Thursday, September 27, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 58

Stalheim hotel, near Voss, Hordaland, Norway
[postcard:  courtesy of Lorraine Becker]

In the 1950s when Dick Thompson went to Norway for a visit one of the places he stayed was at the Stalheim hotel near Voss, Hordaland, Norway, slightly north and east of Bergen.  The postcard above was one of those that his daughter showed me when I visited her a few weeks ago.  Rather like the Yvon postcards in France this one published by Ebern B. Opp has an identifying signature mark in the lower right corner.  Not many postcard publishers put their mark in this manner on the front of the cards as part of the picture the way an artist might on a painting.

The area pictured on the card is called the Næroy valley and is located between Voss and Gudvangen.  As I looked at the terrain surrounding the hotel it was difficult to imagine this as a postal farm or way station in 1647 but it was on the route that had just opened between Oslo and Bergen and therefore a rest stop much like the Pony Express stops in the United States.  Later an inn was built here in 1750.  That inn is now part of the Stalheim museum of antiques, artifacts, and art, one of Norway’s largest private collections.  A newer larger Stalheim Hotel pictured on the card was opened for business in 1885.  Unfortunately, in 1959 only a few years after Dick stayed here, there was a fire that destroyed most of the inn and resulted in the deaths of 34 people. 

A replacement was built in 1960 and is still a popular tourist hotel today.  An article I read said that since the early 18th century there have been many artists who have been inspired by the natural beauty of Stalheim.  One artist was J.C. Dahl who painted the romantically styled picture titled “Stalheim” in 1842 shown below.  The painting now hangs in the Norwegian National Gallery in Oslo. 

[* Artist: '''Johan Christian Dahl''' (Norway 1788–1857) * Title: '''Stalheim''' * Painted: 1842 * Oil on canvas. * The original painting is owned by Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo.]

For additional information see: 

Friday, September 21, 2012

A fish story

 Joe's fish

As I was looking through some old photos I came across this one of the fish in the bathtub.  Then I remembered the episode and thought to share it.

Joe and Alice Huppman were neighbors and became great friends with my parents.  Every weekend we would have communal lunches with what my mother termed “smorgasbord” that meant a huge platter of sliced meats, cheeses, bread, and condiments.  Fix it yourself open-faced sandwiches with plenty of fruit, sliced vegetables and cookies too.  All four of the adults were coffee drinkers and the pot was on the stove all day long.  So, even though I do not drink coffee, the aroma of coffee evokes fond memories of my childhood home. 

The Huppmans had had a very interesting life.  Joe worked for the Ford Motor Company and had been stationed for most of his career in various parts of Asia.  I was never sure of all the places but I knew they had lived in Shanghai, China; Yokohama, Japan; and were living in Manila, Philippines, when the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese occurred in December 1941.  The Ford Company had already started evacuating employees and their families.  Alice was put on a ship but Joe was to stay a few more days to close up the dealership.  As her ship was pulling out of the harbor Alice watched in horror as planes began bombing Manila.  She described the black smoke billowing up out of the city as a scene from a nightmare.  She was to have no idea if her husband was alive or dead for two years.  Even though Joe was a civilian he was captured and put in a Japanese prisoner of war camp where he remained until 1943 when a group of U.S. civilian detainees were returned to the United States.  The only person Joe would ever talk to at all about any of his experiences when he was a prisoner was my Dad who seemed to be able draw out stories from everyone. 

Many of the other kids in the neighborhood were a little afraid of Joe because he seemed rather gruff.  He grew roses in his front yard and would get angry if kids or dogs or cats got anywhere near his beloved flowers.  Because of our close association with the Huppmans my brother and I were somewhat immune to the fear Joe inspired in the other neighborhood kids.  I remember liking both Joe and Alice and loving to go into their home where there were dozens of exotic souvenirs from their travels and Alice let us play with many of small figurines that were displayed on shelves in the living room. 

Joe was an avid fisherman and my Dad had done his fair share of fishing as well so we were regaled with fishing stories from time to time.  Joe and his brothers and friends would go to Neah Bay where one of them had a fishing boat or would charter a boat; I’m not sure which it was.  Salmon fishing was the objective.  Usually Joe would come back and tell my Dad about the one that got away.  The size of the fish grew with each telling and conjured visions of a mammoth sized fish in my mind something on the order of the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale.  These stories were always accompanied by a great deal of laughter by both my Dad and Joe. 

One afternoon, while my Dad was still at work, Joe returned from one of these fishing trips and came to the house looking for my mother.  He was very excited and wanted to surprise Dad.  Joe said he had got the fish and he wanted to put it in our bathtub so that when Dad came home from work and was cleaning up for dinner he would be confronted with the fish.  I’m not sure how they managed it but between them, Joe and Mom got the fish in the tub, took the picture, and then packed the fish in ice to keep it cold until it could be properly admired and then cut up to eat or freeze.   I measured the length of the bathtub, the inside measurement is 4 feet!  That fish filled the entire tub end to end.  I have no idea how much it weighed.  It had been cleaned but the head and tail had been left on for the viewing.  Now as an adult I think it a pity that it wasn’t caught during a Salmon Derby, as it should have won a prize for the biggest fish.

Dad & his fish at Ratz Harbor, ca 1930s

Dad was a great outdoorsman.  He had plenty of his own, sometimes hair-raising fish stories.  In this picture above we see him at Ratz Harbor, Prince of Wales Islands, Alaska with two fish he caught. 

Dad was tall, 6’ 2,” so the fish in the photo are large but still not as large as the one Joe caught that ended up in the bathtub.  To Joe’s never-ending delight it had the desired surprise factor, Dad was astounded when he saw it.  There was much laughter and exclamations of amazement at the size of that fish.  I think it was the best fish that didn’t get away story ever.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 57

California Building, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, 1909

 Many of the buildings on the grounds of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909 reflected cultural heritage.  For instance, the buildings for both Japan and China were designed to look very much like they stepped out of those countries.  The Hoo Hoo House and the Arctic Brotherhood buildings were built of timber from the northwestern United States.  Live exhibits such as the Igorrote and Eskimo Villages were built to allow the visitors to feel as if they were in actual native villages.  The California building shown on the postcard above has a decidedly Spanish appearance, as did many places in California at that time and still do.  This building is quite different looking than other buildings on the fair grounds. 

Among the exhibits the interior housed displays of fruits, nuts and vegetables that were grown in California.  We are fortunate that a couple of photos of the interior views are still available that show the often creative and spectacular displays.  Oddly the interior does not appear to reflect the Spanish theme of the building exterior.  It is hard to imagine why a model of an animal like an elephant made of fruit or nuts would seem appropriate but perhaps it was just for the artistic novelty and to attract visitors to the display with a sort of awe factor.  The glass jars and round bowls filled with produce look like penny gumball or candy machines.  Gumball machines were first introduced in 1907 so it is possible that in 1909 it would have seemed a fashionable or novel way to display items such as these in that manner.

Interior display, California building
[photo:  Frank H. Nowell, photographer]

Interior display, California building
[photo:  Frank H. Nowell, photographer]

The official photographer for the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909 was Frank H. Nowell (1864-1950).  Many of his pictures, like these above, were on display during the Fair and also used in official publications.  Born in New Hampshire he moved to Alaska at age 22 to join his father who was involved in mining near Juneau.  He took up photography as a hobby taking pictures of the native Alaskan people, businessmen, city officials, railroads, hydraulic mining, waterways, ports, and creating a visual record of Alaska around the turn of the century.  He traveled between Nome, Alaska and Seattle and around 1908 J. E. Chilberg, the president of the Exposition, appointed him as the official photographer.  After the Fair he operated a commercial photography studio in Seattle for 25 years. 

For more information about Frank H. Nowell and his AYPE collection see:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Torkjel Mikalsen Hornnes, Update

 Torkjel (Torkild) Mikalsen Hornnes
[photo:  courtesy of Alf George Kjetså]

Torkjel Mikalsen Hornnes (1871- 1924) the fifth child of Mikal Alfsen Hornnes and Anne Gundersdatter Uleberg, worked as a foreman at the Vennesla aluminum factory.  Recently we have located more photographs, some from the Vennesla postcard club, of the company town in Vigeland and I thought it might be interesting to post them.  It gives us a better idea of where and how he and his family lived.  The first two pictures below are aerial views showing the layout of the town and the location of the railway station.  The third photo is of Rødbyen or Red City where he lived.

Smia, Liebermanns første bygg, arbeiderboliger, spisebrakke, rødbyen formannsboliger  [Forge, Liebermann’s first building, workers housing, dining hall, Red City, foreman’s housing]

Jernbanestasjonen [Railway station] at Vigeland


Rødbyen as it is today.
[photo:  courtesy of Rune Jensen]

The company built the houses for the employees; the red duplexes were housing for the foremen, the white fourplexes were for other workers.  From the photos it looks as if the white houses were separated from the red houses by the rail line.  Torkjel and his family lived in one of the red houses.  The company houses were said to have been a high standard with reasonable rent for the time period.  It got its name, Rødbyen, or “Red City” from the color of the houses.  Most of the white houses are now gone but parts of Rødbyen” are still there.  In addition to the forge and houses there were a post office and a grocery. 

Below is an early photo of people waiting at the train station at Vigeland.  Notice all the books or cards displayed in the windows of what looks to be the ticket kiosk.  There is a railroad employee standing in his brass buttoned uniform.  There is even a black dog near one of the small girls.  Judging from the skirt lengths it would appear that the photo was taken around 1915.

Aluminum production requires a lot of water, which may be partly why this area was selected for the factory.  The aluminum produced at this factory was labeled “super pure” and 100% recyclable.  Pulp factories for paper manufacturing also require water and that type of industry is found here as well.  Wallboard manufacturing is found here too.  Below is a picture postcard showing the waterfalls at Vigeland.

Torkjel was said to have died in 1924 as a result of a brain tumor and to have had up to 50 or more operations.  Rune Jensen told me that the number of operations seems to increase with each telling of the story though, so it is not really possible to discern the absolute truth at this time.  This story a good illustration of oral family history stories in that things change with each telling.  It is just something that we need to be aware of and accept.  There is generally a kernel of truth with the oral histories but many of the details get distorted with time and re-telling. 

Torkjel’s widow, Ingeborg, took work at the factory in order to keep the house after he died.  She later remarried to Olav Dallen.  Several descendants of the family still live that general area.

Thanks again to Rune Jensen for helping with the family information and photos.  


There was a recent family gathering of Torkjel's descendants at Dallen that Rune attended.  He sent some photos and if I can gather enough additonal information or stories there may be another update in the future.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A few Setesdal railway stations

Vennesla station as it was when the train was running, 1916

This old postcard photograph above is part of the collection of the Vennesla postcard club and shows the train station, as it was when it was in operation.  The station name has been written on the side of the building.  The photographer’s name and the date are handwritten on the train. 

Vennesla Railway Station as it is today, 2012
[photo:  courtesy of Rune Jensen]

I love these old train stations in Norway.  There are a number of them all along the route of the narrow gauge steam train than used to run in southern Norway.  The railway operated from 1895 until 1962 but has since been decommissioned, the tracks removed from part of the line and only a short section still exists with a train that runs in the summer as a heritage and tourist attraction.  Rune Jensen was kind enough to send me photos of several of the stations and I did notice that they seem to have been built from the same or similar plans.  Some are fairly large like the station at Vennesla, shown above, while others appear to be much smaller like the one at Røyknes seen further below.

Vennesla Station Pizzeria

The old stations have not been torn down but have been put to use in different ways.  Here we see another view of the Vennesla station that houses a Pizzeria today.  One of the other stations is being used as a library.

Røyknes station
[photo:  courtesy of Rune Jensen]

In the very early years there was only a shed at Røyknes then a station such as this one.  It is an example of one of the smaller stations.  The original structure was removed when the line closed in 1962 but an identical building was later moved here as part of the heritage project.

Today the station at Hægeland, seen below, is used as a souvenir and mineral shop.  The area around Hægeland, Hornnes, Iveland, and Evje had much mining.  Although no longer active at one time the area was known as the largest nickel producing area in northern Europe and had over 600 mines.*  The mining industry was one of the primary reasons the railroad was built.  But, of course, the train moved passengers and lumber as well as raw mineral ore.  Several of our ancestors worked either full or part time in the mining industry or for the railway.

Hægeland station
[photo:  courtesy of Rune Jensen]

Evje station, 1901
[photo:  courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

Hornnes station 

Grovane station

When the train runs during the summer it goes between Grovane and  Røyknes.

The reason the stations look so similar is because they are all built from plans made by the same man, Paul Due.  Paul Due (1835-1919) was an architect who was born in Kristiansand and who had a long and varied career working in Norway and the United States.  Between 1890 and 1912, he worked for the Norwegian State Railways and designed more than 150 stations.  Most of the stations were wooden but a few like the one at Kristiansand were built of brick.

Kristiansand station

As befitting the size of the community, the station at Kristiansand is much larger than the others along the route.  The design of the two toned coloration on this much larger and more elaborate structure is carried through on the smaller wooden buildings.  While this brick building is red and white the wooden stations are red and yellow.  Usually passenger waiting areas and services were located on the lower floor while offices and storage rooms occupied the upper floor or floors.

Many thanks to Rune for sending the photos, information and links to information about the stations.

For more about Paul Due, see:
Additional links:



I have mentioned this before--a few years ago Alf Georg Kjetså and Kåre Hodne put together a documentary DVD about the railroad titled:  Jubileumsfilm Setesdalsbanen 100 År with  Olav Arne Kleveland as the commentator.  At one time it could be viewed on the Internet but I could not find it currently listed and don’t know if it is still available online.  The film is about 50 minutes in length, recalls the history, shows the stations, has many clips of the steam train, and all the beautiful scenery along the route.  An approximately 12 minute film by Hans Peters lets us experience a shorter ride complete with whistle, steam and accompanied by the clicks and clacks as the cars go along the tracks. 

To see the 12 min video and vicariously experience the train ride see:

*  The Flaat Nickelmine was once the largest nickelmine in northern Europe employing 350 men at one time in the mine and/or refinery.  The mine was more than 440m deep and reached below sea-level.  Today parts of the mine have been restored and it is open for public tours.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 56

 Saint Pierre Cathedral, Montpellier, France

Postcards are wonderful snapshots of history so I was delighted and surprised to get this one.  It was found in a flea market in Montpellier, France and sent to me together with a little information.  There are some interesting things about the card beginning with the photographer, Pierre Yves Petit (1886-1969) who went by the name Yvon professionally.  His signature mark is in the lower right corner of the card.  He was one of the first to publish postcards with artistic photographs not just standard tourist shots.

Yvon would walk the streets of Paris and other places with his camera waiting for the right light, clouds and shadows, the right combination of people, scenic views and buildings, to take his photos.  After I received the card I looked for other photographs he had taken finding a book “Yvon Paris” by Robert Stevens that contains a collection of some of his pictures.  Yvon was called a flânuer, I think that means a wanderer or loiterer.  It also suggested to me that he must have spent literally hours waiting for those perfect moments to take his photos.  Most of his pictures were taken during the years between WWI and WWII.  His photographs are beautiful works of art requiring much patience and skill to achieve.

Most of his pictures were black & white prints used for postcards.  Yvon got his first camera at the age of 12.  By 1919 his postcard company was established.  This card is interesting because it is printed in sepia tones not black & white.  The sepia coloration makes it seem like it was an early postcard while in fact it could have been printed as late as the 1960s.  It is one of an Yvon art series called “La Douce France,” or Sweet France.

My friend pointed out that it is possible to judge the size of the cathedral by the height of the tiny, tiny people walking at the lower right side of the card (I almost didn’t see them) just above the signature mark of Yvon.  Cathedrale Saint-Pierre is huge—93.5 feet high by 336 feet long!  Below are a couple of links including a 10-minute video that shows the exterior and interior of the cathedral during an organ concert with the Bach Prelude & Fugue played by Othar Chedlivili that suits the majesty of the architecture.

The cathedral was built in the 14th century.  The two towers shown on the card are very similar to the towers found on the Papal Palace in Avignon and some other buildings of about the same age. 
Interesting trivia fact:  Cathedrale Saint-Pierre is located in Montpellier, France next to the oldest faculty of pharmacy in the world founded in the 13th century.

Merci for sending it to me, my friend.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blackberry pie


It’s the end of the summer and the warm days have filled the air with the scent of ripened blackberries.  There are at least two varieties of blackberries that grow wild here, the small, tart, low, hard to find, creeping kind of berry native to the area and the bigger bushes of Himalayan berries.  Himalayan berries are not native and sometimes considered invasive weeds.  They are sweeter and have more seeds.  It does not matter much to me as I think both kinds make excellent pies, however, some purists will only use the small native berries. 

Make enough of your favorite pie crust for bottom and top of a 9” pie pan or use this recipe:

Great Pie Shell (makes enough for a double crust pie)

1 cup less 2 Tablespoons shortening
6 Tablespoons boiling water
2 teaspoons milk
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt

Put shortening in mixing bowl.  Add boiling water and milk.  Whip with a fork until smooth and thick like whipped cream.  Stir in the flour and salt.  The dough should come clean from the sides of the bowl to form a nice ball.  Cut in half, roll 1/2 between two sheets of waxed paper.  Peel off the paper and line the pie pan.

[From:  Tired and True Recipes, page 209] 

Pie Filling

4 cups freshly picked & cleaned blackberries
1 cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Lemon juice (optional—if you like a tart pie and are using Himalayan berries you may want to add some lemon juice)
¼ cup flour
2 Tablespoons butter

Mix the berries with sugar, salt, flour and lemon.  Pour into crust lined pan.  Dot the berry mixture with butter.  Roll out the top crust, fold over bottom crust edge, pinch or crimp around the edge.  Cut slits and prick top crust to make steam holes.  Bake in a preheated 425F oven for about 45 to 50 min. or until the pie is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.   Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Besides eating the pie one of my fond childhood memories was picking the berries all the while smelling the heavenly ripe aroma in the afternoon sun.  The minor scratches from the berry stickers were forgotten almost as soon as they happened.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Oh the ribbons, the pretty ribbons . . .

Today was the opening day of the Puyallup Fair.  Mrs. Gimlet was most anxious and a bit nervous also to see how the christening gown was judged.

The results?  See for yourself—

First Place, Best in Category, Reserve Grand Champion

Opening day of the Fair can be super crowded, as it was today, hot, also as it was today, long lines, again as it was today, but it was worth it to see those pretty ribbons.  We didn’t get scones because the line was about two blocks long (a very slight exaggeration) but we did get strawberry milk shakes and cow chip cookies (giant chocolate chip cookies) and that was just fine.

Lace open work display

It was difficult to find time to take a photo when there were not lots of people crowded around.  In the picture above you can see one of the open work lace display cabinets with the christening gown at the left near the jams and jellies.  This floor of the exhibition hall has handwork, artwork, jams and jellies, sewing, and other homemade articles.  Handmade quilts are hung from the ceiling.  There are literally hundreds of quilts.  The lacework category included knitted items, tatting, Hardanger, and just about any other kind of open work.  The Puyallup Fair (Western Washington State Fair) is the largest one in Washington State and I think may be one of the largest fairs in all the United States.  To win a prize ribbon here is very hard to do.  Congrats to Mrs. Gimlet! 

Christening gown & prize ribbons

While we were enjoying strawberry milk shakes a couple of flower people walked by on their tall, tall stilts.  Their faces were painted pale green and their arms and legs were covered to look like leaves and stems.  They were graceful and fun to watch as they moved slowly through the huge crowds of people taking time to bend and bow just as real flowers do.

 Two flower people on stilts

Flower lady on stilts

Flower people walking through the crowd

We will go back one more time before the Fair closes to look at all the exhibits, get chocolate milk from the Milk Barn and scones.  Today was all about those impressive prize ribbons . . .

Thursday, September 6, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 55

Exterior, Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota
[Dale A. Jensen, photographer]

Interior, Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota
[Jack Tshamer, photographer]

Both cards are products of Rushmore Photo & Gifts, Rapid City, South Dakota.

Stave churches were built in Norway during the 12th and 13th centuries so it is a little like stepping back in time to see this church that looks today much as those older churches looked when they were new.  Earlier I posted the photo below and some other pictures from Little Norway near Mt. Horeb in Wisconsin.  At that time I mentioned this church in Rapid City, South Dakota.  I think there may be yet another one in or near St. Paul, Minnesota and perhaps even others in different places.  I must admit to being curious as to how many of these reproductions there might be in the United States.

A few years ago a friend sent these two cards above of the Chapel in the Hills located in Rapid City, South Dakota.  It is an exact replica of the Borgund Stave Church in Norway.  Dedicated in 1969, blueprints of the original church were sent from Norway to be used in the construction of this church.  Unlike the one at Little Norway, part of an outdoor museum, this one is being used as a church and is associated with the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  It is the home of the radio ministry of Lutheran Vespers

Stave Church at Little Norway, Wisconsin

Borgund Stave Church, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

Though I have posted this postcard above showing the Borgund Stave Church before I am using it again so a comparison can be made between the original church in Norway and the replicas in South Dakota and Wisconsin.  Note a stonewall, like the one at Borgund, has been erected on the grounds of the Chapel in the Hills while this has not been done at Little Norway.

The Stave Churches in Norway for the most part were tarred, creosoted or painted with some sort of dark preservative.  It does not appear that these buildings in the United States have the traditional dark colored preservative on them.  When the wood is left untreated it will “silver” as the building ages.

Four supporting pillars inside the church represent the four gospels in the New Testament.  The decorative carvings were the combined efforts of Erik Fridstrøm of Norway and Helge Christiansen of Rapid City.  A log cabin typical of those used by immigrants can also be found on the grounds as well as a grass-roofed stabbur (a small out building usually used for storage) that houses a gift shop.

Both Little Norway and Chapel in the Hills are on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

For more pictures and additional information see:

Monday, September 3, 2012


 I have four granddaughters and four grandsons.  Wow, written out like that it seems like a lot!  Thing Two has lost three teeth so far, two on the bottom and one on top. Now Gamma has lost a tooth too.  He is 7 she is 6 ½ .  Don’t try to do the math they are obviously from different families.  Gamma’s tooth came out when she was asleep so no trauma at all.  No blood and gore, no endless wiggling, no string, no pliers.  Piece of cake.  Thing Two’s teeth (that is a tongue twister!) have involved much drama, tears and some amount of blood.  Bopa would have loved to get out his wicked pliers . . .

 Gamma – what happened to the tooth?
 [photo:  courtesy of Q & Lou]

Thing Two and his tooth—not missing in the bag . . .
[photo:  courtesy of the Gimlets]

My comment to Gamma's mom—No tooth, no swag, the tooth fairy doesn’t deal in credit.  Baby teeth with fillings are not even trade either.  Being the thrifty Scotsman that he was, Bopa kept the tooth fairy in close check.  Our tooth fairy handed out dimes, they were shiny dimes, but they were dimes when all the other kids got quarters or dollars.  I don't know, come to think of it there is something sort of magical about dimes.  Fond memories.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Little Miss

 Is this the glamour shot?

 It has been awhile since I put up some pictures of Little Miss (aka T-Bone).  She is now 6 ½ months old, sitting, rolling, army crawling, and eating with her fingers.  No longer a raisin but raking raisins as Mrs. Gimlet would say.  I didn’t get a picture of her socks but they are bright pink with hearts and crossbones!  Not only is she cute she is a tough little thing . . .

 Nectarines and toast for supper . . .

Still highly suspicious of her grandma, I see . . . 

Take 2