel mills.

    My Great Grandfather Boomgaarden immigrated to the US in 1852 at the age of 3. He was almost washed overboard on the trip across the Atlantic, but another Ostfriesland woman grabbed his leg before he went over the side. His parents, who didn’t know the young woman, were very thankful and said that perhaps if she ever had a daughter, the two could marry. Well, she did have a daughter not long after she arrived in the US, and that girl eventually married my great grandfather!

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      1. The amazing thing about the story is rhat both families settled in different towns in Illinois, and somwhow met up again 20 years later after they had relocated to Iowa.

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  12. The ship was a two masted sailing vessel called the Gertrude . It could carry about 80 passengers. As I check my records, I see that the voyage was in 1856. Great Grandpa was born in 1852.

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  13. My mom’s mother was one of 7 kids who lost both parents by the time grandma was maybe 4. She came over from Sweden when she was about 15, an orphan, Ruth Thyra Augusta Bloom. She stayed with a sister until she was of age, met my grandpa while ice skating in or near Sioux City Iowa. He was Robert Chase Sterling (Welsh), youngest of a family of architects and carpenters. The Sterling name resides on a window of the Congregational Church there, as his father Fred been one of the founders; Fred also built a large mansion that was later transformed into an elementary school in Sioux City. Grandpa built the little 2-bedroom bungalow where they raised my mom, Hope, and 6 other kids. (Shudder.)

    My grandma was quite a character. She had innate musical talent, and I remember her playing a lot of songs on her old upright piano, though she’d never had a lesson in her life. Loved to hear her talk with her Swedish accent. My grandpa died in 1962; she remarried a few years later at age 72 and outlived #2 also. In the last little house she lived in, her daughter once found a stash of empty beer cans behind the refrigerator. Grandma would be watching TV on the couch, finish one and just toss it behind the fridge.

    My dad’s mom, Helga Kvalem, came over from Norway at age 12 (1904?) to live with her aunt Henrietta – I believe her father was out of work and they couldn’t afford to feed all the kids. After living as a maid in New York City for a time, Henrietta had married her much older employer, Civil War veteran Jonas Duea, and they came west to the Norwegian colony of Roland, IA. Helga grew up, was able to return to Norway and see her family at age 18 or so, and had the choice to stay there or return to Iowa. But she had met my Grandpa Art Britson by then, and returned to marry and raise 5 kids, of which my dad was 4th, William Joel Britson. By the time Dad was in high school, “Grandma” Duea was very old and infirm, and his family was invited to come and live with her so they could care for her. He remembers her as feisty, funny, resourceful – Dad remembered her as able to make do with anything. It was that house that became my grandma’s house, of which I know every nook and cranny. (I wish I knew some stories about Jonas Duea.
    )

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  14. My father’s family came to America from Germany in 1908. A hundred years ago Germans were the demonized ethnic group, castigated for not speaking English, as Latinos are today, and suspected of treasonous activities, as Muslims are in our time.
    Many were targeted by The American Protective League and accused of disloyalty.

    “We can honor them by regarding new arrivals, ones with unfamiliar customs and language and costume as kindred to our ancestors and cutting them some slack.” Hear, hear.

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    1. Prior to that it was the Irish Catholis castigated by the nativist “Know Nothings”. When I hear someone decry the immigrants, it strikes me how blank their sense of history must be and how flat their perspective. Mine is so richly sewn with people, places and events, all of which lead back to immigrants.

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    2. Linda, I once before posted about a framed print in my great grandmother’s home in the 1950s. The artist’s name was blacked over. When I asked my great grandmother why, she explained that the artist was German. When the US entered WW 1 against Germany, a wave of anti-German hysteria swept the nation. Grandma Boone had to black out the name on her living room print to avoid being considered a supporter of the evil Hun.

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      1. my next door neoghbor when i was a kid was don tanaka. don was a japanese american whose family in southern califormia ad been sent to the internment camp after being given 2 days notice to be ready. he came over and asked before he moved in if we minded being next door t a japanese guy. he was a great guy and a wonderful neighbor and i remember asking my dad about having a japanese guy living next door and my ddad explained that don was born here and was an american just like us but clearly don didnt feel that everywhere. when i was a kid it was for the olden days. i relealize today the war had only been over 15 years. germans had names and accents as give aways, japanese had physcal and couldnt get by crossing out the names in the corner. kind of like somalians and muslims get to deal with today.

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        1. I knew Don Tanaka back in the ’70s. He was a rep for a group of illustrators and, as such, used to call on me when I was an art director at Campbell-Mithun. As you say, a really good guy. He would occasionally take me to lunch at a little Japanese restaurant. His sister Satchi ran a sort of captive keylining studio called Tempo in the same building as the agency, so I knew her as well. A few years ago, I ran into Don’s daughter. She has some sort of design studio and has resurrected the Tempo name, figuring that nobody around today would remember its original incarnation. She’s almost right.

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    1. I’m here…I’ve been reading, but don’t have much to say. It seems to take so much effort to find the words to say something worthwhile and understandable. Thanks for thinking of me, Linda.

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      1. ljb
        dont let that stop you. weve talked about this before. if we wait to be worthwhile it all goes to hell.
        it reminds me of the new head of the newsreel films company from the 1930’s and 40’s. he got the job and decided the budget needed to be trimmed and one of the leading expenses on the ledger was film and processing the film. he noted that they were taking hours and hours of video for each weeks news reels and only a small fraction of it was being used. to be prudent and thrifty the camera crews were instructed to stop filming every minute of every play and to only film the worthwhile stuff the highlights. the next week they had almost nothing to show. a couple of plays with the film starting at the end of a play without the beginning being able to be shown and that was it. no one figured out until after the fact the good stuff all comes from out of what begins with the appearance of an ordinary thing and it blossoms into a highlight. my inlaws left 15 minutes ago and their insights on how i should get my life in order are all well intended and im sure after i have had a chance to sift through and harvest the nuggets i will be impressed….
        there i am done sifting.
        you may be right ljb, maybe you should just hold off.

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        1. My excuse this time, tim, is that I’ve been sick. Very sick. Even after being released from the hospital, I had close to zero energy for a good week. I’m starting to feel closer to normal now. And I think you’re right, tim – usually, I shouldn’t worry too much about what I’m saying here – is it profound? is it worth saying? etc – but just join the conversation. I’ll never do the stream of consciousness thing as well as you, but I have found it is more fun when I just say whatever pops into my head. Lately, though, little to nothing has popped into my head!

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  15. The anti-German sentiment in the US during the First World War was horrible. People were tarred and feathered for being too “German”. My grandmother immigrated to New York City in 1914 and told me that people would break in on their phone conversations (most people with phones then had party lines) and were told to get off the line if they couldn’t speak English.

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    1. my inlaws didnt appreciate my asking about the anti german sentiment they found being born just after the start of the war. they explained they were born here and their parents were born here too. it was their grandparents who came from germany and they were well liked.

      i do remember reading in kurt vonnegut biogragraphical stuff how much the world ahnged for his family who ran the department ster in indianapolis when the anti german sentiment found vonneguts department store kind of like trump properties will be for the forseeable future.i jus saw a deal saying the company that bought the atlantic city trump property is shutting it down losing 100million in what they thought would be a good buy to promote during his run… wrong

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  16. My maternal grandmother’s family barely made it over here before the war. My great grandfather lost all his money gambling. He decided to avoid his creditors, and, since his business was that of loading and unloading ships in the Hamburg wharves, he couldn’t sail from Hamburg without someone he knew seeing him. He slipped across the border in February, 1914 and sailed for New York out of Rotterdam. He lived with and worked for his brother in law who had a a grocery store/green grocer’s shop in Manhattan. My grandmother and her mother and sister followed in April, 1914. Grandma was 14 years old.

    Grandma told me that she also worked in her uncle’s store. I believe I have told this story on the blog before-She said that one day Enrico Caruso came into the store to buy some vegetables, and patted her on the head, exclaiming about her blond hair. Grandma was somewhat prone to exaggeration, but Caruso was in New York during the war years. I don’t know why he would be buying his own vegetables, but who knows?

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  17. I love “somewhat prone to exaggeration.” So was my mom. She’d spin some terrific yarns, great stories many of them; the trouble was that most of them weren’t true. Take my uncle Tucker, for instance. He was my favorite uncle when I was little. He walked with a noticeable limp and wore a boot attached to a long metal brace the length of his leg as a result of an injury received during WWII. According to my mother, he was a pilot and his plane was shot down. It wasn’t until I was an adult and living in the US that I learned his handicap was the result of childhood polio. He was never a pilot, as a matter of fact, I’d be surprised if he had ever been in an airplane at that point of his life. I guess mom needed a wartime hero in the family, and so she invented one.

    Because of mom’s tendency to embellish her stories liberally, researching her family background unearthed quite a few discrepancies. I can’t really say they were surprises as I suspected all along that she was adding and subtracting to suit her purposes.

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    1. My grandmother lived to be 99, and if anyone asked her how her health was, she would reply that she had many surgeries in her life. Then she would list off all the surgeries all the people in our family had, and give all the details of them, and say that even though they were surgeries of family, she considered them to be as important as her’s.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Out here on the Left Coast, Asians are a prominent element. Both Japanese- and Chinese-Americans are highly visible, and people with Korean ancestry are common. On the other hand, there are far fewer Vietnamese or Hmong folks here. Washington, Oregon and California have a long history of discrimination and poor treatment of Asian groups living here.

    That said, I think I see reverse racism with respect to Asian-Americans now. They are not associated with crime, drug use or anti-social behavior. The prevailing stereotypes, instead, reflect a belief that kids with Asian backgrounds work hard in school and keep out of trouble. But I’ve not lived with an Asian name or Asian features, and it is possible that those who have will tell you I’m wrong to think they are well accepted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m wondering how you see “reverse racism” manifest itself. I have trouble even wrapping my brain around the concept.

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      1. I think it means that a particular ethnic group is afforded angel status instead of acknowledging that everyone has flaws. My daughter in law is from Calcutta, and everyone assumes she is brilliant in math and science, whereas she despises math and prefers writing and student advising.

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        1. My daughter in law is an immigrant, now that I think of it. She is Bengali, and was abandoned as a day old infant at an orphanage in Calcutta. She was adopted by a wonderful Minnesota couple of Finnish and Norwegian heritage from Rush City, MN. She likes to ice fish. I think that is so funny.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Good question. Racism is holding (and acting upon) negative stereotypes about racial groups. By “reverse racism” I mean holding positive stereotypes about certain groups. Imagine two candidates for an important leadership job, perhaps managing part of a nonprofit organization. You have two candidates, one a “white” American and one an Asian-American. Both are equally qualified for this position. Everything else being equal, my bet would be that the Asian-American would get hired . . . at least in this part of the US. Asian or Asian-American women are particularly non-threatening. When it comes to scientific or engineering or other technical jobs, my guess is that Asian men would be hired more often than men (like me) from European ancestors.

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        1. During my cube years it was common for organizations, especially those in the nonprofit sector, to launch diversity initiatives, aimed at boosting the percentage of non-white employees. The people who were responsible for filling the entry-level and mid-management positions had to comb through the resumes looking for names that were perceived to be non-white. Asian and Latino applicants were easiest to spot by their names. If your last name was Chang or Xiong or Martinez or Mendoza, you were likely to get an interview. African-Americans had a harder time, with last names like Washington or Jackson which might or might not convey the suggestion of minority status. Younger African-Americans sometimes had first names like LaDonna, Tanisha, Darnell, or Jamar that might get their resumes flagged for interviews, but older applicants named William or Mary or Lisa tended to look white on paper, and were less likey to be interviewed.

          When there were upper management positions to be filled, diversity was not a top priority. Although the management and board insisted they were open to applicants of any ethnic background, the ones that were eventually deemed most qualified for the job were almost always white guys, with an occasional white woman thrown in.

          Liked by 3 people

  19. Many of my ancestors came from Great Britain a long time ago, 1600s and maybe some in the 1700s. My mom has done tons of genealogical research and has given me lots of information, but I’m not nearly as interested in it as I feel I should be.

    Here’s a story of one of my ancestors that I just found in one of the fat notebooks my mom has given me:

    Jacob Stoddard was 15 when he fought in the in the Battle of Bunker Hill. A tall, handsome man, he caught the eye of the Commander-in-Chief and spent the rest of the war as one of Washington’s life guards. Years later, when he heard of Washington’s death, he cried inconsolably.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. ahhhh….you always suspected that she was actually shanghaied off a gypsy wagon, being stolen away from her family of roma wandering minstrels and that is why she has an olive complexion and plays the hungarian rhapsody on the violin with such convincing auhenticity eh?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did read The Shawl With the Silver Bells as a kid, so I’d be enchanted if that were true.
        More likely the gypsy blood in our family is further back, owed to a great-grandparent on my mother’s side of the family, or so I’ve been told.

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