Thursday, December 8, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 16

Christmas greeting on the front of the postcard

Message on the reverse side of the card

Since this card was sent as a Christmas and New Years’ greeting to Petra Lee and her family probably before 1920 it seemed appropriate to share it during December. It must have been included in another envelope or package because there is no stamp or date on the card itself. As a child I can remember packages being put together to send to Norway. It was quite exciting to see all the things my grandmother and mother stuffed into a big box and took to the post office. One of the things we received in return was Geitost. It is a very sweet yellow-brown goat cheese that is sliced extremely thin. Unfortunately, as a child that was not one of my favorite things to eat but my Grandpa Dick Thompson really liked it and I think Petra did too. Once we (the children) got handmade mittens. Another thing that came was a wooden nutcracker. When you put a peanut in his mouth and closed the lever to crack the shell smoke would come out his mouth and ears. I have no idea what happened to the nutcracker it was not in with the other things we found when we closed out Mom’s apartment.

The message on the reverse of the card is written in an older form of Norwegian that is probably closer to Danish. I did try the Google Translate but not everything could be translated. That may also be my inability to decipher some of the script so I decided to show both sides of the card. My own interpretation of the message is:

"Dear Petra and family,

Thousand thanks for the letter and the picture(s). It was very nice and nicely done [much appreciated]. We have so few [pictures] of Nils. [Cornelius?]. On Sunday we went up to visit Grandmother. She was glad when we arrived. She had been sick but was better. Greetings from Hama, Otta, Ole"
* At the bottom of the front of the card is the standard Happy [Merry] Christmas & Good New Year greeting.

The statue on the card is of Ole Bull a famous Norwegian musician who was born in Bergen, Norway in 1810 and died on Lysøen, an island near Os he bought and where he had built an estate, in 1880. Os is south of Bergen and is where my great-great grandmother, Karen Landaas, was born. He was what we would call a child prodigy and at age 4 or 5 could play all the songs he had heard his mother play on the violin. At the age of 9 years old he was a soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. When the director of the Musical Lyceum became ill, Bull took over as director. He was only 18 years old the time. He was married twice and fathered 7 children however only 3 survived him. His second wife, Sara, wrote a book titled: “Ole Bull: a memoir by Sara C. Bull.” Ole Bull knew other famous musicians such as Edvard Grieg and Franz Liszt. He had homes in both Norway and the United States. For more information about him see



* After this post went up I got an email from Bjørn & Marit who kindly translated the postcard message this way:

Petra and husband,

Thank you for your letter and the picture. It was very nice and beautiful too. You have got a very good looking man too , be now only good to him. Greet him so much from us. Sunday we were visiting your grandmother. You may think she was happy when we arrived, she has been a little sick but was better now.

Here is Petra's handsome husband, I.C. Lee, as he looked in 1904.

I.C. Lee, ca 1904

So I even though I didn't get it completely right I didn't do too badly with the translation after all. Bjørn noticed that I mistook "hils" for "Nils". That answered a question for me because I couldn't figure out why she would be sending them a picture of her brother. Also, I noticed that in the salutation it had the word for marriage but I have seen this same word sometimes appearing in connection with family so it was good to get that cleared up. I would now guess that the date of the card would be early 1900s and not so close to 1920 as I originally thought. Thanks so much for sending the translation,
Bjørn & Marit, I appreciate it very much!

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