Posts Tagged ‘Norway immigrants’

One of my prized possessions is a stereoscope, which is a picture and/or photograph viewer which was once owned by my great-great grandmother.  Although I never knew her, I can kind of imagine how she felt all those years ago, leaving her home country of Norway, leaving behind her parents, siblings, and friends. She came to a new country that perhaps wasn’t so strange to her, being of similar climate and topography, but she spoke no English when she moved to the melting pot of many cultures and languages that Minnesota became all those years ago.   My great-great grandfather probably made the wooden case that holds the stereoscope and two dozen cards that go with it.  I wondered if she sat quietly at her kitchen table as she looked at the same pictures over and over, although with ten children, cows to milk and bread to bake, there were probably not many quiet moments in her life.  I often wonder  if generations of children were allowed to touch the precious photographs of Norway, which come two to a card and when inserted into the viewer, give somewhat of a three-dimensional view through the stereoscope.  I wonder if she told them stories of her homeland and her ancestors and if she taught them her native language, or if she was  like her grandson, who grew up to be my grandfather, and wanted nothing to do with the “old ways”, wanting his own children to work hard, be proud Americans and speak English without an accent.  I wonder if she felt homesick as she told the stories of her homeland, and if she filled in the gaps with those pictures and colorful descriptions of places or people they would probably never see.   Those of us who have televisions, the internet, and Skype would certainly find it hard to imagine having a handful of stereoscope cards to view and a long wait for the mail to come with word from the home folks.  Although she lived to a ripe old age, neither her son nor her grandson did, and my father knew little more than that she existed.  I got to know a little of my great-great grandmother through genealogical research.   I found more of her descendants and got to visit the farm where she raised her children.  When the farm and its contents, which were still in the family, went up for auction, I lived many states away, but contacted someone who went to the auction in my behalf. I didn’t really care what they bid on, because whatever it was, it would be a little piece of her. For some strange reason, I felt like there was something missing, and having one of her possessions helped me fill the gap.  So, on behalf of The Minnesota Farm Woman, the daughter of Gilbert Alfred Quaal who was the son of Alfred Olaf Quaal who was the son of Andrew Peder Quaal who was the son of Anne Olsdatter Bye Quaal,  I would like to give a little advice:  1) Cherish your family and friends as if they were moving across the ocean tomorrow. 2) Be a proud and hard-working citizen of your country. 3) Tell the stories of your parents and grandparents, so they might be passed on for generations to come.  4) Make sure the stereoscope doesn’t get sold for $5.00 in the estate sale when you are gone. 5) Fill in the gaps the best way you know how.

#4 is for my daughter, who doesn’t like old things and “old ways”. I wonder where she got that from?


Read Full Post »