Nordic Heritage Museum Vanishing Generation Interview with Bjarne Andvik

  • By Olaf Kvamme
  • Posted 9/23/2004
  • Essay 5772
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This interview with Bjarne Andvik, (b. 1923) is part of The Vanishing Generation Oral History Project in the Nordic Heritage Museum. Interviewed by Olaf Kvamme on October 18, 2000, Bjarne Andvik is a Norwegian born Seattleite. He talks about his parents' immigration and their early days living in the Greenwood area, his father's job as a streetcar conductor with the Seattle Municipal Street Railway, his days in the band at Ballard High School, and his World War II service and shipyard work at The Ballard Marine Railway. This interview describes the Norwegian congregational community at the First Norwegian Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Brethren Church, and the Emmanuel Tabernacle, and delves into the communities' theological dissension.

This is an interview for the Vanishing Generation Oral History Project in the Nordic Heritage Museum. Today is October 19th, (sic) the year 2000. And I'll be interviewing Bjarne Andvik. We're at 815 Fourth Avenue North in Shoreline in the home of Olaf Kvamme, and my name is Olaf Kvamme.

Bjarne, let's begin. You recognize that we interviewed your mother, but let's begin with your parents again and with your father, when he was born and where he was born, something of his early years.

The history of my father is very interesting in that we haven't got quite the detail of his family or his having not met his relatives as many as I have on my mother's side. But Dad was born and raised in Masfjord, which is just northeast of Bergen, on a farm called Bruvold in the community of Andvik. Now, the word "Andvik" means Duck Bay, and that's the name of the little community and that's the name of the bay opposite his home.

Dad was married -- Dad came to this country in about -- well, at about age 14, settled with his older brother, who had been here earlier in North Dakota and then went into Minneapolis and began driving streetcars in Minneapolis.

What year was that when he arrived at age 14?

Well, he was born in 1889, so it would be about 1903, 1903 or '04. Shortly after working there in Minneapolis, or while working there in Minneapolis, he, as young people will do, wanted to see how fast one of these streetcars would go. So he exceeded the speed limit heading back to the car barns one day and was discharged as a result of this misdemeanor.

He moved out to Seattle and because of his experience and because in those days, I guess they didn't have the tracking devices about his errors, he got a job driving streetcars in Seattle. And living here in Seattle he met a woman of Norwegian descent, and married Ellen Tjelle. Ellen Tjelle was his first wife, and they had two children, my older brother Arnold and my sister Sylvia.

And so Dad continued working for the street railway until he heard that his oldest sister in Norway was going to sell the family farm. Her husband had started a business on the fjord, and they had all they could take care of with that business. So Dad decided he'd like to buy that family farm. So he returned to Norway with his wife and two children and bought the farm, and you might say he bought the farm, in the vernacular, because it was very, very tough living in Norway in those days.

His brother-in-law had had the post office business there at the farm, but when he moved down to his store on the fjord, he took the post office business with him, and so Dad did not have the benefit of that income. And then the story is that there was a community fishing net that was a part of that farm's equipment, and that also went with it -- with him when the brother-in-law moved. So Dad lost the benefit of owning that community fishing net, which was of some income potential.

While living in Norway there, his wife contracted TB and passed away. So he was then a widower, and oftentime would go to the pastor's farm with the other men and help with volunteer work on the pastor's farm. My mother, at that point in time, was a domestic working for this pastor. And the pastor said to her one day, "Fina," he said, "that's the man for you."

I'm not sure of all the intermediate steps, but my mother married my dad at that point. And shortly after, very shortly after, like -- well, nine months later I was born and was a year old when Dad decided this farming was just a little tough, and he moved back to Seattle, selling the farm to a distant cousin. And that has caused some reverberations among some of the family because they felt that the farm should have stayed in the immediate family's hands. But he was kind of over a barrel at that point, and so that's what took place.

When he came to Seattle the first time, where did he live?

His first -- I'm not sure of the house -- the location, it was on about 70 -- in the 70 hundred block somewhere just off of Greenwood Avenue on Phinney Ridge. I've seen a picture of the house, but I can't make out the address. So it was somewhere up in that area. And I think he attended Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church.

And my first name, incidentally, was taken from a very dear pastor who was instrumental in leading him to the Lord. His name was Odd Gurnitska, and so Dad benefited me with the name Odd, Odd Bjarne.

Do you know anything about how it turned out to be Bjarne instead of Odd when people refer to you?

Well, I kind of downplayed the Odd part of it as I grew older. I had a schoolteacher that knew my first name, and when I got to her class in grade school she started calling me Oddy, and the kids picked this up and carried it all the way through high school. But when I left high school, I began to drop the Oddy.

Let's go back to Norway. The date of your father's marriage to your mother?

That was June 30th of 1922.

And so then you moved with them to the United States in 1923.

1924. I was born March 30th of 1923, and I was just over a year when they moved back to Seattle in 1924.

And what was the route from Masfjord to Seattle?

Well, a little fjord steamer would stop by; there were no roads into the area at the time. So, they would take this fjord steamer into Bergen, and from Bergen they caught one of the three, I think it was the Scandinavian-American line, called the -- there was the Oslofjord, the Stavangerfjord, and the Bergensfjord. And I believe it was the Stavangerfjord that they took to come New York.

Can you say anything about your father's citizenship? What was involved there going back and forth? Was he a Norwegian citizen when he came back here the second time? What was the status?

That's a very interesting -- his citizenship is a very interesting issue. In coming to America the first time he was naturalized. And going to Norway was no problem. He was a naturalized citizen, he had a visa, a passport. When he married my mother, she became a citizen by virtue of the fact that she was marrying an American citizen, but just three months later that law changed and she would not have been a citizen. My citizenship then comes from a series of events, and I have something called a Certificate of Derivative Citizenship showing that Dad's naturalization, Dad's first wife's death certificate, Dad's marriage certificate to my mother, his legal passports, all of these papers provide proof that I'm a citizen by virtue of his naturalization.

Do you have a copy of that certificate?

I have it at home.

Good. We'd like to take a look at it and at least have a photocopy of it.


Now, when your mother and father met and were going to get married, I asked your mother about that question and about coming to America, and her answer was, "Oh, I guess it was okay. I suppose I could make it like others did. I wasn't too excited about it." But did she ever indicate that she wished she were back home in Norway?

Well, she loved her home and she loved her family, and they were a close family. They were all a very close family. She had two brothers in Chicago, one of which was her full brother, the other a half-brother, and she admired these brothers very much. So she had this tie to America, so I suppose that that gave her a little security. And having been raised there in the fjord, never hardly traveling anywhere, it was a step for her to go such a far distance, but she was always willing to follow what her husband directed her and guided her in, so that's how she handled it.

So, what about communication in their early years when she came to this country, what was the pattern of communication? Was there a lot of letter writing? How did they stay in touch?

My mother would frequently write and receive letters from Norway and was very close to her brothers and sisters. She would tell us about them, and to us it was just a real confusion as to who are these people. She had a total -- there were a total of 12 siblings in her family, and to try to get that straight secondhand was very difficult for us children. But when we finally got to Norway, we sorted it all out, and it fell into place.

And then what was the port of entry when they came back, when your father returned to the United States?

The Stavangerfjord landed in New York, and because Dad was a naturalized citizen, it wasn't even necessary for him to go through Ellis Island. So he was able to bypass that step.

Then, was there an intermediate point between New York and Seattle on their trip out?

Well, I'm sure they would have stopped in Chicago to visit her brother who was there.

And what was he doing?

Well, he was an electrical engineer with the Commonwealth Edison Company in Chicago.

Diane Guthrie: Can I have you stop for a second? Would you start exactly what you were doing when you state his name?

Okay. State his name now, the --

The brother?

Diane Guthrie: Brother?

Brother. My mother was in a family of 12 children, two stepsiblings that were older, and seven stepsiblings that were younger, but she had -- there were three siblings in her immediate family. She was the oldest, and the next was her brother Ragnvald, Ragnvald Bergeson who lived in Chicago. He was an electrical engineer with Commonwealth Edison. The other brother living in Chicago was a half-sibling. His name was Olaf Bergeson, and he was an electrical construction man from the same company in Chicago.

Now, it's interesting that -- how the names come out. The name Bergeson came from their father Berger Duesund. Berger, or Birger, was taken as the part of their last name, Bergeson. The Duesund was the name of a little community or the little spot along the fjord where he raised his family.

What about the schooling in Norway, did those brothers and half-brothers have advanced schooling in Norway that allowed them to enter positions in Chicago that were some responsible positions fairly early in their career?

Well, you're -- the schooling chronology of my uncles, I'm not totally clear on, but --

Your mother then?

My mother's schooling? She had only eighth grade schooling, eight grades of schooling. It was made up of moves to different locations. Sometimes the school was held in a home, sometimes it was held in a little school building that they had, sometimes it involved rowing across the fjord. And on rainy nights or days, if they got drenched, they'd have to hang up their clothes and let them dry in the schoolhouse. And if it was very bad weather on the fjord at night, in the evening, they would probably stay overnight, sleep where they were, in the schoolhouse or in the home where they were schooling.

Did she mention how many days a week or how often she went to school and what period of time during the year; five months, eight months, nine, ten?

I'm not totally clear on that. I think that their schooling was much like the normal five-day-a-week, and the summer times were free because she had duties in the summertime that kept her busy.

When they arrived in Seattle --

Diane Guthrie: Wait a second. Sort of expand on the duties in the summer.

Well, that gets into this thing about the seter thing.

Diane Guthrie: Yes, that would be a great topic.

Do you want to talk about that?


Okay. One of the interesting aspects of my mother's life as young girl was her roll as a seter girl. The Peer Gynt Suite written by Edvard Grieg has a song in there called the "Seter Girls' Sunday." And this is a story of the girls who would go up on a mountain plateaus, live in little cabins, tend the sheep and the goats and the cows, and they'd milk them regularly and they'd produce goat cheese and butter and other kinds of cheese. And then periodically someone from the fjord level would come up and carry all the goods down to the fjord, but the girls would continue there on the center or on the mountain plateau during the summer months. My mother was one of these seter girls, and I have a lot of pictures of her with her girlfriends up there on the top of the mountains. So this was how Mother would spend her younger summers.

What age would she have been at that time?

Oh, she'd be 17, 18, 19, uh-huh.

Now, when they arrived in Seattle, where did they live initially?

When they moved from Norway to Seattle, Dad being familiar with Seattle, they began to attend the First Norwegian Lutheran Church on Boren and Virginia. And about two blocks from that church they found a house to rent and lived there for just a few months until Dad was able to locate a house out on Phinney Ridge at 6513 Greenwood Avenue, which he then bought for $3000. And that's where he raised his entire family. We moved in there in about 1924, and Dad retired from the Seattle Transit System in, let's see, at age -- 1954 and at that point sold that house.

And who was operating the transit system at that time? Was it an independent, private or the city --

Well, there was a -- the transit system at the very beginning of his time -- I have to think about that a minute. I can get you back to that, but let's see -- it was a private company, and then it became the Seattle Municipal Street Railway, and then it became Seattle Transit, and then finally, I guess, Metro is now operating that.

What was his role on the streetcar?

Dad was a streetcar conductor. He would drive the streetcar from the front end. Some of the streetcars had secondary conductors, but it got to the point where one man would handle the job. I remember Dad was very kind to me as a little boy. He said, "If you'll take a nap this afternoon" -- this was when I was still at home before I started school -- he said, "If you'll take a nap today, I'll let you go along with me on my tripper this afternoon." So I'd take a nap when he did --

What was a tripper?

A tripper was a single round trip during the rush hour. Dad worked a split shift. In the morning he'd go for a couple trips during the rush hour, and then he'd come home and have a break and a nap, and then he'd go back for a tripper in the evening at the rush hour.

So he would let me ride along. He would take me to the car barns. I got to see all the streetcars in or out of the barn. And then I'd stand there with my fingers on the edge of the windowsill at the front end of the streetcar while he drove the streetcar to various routes. I remember particularly the Fauntleroy route where we'd go down a road that was called Endoline (phonetic), and that was the end of the line and it made a loop on a loop track at the far south end of the Fauntlerory streetcar.

Where were the barns at that time?

They were in the Denny Regrade area, somewhere in the vicinity of the Broad Street substation, very close to that.

And the streetcar lines in the Ballard area, do you remember where they were?

Yes. There were streetcar lines on 15th Avenue and 24th Avenue and I think as far west as 28th Avenue, but I can remember when they cut Eighth Avenue Northwest through the backyards of the homes.

What year was that?

Well, it would be about 1927 or '28 when they -- maybe a few years later when they cut the streets through there, cut the street through and then installed streetcar lines on Eighth Avenue Northwest.

Diane Guthrie: In the answer that you gave there was no mention of Ballard, so it's like as if it was still Seattle. So I don't know if you can rephrase it to say in Ballard, something about in Ballard along with all the streets that you were just talking about.


Well, at that time Ballard was a part of Seattle at that time.

Diane Guthrie: Oh, was it?

Yeah. Yeah.

But I think maybe in the Ballard section of Seattle.

Diane Guthrie: Oh, okay.


Diane Guthrie: That's fine.

To clarify a little of the geography out in the north end of Seattle, the city limits at my first recollection was 85th Street. And there was one streetcar that ran across 85th Street from the Golden Gardens and all the way east to Greenwood, and I believe it continued east further over to east side of Seattle. Ballard was a part of the City of Seattle at that time.

And one of our favorite outings was to catch the streetcar from our home, north on Greenwood to 85th and down to the Golden Gardens stop and then walk down to the beach and have a day on the beach. Mother would carry all the groceries and a complete outfit so she would make meatballs and gravy and potatoes on the picnic stove down there on the beach. And when Dad came home from work, we'd all have supper together.

The place where you walked from 85th up on -- above Golden Gardens and down, was there a trail or a road?

There was -- the way we would reach Golden Gardens from the streetcar, the streetcar would stop at 85th Street and I think it's 32nd Avenue, right on the top of the bluff. And then there were some long steps going all the way down to the beach level and to the picnic area down there at Golden Gardens. That's how we'd get there.

And you mentioned food. What were the kinds of food that you had at home that was, you know, the usual kind of dinner or the usual kind of meals that you had at that time that may have reflected some ethnic background?

Our food at home had a lot of ethnic flavor, no pun intended. We found though, much to our disappointment, the necessity in those hard times of eating lots of salt herring. We'd come home from school as hungry as could be, and Mother would have herring for dinner. It was salted and sitting in a keg full of brine. And my disappointment with it was that I would often get a herringbone stuck in my throat, so I never looked forward to herring for a meal.

But we also had fishermen friends who would provide us with salmon and halibut and various fish, and we enjoyed that. Dad was not so great on lutefisk. He had a couple of bad experiences with his lutefisk, and so he even gave up on it when I was in my teens. Years later I found lutefisk to be very delicious.

But we had a lot of meat and potato type meals, pot roast, meatballs, and we ate a lot of leg of lamb. That was very popular with our family.

The herring that you referred to, where would you have purchased that? Were there stores on Greenwood out near the 65th area that had that, or was there a special place where you could go to secure that?

Well, Dad had a lot of friends who were fishermen. And I remember we'd have a keg of salt herring just about every year. And whether he bought that in a store or one of the fishermen sold it to him, I'm just not sure. But a full keg of salt herring would last us a fair amount time.

Also, among one of our favorite Norwegian meals was raspeballe, sometimes called kumla, sometimes called raspekake. But it was made of ground up potatoes mixed with a flour to thicken it a bit, a piece of ham in the center and wadded into a ball and then cooked in ham water. So when it was all done, you had this dumpling-like ball with ham at the center and a nice soup to go along with it that it had been cooked in. And then we'd dip it in hot bacon grease to give it a real flavor. So that was our favorite.

Was there any vegetable along with that meal?

Oh, yes. Vegetables were very common. Mother and Dad had a vegetable garden, and we grew peas and carrots and onions and radishes and all of these kind of things, lettuce. So we had vegetables.

But when you had the raspeballea, was there any particular vegetable that you had that went with that particular meal?

The raspaballe, as I recall, was not accompanied by any specific vegetables. The potatoes that were in it was it. That was it.

Well, we had rutabagas with it.

Did you?

So, all right. Now, back in your neighborhood, what kinds of games or activities did you have with the neighborhood children that were your age?

We had an interesting gang up in our neighborhood. We had several families that were fishermen, Norwegian families, and we had a lot of kids that would come out on the street in evenings. And we'd play games like kick the can, or eeny, iney, over, which consisted of throwing a ball over the roof of house to the other party on the other side and then chasing them around the house to tag them with the ball. We'd play baseball or softball in the street. We played roller-skating hockey, roller- skating on the streets. We had scoot-mobiles made out of roller-skate wheels and a two by four and an apple box we'd nail together.

These were some of the things I remember. Twelve years of age, I spent five weeks picking raspberries out in Sumner and earned $12, so I came home and bought myself my first bicycle.

Who did you stay with when you went to Sumner?

We --

Or did you go out daily?

When we went to Sumner, we stayed for the full five weeks. We lived in a cabin, did our own cooking, myself at 12 and a boyfriend at 15, and his other friend at 14. Our folks would come out on the weekends to be sure we had enough food, but we stayed for the whole five weeks. And let's see, your question was --

Well, that answers part of that. The farmer who owned that farm, what sort of responsibility did he or she have for looking out for you?

The farmer, I think the name was Winters, if I remember right. And they didn't take too much responsibility for us. In fact, on one occasion us adventurous boys went down to the river and --

Which river?

(Continuing) -- the Puyallup River, with an old skiff that we found on the shore. And as we drifted down the Puyallup River, it came up against a piling in front of the garbage dump. The piling had been driven into the river to increase the current so the garbage would wash down the river.

The boat went sideways up against one of these pilings, and I couldn't even swim so I just grabbed the piling, and I sat on that piling for over an hour till the State Patrol figured a way to get me off of there.

Well, we came home and Mrs. Walters found out -- Mrs. Winters or Walters found out about it. And when my mother came out that weekend, instead of letting my mother see that we were all right, she immediately starts talking to my mother about this near tragic accident before my mother even had a chance to lay eyes us to know that we were okay.

Diane Guthrie: How did she react? How did your mom react?

My mother was a very calm woman, and she could get a little upset. But, you know, she had the faith, I guess, to turn us loose and let us go out there at age of 12 for five weeks, so she wasn't a nervous type person as far as us kids.

Diane Guthrie: I was just going to ask at some point here, your mother talked about learning English, and I'm curious about the Norwegian that was spoken in your home and how your parents learned English.


DIANE GUTHRIE: Something around that?

When my mother came to this country, she spoke no English whatsoever. My dad, of course, had been here during his teens and later, so he spoke English. So when we started to school, my brother and sister were already into school, she wasn't able to go to the PTA meetings or talk with the teachers because she had no knowledge of the language. Even when I started to school, it was several years before she felt comfortable with the English.

But she had a very good friend in the neighborhood who had been here longer, the wife of one of the fishermen I mentioned. And she helped my mother with the language. She helped my mother to read and to learn. And so in due time my mother was a good reader, but she's never been very successful with spelling in English even to this day.

Did your mother feel that she could open the door and have you go out on a Saturday and go wherever you wanted? Say one bit about what kind of freedom kids had in terms of what kind of supervision they needed when they left the house and how far could you go from home and that sort of thing?

As children, we were free to play out on the street or play in an empty lot across the street, build ourselves little camps and forts, you might call them. If we were -- when I was very young, if we were to wander off to the park or -- which was seven blocks away, or to the school playground, we'd probably tell her where we were going. Later on when I was 12, 13 years old and had a bicycle, I would travel three, four miles away. I'd spend Sunday afternoon riding my bike around Green Lake, and we would have all kinds of freedom. We never had to fear of any kind of mishaps of that sort.

Did you have any contact with the Ballard area during that time? Of course, you're on the edge of Ballard, but what was your relationship with Ballard at that time as a young person?

Before I got into Ballard High School, I didn't have much contact with Ballard, the town of Ballard or the district of Ballard. We were mostly involved in Phinney Ridge, the Greenwood district and Woodland Park, and we'd get down to Green Lake, which was to the east of Phinney Ridge. We'd get down there for a swimming outing and a picnic on occasion, but I personally don't remember a whole lot of visits into the community of Ballard until I got into high school.

Do you remember how you got from Phinney to Green Lake? What about the Aurora situation?

I can remember when Aurora Bridge built. I can remember when Aurora Avenue was cut through. And they first put safety islands on Aurora Avenue to permit pedestrians to cross and to stop safely in the middle of the highway. These safety islands became more of a hazard than a help because a lot of cars, at 35-mile-an-hour or 40-mile-an-hour speed limit, would run into these safety islands and have serious injuries. We had a friend, a very good friend from that area, who was killed running into one of those safety islands. But that at least provided the pedestrians a way to cross Aurora to get down to the Green Lake beach or wherever they had to cross.

The automobile was becoming popular. What sort of car did you have in the family and when did you get it?

My dad's first car was a Model-T with a curtain top, probably a 1929 model.

What's a curtain top?

Well, it was a 1924 model. It was called a touring car. It had a canvas top with steel frames that supported that top. I don't recall that it converted down and backed --

[Tape 1, Side 2]

(Continuing) -- off, but it may have been convertible, although I don't recall Dad ever moving the top off.

But if we traveled any distance, like visits to Everett to visit friends, we'd put up the side curtains, we'd take blankets with us and bundle in blankets to keep warm. And it was an adventure to go very far in our old touring car. It had -- you know, if you had a flat tire, you had to take the tire off the wheel and change the tire, not like you do today.

His next car was a 1929 Franklin, a big sedan, lots of room, enclosed with a hardtop. It had air-cooled cylinders. And these air-cooled cylinders would sometimes crack, and I can remember standing in the garage holding the flashlight or the extension cord so Dad could change out the cylinders on that old Franklin engine if there was a need. That's the car that I learned to drive in was that 1929 Franklin.

At what time did you get licensed to drive?

I was licensed when I was 16, which would be in 1939.

What responsibility did you have for when you used the car? Did you fill it up with gas with your own money or where did the --

Well, I never did drive -- I never did have the freedom to drive the old '29 Franklin. Shortly after that, Dad got a 1929 Model A. And the way he got that was quite interesting. He had a very dear old friend who owned this Model A; it was a two-door hardtop. One day the man went downtown, his name was Mr. Erickson, he went downtown to do business, and when he got through with his business, he couldn't find his car, and he was afraid it was stolen. So he rode the streetcar home, called my dad and told my dad of his problem.

My dad went downtown with him, and sure enough, they found the car just where he had parked it. So Mr. Erickson says, "Well, if I'm so old that I can't remember where I parked my car, I better get rid of it." So he gave the car to my dad.

So as a high schooler, when I got my driver's license, this was the car that Dad would occasionally let me use for short trips. I'd take some of the band members from the Ballard High School band, and we would go over to the Meany Hall and take in the band concerts for the University of Washington band or orchestra. And I don't recall if he asked me to put gas in the car. My trips were so short that I think he allowed me that.

So what year did you enter Ballard High School?

I started in the fall of 1936.

Any favorite teachers that you can recall?

Well, I can -- I can --

Can you remember any stories of school, or where did you go to school?

I attended grade school at John B. Allen Grade School on 67th and Phinney Avenue, and I attended high school at Ballard High School. I did not go through the junior high phase. At my grade school, at John B. Allen, I distinctly remember my first grade teacher, a Miss Williams. And my mother often reminds me how I would come home and say, "I sure love Miss Williams." She was a young and beautiful lady, you know, and as a six-year-old, why, I was fascinated.

But we had a shop teacher at John B. Allen, Mr. Norris, Ernest Norris, and he taught us to wood carve. He taught us to do wood carving with special tools. And I have a classmate who -- a year or two ahead of me, who has continued that craft and that hobby and has done some very beautiful work that he learned from Mr. Norris.

I learned later that Mr. Norris held shop lessons, carving lessons, for some of the other shop teachers around town. And my shop teacher at Ballard High School was one of his students. Mr. Norris was a unique individual in that he specialized in that skill.

What was the name of your friend that continued on with carving? And is there anything around town that he's done?

The friend who did the woodcarving that has continued with it is Orland Olson. He lives in the north end of Seattle, and his home is decorated with some of the pieces that he's done. He's probably given a few away, but I don't know that he's given any to the institutions or anything like that. But he's a real craftsman, and he built, designed and built a cupola, which he put on the top of our church, and it's still standing. That's the Emanuel Bible Church at 50th and Dayton. And this white cupola was Orland Olson's design and craftsmanship.

We'll come back to the church situation, but you're on a roll now with school. Anything else from the Allen and --

Well, I remember from my schooldays at John B. Allen that we had -- the eighth grade teacher was very intense in teaching us how to diagram sentences and the proper use of English and all the parts of speech. And so we felt -- I felt like we had a very thorough education in English and in writing and in composition.

I remember when I was in one of the portables, we had three portables at the middle level, and one of the teachers was Miss Wise, and she would stand at the window and polish her fingernails in the sunshine while we kids were working. That image comes back to me.

We had another teacher in about the third grade who was a very stout lady. And one day we were doing an exercise which involved her giving us instructions and then we would follow through step by step. A lot of questions were asked and the instructions were being repeated and I was getting bored, and she said at one point, "The next person that asks me a question is going to be -- asks me a question twice is going to be sorry." Well, about that time, my mind was wandering, and I asked her the next question, and she took me up in front of the class over her knee and paddled me with a ruler right in front of the class. So I always remember that episode.

Did you tell your parents?

Oh, I think I told my parents about it afterward. It wasn't -- my mother would sympathize with the teacher, not with me, I'm sure. But it was funny to her because here I was getting bored with all the questions, and then I ask the next question.

Was there anything at Allen that you were involved in in terms of outside of the classroom, any activities or responsibilities?

At John B. Allen school I was one of the small kids in the class in the upper grades because I had skipped a couple of half grades along the way. So I didn't make it on any of the sports teams, such as softball or soccer or any of the like, but I loved riding my bike, and I got lots of exercise doing that.

So then at Ballard, when did you enter Ballard? Remind of us of the year again.

I entered Ballard in the fall of 1936 and graduated in the spring of 1940. Ballard High School was one mile down the hill from my house, so we'd walk it each way every day. I came to school as a freshman and saw posters about getting in the band, so I inquired about that. And the band director lent me an alto horn, and I began taking lessons from Mr. Solberg.

Mr. Solberg had a daughter, Anna Solberg, who had become an expert with the French horn and later became a member of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. So Mr. Solberg indoctrinated me into the alto horn. And the next year I was lent a French horn and began taking lessons from Anna Solberg herself. So I played in the band and in the orchestra, and by the time I was a senior, I was in the first chair. But I was competing with a lot of others who had been playing instruments all through junior high school and some even back into grade school. So I had a fairly late start.

Did you have private lessons?

I had private lessons from Mr. Solberg and later from his daughter, Anna Solberg. But while we were there, T. Stewart Smith was our band director, and he started a marching band, and believe me, it was a very shaky start. We had very simple uniforms. He taught us how to march, how to keep time, how to put our left foot forward, and our formations were the very simplest, but as time went on, of course, the band got more complex in their formations.

Where did the band perform?

We would perform at football games, primarily. We would march out on the field once in awhile and form the letter B, and that's about as much we'd do in formations at that stage. We would sit in the stands and play the school songs during the game.

Any participation in parades or that sort of thing around town?

I don't recall that our band ever got into one of the -- into the community parades. I don't recall that we got that far along.

Did you continue with the French horn after you graduated?

You know, I borrowed that French horn from the school, so I had to leave it behind when I graduated, and I bought a trumpet. And I played the trumpet a little bit in the church orchestra and like that, but that didn't continue very long either.

How about favorite teachers at Ballard or teachers that you remember for any kind of reason?

Well, I remember T. Stewart Smith, the band director. I'm not too clear on some of those names. I don't remember them as well as I remember the grade school teachers. I know I had a teacher that taught us algebra and math, which I enjoyed very much. I remember one funny experience. One of the girls in the class was a very attractive girl, and she had been a lead in one of the school plays and a very popular girl. And she was in my algebra class and she was having some trouble with one of the steps that we were learning, and so she asked me for help because I had been doing okay. And I remember the thrill of going up to the blackboard and showing this lovely girl how to do this problem in algebra.

Do you remember her name?

If I could think awhile, I might come up with it.

What type of graduation exercises did Ballard have at that time?

Our graduation exercises were held at the civic auditorium, now the opera house; it has since been remodeled, of course. And so we would fill the downstairs area, and we'd have to issue tickets to parents and family in limited number because of the number in the class. I think our graduating class was somewhere around 400, in that area.

What about reunions, do you have any contact with your class, with your graduating class?

I went to our 50th reunion of our graduating class and since then they've organized something called the Golden Beavers, but I have not yet made it to any of their classes or reunions.

How about the new school, have you --


Have you visited the new building?

No. I'm very anxious to visit the new building. I missed -- the day I was out of town on the day that they had the open house, but I'm very anxious to tour that building if that's going to be possible. If street people can walk in on the school or not, I don't know.

What about the way kids dressed in high school during the period you were in high school? Was there a dress, not a code, but a pattern?

Style? The dress code and the dress style was very, very typical of teenagers, you know, they wanted to do the same thing, they wanted to meet the peer group. The girls at one period wore wooden shoes. They had a wooden sole with a leather top. And they wore middies; they wore a black skirt with a white middy blouse, very attractive. This wasn't a hundred percent of the case, but many of the girls would dress that way. The boys, it was a stage of corduroy pants, and a lot of the boys wore corduroy pants. I never remembered any longhaired period or anything like, but those are a couple of things I remember.

The activities at the school, were there any extra-curricular activities other than the music that you -- come to mind that you were involved in?

No. I wasn't involved in very much of the extra-curricular activities. We would play -- as an orchestra, we would play for the school opera or we would play in concerts. We'd have to have after-school rehearsals, but I wasn't in sports in high school, so I can't recall too many -- I was quite involved in those years in my church and as a young people's group there, so that kept me busy.

You mentioned about church. You mentioned initially the Norwegian Lutheran Church where you were first -- when you first came to Seattle. Can you extend there to the -- your move and what the circumstances were and your family's choice of churches?

Uh-huh. When we first -- when Dad first brought the family from Norway and settled in north Seattle, we would attend the First Norwegian Lutheran Church on Boren and Virginia. It was an easy streetcar trip and just a block or two to walk from the streetcar to the church. It was an ethnic church with occasional Norwegian services and a very warm community of people.

I remember that when I was very small and that my mother wanted a baby sitter, the custodian's daughter, who lived right next door to the church, would baby-sit me so that I wouldn't be a bother to my mother. As we grew a little older, we were involved in the Sunday school, of course, and we boys would have a gay old time. When the social time came after a service and there'd be coffee and goodies, we boys would run around the church and have a great time.

As time went on, when I was about ten years old, Dad and Mother were in a string band; Mother would sing, Dad played his violin with several others. But Dad had a little, what should I say, a problem with the nature of some of the musicians who would play for the dances on Saturday night and then come on Sunday morning and play in the church, and he didn't think this represented a very consistent attitude.

So at one point in time we went out to a Bible camp one summer, Lake Sammamish Bible Camp. And Dad was so impressed with what went on there and the churches that supported that camp, that the next fall we moved to one of these churches, and that was much closer to home, and we attended there for the rest of our time in Seattle.

And the name of that church?

At that time it was called Emmanuel Tabernacle, and today it's call Emmanuel Bible Church.

And do you know anything about the early history of that church?

That church, Emmanuel Tabernacle, was formed by the union of two churches, one church from Ballard, and one church from Fremont. And these two churches had a mission covenant and background, and a pastor, A. J. Bard, was called from Salina, Kansas. He came to Seattle and he organized or pastored the joining of these two churches. They were organized in 1929.

I think in 1930 the church itself was built, and it had a goodly attendance right from the beginning. Pastor Bard was an excellent Bible teacher and evangelist. So he had large crowds. Wednesday night Bible studies were well attended, and it was a good crowd. And during that time I attended what was called the pastor's instruction class, sometimes called confirmation class, and my dad saw to it that I attended for two years so that I would get a good training.


Videotape interview by Olaf Kvamme, October 18, 2000, Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle.

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