Father in his king's guard uniform
My dad was like a bachelor who had been plopped in the middle of a family and wondered how he got there. He married my mother who was twelve years younger when he was a confirmed bachelor in his thirties. They met in northern Norway at the children’s home/mission house where they volunteered. She rode off on her bicycle to teach Sunday school in outposts with her guitar strapped on her back, and he was a carpenter, a speaker, played the mandolin in the meetings and was popular with the young ladies.
He enjoyed solitude, fishing, reading and thinking at home but was often the life of the party when he was in a group. Sent to live with his grandmother and grandfather for a time in Vikanes, Norway when he was young and his father was working in South Dakota, he absorbed the strict rhythm of his elderly grandparents’ days.
In his youth he learned carpentry, fished for eels in the fjords of Norway and served in the king’s guard. Pioneering was in his blood, as it had been in his father’s. He got “America fever” and he moved us to Seattle from Eikanger, near Bergen, Norway when I was six and a half. We arrived in Seattle, and settled into Ballard with the $35 he had left in his wallet. He got on the bus with his tools in a canvas bag and found work as a carpenter, started saving, bought an old house and a used car the first year we were here, and went on to successfully build and sell houses.
Good with babies, he could relate to us four children when we were small, but found it more difficult when we were older, especially with his sons. We were noisy, unruly and full of life. His no talking at the table rule was hard to enforce. He had a strictly adhered to breakfast diet, with one egg, fried hard, two slices of brown bread in the morning, with cheese and jam, and one white. He always ate butter, while we children ate margerine and didn’t question why. His favorite meals were potatoes and meatballs or potatoes and fish. During the week he ended his meals with home canned peaches or pears, but on Sunday he had to have fruit pudding with cream.
When I became an adult I treasured talking things over with my dad, but not when I was young. I discovered when I was older that he had a lot of wisdom and a sardonic wit. Many of his friends treasured talking to him as well. They would come and tell dad how well they were doing … what they were building … how fishing was going … what they had accomplished, as if they wanted his approval. When he had the chance to share in church or with the groups of Norwegian friends, his stories were memorable and welcomed.
He was physically strong, working as a carpenter until he was 70, and winning an arm wrestling contest with my 6’6″ older brother when Dad was 65. Strong too were his Christian principles and habits. He read his Norwegian Bible daily. Thrifty beyond my appreciation, I found it torture to get a dollar of spending money from him. But, he was generous with missionaries and mission projects. Eternity only will tell who he helped and encouraged.
I always knew my father loved me, but he was never able to say it in words. He showed me by the little corner of his fried egg that he left on his breakfast plate for me to find when I came downstairs in the morning. That little bit of cold egg was enough to tell me my father was thinking of me and loved me.
He died at 90 in 1996. But it was too soon. I miss talking to him and those treasured bits of fried eggs.
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011