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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

1999 - London - Sherlock Holmes Festival - 3rd Year Alzheimer's

  Tower Bridge London

(Tower Bridge London - Sherlock Holmes Festival Welcoming Cocktail Reception held on high-level walkways ) 

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In September, (19th - 27th) June again visited her favorite city of London to participate in the Sherlock Holme's 1999 Festival. The festival included a number of social events that also included the dedication of a Sherlock Holmes Statue at the front entrance of the Baker Street Underground Station.

June's flight was via Iceland Air with a stop inroute at Reykjavik, Iceland. June's flight was an overnight flight from Minneapolis to London's Heathrow airport. The brief stop in Reykjavik was less than 1.5 hours. This short layover was just enough time to allow for coffee,  a snack and a visit to the terminal gift shops.

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(Photo lower Right - June relaxing at the end of a long day - Sherlock Holmes Hotel, Baker Street, London) 

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June Berg Sept 1999

While in London, June stayed at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel at 108 Baker Street in London.

This was June's second such stay at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.

During this visit she participated in the very extensive and activities filled program of the:

"Sherlock Holmes Festival"

The festival  among other activities, included the unveiling of a statue of Sherlock Holmes in front of the Baker Street underground station...

During the festival there was also a Sherlock Holmes reception held in the high walkways of the Tower of London...

Even a special Sherlock Holmes reception was held in the house of Lords...

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June and Alzheimer's

June had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January of the prior year. (1998). June was given a series of tests by the University of Minnesota's psychology Department following June's first symptoms of short term memory problems in 1997. The University of Minnesota's testing of June resulted in this sad diagnosis and report: “fairly severe recent memory impairment.” The report then went on to conclude: “This pattern of deficits is most consistent with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.” We decided at that time to make the most of the few good years that remained before Alzheimer's would take control of our lives. Getting back to London again was one of our objectives. The Sherlock Holmes Festival was great timing and a God Send!

This was June's 8th trip to London. This was a last or final goodbye trip for June to the city she loved and the friends that she cherished. June was never again able to return to London.

It was during this trip to London that I noted with a deep feeling of sadness, June's loss of her normal travel independence. It soon became apparent to me that June was now totally dependent on me to get her about London as needed. The operation and navigation of the London Underground system was now a total mystery to her. Alzheimer's had taken away her travel independence just as it slowly began to take over the rest of her life.

June was the lady who during our earlier trips to London, taught me how to use the London Underground system for transportation. I had always used the London cabs, thinking that the London Underground was too complicated and slow. June quickly demonstrated to me how the Underground was a fast, easy, efficient and thrifty way to get about London.  Thereafter, the London cab was only used for airport transportation. I remember very clearly the day that June walked with me over to one of the street level stairway entrances to the London Underground near our hotel. It is one of those snapshots of life's lessons that are forever deposited in our memory banks. (The same snapshots of memory that are lost forever for the victim's of Alzheimer's.) I remember June calling my attention to the sign by the Underground entrance that detailed and illustrated with color coding the various underground lines and stations. She then took me down into the Underground and demonstrated for me just how it was done. She was the teacher and I was the student.  

In preparation for this trip, June received an elaborate printed program booklet that detailed all of the Sherlock Holmes events scheduled for the festival. The title of the program read:

"The Return of Sherlock Holmes. - Statue Festival 1999 - Program"

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June Berg with Lord Cottesloe, London 1999(Photo Lower right - June with Lord Cottesloe at the Baker Street Underground Station for the dedication of the Sherlock Holmes Statue and the unveiling of the statue which can be seen in the background)

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It was on a bright Tuesday, 21 September, that June participated in an evening wine reception in the high-level Tower Bridge walkways. The walkways afford dramatic views over the Thames and central London. The reception was hosted by the London Sherlock Holmes Society and His Honor Judge Michael Hyam, senior judge at the Central Criminal Court (better known as the Old Bailey). Judge Hyam made a formal welcome speech at the reception. The president and the chairman of the Sherlock Holmes Society were additional speakers at the reception. John Doubleday, the statue sculptor was also present.

It was on that Wednesday of the 22nd of September that June enjoyed a delicious and an elaborate noontime reception held in the Cholmondeley Room in Parliament Building's House of Lords. June received a formal printed and engraved invitation from Lord Cottesloe for this event. Lord Cottesloe hosted the reception.

The formal unveiling ceremony took place outside the south entrance of the Baker Street Station on Thursday (23 September) of the festival week. June was photographed with Lord Cottesloe immediately after the unveiling ceremony of the newly erected statue of Sherlock Holmes.

June also revisited the awesome Westminster Abbey. (22 September) This is a massive church with a huge history. The formal name is "The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster. It is of Gothic styling and is located in the Westminster area of London. It is the traditional site of Royal Coronations and the burial site for British Monarchs. The first construction dates back to a stone abbey built on the site at around 1045-1050 by King Edward the Confessor. Construction continued over the ages with the two large western towers built between 1722-1745. In 1579, Queen Elizabeth established the Westminster as a "Royal Peculiar" - a church responsible directly to the Sovereign as it is today.

Until the 19th century, Westminster was the third seat of learning in England after Oxford and Cambridge. It was here that the first third of the King James Bible old testament and the last half of the new testament was translated.

Westminster Abbey received only minor damage in the WWII London Blitz.

Some special times were also spent with June's friends the Bruce's. June had lunch, afternoon tea and dinner as a guest in their home in Bexley. Gordon Bruce is a noted British firearms historian and author. 

June as usual, was very tolerant of some of my activities involving visits to the Royal Army Museum for weapons inspections and the firearms section of the Forensic Science Laboratory at Scotland Yard (London Metropolitan Police).

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(Photo below right - June with "a" Sherlock Holmes - at Baker Street Station, London, September 1999)

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June with a Sherlock Holmes, London 1999I recently discovered (October 2009) June's trip diary of her 1999 visit to London. Although there is some duplication in what I already have recorded, I thought it would be interesting to see what June had noted at the time of the trip.

June was already 1.75 years past her initial Alzheimer's diagnosis but apparently doing very well as apparent from her diary notes. When one considers the diagnosis of Alzheimer's had concluded that her short term memory was "fairly severely" impaired, these notes are rather remarkable.

While June missed recording the evening wine reception in the Tower Bridge's high walkways, most other events were mentioned and recorded.

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"Monday September 20th - Arrived Heathrow Airport at noon. We took a cab to the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street. They escorted us to a very small room. We asked for something better. The room we have now is much better.

 I was beat from the trip. We left at 7:30 Sunday evening and flew all night until 6:20 AM arriving at Reykjavik, Iceland. After one hour and a half we flew on to London and arrived there at noon. We slept most of the day.

 That evening we had a meal at the Sherlock Restaurant. then we decided to walk down Baker Street and ran into a store (Internet Cafe) that we could send email and we did - to Susan and Dan...

Tuesday 21st. After our showers we went down for a Breakfast Buffet. Everything was very good. Stan went to the National Army Museum. 

Wednesday 22nd. Breakfast Buffet. We met June Morgan...we shared a cab. First we all went to the Parliament. We then walked over to Westminster Abbey...here we took a short cut. We took part in a Reception at the House of Lords. After 1:30 we took a cab back to the hotel. We called Gordon Bruce and they will be coming out here to our Hotel. It has been 6 years since we had last seen them...took a short nap. We went to the Internet Exchange on Baker street to check our email. We had our evening dinner at the Angus Steak House. That's about it for today.

Thursday 23rd. We had breakfast in our Hotel. Food is about the same every day but very good. At noon we went to an English Pub called "The Volunteer". We also went to the unveiling  of the new statue of Sherlock Holmes. Many people attended. Not too far from our hotel on Baker Street. Today our friends Gordon and Joan came up to our hotel and visited with us. After a bit we went to the restaurant near by - Angus Steak House. Joan gave me a box of famous teas (Fortnum and Mason, established in 1707, also 5 jars of jellies...it was getting late, they took the underground home - no charge if you are seniors..(Part of British Retirement benefits.)

June's Invitation to House of LordsFriday 24th. We had breakfast at the Hotel Restaurant. I sent cards to all our children. They probably won't get them in time. (before we return) Stan met his friend Gordon Bruce at Scotland Yard Crime Lab. I went back to our room and fell asleep for a few hours...We had Baker's Street afternoon tea along with a big plate of finger sandwiches, 2 raisin scones, toasted English Muffins. Also served it with a variety of jams, clotted cream and hot tea. We also visited with a very nice friendly elderly lady that sat nearby...

Selfridges Department store is about 3 blocks straight down from our hotel. I bought a nice sweater (off white) for fall and winter.  I also picked up a small gift for Joan. Small Christmas Angel and a small card to send out. We check email most everyday at the Internet Exchange."

June's personal invitation from Lord Cottesloe to attend the reception at the house of Lords is shown above right. The invitation has an embossed house of Lords red seal on it

(Photo below right of June and Stan taken by Gordon Bruce at Greenwich Park) 

June and Stan London 1999

Saturday 25th. We took the underground to Charing Cross Station. From there we took the British Rail so to Sidcup. Gordon and Gary picked us up at the station. Gary who is a teacher has a very nice new car. We went to the Bruce home where Joan had a fine lunch prepared. Gary then drove us all to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. The is the place where the world wide times are measured and begin. From there we could look down at one of the Queen's homes near the Thames river. We then went back to the Bruce home for tea and cookies...later a delicious meal with Rose Wine. After dinner, Gary (driver) Gordon and Joan took us to Charing Cross station. From there we went back to our hotel. We had expected a good nights sleep but "lo and behold," after we were in bed a group of young people kept us awake for several hours. They were so loud. We heard one lady yell out the hotel window: "SHUT UP!" Nevertheless they kept right on.

Sunday 26th. We had a nice and breezy day today. The day started out with a nice breakfast buffet...cereals, fruits, meats, grape fruit and orange juices, rolls, toast and tea or coffee." 


Photo below right - (L-R Joan, June, Gordon, Gary Bruce - their Home - Bexley, Kent)

June with Joan and Gordon Bruce family 1999Earlier in the week, the Bruce's were June's dinner guests in London. All had Dinner at the Angus Steakhouse just across the street from the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.

June, along with the Bruce's, visited the Royal Observatory at Greenwich Park. Gary, the Bruce's son, again provided transportation for the group in his French Citroen Xantia model car. The Royal Observatory is located on the Southern bank of the Thames. This is the site of the Prime Meridian or 0 degrees longitude. Greenwich Mean Time is used for the synchronization of computers on the Internet and is the Universal Time Coordinate. This is where the Millennium began.  Everyone of course had to stand on the line before leaving. From the Observatory June could see in the distance, the huge new London Millennium Dome as well as the Royal Naval College.

The Bruce's recalled "When Gary took us over to Greenwich Park to see the Observatory, we drove across Blackheath, so named because of the masses reported to have been buried there after the Great Fire of London".

The closest Rail Station for travel to and from Bexley is Albany Park Station. A note from Gordon about the last departure:

 "When we said cheerio to you back at Albany Park station, June gave Joan an extra long hug, which lingered in her mind (Joan) as she wondered if it was because she would not be seeing her again!"  

I am sure that Gord is right, June's hug lingered because June knew it would be the last such a meeting between them...

June spent an afternoon shopping in Selfridges on Oxford Street. Selfridge's is considered one of the premium London department stores. June thought the store was rather "pricey".

June's last sentimental journey to London ended on Monday September 27th with a 1PM flight from Heathrow airport to Minneapolis via a short stop again in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Notes on June and Sherlock Holmes 

While June was not a student of Sherlock Holmes, she certainly knew more than the average person about Sherlock Holmes. She had been to visit the Sherlock's legendary home at 221b Baker Street...she had roamed about Baker Street many times. She was very familiar with Sherlock Holmes home town of London and navigated about it at will. She had stayed at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker street on two occasions. June was always first in line for a new Sherlock Holmes adventure...Her final contact with Sherlock Holmes was the Sherlock Holmes Festival and her meeting of "a" Sherlock Holmes in person! While Sherlock Holmes is not known to have ever had a romantic attachment to any women, he did display a great respect and admiration for Irene Adler who he referred to as "The Woman". Probably because she outwitted him in one of the stories.  (A Scandal in Bohemia) June is my Irene Adler or "The Woman" but of course with a romantic connection! Perhaps it would be more correct to say that June was my lady version of a Doctor Watson for and of a lifetime...and what a lifetime that was!

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Tower Bridge Ticket

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June and Stan Berg's Sherlock Holmes Memorabilia Collection

Today I have put into motion the actions necessary to transfer our personal Sherlock Holmes collection of memorabilia, collected over a lifetime. The Sherlock Holmes collection is being donated to the Curator of the University of Minnesota’s Sherlock Holmes collections. The university of Minnesota's Sherlock Holmes collection is the largest such collection in the world. This will be a gift to the University from the Berg’s as a memorial for June who was Stan's doctor Watson for a lifetime…Stan has been a life long member of the local Sherlock Holmes club at the University of Minnesota called the "Norwegian Explorer’s". (A Norwegian Explorer was a Sherlock Holmes undercover disguise) The Berg Sherlokian collection is rather large…(books, documents, tapes, chinaware, mugs, plates , figurines, cap, umbrella, cane, pocket watch, wrist watch, 3 oil paintings, etc.) Some of the Chinaware were gifts purchased by June for Stan in London during their many forensic visits.  Stan's note - 7 July 2014.

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On 9 February 2015, the Curator Tim Johnson and Assistant Curator Cheryll Fong of the Special Collections and Rare Books of the University of Minnesota Libraries delivered to me an 8 page listing and receipt of all the donated materials in the "Stanton O. and June Rolstad Berg Collection". This collection is currently contained in 10 boxes plus and oversized box (30 cubic feet) and is assigned collection No. scrb 346. The collection is arranged alphabetically in boxes by author or title. The collection is recorded into 2 categories of "Relia" (objects and things)  and "Books". The Relia lists 61 items including 3 oil paintings...the curators accepted an additional item of Relia in the form of a set of 4 Sherlock Holmes drinking glasses making the Relia item total 62. The listed books totaled 97 items bringing the overall collection total to 159 items.

 ---Fong and Johnson 2915

(Photo above - L-R - Cheryl Fong Asst. Curator and Tim Johnson Curator, standing in front of the June and Stan Sherlock Holmes collection storage boxes in the "Caverns") 

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Today (April 2nd, 2015)  I received the March 2015 issue of the University of Minnesota publication called “Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections”…This is a publication of the Curator of the “Sherlock Holmes Collections Tim Johnson…this is also a division of the Special Collections and Rare Books Department of the University of Minnesota Libraries…Julie McKuras is the Editor.

What caught my eye was a short note in Tim’s page called: “An Update From The Collections”…for me the note was a day brightener.....

“In February it was my pleasure to visit with Stanton Berg. Stan, along with his late wife June, donated their collection of books and realia related to Holmes as well as Mr. Berg’s key forensic cases. Thanks to the work of Lucy Brusic and Cheryll Fong, an online finding aid has been created and mounted for the Berg Collection…They may be found by entering the collection names in the search box on the Holmes Collections website.”

Both Tim and Cheryll were visitors to our home on Gardena Lane in February…I was afraid I might have been boring to them as I had many anecdotes and stories of June and my life together forensically and as it related to the Sherlock Holmes collections…they both assured me that this was not the case…

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Below is the link to the University of Minnesota Library, Rare Book Collection's record of the "Stanton O. and June Rolstad Berg Collection" description and outline with link to the detailed listing of the collection...

(University of Minnesota Library Berg Collection Record)

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Stan and June's Forensic Science Records

Today, (24 November 2015) Ms Cheryll Fong, the Assistant Curator of the University of Minnesota’s Special Collections and Rare Books came to my home to pack up all of my forensic science documents from my 50 some years work in the forensic sciences…the University will be adding them to their collections where they will be available to others for research purposes…

It was in February when the University first took possession of June and my Sherlock Holmes collections… at that time they also took possession of some of my key forensic cases having a national prominence…

Later in the year I asked Ms Fong if they would have interest in my other personal forensic records that reflected the course and development of the forensic sciences from 1950 until early 2004…the year that I retired to care for June who then was in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s…these records included documents, programs and papers from the 170 forensic conference that I had attended over the years…copies of the papers I had presented at  many of the conferences and the records of the four international conferences in which I had served as a chairman of the conference…about 100 of these same conferences June had also attended with me as my Administrative Assistant…

When the University indicated an interest in having all of my records, I considered this a high honor and feel humbled that they would consider them of value to the University collections…many of the records of conferences are also records of June’s participation with me in the forensic sciences…many have her conference name tags and other related documents…

Ms. Fong took a few boxes of the records with her and left 11 other boxes of records that she had packed… for later pick up by the University staff…Ms Fong as usual was most gracious and considerate...in addition, there are 12 drawers of 3 x 5 record reference cards that I created during my forensic years that will also be picked up...(Picked up by University staff on 2 December 2015.)

I could not help but breath a sigh of relief in that to me it was a “mission accomplished”…I do not make any assumptions about my life now that I am 87 years old…I wanted the world to be able to see the documents that prove June really was my Doctor Watson for a life time in all avenues of my life…and during the key development years of the forensic sciences…

Thank you June and thank you God for an almost unbelievable lifetime!

 

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Stan's Forensic Consulting Business Cards

Stan used some very special business cards in his forensic consulting business...these cards were cards that not only advised what Stan's forensic business was but also made a Sherlock Holmes connection to his business...here is a photo of the front side and rear side of Stan's forensic consulting business card...the rear side has a drawing of Sherlock Holmes and his magnifier attempting to examine a cannon projective just fired from a cannon...the drawing was a humorous attempt to clearly tell the observer what Stan's business was and that Sherlock Holmes was a part of it...

Stan's Sherlock Holmes Business cards

 

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Reader's Comments

Lora Rushing Robinson  - Benton, Louisiana - (5 December 2012): "What a beautiful read...from you and from June...a lady for all seasons...what a fabulous life...God Bless...cheerio....thank you so much for sharing.....when reading, it was like stepping into your past, walking into your life, for a moment...never been to London, but, for a wee moment,  I was there, with you both."

Dianne Cogar  - Springfield, Ohio - (6 December 2012):"What an interesting and exciting life the two of you had!"

Elaine Wharmby  - Tamworth, United Kingdom - (7 December 2012): "It was a lovely read and something very special for you to treasure I am sure."

Cristina Phillips  - New Britain, Connecticut - (8 December 2012): "Loved the read...great memories of going to London...almost felt like I was there."

Marion Reinartz  - Cologne, Germany - (9 December 2012): "Sweet and thanksful Memories ..."

Bridie Breen  - Manchester, Uniited Kingdom - (7 July 2014): "All elementary Watson...Well done Stan and a great idea to let precious collection be enjoyed by many in yours and Junes memory...(10 February 2015): "Well done Stan. Fantastic ."

Gill Denman  - Essex, United Kingdom - (7 July 2014): "Very fitting donation place for the collection, I like this. Did you get the strawberry tea on the patio behind Parliament?"

John Stevens  - Twin Falls, Idaho - (7 July 2014):"Very interesting story. Thanks for sharing."

Mary Ayers - Madison, Alabama - (10 February 2015): "Stan, we were fortunate enough to take my parents to London while we were stationed in Germany. My mother came over 3 times, twice while my dad was still living and the last time in 1996 with my MIL. On the last trip we took them to Paris and saw all the sites. Mom always wanted to visit Paris and she kept a journal every time she visited us whether it was in the states or overseas. I will always cherish these memories. Thank you for sharing Junes journey with us. I feel I know you both."

Kim Pennock - Scarborough, United Kingdom - (10 February 2015): "I am a Sherlock Holmes fan.. Jeremy Brett being my all time favourite." 

Cheryll Fong, Asst. Curator, University of Minnesota Libraries  -"Minneapolis, Minnesota - (10 February 2015): We truly enjoyed our visit yesterday. When we are asked how the character of Sherlock Holmes impacts lives today, we can point to stories like yours: a favorite story in boyhood affirms a natural curiosity and probing mind which opens doors to all kinds of adventures. I still marvel at your story!"

Louise Ann Howard  - Batemans Bay, New South Wales, Australia - (10 February 2015): "Great Stan. Hope it is where you want it to be. Exciting news. Thanks mate.Just like you wanted Stan. Safe and will be looked after well. Another well done mate."

Jeff Shaw  - Aberdeen, United Kingdom - (10 February 2015): "Wonderful...Stanton you wouldn't believe this however I am a massive Sherlock Holmes fan too, our two pet rabbits are called Sherlock and Watson"

Ali Zimmerman - Pine Island, New York - (2 December 2015): "I know when I first met you, I looked up Norwegian Explorers and read about the paper you authored... I remember thinking then I wish you had written a book or two! The amount of information you must have in your head utterly astounds me, and forensic science is something that fascinates me...While I am sad for you, because I am sure that was a pretty rough experience, I'm grateful that the information you and June collected over the course of your lives is in good hands."

Barbara Rayner - Leigh-on-the-Sea - United Kingdom - (2 December 2015): "What a wonderful gesture and an amazing way to ensure that all your work can be shared with those who share your passion. Bless you. "

Bertha Dusenberry - West Lafayette, Ohio - (2 December 2015): "Your stories inspire me as well Stan. June I am sure is smiling... What a wonderful life you and sweet June lived."

 

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Stan's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (31 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'.

June's story 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 plumb the depths, the breadth and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being.

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June's Passing

June 1994

After battling Alzheimer's for almost 12 years, an exhausted June, lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield,  until finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label -   Click on:

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam".