No, not the Eddie Murphy movie, but another excerpt from the autobiography of my father, Otto, after whom this blog is named.
The war was over and in 1946 Otto's younger brother, Audun, had gotten a scholarship to attend Case School of Applied Science (later Case Western Reserve University) and had to leave that same day for the U.S.A.
Otto spent that summer of 1946 in Iceland with his Uncle Balduin and Aunt Gunnhildur and cousins. This is where we pick up the story. The rest is directly from his autobiography.
"I did a lot of sightseeing and joined the local band in Akureyri and the folk dancers. Spent a few days in Stefän Jönsson's home in Saudarkrökur and a couple of weeks in Reykjavik. I was thinking of staying but wanted to get back to Norway to start preparations for my study in the USA. I caught a small cargo ship going to Sweden where Herulf met me in Gothenborg. From there, the train to Oslo and then to Bergen.
Getting ready for America
Back in Bergen I started working at Fleischer's again In the Fall we moved back to Laksevaag (note: Laksevaag is part of the Bergen "metro area". In 1944 their home had been destroyed during the allied bombing and they each had to find other places to live). My Father and a Mr. Johannesen had started and electrical contracting and appliance business there. On New Year's Eve he and Margith (Larsen) got married. Next spring I went to the hospital to have an operation for varicocele which had bothered me especially participating in sports. Spent a week in the hospital around Easter 1947.
To get my visa (student), I needed a lot of papers, not too difficult to get. It was a lot harder three years later when applying for immigration visa.
Money was another problem. My Father helped a lot. God bless him.
Going to America
Left Bergen on the night train for Oslo. My friend Ole Hilstad at the railroad office had gotten me a room at a small hotel. I stayed there a few days and then my cousin Margith asked me to stay with them until I left. Had gotten passage on a troop transport the "Marine Jumper", Moore and McCormack Line. Left Oslo early September. First stop was Havre, then Southampton and then to New York where we arrived 13 days after leaving Oslo. Got off the ship early Monday morning. I had met Olav Torgersen on the ship. He was also a student at N.C. State and had been home for the summer. We took a taxi to Penn Station, where we checked most of the luggage for Raliegh. Olav flew down and I was on my own. Got on the right train, changed trains in Washington D.C. where I met a guy who was also going to State, and I travelled with him to Raliegh. We got there early th next morning. Rode the bus to school.
North Carolina State University
Got myself a room, and after trials and tribulations got situated. Lived in Gold Dormitory. My roommate was Chuck (Charles) Swerdlove from the Bronx, New York. He was, and still is, a great guy and good friend.
I started as a special student, taking courses that would be good for me when later I returned to Norway. Most of the courses were in the School of Textiles. The head of the Textile and Dyeing Department was Henry (Hank) A Rutherford. He had just come to N.C. State. The Dean was Malcolm E. Campbell. They both became very good friends of mine.
I did well in school getting mostly A' and B's. After a while I thought perhaps I would like to stay in the U.S.. I did part time work in school. So during the next summer, 1948, with the help of Hank and Dean Campbell, and some others I was accepted in the Graduate School and got my M.S. degree the next June, 1949. I was accepted on trial and had to get at least B in the courses I took."
When starting college, we were seven Norwegians at N.C. State, all enrolled in the School of Textiles. We had a number of other "foreigners", Chinese, South Americans, Middle and Far Easterners, and a few Europeans.
I struggled through the first few month, especially because of the language problem. That Southern drawl was not the King's English that we had learned in school. Few social activities the first year. At night before going to bed, Chuck and I would go to Grimes cafe, just off campus, and have a bottle of Seven Up, 5 cents in those days.
Olaf Torgersen whom I had met on the ship coming over lived a few blocks from the campus in the home of Dr. Nels Anderson who was a dean at the college. Olaf was a good friend and we had many meals down there in the cellar where he had a room. I was also invited to have Thanksgiving Dinner with them at their home in 1947. Their maid Ruby was a skinny black girl. During my first summer 1948 I lived in the Anderson house, since my dorm was closed and being painted, etc.
I made friends with several American students, visiting with Dick Davis at his home in Lexington. We rode the bus in those days.
On the 17th of May (our Norwegian Constitution Day) we would have a party. 1048 was nice and quiet, 1949 somewhat more tumultuous. That's when we had to carry Steve Yang, our Chinese friend, out. He was a character living across the hall from me. As of this writing, I just had a letter from Hank where he says, "He is still the same old Steve".
To be continued...