Interview with Eyvind Ager

by Tim Hirsch

Introduction : This taped video interview with Eyvind and Inga Ager was conducted by Tim Hirsch on February 27, 1998 at the Ager's home in Chippewa Falls.  Their thoughts, experiences, and a little bit of their wisdom is preserved here. Eyvind gives a glimpse of what it was like to grow up in Eau Claire Wisconsin during the early part of the 20th century, while Inga gives an excellent account of Waldemar Ager's last days and how she met Eyvind. Tim's foresight to conduct this interview is greatly appreciated. Eyvind passed away shortly after this interview. He died only five months later on August 11, 1998. Eyvind was 97 years old.

About the Transcript : This transcript was completed in January 2007. I really wanted to make the information buried inside 1 hour and 43 minutes of video dialogue more accessible and searchable for future reference. So I decided to create a comprehensive text of the dialogue taken directly from the video. I used two computer programs to assist in this task, primarily, Pinnacle Studio 10.7 for replaying the digital copy of the video so that I could slow down the speed of the video. I also used Dragon Speaking Naturally 9 to assist in typing the words I would voice from the recording. Even with these two tools it turned out to be a bigger task than I initially thought.  In most cases I tried to edit out a number of natural pauses in conversion if they did not contribute to flow of the conversation, i.e. the "ahhas", "umms", "huhs", we say all the time. In the end, it was well worth the experience to get to know my great-grandparents a little bit better. 

-William Ager 2007

Noted Selections :

1. Grandpa's Pocket Knife

2. Activities with Father

3. Eyvind's School Days

4. Reform Locations

5. Working at the Reform

6. World War Thoughts

7. Adventures Out West

8. Meals in the Ager House

9. Christmas Dinner

10. Ager Household


11. First Lutheran and Grace Lutheran

12. Eau Claire Ward Rivalry and football

13. Reading and Waldemar's Library

14. Waldemar's Death

15. Ager Monument Location

16. Ager Family Picture

17. How Inga met Eyvind

18. Viking Lodge

19. Eyvind's First Car

20. Luther Hospital *

* Disjoined Selection. I'm not sure where this fits in. It was at the end of the tape, but does not flow from the previous selection. 


1. Grandpa's Pocket Knife

Tim : [This is] February 27, 1998 and I'm going to talk to Eyvind Ager about his youth and childhood and his work with the Reform and maybe some of his memories about his father and family life. Okay Eyvind. Now, let's see. What did we start with last time? I think last time we started by talking about the Reform but this time maybe we can start with when you were a small boy. Would that be okay?

Eyvind : Oh, I think so, I think so.

Tim : Do you remember at the Ager House that one Sunday? You brought a pocket knife that I think you got from your uncle, maybe?

Inga : Grandpa.

Tim : From your grandpa? From your mother's father?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Do you mind telling me the story about that pocketknife?

Eyvind : Oh that, well ah, the ah...

Inga : You were going to get some bread, weren't ya?

Eyvind : Hmm?

Inga : Weren't you supposed to go get some bread for your mother?

Eyvind : No. You mean that little brown, that little brown pocketknife? That's in the drawer there in the—

Inga : Yeah, but he wants you to tell them all about that. That you and your grandpa, when you went down to get ...

Eyvind : Oh yeah, well, my grandparents lived at 533 Lake Street, and of course I'd go down and visit them frequently and my enjoyment was to go [on] errands with my grandfather. And my grandfather was not very tall, had quite a full beard, and walked very carefully. And so I would accompany him when he'd go down to the West Grand Avenue bakery, there. That was called Stenslon's Bakery. And the, and he would usually stop in there and get a whole big bag full of what we would call coverings in Norwegian, or kind of toasts they were. Biscuits that had been baked the day before and didn't sell, and then the baker would cut them in half and slice them, toast them and sell them as in bags. And he used to buy usually a bag of those, and of course he’d like when he’d get home he’d like to have a cup coffee and dip them in coffee—kind of a treat he liked, I guess. And so, that was probably one of the things that I enjoyed, was to make these trips with him. And speaking of a knife that he had, he had a knife, a jackknife, and he was a one of a very careful person and he would always have, when walked downtown, he’d always have an eye peeled on the sidewalk or the curb, like, and in those days, why, people smoked a lot of cigars, a lot of cigars smoked in them days, and he'd look for these stubs. He’d take his knife that he had and cut off the end, wet end of it and take the other part and stick it in his pocket, the tobacco. And he’d do this a number of times, and I know in the evening when he came home, and so on, why he’d sit near the kitchen stove and sit and crumble that up and use it for pipe tobacco. And he wouldn’t even use matches—he had a piece of paper he’d stick in the open the stove and get a light and light his pipe from that. But this was knife business was something that I thought was quite interesting because he’d use his knife so much for the things I that mentioned and also that I inherited after he passed away. So I still have the knife and I value it of course a great deal.

Tim : How did you happen to inherit it?

Eyvind : What?

Tim : How did you get to be the one who inherited this knife?

Eyvind : Well, [laughs] that I cannot say, I just probably was around and carefully picked it up or something. I don't know just how I got it. I imagine I got it probably from my grandmother or my mother got it and gave it to me or something like that. I have no memory how of how I acquired it.

Tim : Ahh. Do you remember any other things like that, that you maybe had as a child? Toys?

Eyvind : Yeah. Well there were times when I would go with him down on Water Street. At that time, Water Street seemed to be a very busy street, and I enjoyed being with him. And he'd stand and sometimes he'd visit with— they had policeman down there during the daytime, by the name of Paul Branstad, Paul Branstad, B-r-a-n-s-t-a-d, and there was a lot of stories told about this Paul Branstad because he was considered a very good policeman and known for his strength, and the, and his ability to keep order around the saloons and so forth. In those days they had saloons—and now, of course...

Tim : So ahh, so he was a friend of your grandpa's?

Eyvind : What?

Tim : He was a friend of your grandpa's?

Eyvind : Yeah, he was a friend of my grandfather's. They'd stand together there and talk quite a bit. Quite a conversation between them.

Tim : So you liked to go places with your grandfather, to the bakery and over to Water Street and ...?

Eyvind : Yeah, I liked to do that, yeah.

Tim : Were there other people in the family when you were small that you liked to go places with?

Eyvind : Well not really. I was the oldest of all of them, my cousins, they lived in Eau Claire at that time, Gabrielson. They were of course much younger and that, and they didn't live in that neighborhood. But it was difficult for me to remember much of these things. But Water Street at that time to me seemed to be quite a busy street, and there was of course a lot traffic there because of all those families that lived along that street, there on Water Street. At the end of Water Street and down by Menominee Street and that, there worked at the mills—the sawmills, in the lumberyards, and so forth.

2. Activities with Father

Tim : Umm, and did you go any place with your father?

Eyvind : Hmm?

Tim : With your dad?

Eyvind : Oh yes, Well, I remember going to these ski tournaments that they had there down in Mount Washington. And of course we'd walk all the way down there. Of course nobody mind[ed] walking in those days. It was all foot traffic. And you'd walk down there to take in, you see, on a Sunday afternoon a ski tournament when they had it in Eau Claire. And [I] went with him, and he w[ould] of course—my father—would write up a story about the tournament for the newspaper, the Norwegian newspaper. And so I enjoyed that kind of activity, going down and watching the skiers. And most of them seemed to be Norwegians; some of them had come from Norway and others were, most of all them, all of those that took part [in] them, men that had immigrated from Norway and were pretty good skiers—at least good enough so that they took part in tournament like that.

Tim : That's still why Eau Claire is ahh...

Eyvind : What?

Tim : Eau Claire is still a ski jump area it's now called...

Eyvind : Yeah, Yeah.

Tim : Umm, What's it called, Silver Mine Hill?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Have you ever gone out there to?

Eyvind : No, I've never been up on that hill since they constructed it, no.

Tim : Yeah, but...

Eyvind : Mount Washington. We call this place Mount Washington.

Tim : They still use that for the smaller children for training.

Eyvind : What?

Tim : The smaller children use it for training.

Eyvind : Yeah I guess they did, some.

Tim : And they still do now. Umm, I think you told me once about how your father took you fishing.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Umm, Can you tell me about that?

Eyvind : What?

Tim : Can you tell us about that?

Eyvind : Well fishing was mainly done on the Altoona Pond. At that time there was a dam that, Northwestern dam, that held water back—went way up to the Altoona Dam, up by Altoona. And, I think I mentioned before that he had a boathouse there at the end of the Emery Street back down below the golf course, and he had a rowboat there, and on— usually on Tuesday afternoons he had time to take my brother Trygve and myself out there for an afternoon trip, fishing. Then we'd row up the river towards the Altoona dam and troll along the way, and so on, and get some spring water. There was a spring there, that we'd, father would fill up a big jug with full of water, fresh spring water, and we'd seine minnows, there were plenty of minnows in the river so you could seine them and use them for bait. And so we, we had a quiet an afternoon or early evening of it. We'd usually come home with one or two walleyes, or something like that.

Tim : What time of the year would that had have been? What season?

Eyvind : Well it was during the summer time, summer vacation time.

Tim : Oh yeah, ahah. Umm, otherwise you were in school?

Eyvind : Yeah, Yeah otherwise I was in school.

3. Eyvind's School Days

Tim : What school did you go to?

Eyvind : Sixth Ward, school.

Tim : Umm, do you remember anything about the school, about your teachers, or anything?

Eyvind : Well, some things are good and some things are bad of course [laughs].

Tim : Super.

Eyvind : Well we had a kindergarten teacher, and that's the first one I had anything to do with and her name was Sadie Slagg. A little short pleasant woman. I don't know whether she married or not but she was a really good kindergarten teacher, and although I didn't attend kindergarten, my friend William Sherman did, and I used to sometimes go with him in the afternoon to the kindergarten. But I had her in the part of the first-class and she was a very, I liked her very much, very good teacher.

Tim : You said there were some, some bad memories too, what the?

School Age Eyvind circa 1911

Eyvind : Oh yeah, there were, there were a teacher there that when you moved into the second grade why one that was far more stern, more difficult to get along with, hard to get along with. Of course there was time for us to get busy too and learn something.

Tim :Yeah.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Did you go home for lunch?

Eyvind : I beg your pardon?

Tim : Did you go home for lunch?

Eyvind : Yes, I can't remember how long a noon hour we had but we always went home for lunch. Almost all the students, in fact all of them, as far as I know, went home for dinner, and it was at least an hour that we had, see. Because I know at times when I'd come home from school, why, my mother wanted to have some meat on the table for my father, [who] would come a little later, and that's why I was able to run up to the stores on Bellinger Street—meat market—and get a piece of meat there and bring back so that she could prepare that for his dinner, so on, because he'd always come home for dinner.

Tim : So your dad came home from the newspaper office?

Eyvind : Yeah, from the newspaper office.

Tim : For, for his big meal in the middle of the day and he'd have meat and potatoes?

Eyvind : Yeah, at noon he'd come home a little bit late because he'd kind of stay at the office when the other employees were gone, and as soon as one or two of them come back, well, then he'd leave for home, see, but he didn't want to close the office right during the noon hour.

Tim : Oh yeah, I see.

Eyvind : Yeah

Tim : Oh yeah, and, and so then you were all of you together at noon for the ...?

Eyvind : No, not always. We had to get back to school and he'd probably not have his dinner until one o'clock or so. Yeah.

Tim : I see. Ahha. I see. So, he stayed to keep the office open...

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : ... and then after the other people came back.

Eyvind : Then he'd come home.

Tim : I see. Have his dinner a little later.

Eyvind : Yeah. It wasn't such a far long distance, you know, from where we lived from over to the office, because he'd walk up Chestnut Street there to the Milwaukee tracks then follow Milwaukee tracks across the river and over onto Barstow Street, then just a couple blocks to the office on Barstow.

Tim : So then you, you, stayed in the Sixth Ward school until the eighth grade?

Eyvind : Yeah, through the eighth grade, yeah, yeah, ... yup. [sighs]

Tim : And then umm, after that you didn't continue in school?

Eyvind : No, I didn't continue in school.

Tim : Could you tell us that again? I remember that story. You decided not to go to school then.

Eyvind : Well, I don't know I, I didn't particularly think much about continuing in school for some reason or other. I've kinda felt kinda glad to get away from it. [laughs] But, some of the other boys that do at that time so many graduated and finished the eighth grade went out to work here and there, and, and some went on to school, but I remember that I didn't particularly have any desire to continue in school and I seemed kind a happy that I could get a place to work. I went to work in the office up there.

4. Reform Locations

Tim : So you went to work in the Reform .

Eyvind : Yes, at the Reform , yes.

Tim : Aha aha. Maybe we could talk a little bit about the Reform , and umm, would you review again all the different places where the Reform offices were?

Eyvind : Well as far as my knowledge only I know from, from a picture that I've seen that at one time it was in the, down, I think we'd call it the Laycock Building, on, in that long block, there that goes from, from the river, and to... to Gran— no, cross Street, Eau Claire Street. Eau Claire Street.

Tim : Umm. Eau Claire Street, ahah.

Eyvind : Yeah. It was about in the middle of that long block there. And they were up on the second floor, there, and that's where the first office was that I know of, see. Facing Barstow Street. You could look down from the second floor down and that's where they done the typesetting, and that, which was all done by hand, hand typesetters. There were, two, three women there that typed by hand and also some men that worked there and...

Tim : So that was the first location that you remember?

Eyvind : Yeah, that I have in mind. Yeah. And where they were before that and aft— and immediately afterwards, I don't know, but they went I think from there to the Drummond Building. In the back there on, on the south side of the Eau Claire River in the back, to two big large rooms in the back there.

Tim : Ahah. And then, after that, umm, do you remember umm, I think you mentioned a Grand Avenue?

Eyvind : Yeah, well that came quite a while afterwards a number years later, you see, because that I think came back in 1920s when they went to a storefront on Grand Avenue. Used to be a, it was right next to the, on the corner was the Olympia, I think Olympic, Olympia, Olympic Ice Cream Parlor like that they had in them days. With the tables, or go in there and sit and have ice cream sundaes or ... [smiles]

Tim : Did you ever do that?

Eyvind : Oh yeah, yes that was a great thing to do with your girlfriend, you know, go and treat them to an ice cream sundae, you know. [looks at Inga and laughs]

Tim : Yes, did you have to pay for it?

Eyvind : Oh yes. [laughs]

Tim : They never treated the girls there?

Eyvind : No.

Tim : And, but then there also there was a Water Street location?

Eyvind : What's that?

Tim : A Water Street?

Inga : That was after.

Eyvind : That location for what?

Tim : For the Reform ?

Eyvind : No not [on] Water Street, they were never on Water Street.

Tim : Oh I see.

Eyvind : No, they were on Grand Avenue, East, and storefront there, next to the, what I was speaking of, the Olympia. That was I think Stokes had a funeral—a funeral director had his place in there before we did. See, the undertakers at that time they had store fronts, regular store buildings that they were in they didn't have the elaborate places they have now.

Tim : Often combined with furniture stores, right?

Eyvind : What's that?

Tim : Furniture stores also undertakers, sometimes.

Eyvind : Yeah, Yeah.

5. Working at the Reform

Tim : Aha. And what were your first jobs there at the Reform ?

Eyvind : Well that was running some errands, sweeping the floor, and things like that. And folding papers, a lot, there was a lot of folding of papers, these would be printed forms that carried all the different pages of book pages on them, and they had to be folded over in the right way to, to make a folio for the, for the book. Things like that, that I remember, really a girl's job or a woman's job, that I had done some of it too.

Tim : But you were still very young then right?

Eyvind : Oh yeah, Oh yeah, still was 16, I suppose, and around there.

Tim : And did, did you send those out to be bound or did you do the bindery work also there?

Eyvind : Oh, well, they done the most of the complete job right up there, stapled the folios together and so on, and. . .

Tim : So they ...they finished the book there?

Eyvind : So they finished four folios or something like that. 16 pages each, or, or five, so on.

Tim : Umm, then what were some of the later jobs that you did?

Eyvind : Well, eventually I got into, to, I got to the, to the typesetting part of it. On the linotype machine. And, and of course that I continued with and for some time [it] kind of became my livelihood in a way, typesetter on the linotype.

Tim : And then you also went to school to study this? In the...

Eyvind : Well, I went to student to Chicago to the factory school to learn mechanical end of it.

Tim : Oh, I see.

Eyvind : Yeah, repair work and so on maintain...

Tim : Got to keep that ...

Eyvind : Maintenance of machines and so on, yeah.

Tim : I see, oh yeah. Umm, can you tell me about some of the people, other people who worked in the shop?

Eyvind : Who they were? Well at that time, John Tiller was the foreman in the shop and there was a course there was quite a turn over, some, was cousin of my father a fellow by the name of Johnson who also worked there, for a while, and he later on went to Decorah, Iowa to work. In the printing trade. But they learned it up there at the shop here he learned to become a typesetter up there, then he moved to Decorah, Iowa later. Later. But...

Tim : So John Teller, and do you remember any of the others who worked there?

Eyvind : Other people? Well, there was a Minni Rossnes...

Tim : What was her work?

Eyvind : R-o-s-s-n-e-s.

Tim : What did she do?

Eyvind : She was a typesetter. Yeah. She later worked at the Eau Claire Leader and Telegram.

Tim : Oh. Umm, who did, did your dad do all of the writing that was done?

Eyvind : What's that?

Tim : Did your dad do all the actual reporting, the writing? Your father, did he do all the writing?

Inga : I think he did.

Eyvind : Writing? Well, You mean the preparing of the manuscripts? Oh, yes he done all of that. Of course a lot of the manuscripts that went in there were nothing more then they were clippings from other papers again that were reprinted in his paper, see, and so on there was a lot of that exchange going on. They had, he had a tremendous amount of exchange papers. All the Norwegian papers that were being published in the United States he'd haul them came in the exchange and so they went back and forth, and they would, and the editors, of course, of the various papers would take what they wanted from this and that paper and so on to fill their own columns.

Tim : How about papers from Norway, did you get any?

Eyvind : Yeah, he had a couple of newspapers from, that came from Oslo Norway that would come regularly. Where he'd get kind of the news from Norway and he'd picked out and course and condense it and for his readers, you see. And fill news from Norway, that was a popular column, see. Of the "Late news from Norway."

Tim : Aha. And when there were things like this ski jumping you said he went and covered actually himself, umm.

Eyvind : You mean he? No. He'd make a story of it when he'd observe when he'd went down there to watch the tournaments and so on.

Tim : Do you remember any other stories like that, like the ski jumping where he actually went and watched and then went back and wrote the story?

Eyvind : Well, there were things, certain events that took place in Eau Claire that he'd cover and, and of course make his, write his story for the newspaper, out of it. Certain concerts and things like that, that he was, he was fond of concerts. He use to go attend concerts, when he had a chance.

Tim : Umm, you mentioned the last time we talked a man who used to come up to the office because he loved to argue with your father.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Do remember who that was?

Eyvind : Well, that was John Ofste, he was one of them that was probably. He had a clothing store on Barstow Street and he'd come up there and visit with my dad and they'd sit and sometimes argue about certain things. Lot of it was about the situation of the First World War, see. They were, they had different opinions about what's the outcome was going to be and all this and that.

Tim : About the outcome?

Eyvind : Yeah outcome and what's, what's taking place and this.

Tim : Do you remember what your dad thought would happen?

Eyvind : No I don't know exactly that I can't say that. He, just how he felt about that. I, I don't know, of course, he, after we are involved in the first world war why very little was said you know about how you felt and so on before hand.

Inga : How about John Urbren?, Eyvind? And Elton Johnson?

Eyvind : Hmm?

Inga : How about that Elton Johnson, the one that went to war?

Eyvind : Oh, Elton?

Inga : Yeah.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Inga : And Urbren.

Eyvind : Hmm?

Inga : And John Urbren. They worked there too you know.

Eyvind : Who?

Inga : John. John Urben.

Eyvind : Oh Yeah.

Inga : And Elton Johnson. Young fellow.

Eyvind : Well yeah, that came later on during time. We had one young at work, Elton Johnson, from, he's from down by Strum, originally. He came there and learned a trade, printing trade. And then he— course he's come, then he went later when they discontinued the Reform. It was, it was just Johnson and my father that kept the paper going at the last, this, was dwindling down to next to nothing, you know, as the times going along. And then Johnson when we discontinued the paper, why Johnson got a immediately got a job in Decorah, Iowa. He went down there and there from there he was drafted into the Army and he was—he lost his life on the battlefield.

6. World War Thoughts

Tim : Oh. So...

Eyvind : In the Second World War, in the Second World War.

Tim : So for the First World War you were too young, right?

Eyvind : Yeah, I was kind of right in the in the spot in my age where I didn't have to register, and, and see, I, I became 18 years of age on December the 19th, 1918, see. And then the war was over by then. It ended on the 11th of November.

Tim : You were lucky.

Eyvind : Yeah. So I was kind of, goes well, I don't know whether I was lucky or not, sometimes. You think it would've been nice to have some military experience too, you know, which I didn't have.

Tim : Well, if you survive, I suppose.

Eyvind : Yeah, Yeah.

Tim : Or survive without... being seriously injured.

Eyvind : Yeah, yeah, yeah, I just happen to be in the age, at the age where I was still a youngster or still an adult, kind of. [laughs]

Tim : Do you remember, do you remember what you thought about the war? Did you, umm, do you think, do remember whether you thought the United States should be involved in the war or not, or...?

Eyvind : Oh, we felt that way the way things were going, why, we felt we thought so, that [that] had to come. My father felt that way too, that sooner or later we'd be involved.

Tim : And the Second World War were also?

Eyvind : Yes the Second World War also, yeah. I remember him in 1940— in 1941—he, over in Carson Park, you know, they'd have ball games, and that. And he, he—and this was early in 1941 probably June or something like that—and, he, where we live on Chestnut Street you could hear all those hollering in German, there, and so on, and he mentioned at that time in his paper about how his enjoyment and all that. How these, but how they— how these young people know what's ahead for them and it wasn't long before we got involved in the war, see, in 1942.

Tim : So he was able to foresee.

Eyvind : Yeah, he foresaw saw that he figured that we'd have to come in sooner or later.

Tim : Yeah. Umm, do you remember, umm, your father's feelings about Roosevelt and the New Deal and all of that?

Eyvind : Well, he, he was very conservative in a way, he didn't— I really cannot speak too much about that because I wasn't really around here to...

Tim : ...during that time.

Eyvind : know what really was going on, see. There came to a period when I was out on my own and we lived in another place and so on.

Tim : Yeah, but Carson Park was one of the public works of his administration projects and.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : ...during the New Deal and...

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : I wondered what he thought about that.

Eyvind : Who?

Tim : 'Cause that was right across the river.

Eyvind : Yeah. Well I think he thought that was all right, you know. I don't think he had any objections to that. Yeah.

7. Adventures Out West

Tim : One of the most interesting parts of the conversation we had last week that I remember are your adventures out West.

Eyvind : Is what?

Tim : Your adventures out West when you left home and went out West to...

Eyvind : Oh that. Yeah.

Tim : Yeah, will you tell us about that today?

Eyvind : Oh... [laughs]

Tim : How did you decide to go and did you go with a friend, or by yourself, or ...?

Eyvind : No, well, it was common at that time that so many of the younger fellows around Eau Claire, and that, they'd go out West for the harvest, see, there was a lot requirements—a lot of work for—and so many went to the out to the harvest fields. And, and so I felt too that I would try and see what was going on, and it was kind of interesting for a period for me. Got away from Eau Claire for a while and [laughs]. Yeah.

Tim : Can you tell me how you, how you ...?

Eyvind : And surprising it was that I met so many Eau Claire people out in, out there that I never had anything to do with in Eau Claire.

Tim : Really?

Eyvind : Yeah, boys, they would go on out there, yeah, and there were so many of them going [to] Fargo for instance. Go on the street and every once in awhile there'd see somebody from Eau Claire, see. A lot of fellows I never talked to, used to talk with in Eau Claire, and that, but I knew them from Eau Claire from having seen them and that and so on.

Tim : And you traveled by boxcar?

Eyvind : Yeah, well that came later on during the— in the seasons, but umm. Yeah. Well, that's what we did we never paid our way in, place, at least I didn't.

Tim : Ahah...and what kind of work did you do?

Eyvind : On the harvest fields? Well, that was, that was, mainly we teamed horses and rack and go out and pick up the bundles of stuff and load up and bring it in for threshing, and so on.

Tim : Wheat, was it wheat?

Eyvind : What?

Tim : Wheat?

Eyvind : Wheat, yeah, yeah.

Tim : Aha. Did you make a lot of money doing that?

Eyvind : Oh, no, we were pretty well satisfied to get something.

Tim : Having adventures?

Eyvind : Aha.

8. Meals in the Ager House

Tim : Umm, back, again to umm, Eau Claire and when you were a child. Umm, the last time we talked you told me about how when you sat around the table in your house...

Eyvind : Yeah?

Tim : ...for a meal...

Eyvind : Yeah?

Tim : Your father would sit at—?

Eyvind : —At the head of the table.

Tim : At the head of the table?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Now was that at the head of the table? Was that the closest to the kitchen or the farthest away from the kitchen?

Eyvind : No, to the, to the, furthest away from the kitchen.

Tim : Towards the stairway, there?

Eyvind : Yeah, towards the stairway, there. Yeah.

Tim : And then your mother's place was?

Eyvind : My mother's place was down there at the doorway.

Tim : At the kitchen.

Inga : Right closer to the kitchen.

Eyvind : And then, my brother Trygve, he sat next, next to my dad usually. And then I—

Tim : Right inside and then it was you.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Ahh, and Gudrun was right on the other side?

Eyvind : Who?

Tim : Umm, Umm.

Eyvind : Gudrun, I guess was on the other side.

Tim : Yeah.

Eyvind : Trygve was on my side, my brother. Yeah.

Tim : Trygve was on your side. Yeah. Umm, tell me about some of your favorite meals.

Eyvind : Meals?

Tim : Yeah. Your favorites.

Eyvind : Oh, well there was one thing we did, we, [chuckles], for breakfast my, my mother would always cook a big bowl full of a of a...

Inga : Oatmeal?

Eyvind : Yeah oatmeal, yeah oat porridge, oatmeal. Yeah. And that seemed to be our main breakfast food every day except Sunday. On Sunday we had a little treat. We had some sweet rolls and some things like that. But we lived on oatmeal for breakfast [chuckles]. Big dish, big dish of oatmeal is what we each had usually for breakfast.

9. Christmas Dinner

Tim : How about for say at Christmas dinner?

Eyvind : Christmas dinner? Well, that was, see at Christmas Eve was the usual celebration, you know, that Norwegians have. Have Christmas Eve was the distribution of gifts, lighting of the Christmas tree, of course, and all that took place on Christmas Eve, and then we used to have Christmas porridge that was kind of a milk or cream porridge that we had, had for, that was traditional for Christmas Eve.

Tim : What is it called in Norwegian. In Norwegian?

Eyvind : What do you call fløt—?

Inga : Søtsuppe

Eyvind : Fløtegrøt. Or no.

Inga : Oh! Fløtegrøt.

Eyvind : No. I had for Christmas Eve.

Inga : Do you mean that?

Eyvind : Risegrøt.

Inga : Was it made out of cream?

Eyvind : Huh?

Inga : Was it made out of cream? Yeah that was fløtegrøt.

Eyvind : Fløtegrøt.

Inga : Yeah, and then søtsuppe.

Eyvind : What?

Inga : Søtsuppe.

Eyvind : Yeah, now we didn't have sweets you didn't know. No.

Inga : You probably didn't have that. Yeah, well then it would be romegrøt.

Eyvind : It was, what do you call that kind of of porridge we had at the?

Inga : Yeah, rice porridge?

Eyvind : Rice porridge. Rice porridge. That's what it was.

Inga : That's what we have every Christmas.

Eyvind : Yeah, yeah that was traditional, rice porridge.

Inga : [ ] ... Spareribbs.

Tim : Oh, yes.

Inga :  ...and boiled the tomatoes fried in butter and.

Tim : Sure, how do you say spareribs in, in what is that called in Norwegian, spareribs?

Inga : Oh. Ribeben.

Eyvind : Yeah Ribeben. Yeah.

Inga : Yeah. Ribeben

Eyvind : R-i-b-e-b-e-n.

Tim : Ahha, and you had a Christmas tree?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : And where was the Christmas tree in the house?

Eyvind : On Chestnut Street of course it was we had it on, in the living room there right by the big bay, or the bay window there. That's usually where it was always placed.

Tim : Facing Chestnut Street.

Eyvind : Yeah, Yeah.

Tim : And how was it decorated?

Eyvind : Humm?

Tim : And how was it decorated?

Eyvind : Well it was decorated in the, in the real early days than they used candle, candles on it. And otherwise afterwards we got electricity why that was electric lights.

Tim : Umm. When did you put the Christmas tree up?

Eyvind : When?

Tim : Yeah.

Eyvind : Well we did, usually not decorated it until usually on Christmas Eve or that is during Christmas during the day up to approaching Christmas Eve.

Tim : But you didn't have any Santa Claus or?

Eyvind : No, no Santa Claus.

Tim : Ahah.

Eyvind : No.

Tim : Umm.

Eyvind : No, we didn't carry on anything like that. We didn't have that...

10. Ager Household

Tim : Ahah. Last time you showed me some flinch cards that you got for Christmas.

Eyvind : Say what?

Tim : Flinch cards from your aunt Joe, I think.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Do remember a box of, of cards called flinch cards that you got for Christmas?

Eyvind : Oh yeah, flinch, yeah, yeah, that little box.

Tim : Who did you get those from?

Eyvind : I got them from my aunt Joe. That's, that's whom I got it, but we never knew anything about how to play flinch or anything like that. There's no instructions in there and that box is still there. It survived all these years [laughs].

Tim : And you didn't play cards with other kinds of cards?

Eyvind : No, no, no. My father he liked to play solitary at times if he had some extra time and he probably was doing a little thinking at the same time he was playing solitary, he'd play solitary.

Tim : Do you remember your dad working at the house?

Eyvind : At the house?

Tim : Did he write at the house?

Eyvind : Oh yes, yeah. But he, he would sit at his desk there and do that all his writing there at home. Yeah.

Tim : Was there, I've seen the pictures where he is sitting at his desk.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Was there a parlor stove right in that same room?

Inga : Well... [In background]

Eyvind : The what?

Tim : A stove in the.

Eyvind : Oh yeah. Yeah.

Tim : The big parlor stove.

Eyvind : Yeah, the house, the house was heated in that middle room there that same room that he had his desk. Why he had a big stove that burned, coal stove it was, that burned these little nuggets or, I don't, there's a name for those too but it doesn't come to me now. At, they'd pour into our reservoir at the top of the stove, opened up, and down and this was all isinglass so that when that flame was beautiful looking stove you know, that red. Yeah.

Tim : well and...

Eyvind : That was in fact the place for you to go in the morning when you had to get up. It was bitterly cold upstairs we'd all come down and stand around that stove. [laughs]

Tim : Sure. So you'd run down stairs and get dressed around that stove?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Well who got up, somebody must have had to get up and start it up?

Eyvind : What's that?

Tim : Who, who who kept it going?

Eyvind : My mother has to get credit for that.

Tim : Oh, really?

Eyvind : Yeah, she would fill the reservoir with coal and, and see to it that that worked properly.

Tim : You didn't have to haul coal or anything?

Eyvind : No, my father sometimes he would poke some of the ashes out of that, that, but my mother was the one that seemed to be the firemen of that place. Yeah.

Tim : Oh, Yeah. And upstairs, you slept upstairs than.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : And can you tell me which room you slept in?

Eyvind : Well, well I slept, I slept in the, as far as I remember, I slept in that, first bedroom on the north that, the old bedroom, see, not, there is one small one there was at the top of the steps, but no the other one. That's the one I slept. Yeah. Trygve and I use to sleep, Trygve and I used to sleep there and if there was a younger one, of this smaller young children, they, we had an iron bed with, where railings on it and so on that probably slept in one of the bed.

Tim : Do remember in what year the additions were made to the house?

Eyvind : The addition?

Tim : Yeah.

Eyvind : Oh, I'm inclined to believe it [was] added to the house, the upstairs there, that, must have been back about 1912 or 13 somewhere in there.

Tim : And what was all...

Eyvind : The family grew you know and they had to add more room. Yeah.

Tim : Sure, yeah, what was added?

Eyvind : Humm?

Tim : What did you add? What rooms did they add at that time?

Eyvind : Oh, they added all the, all the bedrooms beyond the big one in front there and that little one on the side there then everything from there on. Yeah.

Tim : Ok, I see. So it was just those two?

Eyvind : Yeah, just, originally there was only those two, two, that one bedroom and the little smaller place that was originally the was there to begin with. They didn't have much room for bed, just that one bedroom actually.

Tim : And so eventually there were how many children living at home?

Eyvind : There were nine of us.

Tim : And nine?

Eyvind : There were nine at one time.

Tim : You were all living there together at one time? Plus umm...

Eyvind : Father and mother.

Tim : Yes.

Eyvind : And the cat.

Inga : [We slept there?] when we got married.

Tim : Ahah.

Eyvind : What? And a hired girl, yeah.

Tim : Oh really?

Eyvind : Oh Yeah, a hired girl she'd sleep in that little room there, yeah.

Tim : I see. Ahah. But then you also had a grandma, no? Somebody else, a grandma lived there too?

Inga : No, grandpa.

Tim : Grandpa.

Eyvind : Yeah that was later, yeah.

Tim : Yeah, after his surgery.

Eyvind : In the earlier period we had a hired girl, see. Mother had to have help and so she lived, and the hired girl was in that small bedroom.

Tim : Do you remember in the kitchen was there a pump in the kitchen?

Eyvind : No, no.

Tim : There wasn't a pump in the kitchen? How did, where did the water come from?

Eyvind : We had, we had running water there as long as I can remember. Yeah.

Tim : Oh, really? You know there was a cistern underneath the house.

Eyvind : What?

Tim : Ah, a big...

Eyvind : A round cellar, cellar they called it, yeah.

Tim : Yeah. But, that that was just used for vegetables and so on. I see.

Eyvind : Yeah. That was brick you see around, and then, kind of bricked up where there was a kind of a shelf all the way around and then one place was the potato bin was so on. And but that was, that was cool down there that seemed. The warmest days of the summer that was cooler than that, down in the basement in the cellar. We called it cellar. Yeah.

Tim : Yeah. Did you ever have to go down there and fetch anything, to get anything?

Eyvind : To get something? Oh yes. We use to go down there.

Tim : What did you do, what did you get?

Eyvind : You mean?

Tim : What did you get, did you go down to get potatoes or?

Eyvind : Maybe, use to keep the milk down there and so on. And different things some food down there.

Tim : Where did you get your milk?

Eyvind : Where'd we get it? Well, in the earliest years that I remember why we had the milkman that would come around and he'd come in with one large pale and a smaller pale to carry cream in, one for the milk and that and then a measuring dipper or what you'd call it. And, and whatever my mother wanted whether two quarts or four quarts of milk in that way he'd measure, take it out, and so on. And some cream and that was it.

Tim : Did you have an icebox?

Eyvind : No, not in the earlier years we didn't have an icebox.

Tim : You just used the cellar area.

Eyvind : Used to the cellar area, yeah. That was refrigeration enough seemingly.

Tim : Ahha. And all the years you lived there there was running water, huh?

Eyvind : Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Tim : And sewer also?

Eyvind : No not the sewer.

Tim : Oh.

Eyvind : No the sewer came later. I don't remember when that came. Must've been about 1914 probably, that...

Tim : So you are already a teenager then.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Umm.

Eyvind : Yeah everybody had outhouses.

Tim : Do you remember any special chores that you had?

Eyvind : Well, we had the...

Inga : Carry wood.

Eyvind : ...woods that, see that there was plenty of wood in the house. We had the wood box by the kitchen stove.

Tim : For the kitchen range?

Eyvind : Yeah. Not, well we didn't have a range we just had one of these flat kitchen stoves. And, and we used of course our job was to get, to see that the wood box was filled always and so on. Take care of the wood and I used to get a lot of wood from down by the lake you know. There was, you use to go down there a lot of that floated in the water and so on, get it up, and dry it, bring it up home. And railroad ties, old railroad ties and things like that we'd cut up for wood too you know.

Tim : Umm, did you have any special games that you played with your brothers or sisters or with the neighborhood kids?

Eyvind : Well, our yard at that time, you see, that's, our house was umm, there's actually another house, a lot, to the west of our house, see. But my father bought, saw to it, he got a hold, he bought that house, lot, for $500, see. And on that lot we used to as kids we use to play ball. It was wide enough with all that there before the railroad cut out some of the embankment there. It was only a single track there at one time, now it's a double track. Well when it was a single track there we have a lot more lot there so as kids we used to play ball up on the yard there and so on. Used to play and chase around out there.

Tim : And then the neighbor kids would come.

Eyvind : Yeah, the neighbor kids all.

Tim : Do you remember any of the neighbor kids?

Eyvind : What?

Tim : The neighbor kids, do you remember them?

Eyvind : Yeah, oh yes. Yeah. Some of these of course like there were the Ressler boys up on Whipple Street and Bill Sherman and now were all around there. And some would come from a little more distant off, places, that.

Tim : So they weren't all Norwegian?

Eyvind : Oh no, no. No. We didn't talk Norwegian when we were out there [laughs].

Tim : So when you're outside playing with your friends you spoke English?

Eyvind : Spoke English, yeah.

Tim : So when they went home, the Ressler boys probably spoke German and you went in your house you spoke...

Eyvind : No, they didn't, they were all, all speaking English, yeah. There wasn't any foreign languages spoken by any of them as far as I can remember at any time.

Tim : Ahha. But in your household when you went in, say to supper or in the evenings did you speak Norwegian or?

Eyvind : In our house we use the Norwegian language, yeah. Seem to be common. I could never think of speaking English to my dad for some reason or other. It was always a Norwegian conversation between us.

Tim : Really?

Eyvind : Yeah, Norwegian.

Tim : Even, even towards the end?

Eyvind : From, form a habit I guess.

Tim : Even, until, until just before he died?

Eyvind : Yeah. But now, his conversation with the younger ones again was generally English. Of course there were nine of us and I was the oldest of the nine. So things changed as you go down.

Tim : A lot of years went by.

Eyvind : Yeah.

11. First Lutheran and Grace Lutheran

Tim : And when you went to church, umm, you went to First Lutheran right?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Was the service in English or in?

Eyvind : Well, the first Lutheran was entirely Norwegian. There was no English spoken services or anything, the Norwegian language entirely. And that was one reason how the Grace was started, because the, the Norwegian, the minister we had, Pastor Tangjerd he wouldn't, he couldn't speak, preach English. He'd preach Norwegian all the time and he and it was insisted on. And some of these families were getting to the point where their children were getting speaking English so on more and more in English and they felt that there should have been some English services in the Norwegian Lutheran Church but they were opposed to it and the final thing was a break off where the Grace Lutheran Church was formed by this group that formed it some English, see. And they formed the Grace Lutheran as an English Lutheran congregation. And that made a split in the congregation that formed the Grace that way. So, so you could see there was a lot of stubbornness and battles, and so on, that, yeah.

Inga : And that was back in 23 and 24.

Eyvind : What?

Inga : Back in 1923 and 24, when Grace Lutheran...

Eyvind : Was started?

Inga : ...was started, yeah.

Eyvind : No, no they started before that.

Inga : Yeah, well building it but not...

Eyvind : Huh?

Inga : They didn't have services very much before that.

Tim : Was there a lot of hard feelings? Umm, bitterness?

Eyvind : On the break, like that? Oh yeah, there was some, there was some you know feelings about it, yeah. But it was overcome.

Tim : Do you remember what your position was at that time? Were you...

Eyvind : What?

Tim : Were you going to First Lutheran at that time? You were umm, what about 20 years old or so or?

Eyvind : Oh yes, yeah.

Tim : And did you have a position?

Eyvind : A position?

Tim : Yeah.

Eyvind : No, in that church you mean?

Tim : Oh, I mean did you feel strongly one way or the other that it should be Norwegian or English?

Eyvind : No well, it, I didn't take any particular part in any of that, no. No, It didn't make much difference to me at that time what was out there.

Tim : Well, I suppose not.

Eyvind : No. [laughs]

Tim : Young man worried about that I guess.

Eyvind : Yeah.

Excerpt from the First Lutheran Website church history section : 

1910: January 4, 137 members withdrew and organized Grace English Lutheran Church.

1915: In his annual report, Pastor Tangjerd complained “because there were some families in the congregation who never set foot inside the doors of the church.” He urged special prayers for these “delinquents.” Congregation passed a resolution “warning the young people against mixed marriages because of the ill-results to the faith of the youth,” and the parents were urged “to guide the young people at the time of love-making.”

12. Eau Claire Ward Rivalry and football

Tim : Umm. The last time we talked you told me about some of the things that you and your friends did, and how, when you went up to the, was it the Ninth Ward?

Eyvind : Ninth Ward, yeah.

Tim : Yes. And that one time where you almost got in a fight with the ninth warders? Can you tell me about that again?

Eyvind : Oh well, we, there was a rivalry between the wards for some reason or other and I might say right here and now the third Ward was off, we weren't supposed to go down there at all really at that time. No.

Tim : Oh really?

Eyvind : Yeah. That was really off by themselves they really didn't, at least that's the way we all felt you know. We didn't...

Inga : That called the bloody Ninth?

Eyvind : We didn't belong down there. [laughs]

Tim : Really that's interesting. You mean...

Eyvind : What?

Tim : You felt that you weren't supposed to go there because it was kind of off-limits?

Eyvind : Yeah, that was the swell [rich] people down there you know,... Up.

Tim : I see. But you did go up to the Ninth Ward and...

Eyvind : What?

Tim : Up to the Ninth Ward.

Eyvind : Ninth Ward was a different situation. Ninth Ward was more like ourselves you know and so on. And of course the ninth Ward was a bigger Ward than the sixth Ward and busy. There was a rivalry there, I think it came from, actually came from the aldermanic system that they had at one time you know the kind of the, that caused some of that, that spilled over onto the kids too you know and so on. And but the, I know we didn't get along with the Ninth Warders at all, Sixth Warders. Although we used to, they use to come and play, they'd have a foot, a team you know from the Ninth Ward and one from the sixth Ward that get together and play football and that. There was a big vacant lot, a block, a whole vacant block, south of the Chestnut Street by the lake there.

Tim : Oh, south of Chestnut Street oh yeah.

Eyvind : Chestnut Street, yeah south of Chestnut. There was a whole block there that was just open area. Had been a place where they had earlier taken and processed light poles or telephone poles and stuff like that there and but so that was kind of a, call it a chip yard. And we use to play down there you know games, football, and baseball and that, many times.

Tim : Did you play football also?

Eyvind : Yeah, a little of it. Yeah.

Tim : Ahha. Did your...?

Eyvind : We didn't really, I never, we never had really, our bunch that I was with, never had a team around at that place.

Tim : Umm, Genevieve Hagan who's reading those years in the Reform now found an article, kind of a controversy about football because there was apparently a young man who was killed playing football in a nearby town and so there were a lot of people who wanted to ban football.

Eyvind : Ban it, huh? I never heard of that, probably was. Yeah. You mean killed in Eau Claire or? No.

Tim : I think like Elk Mound.

Eyvind : Oh. Ahha.

Tim : And that one time you went up to the Ninth Ward and you almost got in a fight?

Eyvind : Yeah, well, we a, we went up there we used to go up there go up in there, up at the end of 3rd Street there used to be a lot of, certain time of the year there was a lot of hazelnuts and things we use to go up there and gathering of hazelnuts see. And on the way on the way back there one time there were these ninth warders were waiting for us. And we know this 'cause we saw one of them stick his head up from, from the bridge as we were coming so we knew as his head for us see and we come to the bridge then and we made our minds just what we were going to do, we were just going to rush right through there see. And that's what we did. And they didn't get time enough to get up from under from down below the bridge to get after us. We got away from them see.

Tim : So you got away with your hazelnuts?

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah. We went up there to pick hazelnuts and so on.

Tim : Did they ever come down to, to your Ward?

Eyvind : Oh, a little bit, about did. Yeah. Yeah. There's some of kind a, 2, 3 of them that were pretty mean kids you know. They came down. There's always a bunch that, that were pretty mean you know. Make trouble whenever they want you know.

Tim : Umm, when you went to the first Lutheran Church did you also go to to Norwegian school in the summer time?

Eyvind : Well, we had Norwegian school, we had Norwegian school in the...

Inga : Wasn't that on the North side.

Eyvind : All the time as I can remember, from. I went there first before I went to public school.  I think I spend just a year in Norwegian school. Put me a year behind grade school actually. Because I went there to that Norwegian school. And that seemed to be the routine for the united members of the First, what’s now First Lutheran, used to be called Norwegian Lutheran Church. First Norwegian Lutheran Church.

Tim : And that, that school that, did that go in the summertime also?

Eyvind : Humm?

Tim : In the summer time?

Eyvind : Norwegian?

Tim : Yeah.

Eyvind : Oh, yeah. That that usually, in the later years it was always held in the summertime and not during the time when the public school was on. Yeah. So these people would come that were members of, children of the, children of members of the Lutheran, Norwegian Lutheran Church. They’d come from the North side and all different places. And mostly North side and the Ninth Ward all over area and go to school there in the summertime. They had Norwegian school there in the summertime. Couple of months of it. Then you know.

Tim : What did you study?

Eyvind : Well there was mostly religion there. Yeah.

13. Reading and Waldemar's Library

Tim : Do you remember any of your favorite books when you were young?

Eyvind : Books? Favorite? Oh, yeah. I had a lot of, these story books and so on. I had a quite a number of them.

Tim : Do you remember any..?

Eyvind : I still have some of them.

Tim : Really?

Eyvind : Oh, yes.

Tim : From when you were that age?

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah. I saved them.

Tim : Umm, mostly Norwegian?

Eyvind : Yeah, all Norwegian, those story books that I.

Inga : Do you mean all the church books don't you? Catechism? Your catechism and…?

Eyvind : Yeah catechism. Catechism.

Inga : Yeah. But you mean other books too don’t you, story books?

Tim : Like story books, or mysteries, or adventure books or anything.

Eyvind : Oh, yes. We had some, I have some in English you know and so on. I can’t think of that series of books that there was an author that kids, as kids we always, we always liked to read and so on. Always stories of lost boys, having hard times, and troubles and so on. I think I still have one of them left see. But…

Tim : Did your father read quite a bit?

Eyvind : Read?

Tim : Yes.

Eyvind : Oh, yeah, he done a lot of reading.

Tim : Do you remember anything that he was reading, or did he read everything? What did he read?

Eyvind : My father? Oh goodness, he drove into so much that it’s pretty hard to follow along with everything that he possibly could.

Tim : So he must have been a very fast reader?

Eyvind : Humm?

Tim : Very fast reader?

Eyvind : Yeah, fast reader and he had a remarkable memory, to remember things. And then he could remember just, just where to go and find what he was seeking, when there was something he wanted some information and that.

Tim : That’s important.

Eyvind : He had a big library. He had the, claimed he had the most complete Norwegian library in the country, of Norwegian-American Literature that is a lot of Norwegians in this country that wrote books and or small briefs and things like that. And they’d always send to the newspaper a copy of what they have accomplished and for to get their approval or to get their opinion about it, see. And send out to the newspaper’s publisher.

Tim : So review copies.

Eyvind : Yeah, recommendation or so on.

Tim : What happened to his library?

Eyvind : His library? Well my brother Tryg, or Roald rather, the one that lives up at Cumberland, he was the last one in the family there at home. And I think much of it went to Northfield to...

Tim : I see.

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah. But he’s got a lot of it out there yet though. He’s got a lot of books out there.

Tim : And some of his favorites or?

Eyvind : Humm?

Tim : How did you decide what to keep?

Eyvind : We, he didn’t make any real decision on it I guess. He was not too keen or interested about it.

Tim : Oh, really?

Eyvind : No. No he didn’t show that interest that the others did been, Trigger, the one, Booky, the one we call Magne. But no he didn’t, he didn’t get along too well with my father either you know. Of course he was the last one at home there. And, and kind of some difficulty, that between that, he didn’t, he was. My brother Trygve he says that Roald was more, more like my father than anyone else of the boys. [laughs] Yeah.

Tim : So, two stubborn people.

Eyvind : Stubborn. Yeah.

Tim : Well, that sometimes happens.

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah. But I. But it’s hard you know that, that, with the newspaper like that you know my father was stubborn there is trying to make 50 more years in Eau Claire at that paper see, he had two more years to go when he died. Yeah. But he was stubborn, he was set on trying to go on and all the time it was getting tighter, and tighter, and tighter, and tighter, less and less money coming in. They had their glorious years when there was good returns on it and so on and there were more Norwegian immigration and there were Norwegians living and so on, but they were dying off. And then there was this struggle to try to keep going, see. From a newspaper that was 8 pages, all the time 8 pages. Sometimes a little bigger, but usually always, always 8 pages, it circled down to got to be 4 pages, 4 pages. Yeah.

Tim : Sure. And so Roald just from a business point of view was probably in conflict with your father.

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And boy and Roald of course he experienced more hardship with less and less income to the family you know. And that way it was more and more trouble. Yeah.

Tim : Sure, I can see why they had differences. Yeah.

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah. And so they had, they had quite a struggle you know. And the bigger grocery bills you know and less income to, to meet. So it wasn’t, wasn’t easy.

Tim : No.

Eyvind : And my father I suppose he felt he never knew if he should quite there he didn’t know where he’s should turn to, to for lively hood probably. And then he was fond of trying to make records you know he wanted to get to that 50 years. That was just like a matter of life and death.

14. Waldemar's Death

Tim : Yes. Humm. Do you mind telling me about the time of his death?

Eyvind : Humm?

Tim : Do you mind telling me about when he got sick and when he was in the hospital and when he died?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Tim : Umm…

Eyvind : Well this was in the summer of 1941 and they were all up at the lake see, at the cottage and he’d come home and this was on Sunday evening wasn’t it?

Inga : Yeah, well you know that the night before he went to the hospital he gave a talk over at First Lutheran Church, I can’t remember it was so long, 17th of May but he been over there and then he came to a Sons of Norway meeting and that was I remember when he came there the women they just came, they offered him coffee, and he refused, he always liked a cup of coffee, I can remember he refused to having any coffee that night, I guess probably he had enough over at First Lutheran. And then Eyvind and I was gonna take him home and we were and then Eyvind had to stop at the drug store to get some medication that he wanted. And he was sitting in the back seat, and he said to me, after Eyvind went, he said, “You know”, he says, “when you get old”, he said “the things goes wrong”, he said, “you can fix it and, but then something else will come up”, he says, “like an old machine.” And the next day that was on, Saturday, they were all up at the lake, except Roald, and he called us and said that, “Father had gotten so sick that he walked over to Luther Hospital.” And that’s the beginning of it, he never came home from the hospital. That was on the 28th of June, I think it was.

Eyvind : Yeah. They got that there, and the doctor, I don’t want to mention the name, but he figured it was appendicitis you know, operated on him at night, and it didn’t turn out to be that see, and then it got to be a series of operations. Anderson, out of Midelford Clinic. And, and nobody could stand that you know all that and one of the doctors told me, he happened to, see I was working in Milwaukee I think. I was on the train and the same doctor was one of the doctors was on the train and got to talking with him and he said we could have probably could saved him if we known it, in time. That cancer that had formed in the intestines, see, and that was overlooked, see, in that first operation. That, that…

Inga : He had two operations.

Eyvind : And, so they thought that’s what could’ve happened. And, he. But that’s the way it went anyway. And of course, in them days there was no, he had no insurance you know. There was nothing like that and, and when you go to the doctor there’s no more hope than, kind of a lot. It was period that there during time, always had to be paid for and he didn’t have didn’t have any insurance and I suppose he feared the expenses you know and all that. And having to get this newspaper out every week. He couldn’t, felt he couldn’t leave it and then because they’d miss a issue of the paper. Just tied down in there, to keep going as best he could until the end.

Tim : So then…

Eyvind : But you know that’s a hard, was a hard situation be right there that paper had to be out every week or you could lose your rights you know. And, publishing rights.

Tim : Yes.

Eyvind : And with just him and that Elton Johnson that helped him that worked there. And John, John Olbren could have taken over and did take over after my father got ill. And could handle it in case my father was laid up. My father didn’t think about that I suppose or something.

Tim : Well sure. Felt he had to be there. Yeah.

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah, just like being in the battle. And you keep going until you get hit and down you go.

Tim : And, umm, do you remember the funeral? Was the funeral held at?

Inga : First Lutheran

Eyvind : The funeral?

Tim : First Lutheran?

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah.

Inga : And there was flowers. You couldn't seen the front of the church at all. I have never seen so many flowers.

Eyvind : What is that?

Inga : All the flowers that came from his funeral. It was a big funeral.

Tim : And, he was fairly young.

Inga : Yeah.

Tim : How old was he?

Inga : 71

Eyvind : Who?

Tim : Your father.

Eyvind : Well he was 71.

Tim : 71 and still working of course. Umm, were there any children at home still?

Eyvind : Well see…

Inga : Roald.

Eyvind : Roald was, but he was at the lake wasn't he?

Tim : Yeah.

Eyvind : I think my dad was home alone then when he got sick…

Inga : Yeah, Volborg.

Eyvind : …And Volborg, she was children’s librarian over in, Yeah.

Tim : Oh Yeah. Well your dad, speaking of libraries, your dad was very involved with the library also for many many years.

Eyvind : Yeah, he was on there for 20 some years on the library board.

Tim : Yes. And they made that plaque for him, that bronze plaque, that use to be in the old library and now it will be at the Ager House.

Eyvind : Yeah.

15. Ager Monument Location

Tim : Maybe we could…

Eyvind : Have you seen the memorial up there at, in the cemetery?

Tim : I haven’t, no. I don’t know exactly where it is. I, maybe you could tell me how to find it? It’s on the edge…in the evergreens.

Inga : It’s way down …

Eyvind : It’s in the older section of the hospital, you go towards the lake and…

Tim : Aha. If you go up Cameron Street, you go up Cameron Street and you get to the cemetery and if I take the first lane in, off of Cameron Street, then I’ll be as close as I can be to the lake.

Eyvind : To the house that …

Tim : the chapel?

Eyvind : road goes in and goes around where people drive quite a bit, that goes around where the care taker’s buildings are. Yeah, and you go right south from there, towards the lake. Yeah. It’s very…

Tim : South like that. And then…

Eyvind : It’s a monument, with, sticks up quite high and there…

Tim : I’ve seen a picture but I’ve never actually seen it. I’ve, in fact my wife and I were up there last summer looking for it and …

Eyvind : Oh you were?

Tim : Yeah, we couldn’t find it but.

Eyvind : See those two trees there, they’re way big they’re real high and they’re sort of big. Yeah. Yeah.

Tim : So this is looking towards which direction?

Eyvind : You’re looking west, when you’re looking at it there.

Tim : This is the west being…

Eyvind : West. Yeah.

Tim : So you’re standing on the east. Yeah, I see. Well I’ll find it now. Yeah.

16. Ager Family Picture

Inga : Do you mind if I show this?

Eyvind : Yeah.

Inga : Huh? I said, do you mind if I show this?

Eyvind : No, that’s alright.

Inga : It’s not a very clear picture. That’s the family.

Tim : Yes. I’ve seen this picture …

Inga : Oh, you have?

Tim : …in Einar Haugen’s book.

Inga : Oh, yeah maybe!

Tim : In the Immigrant Idealist? The biography of your father by Einar Haugen.

Ager Family Picture

Eyvind : Oh, yeah.

Tim : It’s called the Immigrant Idealist. This picture is in it. Aha. Yeah. Tell me who I’m looking at. This is …

Inga : Well, This is Gudrun.

Tim : Gudrun.

Inga : Yeah, there’s Hildur.

Tim : Hildur

Inga : And Waldemar

Tim : Valdemar.

Inga : And then Gurolle

Tim : Gurolle

Inga : And that’s the youngest, Borghild.

Tim : Borghild.

Inga : And that’s the oldest one, Eyvind. And this is.

Tim : Still just as handsome as he ever was.

Inga : And this is Roald.

Tim : Yeah.

Inga : And that’s Valborg

Tim : Aha.

Inga : Solveig and Magne. Tryg wasn't on that picture.

Eyvind : No.

Inga : He was in Norway I guess.

Tim : Aha. And this in the, in the front room, right?

Inga : Yeah.

Tim : In the parlor?

Inga : It’s in the, I really didn’t, taken, this was taken was down at Gudrun’s.

Tim : Oh, I see.

Inga : Yeah, Gudrun’s home. Yeah.

Eyvind : We got a picture there though with all of them on there, with Tryg on there too you know.

Inga : We have?

Eyvind : I think there is a picture in there with Tryg.

Inga : Where's that?

Eyvind : On the wall isn’t it?

Inga : No.

17. How Inga met Eyvind

Tim : Well Eyvind, you were sure a handsome young man.

Eyvind : Huh?

Tim : [laughs]

Inga : You were the handsome one. I wish you could have seen him skate. Boy, he was, he was a beautiful skater. Wonderful.

Tim : Really? Yeah!? Where did you skate then Half Moon Lake?

Inga : Half Moon Lake. Yeah, that’s where I saw him.

Tim : Oh, really? Well how did you meet?

Inga : How?

Inga and Eyvind married on August 18, 1927

Tim : Yeah.

Inga : [laughs] You can tell him how we met.

Eyvind : Huh? [laughs]

Inga : How we met? That, that was. I don’t know.

Tim : You don’t have to tell me.

Inga : I worked, No I was working in Bloomer that summer and I, they, every fall they use to have a fall festival at our church in Running Valley and I went there with a friend of mine, a girlfriend from Norway. And after we had the big dinner, and we were few of us girls made kind of a circle and sit in that talking and then the pastor’s wife came over, Mrs. Thompson, and she says, “Any of you girls that will like to, go to Eau Claire and work?” She said, “There’s a lady that’s looking for help.” Right away I says, “I do” [All laugh]. And she said to me, “Well” she said, “I’m going to call her tonight.” she said “And I’ll call you in the morning and see if she hasn’t got anybody else.” See what she has to say. So they, she did call the the next morning. She said that Mrs. Reissum wanted to see me and wondered if I could come down. So I did. And this girl, Norwegian girl went with me. She was staying with her sister. And they sent her tickets to come to America, so she was working for her sister, and we both went to Eau Claire to look for work. And the, this Mrs. Reissum, was the daughter to Andrew Anderson. And that was his brother that built Eyvind’s home.

Tim : The house. Oh, yeah.

Inga : That was only a block, I can go out on the sidewalk to look down Whipple Street and look right into that house. It was only a block away. And …

Tim : So you were neighbors?

Inga : Yeah. Of course, I got that job, so I went there to work in October and. And then after Christmas these girls that went to this Viking. What did you call that?

Eyvind : Yeah. Viking. Yeah.

Inga : Yeah Viking.

Eyvind : Viking I-O-G-T

Inga : What did they call that again? Viking Society?

Eyvind : Viking Lodge. Viking Lodge.

Inga : Yeah Viking Lodge. Yeah. We went there and. Well this girlfriend of mine kept after me to go along with the girls and I just didn’t care to really. I just wasn’t interested. But then on the 16th of February they talked me into going and I went. And that's the night I met him.

Tim : Ahha!

Inga : And you. [laughs] At first it was a fellow from Norway that tried to get Joanna and me to sign up to join the Vikings and then took a little talking but then Eyvind and a friend of his staying way over on the hall most of them had gone home and here this young man come walking over to us, and that was Eyvind. And so he gets talking about, you know, wanted us to join and he talked us into it. And we got up went up to a table and he sat there and wrote our names, and where we worked and everything, and then when we were ready to go home, then why, he said, “We’ll see you Saturday”. And then we’re going to come and join. And he even helped put our old shoes on. [All laugh] So we, such a nice man. Went home start for home. Joanna and I were walking. We walked over the railroad bridge and up to Luther Hospital. She worked at Luther and I worked at the Andersons.

Tim : At the Andersons. Aha.

Inga : And we hadn’t gone very far before, here a young man came behind us and walked right in between us, and “Do you mind if I walk with you girls?”, he says “I think I go the same way you do.” [All laugh] And so that, of course I left Joanna at the hospital and then he says, “Well I go further too”, he says “So I’ll walk with you.” Cause he knew where I was working.

Tim : Oh, you had taken that information. Oh yes. 

Eyvind : [laughs]

Inga : Oh yeah. Sure.

Tim : I see! [laughs]

Inga : He knew all about us.

Eyvind : His work at the newspaper…

Inga : He thought, he thought I had come from Norway. That’s what fooled him! [laughs]

Tim : Oh, I see. Oh.

Eyvind : Yeah, we spoke Norwegian you know. Yeah.

Tim : Sure. Sure.

Inga : So then the next night, Saturday night, and every Saturday night after that, the first night I went there he use to lead the grand march, that they always had a grand march after we had our lunch. And he came and asked me to be his partner. So we were always the grand march leaders.

Tim : Oh, what a wonderful story. Yeah.

Inga : And that way I never had been with anyone else and I don’t know what he did.

Eyvind : We had kind of a nice club you know for Saturday nights and instead of chasing around for the dancers and all that, they gathered here and had a nice get together.

18. Viking Lodge

Tim : Tell me a little bit more about the Viking club. I mean, I think that you mentioned that your father and mother also met at the Viking club.

Eyvind : Yeah, they had an organization called Excelsior. My father was familiar with that from down in Chicago. Young people’s organization. So when he came up here to Eau Claire, why he was anxious to start something like that in Eau Claire and he did, amongst young people of Norwegian decent see around Eau Claire.

Tim : And it was still, it wasn’t the same club then the Viking club was different.

Inga : No.

Eyvind : No.

Tim : Was different. Similar.

Inga : Similar. Yeah.

Tim : Evening a week? One evening a week?

Eyvind : Huh?

Tim : Once a week?

Eyvind : Well, I guess they, yeah I imagine. Most of those were meeting once a week. Yeah. Yeah.

Tim : And you planned activities? Like…?

Eyvind : Yeah. Well yeah, from the group, you know, why they’d appoint a committee you know, from those who were taking part which should be serving one meeting another group, another meeting and so on, changing around, helping. They’d all take part in one way or another.

Tim : Sure.

Eyvind : And then they’d change offices, every meeting they’d change offices quarterly so every buddy got a chance to serve in different chairs and so on. Kind of a school like for. A lot of them got there first experience in standing up in public and facing and speaking their minds and so on.

Tim : So it was good experience.

Eyvind : Yeah, it was good experience. Yeah

Inga : And at Viking you know they had so, there was so many girls and boys from Norway that had just come from Norway.

Eyvind : Oh, yeah. There was a lot of them.

Inga : Most of them. Just people from Norway.

Eyvind : Yeah there was quite an immigration there for a while right after 1920.

19. Eyvind's First Car

Tim : We're going to run out of tape here in just a minute.

Inga : Oh!

Tim : We've been taping along.

Inga : I hope you didn't hear what I said.

Tim : Oh, sure. But...

Inga : Oh, no!

Tim : Oh, that's a wonderful story. I wish I had the camera on your face because it was really a wonderful story. But before we quit, I wonder if there's anything else you want to tell us about growing up in Eau Claire during those years or—?

Inga : Eyv?

Tim : Living with your father or working at the Reform?

Inga : You want to tell him about the car? When you started driving the car? The one that Borgny was telling you about last night when you started driving a car?

Tim : Yes, let's hear about the car!

Eyvind : When I bought my first car, in 1924 and there was a Ford dealer there, it was Taylor, Taylor motor company in Eau Claire, Taylor I don't know, I don't think they're there anymore they were over on North Barstow Street, right, right by the first block crossing the river on the west side of the street, Barstow . But Taylor motor Company they call it. 1924 I bought a Ford of course I couldn't drive it and and so the salesman he took me out on the road to this one that goes Cameron Street I think it is, that there was a narrow strip of concrete that was had been laid out there 'cause you could drive on there instead of the muddy roads on the sides how everything was. So the narrow strips there went extended quite a distance so that was the place proving grounds see where. So that's where I had my first driving instructions driving that Ford see. So the salesman had to also instruct me in driving.

Tim : Is that the same car that you have the rear view mirror?

Eyvind : Yeah. I had a rear.

Tim : And you still have the rear view mirror?

Eyvind : Yeah. I have that. Yeah. That didn't work out so good though but that's the way it went then. Anyway it didn't take me long to learn to drive [laughs]. There wasn't much to it. But.

Tim : So after that you had an automobile huh?

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah.

Tim : 1924 you were pretty young men to have your own car?

Eyvind : Yeah. Yeah. See I was 24 or I was 23 then at that time. But I saved my money and paid for it and that. And it wasn't so much anyway it was a lot of money at that time some $300 or more you know that a car costs like that see. Of course I had to work a long time to make $300. Yeah

Tim : Do you remember how much money you did make a week?

Eyvind : A week? Well wages weren't very high then $12, $15 and so on 18 was considered very good.

Tim : $18 a week. So in order to make $300 you had to work, oh like 18 weeks. Wow, that was expensive.

Eyvind : [laughs]

Tim : Well anything, anything else that?

Eyvind : What?

Tim : I'm going to turn off the tape in a minute here now and I wonder if there's any any final words of wisdom that you want to give us?

Eyvind : What?

Tim : Wisdom? Any...

Eyvind : Wisdom?

Tim : Yes.

Eyvind : No, No, No. I don't want to give any.

Tim : No final words of wisdom. What it was like to grow up in Eau Claire or to?

Eyvind : No, the only thing is I would say that a person should be careful and not get himself in debt much. Don't buy anything you can't pay for or know you can pay for.

Tim : That's very good advice.

Eyvind : Yeah. Wait until you have the money before you. That's the way I've done it anyway and I've never had any problems with anybody or anything never defaulted. I don't believe there is ever been a bill collector come to our home. Always skips our home.

Tim : Well that's, that's quite an achievement really.

Inga : Never, and we never had a car accident all these years, we never.

Tim : Really? Never a car accident? You started driving in 1924 and you never had a car accident?

Eyvind : No.

Tim : That is amazing. Yeah.

Eyvind : Well, I've had I said I never had one on the street and icy street down on on some years years ago on see Broadway, Broadway... I can't think of that name of that street there, goes was by the Baptist church on the Southside on the west side of Randall Park but slippery ice see and I was coming down there and then another fellow that, in fact I know the guy too, he was coming off of, off of Niagara Street and he slid into the street and I couldn't stop and I bumped him see but I really had the right away see because of. But that wasn't much of an accident.

Tim : Well I’m going to turn this off now.

20. Luther Hospital 

Tim : Do you remember when Luther Hospital was built?

Eyvind : Yes, I remember that, see by 1907,8 1907,8. And I remember, see the, across the street from the main entrance of Luther Hospital there was a Danish church there see, on the corner there at one time, that was later taken down and a home was built there. But the Luther hospital, when they were building that we use to as kids, we were there playing around there see. I was probably about seven-years-old or something like that. And where they dug out for the basement and all that and so we were around there on that and they had a big dirt pile, pile of dirt that they had taken out for the basement and all this and that, and one time we had rain and it froze and we were sliding down that high hill there and one of the boys called Albert Ressler, he, something happened, he lost, he lost control or something and he got his nose broke there see, and fell, injury. But [laughs]. Yeah. But we had fun there.

Tim :  So then when you were about eight years old or nine years old Luther hospital opened for the first time?

Eyvind : Yeah. Well my grandfather was one of the very first serious operations that took place there. He had a leg amputated that he got gangrene in. One of the very first operations there.

Tim :  He was the one who lived on Lake Street? He lived on Lake Street

Eyvind : Yeah he lived on Lake Street my grandfather, yeah. 533 that house is still there. That old house. Yeah.

Tim : Yeah. Well. 


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The End