Skip to main content

My grandmother, Esther (Nana to me and my sisters), loved the sea, and loved Norway.  Her family followed the sea, and they all came from one place.  She even had a little shrine in her house, with two small flags, American and Norwegian, a woodcut of the house in Norway where her mother was born, and a small replica of a Viking ship.

The Viking ship was especially meaningful, and she was especially proud of it.  It wasn't just any old ship--it was the Oseberg ship...and it's part of the family.  My family's history has been carried on the matrilineal line, but to get to the 10th century we have to go back through the 1920's.

My father used to say that there are two kinds of Norwegians--the ones who drink and the ones who go to church.  It's been my own observation that those categories tend to alternate, skipping generations one by one, only occasionally conflating and, rather recently, collapsing the paradigm altogether.  My Nana was a church-goer.  

The Sins of the Father

Her father, Nils, was definitely a drinker.  As I grew up, Nana would trickle out the stories, always thinking I was far too young to hear sordid details.  My mother would fill in some of the gaps when Nana wasn't around but, being her mother's daughter, there were serious gaps in her knowledge base, too.

Esther was the youngest of three children, born in 1904 to Norwegian immigrants who lived in a tenement in Hell's Kitchen in New York City.  Having been born in Hell's Kitchen more than a decade after her parents married, I think it's pretty safe to assume that the family hit hard times rather early on.  Or maybe they had just hit a rough patch, because Hell's Kitchen has always had a menacing reputation.  Her father Nils occupies almost no part of her stories, except as a shadowy figure, half-menacing and half-comical.  Nana believed that her sister Alice, ten years her senior, married early and primarily to get out of the house and away from their father's abuse.    

By 1918, the family had moved to Greenwich Village, somewhere on Christopher Street, and lived on the third floor above a funeral home.  Nils kept a spare bottle of booze hidden in the basement, where the funeral home had its mortuary.  

You can probably see where this little vignette is going, especially when you remember that 1918 was the height of the Spanish Influenza in the United States.  Although New York City suffered fewer deaths per capita than other neighboring cities like Boston or Philadelphia, some 30,000 people died.  Cemeteries over-crowded and funeral homes overflowed.

One autumn night during the height of the epidemic, after the funeral home closed, Nils sneaked down to the basement to find his extra bottle and came upon a package wrapped in newspapers.  Thinking it might be something valuable, he opened it and found a dead infant for whom there was no casket available.  In terror, he dropped the baby on the table and ran away, forgetting his booze.  The experience didn't sober him up, but it did keep him out of the basement from then on.

Alice married a sailor, a naturalized Norwegian named Louis Pedersen, who shipped out almost immediately after the wedding.  As a bride, Alice had no idea how to cook, but she figured out how to make Jello which, with the introduction of refrigeration, was making its way into the market.  The first time he came home on shore leave and was hungry, Alice proudly showed him the new refrigerator and its contents--a veritable rainbow of every kind of Jello available.

He encouraged her to learn how to cook.  And, eager to please, she did; in time, she became an excellent cook, and Louis had a story that, ever after, he told with great delight.  With Alice gone, the rest of the family moved around, to Back Bay, to Flatbush, to other locations in Brooklyn.  There must have been tensions that no one ever spoke of, because the New York State 1925 census lists Louis and Alice living in Brooklyn with their two children, and Alice's mother Hansine, her brother Arthur, and her sister Esther, my grandmother, a 21 year old stenographer.

Nils was not living with the family, but there's no record of where he was.  Then, on March 7, 1927, the New York Times listed his death:

ARENTSEN--Suddenly, on Friday, March 4, 1927, Niels P. Arentsen, in his sixty-third year, dearly beloved husband of Hansine Arentsen and dear father of Mrs. Alice Peterson, Arthur and Esther Arentsen.  Relaives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral services at John H. Nusskern's Funeral Parlors, 355 Bleecker St., New York City, On Tuesday, March 8, at 2. P.M.
Official records are one thing--family history is another.

Although neither Aunt Alice nor Nana expended much effort in recasting their father either dear or beloved, they didn't speak ill of him.  I heard the story of Nils' death only once, and then only in a roundabout way.  Nana said that she knew "they" said Nils had been drunk and walked out in front of that horse-drawn fire engine, but she didn't believe it.  In fact, when she and Alice were summoned to the fire station to identify his body, he was lying on the floor and covered by a blanket in the same room where the firefighters were busy playing cards, and she believed they splashed liquor over his clothes to make it look as if he'd been drunk, the same way they tucked a glass bottle into his coat pocket.  Their disrespect to two grieving women particularly galled her.

In a rare photo from the era, Alice on on the far left and Esther on the far right at an afternoon tea.
Through the 1920's, my grandmother worked at an import house on Broadway.  They were happy times for her; she was a self-described flapper, her boss was buddies with Flo Ziegfeld and the two took all the women in the office out on the town to see the Follies and then to tour speakeasies in Mr. Ziegfeld's limousine.  When Charles Lingbergh had his tickertape parade down Broadway after his trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, Nana stood at the window of her office and snapped photos.  She loved being in the center of everything.
Lindberg's Parade, 1927
In 1934 while he was in port, Louis asked his first mate to come home and have dinner with the family, and the first mate, Edgar Raymond, accepted.

So my grandmother, the Woman About Town, met my grandfather, the sailor.

Capt. Raymond as a young man.
They went out three times before Edgar and Louis were due to ship out again.  On the third date, Edgar proposed and Esther accepted.  They married as soon as he came back to port.  They had a deliriously happy marriage, my grandfather often at sea and my grandmother holding down the home front during war and peace, until his death in 1960.  After he died, a long parade of eligible widowers and older gentlemen sought her out and she would have nothing to do with any of them.  She said once, "You can't repeat what was perfect the first time."

Men are One Thing, But What About the Women?

Ah, the women.  Here's where the ship comes in.  And this is all family history.  I know that the records exist in Norway but they haven't been digitized, I don't have personal contacts in Norway, and I forgot most of the language a long time ago.  That means a good bit of this is unverified, except where I can happily note official changes to the oral record.

My grandmother Esther might have preserved the story and ensured that her grandchildren absorbed at least a little of the (carefully vetted and approved in advance) official family history, but I really have to jump back two generations, to Esther's grandparents, the Oseberg relatives. [By the way, the family pronunciation is Ew-suh-buh.  (Ew as in "Ew, I smell something bad," suh as in "supper" and buh as just the sound of "b" without any vowel.]

The happy couple.
Abraham Johannsen Oseberg (1820-1902) and his wife Karoline Olavsdatter (1835-?) lived in Tonsberg, where their families had been for generations.  They had two sons and a daughter.  It appears that their first son Hermand died in infancy.  Hansine, the daughter and middle child, was born in 1872, followed by another son, Anton, in 1875.  Anton, who stayed in Norway, died at age 33, leaving a widow and two daughters of his own.  
Hansine as a teenager, before she left Norway.
Hansine came to the U.S. in 1892.  It was always my strong impression that her family shipped her out, perhaps hoping that America really was a land of opportunity and she would do better there, perhaps just wanting to get rid of her.  I've even heard it whispered that her father sold her off, having her married by proxy to Nils in exchange for having him pay for her passage.  Given the lack of love his children later held for him, I wouldn't be surprised if it were true.
Nils Arentsen and Hansine Oseberg
Although she learned how to speak Norwegian at home from both parents, it was from her mother Hansine that Esther developed her love for the Old Country.  She learned her family history from her mother, and we (my four sisters and me) learned from her.  As I said, it was a matrilineal thing, heavily censored and highly romanticized.

Finally, the Viking Ship

The best way I explain all this is to hopscotch backward, from me to my grandmother, to her mother Hansine, and back to Norway, specifically to Tonsberg.  And again, without going to Tonsberg and looking up the land records, it'll be hard for me to authenticate what was handed down in oral history.  But according to Nana, who heard it from Hansine (who was already a New Yorker when it all went down), the Oseberg ship burial was found on her family's farm.

By 1900, Viking ships were all the rage.  With the discovery and conservation of the Gokstad ship, Viking ships were as popular then as zombies are today.  Still, it was a surprise in 1903 when a Norwegian farmer brought a hunk of old carved wood to the Archaeology Department at the University of Oslo.  He had hacked it out of a burial mound on his property.  The archaeologists were amazed, and tentatively dated the artifact from the eighth century.

The burial mound at the Oseberg farm.
The mound was fully excavated, and revealed the largest, best preserved ship burial from the Viking Age.  Dendrochronology places the ship's construction at 820 C.E., and the burial chamber at 834 (pdf alert).

The Oseberg ship is without doubt the largest, most complete and most important Viking ship burial ever discovered.  It's justifiably famous and there are literally tons of sources that will give you photos, facts and information about the ongoing conservation efforts that you can find.  Some good places to start include:

The Viking Ship Museum, a part of the Museum of Cultural History
The Oseberg Viking Ship Burial from Irish Archaeology
The Oseberg Ship 100 Year Anniversary, in Norwegian, and worth translating.  Google Chrome will do that automatically for you, although it's not always the most graceful translation.
The Oseberg Ship, Norway, another Norwegian site, with nice photography and information.
The obligatory Wikipedia Article
Another decent read from

I grew up surrounded by reminders of Viking art and  romantic family history about the ship and its connection to my family.  The two women in the grave were rumored to be Queen Asa and her servant, although there's no evidence to support that supposition, it didn't stop us from dreaming ourselves into being the descendants of Viking royalty.  

When I was researching for my dissertation and chasing some lead down a lengthy and now-obscure rabbit hole (all researchers have done the same, and some of the most interesting stuff comes out of rabbit holes) I found an account of how Norway led the rest of Europe in changing its antiquity laws.  Some farmer turned up at the University of Oslo in 1903, with a piece of a ship.  He allowed the University to excavate the burial mound on his farm, surveyed all the pieces, and then announced he would sell them.  After some controversy and a bidding war, during which children went house-to-house raising money as U.S. children do for Unicef, all to meet the farmer's asking price.  A national effort kept the treasures in Norway.  The king begged the farmer to keep the treasures in the country but he was adamant that he would have the highest possible price.  After a national effort, the people prevailed and the ship and grave goods became the property of the Norwegian people.  The following year, the Norwegian parliament changed the law and nationalized all antiquities so it would never happen again that the whole country would have to beg to keep its heritage. (Would that all our peoples were so fortunate.)

Of course, given what I knew of my family, I thought immediately of Abraham, Hansine's father.  And for years I thought I was descended, not from Viking queens, but from the tightest bastard in Northern European archaeological history.  I told my sisters, who thought the story was hilarious.  My mother said, "Thank God your grandmother's dead, because this would kill her."  It would have troubled her, but Mom used to say things like that whenever I colored outside the lines.

Subsequently I learned that the farmer's name was Knut Rom.   So the miser was not my great-great-grandfather, after all.

How to explain?  I can't.  My grandmother was clear, her mother was quite specific that the ship had been found on the family farm.  She even had the woodcut of the house where her mother was born. (That woodcut is somewhere in my house, packed away.  My house is a black hole that swallows things and turns them up at unlikely and inconvenient times, so I know better than to look for it.)  I suspect that maybe Abraham sold the family farm after Hansine left for the United States, but it may be that the farm had passed out of the family before then.  

Enter Olaf the Bold

My grandmother Esther had a tough early life, an immigrant family where her parents spoke no English, her father an alcoholic, starting out in the Worst Neighborhood in New York City, but no obstacle was too much for her to overcome.  She became a career woman during the 1920's and '30's, then a Navy wife, then a widow and remained, her whole life, an upstanding strong woman, probably the strongest woman I've ever known.  In her late 70's, she thought nothing of driving alone between New York and our home in Virginia, seven hours driving in 18-wheelers' slipsteam without stopping, and she'd get there in time to watch her soap operas.  

She spent her whole life conserving--money, resources, time.  She made her own clothes, then made my mother's clothes, and eventually dressed all five of her granddaughters.  She was a bookkeeper, office manager--in fact, she never encountered something she couldn't do.  And through her whole life, she saved.

Then, starting in 1971, she reversed course and followed her lifelong ambition: travel.  She went first to Norway, met long-lost relatives, brushed up her Norwegian, and of course, visited the Oseberg farm and ship.  

That was the first of many trips to Europe.  Every few years she would go back and travel with her cousins to Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, etc.  She would diet rigorously all year long, then go back to Norway in the summer and eat her way across Europe.  She'd send home post cards that reported, "Rome is dirty.  And the traffic is terrible.  Saw the Vatican."  She'd write, not about the art and architecture, but the quality of the cream scones and afternoon teas.  She would come home ten pounds heavier and immediately start dieting again so she could repeat the exercise again next year.

She got to be such a seasoned traveler and so enjoyed her travels, that one of my best friends from college nicknamed her "Olaf the Bold Tea Drinker."  She reveled in that nickname, as much as she reveled in her Norwegian ancestry and her rediscovery of family in Tonsberg.

In the end, it doesn't really matter whether the Oseberg of my line is the same as the Oseberg who named the farm where the ship was found, (although the name's not common and the family was centered in Tonsberg where the farm is located).  Families go in all funny directions after a few generations, and family lore takes all kinds of weird permutations.  There's no chance the stories from my childhood and history's data points are going to meet in too many places.

And when you think about it, there's a good chance we're all related to each other.  Some years ago, before the web came about and list-servs and gopher holes were all the rage, I read on Ansaxnet where someone announced that he had traced his ancestry back to Ethelred the Unready, and was promptly flamed for inappropriate boasting about being related to a famous figure dead for a thousand year.  The fuss died down when an eminent Anglo-Saxon scholar did the calculations and, based on population distribution and allowing for pandemics and natural disaster, he figured that everyone who has any Caucasian ancestry has roughly a 50% chance of being descended from Ethelred the Unready, too.

My Viking ancestors date from about the same time, and they certainly got around. (Vikings were responsible for the Irish having red hair.)  On the Ethelred the Unready scale, I figure that if you have any Caucasian ancestry, there's a 50% chance we're cousins already.

A thought like that can change your whole outlook.  And it can make you want to travel and see where the family's been.

The intrepid Esther Arentsen Raymond, aka Olaf the Bold Tea Drinker and Daughter of Viking Kings.
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  excellent storytelling! (15+ / 0-)

    I found this especially charming:

    Alice married a sailor, a naturalized Norwegian named Louis Pedersen, who shipped out almost immediately after the wedding.  As a bride, Alice had no idea how to cook, but she figured out how to make Jello which, with the introduction of refrigeration, was making its way into the market.  The first time he came home on shore leave and was hungry, Alice proudly showed him the new refrigerator and its contents--a veritable rainbow of every kind of Jello available.
    I think you missed our jello discussion a while back.

    Live your life. Take chances. Be crazy. Don't wait. Because right now is the oldest you've ever been and the youngest you'll be ever again.-- some wise person on the Internets.

    by raina on Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:24:16 AM PDT

    •  We can easily begin them again, raina. (6+ / 0-)

      Not that I'd have anything to do with it.....

      Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

      by figbash on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:27:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I most certainly did (8+ / 0-)

      miss the Jello discussion.

      Now I have a reason to track back through the archive.....

      Glad you liked the diary.  I had fun writing it.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:42:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Norwegian records are online... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raina, edwardssl, brook, KenBee, klompendanser

        Microfilm images and transcriptions.  I do research in Norwegian records weekly (sometimes daily).  All their information is free, thanks to the Norwegian taxpayers, and the search engine for the transcribed records is the easiest to use of all web sites I've used for genealogy research.  Some records were transcribed by the time I found living relatives in Norway, but a couple of years later they started putting the images of the actual records online.  I have my Norwegian ancestors traced back to ca 1620..., and then, because the siblings of my parents, grandparents, and gr-grandparents almost all married Norwegian immigrants or offspring of Norwegian immigrants, I first got the US records, then started in on doing the research for the other lineages.  (I also do research in Denmark - also free records - and Sweden - paid web sites.)

        The spelling is actually Tønsberg, and it's located in Vestfold fylke (county).  Norwegian has three extra vowels and two official forms of Norwegian now, but they didn't have their first dictionary until 1917.  The records before that are written in Dano-Norsk.  The search engines on the Digitalarkivet web site distinguish between regular letters and the three extra vowels, and there are no replacement letters for the extra vowels in their search engines.

        If you have a thorough grasp of the patronymic naming system and understand perfectly how it works, it all makes sense (Iceland and the Faroe Islands, settled by ancient Vikings, still use the patronymic naming system).  They didn't go to a permanent inherited surname system until (by law) 1923, so women kept their own names their entire lives (the joy of doing research in Norway is never losing women to name changes while they were using the patronymic naming system since they kept their own names their entire lives).  Large cities sometimes had people who used an inherited family name, but it was used along with the patronymic naming system, not instead of, unless it was an immigrant family from elsewhere that moved to Norway.

        One must also understand the history of the language and which letters of the alphabet are used interchangeably and something about spelling transitions, etc.

        If you want me to try to help you find your emigrant ancestors, kosmail me their American names (Norwegian names if they're different), dates of birth, and I might be able to help you with Norwegian records and Norwegian emigration and utflytting records, as well as birth, confirmation, marriage records.  If you have the death certificates from American records they should list the names of the parents and their locations of birth, too.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:24:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've been to that website myself. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raina, brook, NonnyO, klompendanser

          The 19th century books weren't too bad, but once I got into the mid 18th century, boy-howdy they were a mess.  And confusing.

          Yeah, it helps to know the language (which I don't).  Having the LDS Norwegian words list handy is a big help, though.

          •  Here's a better translating dictionary (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raina, edwardssl, klompendanser, DrLori

            Otto Jørgensen's Dictionary [Dano-Norsk > modern Norwegian & English translations]

            This is the one all of the Norwegian researchers I know use.

            Some try to use Google Translate which is hit-and-miss... because it's not 20th century or later language (and, anyway, there are often two different ways of spelling Norwegian words because they have two official languages everyone learns in school).

            Because, for that period of time in history, altho functioning independently, Norway was under the protectorate of Denmark and Norway's clergy were often educated in Denmark, and they, of course, were the ones who were charged with keeping the records.  I also see words that show a distinct Latin or German influence for the educational background of the writer..., with other words that can only have been spelled phonetically in a local dialect.  There are multiple alternate spellings for most names and location names in addition to the interchangeable letters that are used.

            I did take two years of [modern] Norwegian in the early 1980s because I knew if I could understand one of the three Scandinavian languages the other two are close enough to be mutually intelligible.  I did not know - then - that the Norwegian records prior to 1910 are in Dano-Norsk.  The formatting of the church records are pretty much identical, down to the Gothic printed text when the columns aren't hand-written, and the spelling for all the common terms for birth, baptism, confirmation, betrothal, marriage, death/died, buried, utflytting and inflytting, [smallpox] vaccinations, are almost identically spelled across the board and certainly close enough to be easily understood in all three languages.  For everything I don't understand, I turn to people on the email lists I'm on and get help from people in those countries.

            [BTW, there's a couple of sections of Norwegian records that have been translated entirely wrong for patronymic names, so the LDS translations have to be used with due caution.  At least two counties (that I am personally aware of, there may be more) in the southern end of Norway some fool has used the father's patronymic name as the patronym for the child, and that's all wrong (unless it's a double name like Ole Olsen, for instance).  That's gonna mess up a LOT of genealogies for people who don't know any better.  Some of us have written to them about this problem, but it's not been corrected or at least those that are all wrong have not been taken offline.]

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:39:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, and PS... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DrLori, raina, edwardssl, klompendanser

            If you know how to get the Source info for the microfilm records (top blue menu bar, image information, click on the scroll menu, then click 'on top' and three lines will appear; those three lines are necessary because the link while scrolling gets an error page), kosmail me with the info and source links, and maybe I can help.  No guarantees, but I can certainly try.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:42:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you! This is very kind of you. (6+ / 0-)

          I put a link to this diary on Facebook for my non-Kossack cousins, one of whom is filling in blanks already.  

          I'll be in touch soon, as soon as I untangle my research.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:07:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, how I enjoyed this diary. (9+ / 0-)

    So much I want to comment on:  Norwegian research I did for a friend, that europeans are almost all related as early as 1000 years ago, church goers and family drunks (I got 'em, too!).

    I'll have to be in and out today (damned 3-day weekend messing up my work schedule).

    Wonderful diary!

  •  Volunteer Call (8+ / 0-)

    Looking high and low for Volunteers to host a Friday GFHC Open Thread

    Current schedule

    May 31   figbash
    June 7    fenway49
    June 14  open for adoption
    June 21  open for adoption
    June 28  klompendanser
    July 5      open for adoption

    We have some open dates coming up soon.  Do we have any takers for those dates (or any others into the future)?

    Come on!  Join the fun!!

  •  I visited a big cemetery (10+ / 0-)

    ... the other day. Found & photographed my grandparents' burial site, and then spent the afternoon wandering about.

    There were some pretty grand Gilded Age graves there. Hard to say which one was more extravagant, but it might be the one belonging to the Warner clan. It's a classical thing sitting on a knoll with no other graves sharing the knoll. It has its own stone steps leading up the knoll, and numerous trees and flowering shrubs. Next to the knoll is a pond; the knoll looks to have been built out of what was excavated out to form the pond. The monument looks like the Jefferson Memorial. Not quite as big, but extravagant mosaic inside the dome.

    So I looked up the family. Two Warner Brothers had a company that made corsets back in the 1800s. They purchased a patent from a young woman, for $1500, for the modern brassiere. They made something like $30 million selling them. (Amongst other things they invented letter cup sizes, and manufactured the first falsies/padded bras.)

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:07:47 AM PDT

  •  Tips & a Norwegian Tall Ship (10+ / 0-)

    The Christian Radich out of Oslo, subject of the great Cinerama movie Windjammer from the mid 1950's of which only 1 or 2 damaged prints survive. I toured the ship when it visited Cleveland during the bicentennial year.

    Image Hosted by

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:42:15 AM PDT

    •  Love the tall ships. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raina, edwardssl, klompendanser, figbash

      I live in what they sell to tourists as a "fishing" town. We get two visits a year from tall ships. I usually get up at dawn and get down to the Embarcadero  to see them while the tourists are out scouting their favorite hangover cure .

      "You're barking up the wrong tree. There's no cat up there." -Stella Adler via Holland Taylor

      by brook on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:30:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I so enjoyed reading this! (8+ / 0-)

    I think this has been the recipe for many a happy marriage

    They had a deliriously happy marriage, my grandfather often at sea and my grandmother holding down the home front
    Put a big grin on my face when I read it.

    The Oseberg ship is so amazingly beautiful. The Vikings surely were a talented bunch and I can see why Esther would cherish that wood cut and ship replica.

    So cheers to Olaf the Bold Tea Drinker and to you, DrLori, for a wonderful family story. I, too, believe most of us are related if you go back far enough. I had my mitrochondrial DNA tested by the Genographic Project a number of years ago. The last mutation was ~10,000 years ago. My maternal line is Scot and lived in a tiny SW borders village for 100 years and more. I suspect the Vikings paid many visits there, it being so near to the Firth of Clyde and all.

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:48:40 AM PDT

    •  I'm certain that if you have ancestors (10+ / 0-)

      anywhere from northern Europe, you've got the Viking ancestry somewhere.

      My mom and 2 brothers had red hair, though not Irish.  I've found the photos of several 2nd & 3rd cousins from one line still living in northern Germany with the red hair.  I have the history of the family name of another line, Lappe also of northern Germany, who's history was written into a novel. It starts off with the Viking progenitor of the family name first setting foot along the northern coast of Germany.  The earliest photos I have of that family show people of light hair.  Since the photo was black/white, I can't tell though if their hair was red or blond.

      I wonder when and where red hair first originated.  Goody, something else to look up.

      •  Don't know where red hair originated... (6+ / 0-)

        ... but when I was on a genealogy DNA list a few years ago and y-DNA was the big news and followed avidly, one of the side discussions had Vikings bringing red hair to Ireland.  The Vikings founded many of the coastal cities in Ireland.  The largest Viking ship ever unearthed was found at Roskilde harbor, Denmark, but the wood that made the ship was dendrochronologically dated to Ireland.  My Norwegian gr-grandfather had red hair and a red beard until he died in his 80s.

        When DNA testing was done in Iceland, the yDNA is almost all Viking and the mtDNA is mostly Celtic-Irish.  In the Faroe Islands the yDNA is almost all Viking and the mtDNA is almost all Scots-Gaelic-Celtic.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:39:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very cool! (6+ / 0-)

          I was the only redhead in a family of blondes.

          All my sisters wore pink Easter coats.  Mine was blue.  I was deeply bummed.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:52:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  :-) (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            brook, raina, edwardssl, klompendanser, figbash

            Mom's sister had red hair, kind of a medium-light shade, and she always regretted she could not tan, and got sunburned often trying to get a tan, but all she did was burn and peel.  Her kids all got her red hair, darker tones.  Some of her grandkids and gr-grandkids have varying shades of red hair, and the only gr-granddaughter has hair about the same color as her gr-grandmother's.  The Norwegian maternal ancestor with the red hair passed that legacy down to many descendants.

            Still, to one degree or another, whether tow-heads or very dark shades (like me - my bro and I have very, very dark brown hair from our dad's line), in the bright sunlight we all have red highlights from light to dark auburn.

            I don't look Scandinavian, in spite of my genealogy that I can prove with records and Scandinavian name.  I have/had very dark brown hair (mostly now silver gray in my old age), eyes extremely dark green that graduate to a kind of brown-gold with rust-colored flecks toward the pupil (even I recognize they're fairly unusual).  When I was younger and dating and mentioned genealogy, the first question I was asked was "Are you Jewish?"  No.  Next they'd go through the Mediterranean Spanish or Italian, maybe Greek and then if it was summer I'd get asked if I was part Indian.  No..., of the seven countries of origin I can prove with documents, none of those.  However..., ancient Britain had Caesar's armies invade, and they also went up to northern Gaul and Germania, and I have multiple lines from England plus one from Alsace.  Then, I have one Dutch line that arrived in America ca 1630..., and I happen to know that, to escape the Inquisition, Sephardic Jews migrated north to Holland which was kind of a haven for those who were being religiously persecuted (Mayflower ancestors went to Leyden, Holland later, but they didn't marry anyone from there at that time).  So..., it's not out of the realm of potential possibility that I do have Jewish, Italian, or Spanish somewhere in my genetic inheritance, but records to prove that speculation do not go back that far.

            As a woman I can't do a yDNA test.  My brother's yDNA would go straight back to Sweden and whatever is before that.  Our mtDNA would go straight back to a little island in Denmark and whatever is before that.

            I keep hoping research on DNA and ancient familial DNA will go faster and more could be determined with DNA testing.  I haven't had a test yet, but since so little can be determined with mtDNA, I can't yet justify spending so much money on it.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:11:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I suspect a good number of your ancestors (6+ / 0-)

      were Vikings!

      One of the cooler aspects of my education was studying Old Norse and Old English.  They're remarkably similar.  The Anglo-Saxons and Vikings could understand each other, although the dialects and accents were markedly different.  It'd be like if someone born in Boston were dropped on the set of Swamp People.   If he spoke verryyy slooowly, he could probably talk his way out.

      Same thing with the Vikings.

      Being stuck with the Gaels, however, I have the feeling all they could do would be to point and grunt.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:40:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was considering the dna test (5+ / 0-)

      offered by Ancestry, but reading some reviews, apparently there are complaints that they were not provided that much data after the testing. Apparently the more people who get tested, the more data they can provide, or something. Over my head, but in any case, I think I'll wait.

      Live your life. Take chances. Be crazy. Don't wait. Because right now is the oldest you've ever been and the youngest you'll be ever again.-- some wise person on the Internets.

      by raina on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:48:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I only had my mitochondrial DNA tested. (6+ / 0-)

        I am part of Haplogroup T.

        According to the report

        Haplogroup T arose some 10,000 years ago. Members of this group were among the first farmers during a period known as the Neolithic Revolution. The lineage's early agricultural successes spawned population booms and encoured migration from the Middle East north and west into Europe. Today this lineage is found most frequently in the Ural mountains and the Baltics of western Eurasia.
        Haplogroup T is considered to be one of the main genetic signatures of the Neolithic expansions. It is currently found in high concentrations around the Eastern Baltic Sea, and accounts for slightly less than 10% of modern day Europeans. Its branches are widely distributed throughout Southern and Western Europe with particularly high concentrations in Ireland and west of Britain. According to the Genographic Project, haplogroup T has a very wide spread distribution, and is present as far east as the Indus Valley bordering India and Pakistan and as far south as the Arabian Peninsula.
        So, there it is. There is nothing, nothing that says "farmer" like I do. 10,000 years of farmers. Gah!  I must admit to fantasizing that my 20th Great Grandmother was as fierce a Gothic barbarian as ever smote a Roman soldier, though. Gotta have some little bit of spice in there.

        Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

        by figbash on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:33:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fascinating research. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          brook, raina, figbash, edwardssl, klompendanser

          It's just plain depressing that all these breakthroughs are coming at a time when so much of our popular culture is desperately anti-scientific.

          I'm like you--a farmer.  Never as happy as when I'm elbow-deep in dirt.  When the conversation turns to past lives, I always say I was either a dog or a groundhog in prior incarnations, because I love digging in the dirt and, no matter how old I get, I can't break the habit of loving to ride in the back of the truck.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:05:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great story! (11+ / 0-)

    My grandparents lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which traditionally has had a huge Norwegian population. Many of their closest friends were Norwegian, a few Swedish. Bay Ridge still has its big Norwegian Day parade, which was held last Saturday. I used to go see it in years past and you'd see people in traditional costume riding the subway out.

    As a kid I'd go into the Scandinavian specialty shops in the neighborhood. They always sold imported foods, but also flags and clothes. Fun.

    The rest of the NYC family was based in Flatbush.

    Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

    by fenway49 on Fri May 24, 2013 at 11:04:57 AM PDT

    •  I've heard many stories of Brooklyn, (8+ / 0-)

      although my grandparents moved to Rockland County.  Louis and Alice, Edgar and Alice built houses next door to each other and remained best friends for life.

      Nana told me about driving into Brooklyn to get a marzipan frosted confirmation cake in a snowstorm that was so bad she had to crank her windshield open in order to see the road.

      Of course, even in Rockland, their neighborhood was Norwegian.  The women got together for a knitting club/gossip circle and often, when Nana was babysitting and the adults didn't want the kids to know what they were talking about, they talked in Norwegian.  That's how I learned Norwegian, as a small child.

      I got outed when one of the ladies made a joke in Norwegian about "the last thing that dies on a man."  I laughed, and looked up to see all the women staring at me.

      After that, they spelled in Norwegian.  I was screwed.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:00:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Virtual tip and rec / nm (7+ / 0-)

    The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

    by ozsea1 on Fri May 24, 2013 at 11:32:36 AM PDT

  •  I am totally sending this (8+ / 0-)

    To my DH, Sven.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:21:44 PM PDT

  •  hugely entertaining, diary, DrLori (8+ / 0-)

    Scandahoovians, jello and genealogy! Can't ask for more!

    Here in MinneSOOOOOta, there are a lot of Scandanavians, doncha know! You betcha! Uffda!

    So then! Reading your maybe connections to the Gokstad ship got me thinking about the Hjemkomst, which was based on the Gokstad. Maybe it was a local thing, but this story got non-stop TV coverage from the time the ship was built and for many months after the voyage to Norway, and again when it was brought back to the states.

    Thanks for lots of smiles today.

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri May 24, 2013 at 01:08:13 PM PDT

  •  Queued to Community Spotlight. (7+ / 0-)


  •  Nicely done (7+ / 0-)

    Anyone who can get Vikings and Jello into the same story is a great storyteller.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Fri May 24, 2013 at 01:54:30 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for all the kind comments. (6+ / 0-)

    I just came in from replacing my poor vole-chewed seed potatoes.

    This diary was fun to write.  Most of it I pulled from memory, but when I was putting the links together I found some Norwegian link rot.  Their 404 Page Not Found error page is priceless--  A bearded blue-eyed fierce-looking man in a helmet and the inscription: Denne siden er rovet av vikinger., or This page has been pillaged by Vikings.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:04:50 PM PDT

    •  Hello DrLori. (7+ / 0-)

      Been busy all day with house chores that really have me all fustrated. Plumbing and water heater issues.

      I came and sat down to rest and saw your GFHC thread. I sat back and enjoyed such a lovely narration of your ancestors and that vikings ship. What really caught my attention was that your grandmother "your nana" not only was born in 1904 but the word "nana" reminded me when my grandfather asked me "where is your nana?" when I was just a child. I always remember that word..I wrote this quote in one my diaries some time ago.

      My own mother was born in 1906 but in very different locations and circumstance, nonetheless these stories about our ancestors live forever in our minds and hearts.

      I wish I could just sit here and tell you how much I envy you and many other members in this group for having such a large and interesting ancestors and being able to write about them as it it was only yesterday. I love those photos of long ago.

      Thank you DrLori..You made my day relaxing in the sense I got lost and escaped from my chores to read such a lovely piece from you.

      Good luck

      Old men tell same old stories

      by Ole Texan on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:24:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You inspired this diary, you know. (6+ / 0-)

        I made a joke in one of your comment threads about being related to a Viking ship, and then I had to explain.  And my Nana was a formidable force, almost a force of nature all on her own.

        And it turns out there's really something to the story.  My off-Kos cousin wrote to me that when my grandmother went to the museum where the ship is housed, her presence made a real stir and the officials were all over her.  

        "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

        by DrLori on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:09:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Three cheers and a bowl of Jello! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raina, edwardssl, klompendanser, figbash

    What an engaging read this is...filled with Vikings, ships, sailors and the spirited Esther...Olaf the Bold Tea drinker.

     Definitely another Friday Pulitzer, DrLori.

    Alas, any Viking blood in our family would have had to come through our Irish, Scot or English waybacks.

    "You're barking up the wrong tree. There's no cat up there." -Stella Adler via Holland Taylor

    by brook on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:16:09 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site