Halloween and alla helgons dag

In our suburban Chicago town Halloween has become a hugh holiday. Many homes are decorated, although not quite as many as are decorated for Christmas. A few things I have noticed though. The total glut of "horror" movies. And why are the princesses, pirates and cowboys of my and my children's youth seemingly outnumbered by ninjas, chain-saw murderers, sword wielding power rangers and horribly mutilated walking dead? Mind you, I am not one of those anti- Halloween people. I love to see the kids of the neighborhood come round my door (and I always give the GOOD candy, no marshmallow peanuts or pencils here) but I just wonder.

From my reading it looks as though Sweden has also adopted the American spin on Halloween, parties and custumes etc. All well and good but they still hold to all helgons dag or All Saints Day. It is observed Saturday during the period 31 Oct - 6 Nov (2015:31 Oct or today). Traditionally a celebration of all Christian saints, the holiday is also a time of remembrance of loved ones who have passed away.

The custom is to light candles on family graves and leave flowers and wreaths. During the Saint's weekend, Swedes remember those who have left this life. Thousands of candles and lanterns light up cemeteries all over the country. Many churches also organise concerts to celebrate the day. Memories, gratitude to those that came before or the belief that the light of the hope of the resurrection overcomes the darkness of earthly death?  No, one, except the one who lights the candle knows why he lights it, but the flames silently testify that our faith overcomes the darkness. The burning candles at the cemetery, lit on those evenings for those who are gone, at the same time reminds us of the light in our own world when darkness comes.

That is what alla helgons dag is all about. Light.

What a beautiful custom of remembrance. Beats the heck out of celebrating zombies?

Or maybe that's just me - Ranae.

Saturday's silly Ole and Lena joke

"It's yust too hot to wear clothes today," said Ole as he stepped out of the shower. "Lena, vhat do you tink the neighbors vould tink if I mowed the lawn like dis?"

 "Probably that I married you for your money."

Now THAT would be a scary site.
Happy Halloween! - Ranae


Funny Expressions the Swedish use

Today was cold, dark, wet and rainy. Not unusual for the Chicago area around Halloween. A good day however to spend with a hot cup of coffee, in front of the computer, trolling around the internet.

not at all family history related but fun
click and learn some useful? Swedish▼▼▼

- Ranae


Wednesday's child - Grandma's "Most beautiful baby"

This Wednesday I remember my aunt Gerd Sevaldsen.

My maternal grandmother Dagmar was pregnant with Gerd when she and my grandfather Paul married. Knowing how strictly religious she was I dared to question her on her, shall we say, timing? "But I was engaged!", she vehemently protested. With some study I discovered that in earlier times, particularly in rural Norway, among the farming classes, marriage was the religious event. The engagement or "trolovelse" was recorded by the parish priest with generally two witnesses present. It was the binding agreement between man and woman and the woman often joined the man's family at this time. They would later post banns at the church and the religious event, covenant between the couple and God, would take place later at the discretion of the local priest. If the young couple was expecting, as they often were, the marriage ceremony was expected to be performed before the baby's birth. No one thought poorly of this as it was the intention that mattered. Dagmar and Paul were married in Skien, Telemark, Norway on February 2, 1922. Gerd was born May 14 of the same year.

"My most beautiful baby" is how Dagmar referred to Gerd, her firstborn. She had dark hair and brown eyes like Dagmar and a sweet disposition. Paul left for America when Gerd was just 15 months old. He sent money earned in Chicago and soon prepaid tickets for Dagmar and Gerd to join him. Gerd never made it to America. They were scheduled to leave for Kristiana (now Oslo) just a few weeks after the Christmas of 1923. Dagmar hesitated to celebrate Christmas with her family as her youngest brothers had just had the measles. Her mother, who feared she would never again see them again after they left for America, begged her to come believing the boys were no longer contagious. She was wrong. Gerd did get the measles which swiftly turned into pneumonia. Dagmar had to bury her baby in an unmarked paupers grave and board the train for the three hour ride to Kristiania, alone. Paul's sister Magda wrote her brother in Chicago telling him of his daughter's death.

When Dagmar arrived in America Paul never questioned her about their daughter. In fact they never even discussed the child or spoke aloud the name "Gerd" again. Dagmar felt he blamed her for the little girl's death. Dagmar kept this picture of her "most beautiful baby" on her dresser always.

Gerd Sevaldsen - my only maternal aunt
14 May 1922 - 14 Jan 1924

- Ranae


World Pasta Day



Pasta is a food consumed universally, on all the continents. I love pasta and we have it at our house at least once a week. Pasta is also eaten in Sweden. Hold on to your stomach for this next bit of info though.

What is a favorite Swedish pasta dish? The wonderful Swedish meatballs that everyone in America (Canada too I would guess) knows about, has a favorite side dish in Sweden. Macaroni and ......... no NOT cheese ......... KETCHUP!  Oh geeeeez, I am from Chicago and putting ketchup on a hotdog even is considered a crime. An authentic Chicago hotdog stand won't even have ketchup available.  But on macaroni? Maybe Honey Boo Boo and her gang had "sketti and ketchup" but this is not a taste I would go for. And don't even try to convince me that a good marinara and ketchup are the same.

Could this be true? I saw this bit of info on a post by Kate Reuterswärd, "an American, a serial expat, and a travel addict who has been lured to Sweden by love". I just found her blog post today.

check it out for yourself, click on her interesting thoughts on ▼

Okay, just one Scandinavian-American's opinion (me) but

 YES  ↓ 



Please if you are truly Swedish "say it ain't so Joe"?

Happy World Pasta Day! - Ranae

Sunday's Story - Albin's respectable beard

This Sunday's story is from the harvest time one year. 
It is another story from cousin Ingemar Majholm about our great grandfather 
Robert Albin Abrahamsson.

"Albin was out in the barn threshing with his machine, when his respectably long beard happened to get caught between a couple of cog-wheels. His chin was inexorably pulled towards the unpleasant to say the least interior of the machine. If his farm-man had not discovered the urgency of the situation, grasped a sickle or a knife and instantly acted barber, the history of Stommen might have turned in a rather different direction than we read it today. His beard doesn't seem to have been allowed to grow so respectable after this occasion (at least not if you look at the available pictures of Albin)."*

*taken in part from "A Family History - Albin and Anna Abrahamsson" 
by Ingemar Majholm (with his permission)

*clicking on photos will enlarge them for easier viewing*


Saturday's silly Ole and Lena joke

Reverend Ole was the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church, and Pastor Sven was the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road. One day they were seen pounding a sign into the ground, that said:
 As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled, 'Leave us alone, you religious nuts!'
 From the curve we heard screeching tires and a big splash . Rev. Ole turns to Pastor Sven and asks, 'Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say 'Bridge Out'?

Happy Saturday! - Ranae


Wednesday's child - The Jakobsdotter sisters

This Wednesday I remember three little sisters. Selma Maria b. 7 April 1882, Hulda Aqvilina b.13 Jun 1887 and Anna Elisabeth b. 8 May 1889 .
The Mårdaklev, Älvsborg parish record of deaths reports that all three little girls died within 4 days of each other of "difteri" (diphtheria) in July of 1890.

A disease that is considered to be from the "olden days", even those of us who are grandparents have been immunized against diphtheria. I have been a nurse for over 30 years and worked in a hospital, yet I never saw a person diagnosed as such. I am almost ashamed to say I had to look diphtheria up in wikipedia to find out exactly how it was spread and what the signs and symptoms were. Apparently the word is from the Greek word for leather which describes the thick leather-like mucous that covers the back of the throat and can literally suffocate its victims. And that is just one of the many awful things diphtheria can do to a person, particularly to a child.

One hundred and twenty five years after their deaths, I can't even imagine the deep level of grief their parents must have felt. And yet, they went on. All three little sisters were buried on 27 Jul 1890.
Their parents were Jakob Lorentz Petersson and Johanna Lena Larsdotter. Fortunately, three older sons survived to adulthood and one year after their daughters' death they had another daughter who also survived to adulthood.

Fortunate also for us. One of those sons was Johann Emil Jakobsson who married Anna Abrahamsson. If he had succumbed there would be almost 75 less cousins in the U.S. today.

Vila i frid, little sisters.
- Ranae

*clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing*


Virtual Tour of Ellis Island

2016 will be the centennial of the National Park Service.

Did your immigrant ancestors arrive through Ellis Island? My maternal grandparents, Paul and Dagmar Sevaldsen did. My paternal grand aunt Anna Abrahamsson Jacobson did with her first three children, Rudolf, David and Betty. Have you ever visited? These 360-degree photos of Ellis Island help you "see" what our ancestors saw. You can feel like you are standing on the island. Thank you CAGGNI facebook page for giving me a heads up to pass this on to my family.

Imagine the thrill of seeing the welcoming Lady Liberty after weeks of being at sea. 
Imagine the fear knowing you will pass through these Ellis Island doors 
to be questioned and examined to be found worthy of entering.

click here to take  ▼

click here to read about  ▼


Sunday's Story - Albin's revolver

Today's story is about my great grandfather Robert Albin Abrahamsson.

Albin's Revolver

Albin's revolver with its handmade "tight" holster

"The farmers of Östra Frölunda now and then had to go to Borås, about 30 miles away, to sell the produce of their farms. The journey by horse wasn't safe. There were robbers in the deep forests who well knew that the farmers who were heading south often were bringing a reasonable amount of money back from town.

Thus it happened that robbers, who jumped up on his wagon from behind, attacked Albin on his way back to Östra Frölunda. But Albin managed, using the thick end of his whip, to rid himself of the thieves. But this event made him decide to buy a revolver the next time he would go to town.

So he did. As he was skilled in leatherwork, he made the holster himself. And it wasn't long before he got use for his revolver, on the way home from the marketplace. A couple of robbers came up on his wagon from behind. Albin tried to pull the revolver, but found out that the he had made the holster too tight. Now time was sparse, but he couldn't get it lose; it was stuck. Once again he had to use his whip, and he managed to fight the robbers away.

On the rest of the way home he had time to think. What if he had been able to use the revolver? Then he might have left a person behind, dead. Slowly thankfulness for a tight holster sprouted in the heart of this man of peace.

From what I understand this was the last time he brought his revolver on a trip. He later gave it to his son Gustaf, who gave it to his son, Seth, who's son Erik today keeps the 'Revolver with the Tight Holster' in a safe-deposit box in Bergslagens Sparbank, Nora."*

*taken in part from "A Family History - Albin and Anna Abrahamsson" 

by Ingemar Majholm (with his permission)

*clicking on photos will enlarge them for easier viewing*


October is Family History Month

I am what some people would call an "Amateur Genealogist" but I prefer the term "Family Historian". "Genealogist" seems just too cold. The family tree, names, dates of birth, marriage, death is what the word "genealogist" says to me. "Family Historian" speaks of who we are and what we are about. Yes, that tree of names and dates going back many years, that I have worked so hard on, is the backbone of family history, but lets put some flesh on those bones!

Every family has its own history. the people, events, times and traditions that makes their family unique. I have compiled the "skeleton", the pedigree pages (you can click on above) of my grandparents, Richard Severin Kallman and Lydia Abrahamsson. I also want to collect the stories and memories of our family, to honor those that came before us and preserve family tradition for those that are here and those who are yet to come.

Tomorrow I begin "Sunday's Story". I will each week blog about a family story/memory. With the approval of my second cousin Ingemar Majholm of Sweden, I will begin with one of the stories in his collection of memories and anecdotes meticulously and lovingly compiled in his work "A Family History - Albin and Anna Abrahamsson."

Surely you have a memory or story, however small, of our Swedish family or one of its members that you could share. Please send it on to me so we can share it on "Sunday's Story."

- cousin Ranae

Saturday's silly Ole and Lena joke

Sven and Ole were carpentering on a new house. Sven who was nailing down siding would reach into his nail pouch, pull out a nail and either toss it over his shoulder or nail it in.

Ole, figuring this was worth looking into, asked,"Why are you trowing dose nails avay?"

Sven explained, "If I pull a nail out of my pouch and it's pointed TOWARD me, I trow it avay 'cause it's defective. If it's pointed toward da HOUSE, den I nail it in!"

Ole got completely upset and yelled, "You MORON!!! Da nails pointed toward you aren't defective! Dare for da OTHER side of da house!!"

Happy Saturday! - Ranae


Wednesday's child - Maja Jaensdotter

This Wednesday I remember two little sisters, Maja and Hedda Jaensdotter.

With the discovery of antibiotics in the early 20th century we Americans no long fear many diseases that ravaged earlier generations. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a microscopic, rod-shaped bacterium. The bacteria is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.The majority of individuals who are infected with TB do not go on to have active disease. I know this to be true because as a nurse, the hospital that employed me yearly tested their employees for TB. A good portion of those employees who were born outside the US particularly in what we call "third world countries" tested positive, meaning they had been in contact with the disease but did not actively have TB. Active TB can be triggered when a person's immune system is weakened from malnutrition, alcohol abuse, the very young and the very old. Tuberculosis could take you swiftly as it often did with the young under 3or so years of age. Tuberculosis could go dormant and strike you in later life or just chip away at a person for years with persistent coughing, fatigue, bloody phlegm, fevers and weight loss. "Consumption" or "wasting disease" is another appropriate term used in the past for TB. Half of the folks with active TB will die of TB. In fact  it is thought that maybe 1/7 of all people who ever lived died from Tuberculosis. Young children were generally infected by the adults. 

Maja Jaensdotter was born 12 October 1815 in Kristberg, Östergötland, Sweden. She died 19 April 1817 on the family farm Branshult. "Bröst feber" (chest fever) listed as the cause of her death. could have been pneumonia or the virulent form of TB that often took the very young. Maja was 18 months old.

Her sister, Hedda Maja Jaensdotter born 7 April 1813, had died exactly 2 years to the day earlier on 19 April 1815 of "slag" (stroke). Most likely an encepalitis seizure brought on by TB. She was 2 years old.

How can we presume tuberculosis is to blame? Their mother, Sara Caisa Nilsdotter died, 20 days after Maja, of "lungsot" (tuberculosis) on 9 May 1817. She was 34 years old. I am pretty sure (or at least I hope) she never knew that it was most likely she who infected the little baby daughters she loved and cared for.

Only one of Sara Caisa's children reached adulthood and lucky for me it was Stina Caisa Jaensdotter 20 August 1810 - 3 July 1887. Stina Caisa was destined to be my great great grandmother.
Stina Caisa Jaensdotter→Carl Teodor Andersson Källman→Rikard Severin Källman→Carl Melvin Kallman→me

WTTW Channel11 public television in Chicago had a very interesting program on Tuberculosis last winter. It is available in its entirety online. Well worth your time watching! 

(**double clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing**)


Abrahamson cousins in America

Great great grandfather Edvard Julius Abrahamson had an older brother. His name was Anders Gustaf Abrahamsson. Anders was born July 2, 1828 in Filipstad, Orebro, Sweden. He married Britta Maria Nilsdotter, in 1849 and they had 8 children. One of those children died in Sweden and in 1868 Anders and Britta emigrated with their remaining 7 children to the United States. The family settled in Chautauqua, New York. 

Anders Gustaf and Britta Maria Abrahamson Family @1890
Laurentius Gustaf far right

Their son Lars Gustaf Abrahamsson was 12 when the family came to the U.S. He attended Augustana College and Seminary and was ordained a minister in the Augustana synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (now ELCA). He changed his name Lars to Laurentius, which at first sounded a bit pompous to me but my research indicates that it was a common practice in Sweden for ministers (priests as they are called in Sweden) to adopt a Latinized form of their name. He also received a doctorate degree and was known more commonly as Rev. Dr. L.G. Abrahamson a very influential person among the Swedish immigrants of Illinois. Laurentius and his wife had 6 children. Two boys and a girl did not survive to adulthood. Two adult daughters never married and a third daughter married but I was unable to tell if she had any children. L.G. Abrahamson was the contact in America named by Ruth Abrahamsson (Soderstrom) on her immigration manifest and he married my grandparents, Lydia Abrahamsson and Richard Kallman. He was, it seems, a close and respected cousin of great grandfather Robert Albin.

The Rev. L.G. Abrahamson had a long list of accomplishments, among them;
He pastored churches in Altona, Wataga and Chicago, most notably Salem Lutheran, Chicago. 
He was associate editor of Augustana, the official organ of the Augustana Synod, from 1885 to 1896, and for six years was president of the Illinois Conference of the same synod. He also was a member of the board of directors of Augustana College and Theological Seminary, president of the board of directors of Augustana Hospital, Chicago, a member of the board of missions of the Augustana Synod and the Illinois Conference, and was a delegate to the International Lutheran World's Congress at Lund, Sweden, in 1901. 
One of the greatest accomplishments and the one that gives me pause is this...
In 1894 he received the Swedish decoration of Knight Royal of the Order of the Polar Star from King Oscar II. Another link ??? between the Abrahamson family and dear old Oscar? hummmmm.

Dr. Rev. L.G. Abrahamson (wearing Polar Star)         

Maria Florinda (Morris) Abrahamson

"History of the Swedes of Illinois"  by Ernst Wilhelm Olson, Martin J. Engberg, Anders Schön
-Engberg-Holmberg Publishing Company, 1908 (book is now in public domain) includes this information about Rev. Abrahamson, my first cousin three times removed.

▼The book in its entirety can be found on the internet in public domain here ▼ 

daughters Ebba and Florinda Abrahamson

The Abrahamson Home - Rock Island, Illinois
now property of Augustana College

So now you know that Anna, Ruth and Lydia were not the first Abrahamssons in America.

Happy Columbus Day! - Ranae

(click on photos or documents to enlarge them for easier viewing)



Saturday's silly Ole and Lena joke

Ole is sitting home alone when he hears a knock on the front door. The local sheriff is there.
Ole: "Can I help you officer?"
Sheriff: "Sir, are you married and if so may I see a picture of your wife?"
Ole invites him in and shows him a picture of Lena.
Sheriff: "Sir, I am sorry to tell you that it's looks as though your wife has been hit by a truck."
Ole: "Ya, I know but she has a great personality and she's a pretty good cook too."

Happy Saturday!  -  Ranae


"Until We Reach Home"

Ever since I was a kid I have been an avid reader. The library still is one of my favorite places to hang out. I don't go as often as I did since the wonderful invention of the Kindle. How cool is it to go on the internet at 2am in your PJ's and order books from the library for pickup or to go directly to your Kindle? Are you familiar with OHFB? Sign up on facebook or via email and you get a daily listing of free (yes I said free) kindle books available. Historical novels are perhaps one of my favorites. I just have to recommend this book. I got it as a freebie but it is also available at our local library and most likely yours also.

If you want to get a real feel for what is may have been like to be a young Swedish girl who leaves home and family for a brand new life in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century, this book is a must read.

"Until We Reach Home" by  Lynn Austin  

"Life in Sweden feels like an endless winter to Elin Carlson after the deaths of her parents. When circumstances become unbearable, she determines to find a safe haven for her sisters.

So begins their journey to America . . . the land of dreams and second chances.

But as hardship becomes their constant companion, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia question their decision to immigrate to Chicago. Will their hopes for the future ever be realized?

Only in crossing a seemingly endless ocean will they find the true meaning of Love, Faith and Home"*

A Christy Award Winner   


Wednesday's Child - Johannes Karlsson

This Wednesday I remember Johannes Karlsson.

Karl Andersson and Sara Britta Larsdotter had married relatively late in life. Sara Britta was 34 and Karl was 36. They were blessed with three girls  Lena Johanna, Anna Karolina and Anna Susanna. Imagine their joy when Sara Britta found herself pregnant again at 45! And it was a boy! There must have been great joy at the birth of Johannes Karlsson on 28 Jul 1867.

**Source: Sweden, Church Records, 1500-1941 Älvsborg, Håcksvik, Födde, 1867 GID# 100015.72.14900, volume 259, roll# SC-877, accessed

Karl may have imagined a great future for his son, who in all probability would be his only son. His mother and three older sisters no doubt adored and carefully tended to him. Their joy was short lived.

Little Johannes died 6 Dec 1867. He was 4 months and 8 days old. His death record does not mention a cause of death. So many children in that time never made it to adulthood it was most likely just one more child's death the priest was obligated to record.

**Source: Sweden, Church Records, 1500-1941 Älvsborg, Håcksvik, Död, 1867, GID# 100015.15.23200, volume 260, roll #SC-878, accessed

Johannes was my second great uncle, the baby brother of Anna Karolina Karlsdotter who was to be my great grandmother, and the wife of Robert Albin Abrahamsson.



"The Hansen Effect"

Today in my internet meandering I came across "The Hansen Effect":

“What the son wishes to forget 
the grandson wishes to remember.”*

Marcus Lee Hansen 1892-1938 was born in Neenah, Wisconsin to Danish immigrant parents. He attended college in Iowa and earned his PhD in history at Harvard. He was a professor of history at the University of Illinois from 1928 until his death in 1938. Professor Hansen was one of the first social historians of immigration.

In a work he called 'The Problem of the Third Generation Immigrant' (1938)*, Hansen said the grandchildren of an immigrant want to get back the ethnicity that was lost in the children of the immigrants generation.
The first generation, the immigrant generation, does what they can to preserve their ethnic identity, their language, customs, religion, foods etc of home. The second generation, the immigrants children, try to blend into American culture and really try to distance themselves from anything considered "Old World".  "What the son wishes to forget, the grandson wishes to remember".* The third generation or grandchildren of the immigrants are the ones who are comfortable with their American identity but want to experience and not sacrifice their ethnic identity or culture of their heritage. 
Wow! He was speaking about me! My grandparents, Swedish on the paternal side and Norwegian on the maternal thought of themselves as Norwegian or Swedish. My grandmother told me once "Don't ever leave your home because after that you really don't belong anywhere. In Chicago I long for Norway, but in Norway I long for Chicago." My parents on the other hand did not keep many Scandinavian customs, spoke only English to us children even though I know they were fluent in their parents tongue, and never really kept up with cousins or family back in Scandinavia. I don't believe my Dad ever had any desire to even visit Sweden. They seemed very "American" to me. And now, here am I striving to learn all I can about my heritage and ethnic  identity! I have been to Scandinavia three times and the European continent once. I don't want to loose my "roots" that I feel had slipped away, yet I never felt anything but pride in being American. I can be wholly American and still embrace my cultural identity with pride. I AM the third generation of which Hansen spoke.
It gets me thinking about today's "Immigration Crisis". Is it so different from the "crisis"  that the country faced as millions of Europeans streamed off the over packed ships landing on our shores in the late 1800's and early 1900's? Millions from Scandinavia or Ireland, Poland, Italy, Germany or elsewhere, speaking foreign tongues, practicing foreign religions, eating odd foods, listening to strange music, dressing differently, flooding American cities and countryside looking for jobs and homes for their families? Americans of that day did feel threatened, hence strict immigration laws and the building of Ellis Island itself. 
America feared, felt threatened by, acknowledged, accepted, understood, and then embraced with pride European diversity. Will todays immigrants, decidedly non-European, also follow Professor Hansen's theory? Will todays immigrants in a generation or two be accepted as "Americans"? Will they consider themselves "Americans", yet be comfortable and embrace their own cultural/ethnic identity? And what exactly does it mean anyway to be an "American"?  Isn't that also an ever changing definition or dynamic?
I just do not know.

 a third generation Scandinavian-American

*Mr. Hansen's essay in its entirety can be found here in public domain, reproduced by the Augustana Historical Society Publications ↓
The Problem of the Third Generation Immigrant by Prof M. L. Hansen

The Hansen Effect by Joseph Dewey is a wonderful article that most likely explains the "Hansen Effect" much better than I have.


Saturdays silly Ole and Lena joke

This one is a real groaner!

Sven:   Ole, vy are ya driving da John Deere buck naked?
Ole:     For da love of my Lena
Sven:   Dats stoopid Ole!
Ole:     Oh no its not Sven. I heard on the radio if you vant your woman to make love to you....
Sven:   Ya?
Ole:     ... ya hafta act sexy to attract her.

Happy Saturday! - Ranae


Would you like to be a "Reality" Star?

If you have Swedish Heritage (even just a smidge) and would love to go to Sweden and participate in a reality show, the producers of the Swedish version of “American Idol” and “Minute to win it” are coming to the U.S. to find fun, outgoing Americans with Swedish ancestry to participate in their new reality television series. If you are young and adventurous, would love to see Sweden and explore your Swedish roots, this sounds like fun!

click  to visit their website and apply for the show ↓ 

- Ranae


The First Model T rolled off the line today

Today October 1, marks the day that the first Model T Ford rolled off the line 107 years ago. Cars were not just for the rich anymore. Below in 1920 Richard and Lydia Kallman sent a picture postcard home to Sweden from Chicago. They had made it in America. They owned a crank-start black Model T Ford.
Chicago, Illinois: Behind Richard is my father Melvin, standing is Albin and Eva, Mama Lydia holds baby Ebba.

Copied in part from

"On October 1, 1908, the first production Model T Ford is completed at the company’s Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford would build some 15 million Model T cars. It was the longest production run of any automobile model in history until the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed it in 1972.
Before the Model T, cars were a luxury item: At the beginning of 1908, there were fewer than 200,000 on the road. Though the Model T was fairly expensive at first (the cheapest one initially cost $825, or about $18,000 in today’s dollars), it was built for ordinary people to drive every day. It had a 22-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and was made of a new kind of heat-treated steel, pioneered by French race car makers, that made it lighter (it weighed just 1,200 pounds) and stronger than its predecessors had been. It could go as fast as 40 miles per hour and could run on gasoline or hemp-based fuel. (When oil prices dropped in the early 20th century, making gasoline more affordable, Ford phased out the hemp option.)  “No car under $2,000 offers more,” ads crowed, “and no car over $2,000 offers more except the trimmings.”
Ford kept prices low by sticking to a single product. By building just one model, for example, the company’s engineers could develop a system of interchangeable parts that reduced waste, saved time and made it easy for unskilled workers to assemble the cars. By 1914, the moving assembly line made it possible to produce thousands of cars every week and by 1924, workers at the River Rouge Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan could cast more than 10,000 Model T cylinder blocks in a day.
But by the 1920s, many Americans wanted more than just a sturdy, affordable car. They wanted style (for many years, the Model T famously came in just one color: black), speed and luxury too. As tastes changed, the era of the Model T came to an end and the last one rolled off the assembly line on May 26, 1927."**
- Ranae

A Swede + A Norwegian = Me

Today would have been the 66th anniversary of the marriage of my parents. My mother was 22 years old and my father was 33. My Dad, Mel, might have married earlier as he told me he had a girlfriend in his 20's  but life intervened, as it often does. Dad enlisted in the Army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and President Franklin Roosevelts declaration of war. His girlfriend? Well,  Melvin was in France, part of the great Normandy invasion, marching across Europe towards their final destination Berlin and the girlfriend was home all alone. She found another. Home from the war in 1946 Dad spent the next year getting re-established, looking for a job, catching up with family and friends.

My Mom, Grace, was a quiet, sheltered, "Daddy's girl". The only daughter, she was adored and very close to her "Pa", my grandfather Paul. Sunday nights they would  attend various Sunday evening services together, possibly stopping for a bite on the way to a particular church. As much as Pa loved their closeness and outings together, Grace was now twenty and he worried she should find a nice Christian husband. She, however, was shy and seemed content to be at Pa's side.

Sitting in a predominantly Swedish church one Sunday night he asked her, "What kind of man would you like to meet? Do you ever see a type that interests you?" Perhaps she had already been looking because to Pa's surprise she immediately pointed toward the church choir. "See that one, not so tall, smiling, with the very blue eyes and blond hair? I wish I had a boyfriend like that."

Pa hatched a plan. The next few Sunday evenings they attended the same church. Before services one evening he pointed out another young lady attending. "Grace, do you see that girl there? That is the sister of the blond fellow in the choir. She comes with her brother on the streetcar to church every Sunday. When she goes to the ladies room, you follow her. Start a conversation with her, ask her where she lives and offer her a ride home because you and your father are going that way. She, of course, will say she is with her brother. You then, very off-hand say, that's okay we have room for him also."

Melvin Carl Kallman and Grace Gunhild Sevald married in the Philadelphia Church 
on 5437 N. Clark street in Chicago, Illinois on October 1, 1949

The maid of honor on Grace's right? Of course it is my Aunt Ebba, the sister who needed a ride.

Happy Anniversary October 1, 1949!

- Ranae

**clicking on photos will enlarge them for easier viewing**