Saturday, July 29, 2017

Coming to America (continued)

"In the early spring we would drive down to the beach for the day. Got pretty sunburned, since we weren't used to that hot sun. Both Olaf and Erik Lorentzen had cars, as well as Tore Runhovde who had a big Buick convertible.

Since I was interested in song and music, I joined the Glee Club and received a key on "Honors Day". Mr Kuszinski wanted me to join the band the next year, but now I was in graduate school and too busy studying.

My roommate Chuck talked me into going with him to the Congregational Church. Made some very good friends there and we had a very nice fellowship supper there every Sunday evening. The Lutheran minister couldn't quite figure those Norwegians who never came to church.

Since we had tickets to all the ball games, we attended those. Suppose I was quite interested in the teams. Basketball was good, football mediocre.

We had almost all of our meals in the cafeteria. You could have three meals a day for $1.50, and you wanted to be extra extravagant, you could have a "cow college" t-bone steak for $1.45. Sometimes we would have breakfast across the road (Hillsboro Street) and dinner with Steve Yang at the Chinese restaurant down on Hillsboro, eating with chopsticks, or we could go to the S&W cafeteria downtown, where black waiters would carry your tray for a dime.

The college had about 5000 students at the time, approximately 4900 men and 100 women, all white. All the janitors were black. They made about $25.00 a week.

The school year was divided into three semesters, fall, winter, and spring. Tuition for an out of state student was $100.00 per semester. Lodging in the Gold dorm where I lived was $28 per semester. Not a bad price for a college education.

Infrequently, when studying at night you would hear a trumpet blaring, and looking out the window a cross would be burning out on the lawn. It meant nothing to me at the time, but thinking about it later, there were many "foreigners" living in those dorms.

The Andersons would take me along or give me tickets to the Community Concerts. I was very fortunate to see and hear in person, Marian Anderson, Arthur Rubinstein, and Leonard Bernstein. He was at that time conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony and was soloist in Gershwins "Rhapsody in Blue".

Travels When in College

My first outing when at State was to attend a meeting of the AATCC (the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists). I had been in school for a few weeks and Hank (Professor Rutherford) asked if anybody wanted to go (he had the use of the Dean's car). I raised my hand, the only one.

Default Hank Rutherford 1947

We left early on Saturday morning for Greenville, South Carolina. Arrived at the Poinsett Hotel about noon. Got one room with one double bed! I don't mind Hank told the desk attendant. I didn't mind either, being accustomed to lean sleeping quarters in Norway during the war years.
 Image result for Poinsett hotel, Greenville S. Carolina photos

Had a good time. The DuPont group invited us for lunch. It was the first time I had shrimp cocktail. Left about noon time Sunday. On Monday morning Dean Campbell asked Hank, "How did Otto enjoy the meeting?" and Hank answered, "He thought it was a great success." It was just great how I was accepted after just a few weeks at school.

Audun, my brother, was in Cleveland, Ohio, and asked me to come and spend Christmas there and then we would go up to Canada for some skiing. My friend at college, Pete Bachinger who was Swiss, was going to Wisconsin, so he gave me a ride to Cleveland. Dropped me off at Andy's (Audun's) house. We had a nice Christmas spending Christmas Eve with the Furseth family from Bergen. We left for Canada Christmas day evening. Stopped in Montreal, very cold. After a spaghetti lunch, we stopped at the Canadian Broadcasting System where Andy had made some broadcastsabout the life of a Norwegian student in the U.S.A. The announcer was Krabbe Smith, a real neat guy. Tante (aunt) Ovidia had heard Andy's broadcasts and written to Krabbe Smith and got some very nice replies. In the afternoon we left for Ste. Agathe Des Monts where we stayed the next week. Had a nice room in a boarding house, paid $2.00 per day. Good skiing, cold, and not many people around."

To be continued soon.

Things were different 70 years ago, weren't they?               


  1. Things were indeed different. And often kinder.
    I suspect it labels me as a grumpy old woman but some at least of the much vaunted 'progress' strikes me as a retrograde step.

  2. your dad got to meet some very famous classical music artists; I am jealous.

  3. "the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists"

    ...I never thought there would be this specialisation. Was there also a Vampire Hunters Association?

  4. Which 'foreigners' was the burning cross for? I thought it was a KKK terror symbol.

  5. Jono--They sure were. I wish my son had those college tuition prices. Our loan would be a lot less to pay off.

  6. Fascinating story of your dad's younger days. Such detail too. One of my uncles wrote his life story and it's just as interesting as this. I suppose I'd better start writing mine!
    I'm wondering about the burning crosses too.... was it the KKK?

  7. I just had to look it up.....
    Founded as the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC), the Association continues to evolve to meet the needs of those in the ever-changing textile and materials industries. AATCC has served textile professionals since 1921. Today, the Association provides test method development, quality control materials, education, and professional networking for a global audience.

  8. wish that was still the price for a college education..sigh*

  9. Elephant's Child, Some things were probably nicer, but some other things were definitely not.

    anne marie, One of his favorite "celebrity" meetings was Myron Floren, the accordionist from the Lawrence Welk Show.

    Bill the Butcher, Back in that era Nylon, Dacron, and Orlon were in their infancy. Kevlar and Gore-Tex also came along eventually. Mr. Gore split from the DuPont company and took his development on his own. While I prefer cotton myself, wool, silk, hemp and a few others have some limits in some applications. There are a lot of details about things most of us will never know.

    Gorilla B., Anyone who looked different or talked funny would be terrorized by the KKK. They didn't just hate black people, but pretty much everyone that wasn't one of them. They are still that way.

    Sioux, Yes, but you could buy a new car for $1300 and it wasn't a stripped down one either. Gasoline was 15 cents a gallon.

    Shammickite, Please share your uncle's work if you get the chance. Yes it was the KKK. They wielded more power and fear back then. Otto's naivete kept him from being frightened or concerned at that time. Otto was a member of the AATCC for over 50 years. He maintained an interest even after his retirement in 1983. He died in 2006.

    Al Penwasser, I wasn't even a gleam in his eye for another four years or so. That story is coming.

    JACKIESUE, After the revolution we will turn this into reality. Can you imagine a well-educated, thinking citizenry making decisions in this country? If everyone from unemployed ditch diggers to gifted researchers had a good basic education with the ability to think critically, we wouldn't be in this mess.

  10. The AATCC reference didn't seem odd to me, but that's probably because I've worked with enough fabrics to know there would be a need for something like that! And yes, what an interesting life your father had as a young man. I like the expression "accustomed to lean sleeping quarters" - living lean in all ways was quite a kind way to describe the hardships and deprivations of the war and a long period of time afterward.

  11. I am so glad you share Otto's memoirs! I too have the KKK as a part of my US university memories, no Bernstein though and no lean sleeping with professors.

  12. jenny_o, Then you have an idea about fabrics. Otto used to go to International Standards ( meetings when needed. I remember he went to Paris a couple of times for these.
    "When we were young we slept eight to a bed." "You had a bed?"

    Onevikinggirl, We still have the KKK here. The current regime seems to legitimize their existence. I never got to sleep with my professors. Even the cute ones.

  13. Interesting website - thanks for including it. The quote made me smile.

  14. A different world indeed! I'm enjoying the glimpses into it. Can you imagine the scandal today if a student and professor shared a double bed? Those were more innocent times. The thought of burning crosses on the campus gave me a shudder, though.

  15. My son lives in Greenville, SC, and I've walked past the Poinsett Hotel. Next time I walk past this building, I will think of your father staying there! I should take a picture, shouldn't I.

  16. Diane, All these folks had lived throughout the Depression and a recent World War. They were used to a lot less than of everything than we are.

    Pixel Peeper, Please do take a picture! I'll be looking for it. The Poinsett is part of the Westin chain now.

  17. The KKK lives on. I was at a parking lot north of here (I live outside of Atlanta, GA) and there was a flyer on my car window for a KKK meeting. I looked around at the other cars---they were on all of them.

  18. kittergran, One would think that their days are long gone, but they still raise their ugly racist heads on a regular basis. Now that their ilk are well represented in the three branches of U.S. government they will continue to breed.

  19. What a time, indeed. Some were way friendlier and more personable than they are now, and some were just beyond hateful. Just depended on who you were and (sadly) what your skin tone was.

    And wow to the steak meal. I don't think I could get pre-chewed gristle for $1.45 nowadays.

  20. This is a neat read. $1.50 a day to eat! Hot damn.

  21. You dad! Fabulous i am jelous of his friends

  22. ABftS, Unfortunately, people haven't changed much, but policies have a bit. Otto had a hard time understanding American prejudices, but they were easily observed.

    Riot Kitty, The only thing I can find cheaper these days is Ramen and I have to cook it and clean up the mess. Then again I'm old enough to remember bread and milk at 25 cents each. Gasoline, too. Then again, people are paying a buck or more for a pint of water.

    John Gray, He was quite a gregarious and likeable guy. Even though he was my father I liked him most of the time, too. Although, when I was a teenager I occasionally had issues with him. It turns out that they were my issues, but at that age I was sure HE was the problem.