Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
1972 - 1975 - June in Norway - Where it all Began!
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 19:06
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
June's earlier experiences in our forensic travels to Russia, Hungary and Austria, gave June the confidence necessary to assume a leadership role in managing her two trips to Norway with her mother Haldis and later her sister Betty. At the time of the first trip in 1972 June would be age 45 in November. Her Mom Haldis had just celebrated her 67th birthday in May.
Note: In the time periods of these trips and seeing June function, no one would have ever visualized a June some 25 plus years later not being able to find her own room in an assisted living facility with her name and photograph on the door! In January 1998, June would be diagnosed with Alzheimer's and this terrible disease would began a relentless take over of her life until June was no more!
It was in June of 1972, that June and her mother Haldis took part in their first "Sons of Norway" charter flight to Oslo, Norway. The Rodoy area was Haldis birthplace. For Haldis the trip was a return to her roots! A sentimental Journey to where it all began! For June the trip was a glimpse into her past and her heritage and her origins! In July of 1975, June again visited Norway. This time June joined forces with her sister Betty in her journey to Norway and once more visited many of the relatives. Betty financed her share of the trip by raising and selling two farm calves named "Nor" and "Way" Many of the towns, cities and relatives visited were repeated in the two trips.
The following Norwegian towns and or cities were visited during the two visits. Agskaret, Fallebu, Glomfjord, Hundorf, Jektvik, Oslo, Lillehammer, Ringebu, Telnes, Trondheim, Rodoy and Vagaholmen.
June quickly learned that traveling around Norway in the 1970's was mostly by railroad or ferry.
June recalled an amusing incident during the 1972 visit. June and her mother Haldis were given a gift of fish. This was just prior to leaving the Rodoy area to journey south to Oslo. They boarded the train at Trondheim for Oslo. The weather was warm and soon the fish started giving off a pungent odor. June said that she and her Mom tried to appear as if nothing was wrong. They were embarrassed however, particularly after the other passengers started giving them a strange looks. They disposed of the fish as best they could.
(Below right is June with Alf and Dagny Brattland at Bodo-Rodoy, 1972.)
June and Betty arrived in Oslo on a charter flight on the 10th of July 1975. Their first night in Oslo was spent at the Garden Hotel.
After a rest to conquer their jet lag they promptly went shopping. They had dinner at Steen and Strom.
The next day they visited the world famous Frogner Park. This park is filled with a large number of sculptured nudes. (June previously in 1972, visited Frogner Park with her mother Great Grandma Haldis. Grandma Haldis was a little shocked at the nudes and their portrayed antics.)
Later that day they had dinner at the Glass Magazine.
In the evening June and Haldis took a train north to Trondheim. They arrived at Trondheim the next morning. They had breakfast at the Norrone Kafe.
From Trondheim June and her Mom took a ferry north to Glomfjord, arriving early the next day. They had booked a cabin sleeper so were able to get a good nights sleep prior to arrival. Glomfjord is located on a beautiful Norwegian fjord and was somewhat the center of most of their next several days' activities. Rodoy was located to the south and next to Jektvik. To the north was Bodo. One might describe Glomfjord, Rodoy and Jektvik as small towns near Bodo a small city. Grandma June's uncle Anders Vaerang and his wife Solveig were meeting them at Glomfjord. Anders is also Great Grandma Haldis half brother. (Anders home is Oslo but he had come on ahead to act as a guide and host for Grandma and Betty.) Anders and Solveig had driven up from Oslo bringing with them their two children Ragnar and Trine.
In Glomfjord They were able to visit June's aunt Margot Pedersen and her husband Dagfinn Pedersen. The Pedersen's have their home in Glomfjord along with their small son Oyvind. Margot is Great Grandma Haldis half sister. Both Margot and Dafginn are local teachers.
While in the Glomfjord area, June and her Mom and later Betty were able to visit the old Varnes family home in Rodoy. This was Great Grandma Haldis birthplace and home prior to immigrating to the United States. This was also Jacob Varnes home prior to his immigration to the United States.
Grandma Haldis remembered a carving of a Lion's head on the end of the home staircase handrail or banister. To her as a child it had appeared to be an immense carved head. Later in 1972 when she visited her old home as an adult, the Lion's head seemed to have mysteriously shrunk in size and no longer appeared large.
The Ferry was utilized frequently for transportation while in this area of much water, islands and fjords.
They were also able to visit the old Rodoy Kirke Church where Great Grandma Haldis was baptized. Also in Rodoy they visited with Dagny and Alf Brattland at their nearby farm. Visitations were also made with Elisa Losvik, (Margot's mother) Petter and Klara Eivik, Aspein and Edyth Abelson and Edith and Thorvald Verang. Grandma also tried her hand at driving in Norway. One of the relatives loaned her a Mazda for a little spin on the back roads.
While in the Glomfjord area with Betty, June experienced the natural and rather unique phenomenon of the "midnight sun".
During June's 1972 visit to Norway with her mother Haldis, they spent a night at the Breiseth Hotel in Lillehammer. Time was then spent with Ole and Asmund Bergum and family in Lillehammer. Ole and Asmund Bergum met them at their Hotel. Ole was age 66 at the time and Asmund was 73. Asmund Bergum's son Melvin had just taken over and was operating his father's taxi service in Lillehammer. June and her mother were also able to visit in the Bergum family homes.
(Below Right is June visiting with some of the Bergum family. Berit Bergum age 20 on the left (Melvin's daughter) and Molly Bergum (Asmund's daughter) age 46 on the right - during her Lillehammer visit in 1972.)
It was now time to start wending their way south to Oslo. Anders took them by car as far as Trondheim where they wanted to do more exploring.
They stayed the night at the Norrone Hotel in Trondheim. They visited the local Cathedral and climbed the 170 steps up a spiral staircase to the top of the tower. The climb almost did them in as they were thoroughly exhausted.
They next took the train south getting off in Ringebu. This was near Hundorf where they were looking for the Rolstad name at the local cemetery and church. They also visited Ole Bergum in Fallebu. Fallebu is located just to the south of Ringebu. They re-boarded the train at Ringebu and again headed south towards Oslo.
At the last minute they decided to get off the train at Lillehammer. At Lillehammer they visited the Mai Haugen Museum. (This on again – off again routine is permitted with Norwegian railway tickets.)
They again re-boarded the train and continued on to Oslo arriving on the morning of 26 July. June and Betty then spent the next few days as guests in Anders and Solveig's home in Oslo.
(Photo below right of June visiting Anders Vaerang and his family in Oslo in 1972. Left to right - Anders, his son Ragnar, Grandma June and Ander's wife Solveig)
While in Oslo they did sight seeing and shopping. They also attended church one Sunday at the Dom Kirke Church. Although the sermon was in Norwegian, they were introduced to the congregation in English. They were invited to take part in the Communion, which they did.
One remaining pleasant warm afternoon, everyone went to the beach. Grandma and Betty were surprised to see that the younger Norwegian children swam in the nude.
On July 30th, their delightful Norwegian odyssey and adventure was over. Grandma and Betty boarded a plane to return home. They will always remember the Norwegian hospitality and kindness shown them by their relatives and new friends. They will also remember the beauty of the Norwegian mountains and the fjords.
The "Memoriam" article published in the Minneapolis Star - Tribune following June's death in October 2008, can be seen on this website by clicking the below link. It can also be found on the website on the top navigation strip of the home page under the "In Memoriam" label:
Reader's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (30 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available.
June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally and fully plumb the depths, the breadth and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 11 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008.