Trygve and Arda Lovsto Memories 2011
Our Memories Fall of 2011
Lovebirds ~ October 1, 1960
Trygve and Arda Lovsto 3
Trygve’s Story Growing Up in Norway I was born and raised on a small farm next to Mandal. Mandal is a beautiful small town in southern Norway surrounded by high mountains with a river dividing the town in two before it washes out to the North Sea. Up the river about half a mile is a small island called Skarvoy. My dad purchased this island from his dad, and that’s where I grew up. My dad was a schoolteacher and farmed the island as a sideline. I can remember back as far as two or three years old walking under a table. At seven I started school. I had a real nice childhood, no complaints. My dad was very strict, and we worked hard on the farm. We harvested potatoes, thrashed wheat, milked cows and all the other chores that come along with living on a farm. In the wintertime we would go across the river to the mainland. We would bale hay there into bales with wires. From as early as I can remember I wanted to be a pilot. I used to make small airplanes out of sticks of wood. I would cover the wings with wax paper, and I used flour mixed with water to glue it all together. That worked pretty good. I would climb up the mountains by my house and send off the gliders and they would disappear. That was a lot of fun. I even built a full-sized glider that I thought I could fly, but it didn’t work out too well. I made it out of wood sticks covered with my dad’s canvass potato sacks. I hauled the whole thing up to the top of the mountain, and I got on it and jumped off. It didn’t work out too well, it didn’t fly at all. I tumbled down the slope, but I didn’t get hurt. That was the end of building full-sized gliders.
Early Years Leading Up to the War By the time I was ten years old, the war broke out. Just before the Germans marched into Norway in April 1940, I remember this airplane circling over and the engine quitting. It was a German fighter plane, and it made a belly landing right outside of my home town. Our local police went out and caught the pilot and put him in jail. This is the way they knew the Germans were coming so they let the pilot out and said, “Don't come back.” It was kind of a funny thing that happened. We were occupied in Norway for 5 years, and it was a hard time for a lot of people, especially people in town. The Germans would come and get them in the morning and work them all day. German soldiers would move into people’s homes for protection. They would practice their machine guns in the neighborhoods. The townspeople had no food and we would help them. I used to smuggle milk in whisky bottles to our friends in town who didn’t have any food, hoping not to get caught by the Germans. Every Christmas we would slaughter a pig in our cellar and bring food to people around that we knew. It was strictly illegal, of course, because the Germans wanted to take all the food for themselves. Those were trying years and when the war ended, it was a real blessing. We were liberated by the Norwegian forces from England as well as the British military. I was 15 at the time. I finished high school at age 17 just before I came to the United States.
Leaving Norway, Getting to California I left Norway at age 17, a six-foot four-inch tall teenager, on a passenger ship headed for New York City. Arriving in New York City, I saw the Empire State Building for the first time. It was very exciting. I went through customs at Ellis Island. My uncle from Long Island. who helped me get my green card, met me by the ship, and 10
I went to stay at his house. I got a job at a bookbinding company in New York City. I could not speak English. I only stayed a couple of months because we didn’t get along very well. He wanted me in early at night, but I wanted to go out and have a good time at the dance halls on the weekends. So then I hitchhiked to Worchester, Massachusetts where my mother’s aunt lived with her grown children. I thought I’d try them out. On the way there, I stopped off for awhile to work on a chicken farm. Finally, I arrived in Holden, just outside of Worchester. The family welcomed me with open arms. I got a job at a Salvation Army construction site where I saved a few bucks. When I had fifty bucks saved, I looked for flying lessons. I was told no by the family, so I left Worchester and started hitchhiking for California. I walked quite a bit and got a few rides here and there. One night, in the middle of the night, a car stopped. I got in with a man, his wife and a couple of kids, and we drove for a long time. They took me to their house. The man said to me, “You can’t be doing this. It’s too dangerous. You can stay overnight here and tomorrow morning I’ll lend you some money, and we’ll check out the Greyhound bus.” I showed him my fifty bucks. He took me downtown next morning and put me on a Greyhound bus headed for California. After 3 days I arrived in San Bernardino, smelled all the oranges and thought I was in heaven! I made my way to Whittier where I found a little airport. The only reason I came to the United States was to be a pilot, and this little airport had a flying school for GIs. They had small planes in the maintenance hangar. I went to the repair shop and got hired for 50 cents an hour, even though I couldn’t speak any English. I ended up sleeping in airplanes making my 50 cents an hour. After few days passed, I started my first flying lessons, which cost $11 an hour, and it took 11
some doing to save the money. So then after 7 hours of lessons, I was soloing. I felt like I was in heaven. From this beginning, I went on to get my private pilot’s license.
Getting My Private Pilot’s License, Returning to Norway I needed to get a job because to get a license the FAA wanted $60 to check me out. So from Whittier I went to Long Beach and found a place where a guy would hire me to fish for mackerel. My pay was part of the catch. He had an old barge that had been used in France, which he had converted to his fishing boat. We went out one night way off shore. It was getting dark, and the engine quit as we were making the catch. We couldn’t get it started, and we had no communication with the shore or other boats, so we drifted all night The next morning the Coast Guard rescued us. They towed us to Long Beach. The boss left the boat and left me sitting in it. Pretty soon a fancy Cadillac drove up. The well-dressed man inside said, “Where’s my son?” The son, my boss, eventually came back totally drunk, which upset the father who was a fancy doctor with Lockheed Aircraft. He put both of us in the car, and we drove to Canoga Park where he had purchased a chicken farm for the son. I worked for awhile with the son on the chicken farm cleaning eggs, picking walnuts, even washing diapers! Finally after several weeks passed, I asked for my money. They paid me $60 and I left. I hitched hiked in to Canoga Park and met an FAA designee man who had a little airplane there. I took the test, gave him the $60 and he issued me my private pilot’s license. I was very happy. Then I had no money, as usual, and went back to Long Beach where I saw a ship in the harbor with a Norwegian flag on it. I went on board and talked with captain. He said I could work my way back to Europe as a deck hand but with no pay, so I did it. 12
The trip took 30 days through the Panama Canal to Belgium. We all walked off the ship. I had no money and holes in my shoes. I went to the Norwegian Consulate and told them my predicament, and they said they’d get me back home. Back in Norway my parents were happy to see me. I worked on a road crew for six months. I decided I couldn’t further my education in Norway, so I saved my money to take a passenger ship back to the United States.
Second Trip to USA, Stunt Flying I got to New York, and I said hello and goodbye to my uncle. This time, age 19, I got on the Greyhound bus and headed straight to California. I still had my determination to be a professional pilot. When I arrived in Van Nuys, I went to the airport where I saw a hangar with beautiful vintage planes from World War II. I spoke to the owner and he said, “Well, I have a Steerman in here, and I know you want to be a stunt pilot. You can work for me, I can’t pay you anything, but you can learn here. I know Sammy Mason, an international aerobatic champion, and he’ll teach you stunt flying. You can sleep on a cot in the hangar, and I’ll give you one hamburger a day and a coke.” I took the offer. I got going with the hangar, the cot, and the hamburger situation in Van Nuys. I worked cleaning airplanes and all the other chores in the hangar for a couple of months but no Sammy Mason. One day I asked him, “Where’s Sammy Mason, the stunt pilot for lessons in the Steerman you have sitting in the hangar?” He said he was just kidding and not paying me anything, either. I was very disappointed and didn’t know what to do. I’d heard about the Better Business Bureau, and I spoke pretty good English by this time, so I threatened him with going to the BBB. Finally he gave me $60 and I left. 14
Great Lakes Stunt Plane (First Plane I Owned)
I had the address for my brother-in-law’s family in Eureka. I took the bus there, met the family, and they welcomed me. I got a job in Sound Lumber Company in Arcada in the redwoods. I made $10 a day. I heard about this guy named Al Camilli who lived near Eureka. He was a stunt pilot who had served in World War II teaching GIs how to fly. He lived on Samoa Island, just across from Eureka, so I went to see him. He said, “Oh I don’t have any airplanes to do aerobatics. If you really want to learn, I’ll go buy an airplane.” So he went down to LA and bought a plane and came back a few days later with a Steerman stunt plane with a 220 horsepower Continental engine. It cost me $10 bucks an hour to fly in his plane. After doing a little solo, we started flying. He taught me all the basic aerobatics. It was so much fun! Al Camilli, my Italian friend and teacher, put together a big 4th of July air show on Samoa Island. Who came to town but Sammy Mason to do his air show! The day after his air show, early in the morning, I was up practicing my aerobatics. When I landed, who walked over but Sammy Mason who said, “I’ve been watching you up there, you’re doing a wonderful job, would you like to learn some of the finer points of aerobatics?” Well, this was like a godsend to me. He said to come see him in Big Bear when I had time. I saved up $100 and took the bus to Big Bear. I found him there in a little house with his wife and seven kids. He says, “OK, you can stay here with us. We have a Steerman here with a 2-holer we can use. We can’t use mine, it’s only for one person. All you have to pay is for the gas, I won’t charge you for anything for learning.” Great! As we were heading back to Big Bear after the first lesson, Sammy shook the stick; otherwise there was no communication it was so loud. Then he flipped the airplane inverted on the downwind leg. Right before we hit the airstrip, he flipped it right side up. That was my first lesson! 16
After the first lessons, we continued flying and became good friends. Sammy got an offer to go with Lockheed Aircraft as a test pilot. The air show business was kind of bad in those days. He tried to get me to take over his deal, but jets were coming in at that time and jet-flying was more popular. It didn’t work out. Then the Korean War broke out and I got drafted into the army.
Korean War Service for 3 Years I enlisted in the Air Force in 1951. Of course I wanted to fly, I already had a private pilot’s license, and my dream was to be a fighter pilot in the service. However, you had to be a citizen, and I wasn’t, so that was disappointing. Next thing I did was go to flight engineer school, and I became a flight engineer on the B-29 bombers. I was attached to a tow targets school in El Paso, Texas. And we used the tow targets for the army to shoot at us for practice. I stayed 3 years in El Paso doing this, with a short time spent in Otis, Massachusetts. When the war ended, we were let out and I got my honorable discharge. I bought a car and headed for Los Angeles. After that I found odd jobs earning money to take more flying lessons. One interesting job was with Arthur Murray Dance Studios as a dance instructor. I enjoyed it very much, but the pay was too low. Another was in Glendale with an aircraft company where I was able to practice to get my commercial pilot’s license. After I finally got in my 200 hours, I got my commercial license and then I also got my instrument rating.
Heading to Louisiana A man named Hank Coffin in San Fernando Valley set me up with guy named Max in Louisiana with a crop dusting outfit . It was his first year in business for himself, and he said for me to come on down, maybe he’d hire me. So I got in my $100 Lincoln and headed for Louisiana. It was no man’s land out there. I found Max with his wife and several children. He had a terrible temper, he’d just pick up a chair and break it, and it scared the heck out of me. He says, “Okay, you stay here tonight, and in the morning, we’ll try you out.” So next morning we went out to his field which was just a grass strip where he had 2 airplanes
DDT and the Boll Weevil So Max took me out to the airstrip. We had two airplanes. His airplane was very nice with a super engine, nice windshield and everything. And he said, “Okay, over there is your airplane.” Well, mine was very different. It had no windshield, no instruments, nothing in it. Just a souped-up engine in front and hopper in the back that would hold 500 pounds of DDT dust for spraying the cotton. So he says, “Okay, get in, I want you to give me a demonstration, and here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take off and make these circles, and I'm going to show you how to do that. Fly real low and pull up and continue doing that. And if you can do that, you're hired.” So I did what he told me to do and it was okay, and he said, “Okay, here’s a map, I want you to fly west about 75 miles from here, there’s a lot of farms over there, and find a place to land. Then you go and get yourself a room in town for about $7 a week, and then you go around and talk to all the farmers and tell them you’re here for when the cotton boll weevil hits.” Then he says, “Oh, by the way, here’s a cut-off shotgun for protection, take it you’ll need it.” I asked, “Oh God, what’s that for?” He 18
said, “You kind of have to take the law in your own hands out here. Last year the competition tried to sabotage me. They put sugar in my gas and tried to kill me. They can be pretty violent.” So I told him, “No thanks, no shotgun for me, you keep the shotgun.” So I took off and did what he told me. I waited around and talked to all the farmers, and for several days nothing happened, and all of a sudden one day I heard everyone hollering for the poison man, the poison man. So I became poison man. When I got out to the field, they were all fighting about who was going to get the dust into that little airplane first because the boll weevil had hit really hard, and they were eating up all the cotton. I took off for the first round with my 500 pounds of dust, and I was going to put it down on the first field. In Louisiana there are nothing but wires, trees, and levees everywhere. Flying—GDC Crop Dusting, Flying into Wires On the first load of DDT dust that I was putting on the cotton in Louisiana, I was coming down over the levy and pulling up over this house. And all of a sudden there were wires, and I didn't see them. I flew right into the wires and the airplane almost stalled on top of the house, but I kept flying. I opened up the hopper to get rid of the load, so I could fly lighter and get back to the field. I got back and there was quite a bit of damage but nothing that couldn’t be repaired. So I called Max and said I had a little bit of a mishap. He said, “Oh, that’s nothing, I’ll send a mechanic over there and he’ll fix it. Oh, by the way,” he says, “I shot a guy out of the sky today. He was one of my competitors, he thought he could outperform me but he couldn’t. He had his Steerman but I had my Super Cub. I shot his tanks out and got him on the ground and then I beat the heck out of him. I helped him fix up the airplane, then I 19
told him to get out of there and never come back.” That’s the kind of guy I was working for. Anyway, a mechanic came and fixed the plane and I took off. And things were going good there for about a week or ten days putting DDT dust on the fields and killing the boll weevil. And then all of a sudden one day, I took off and the engine quit right after takeoff at a couple hundred feet. I knew a little bit about aerobatics, so I did a 180 hammerhead and swung the airplane up and landed downwind without scratching the airplane. I called Max and he sent the mechanic who said there was nothing wrong with the engine, just go ahead and fly it. So I took off again in it, and the same thing happened three times. I called up Max again and told him the engine was worn out and I needed a new one, and he says, “No, you don't need a new engine. Go ahead and fly it.” And I said, “You fly it and I quit. Good-bye.” That was the end of it, and I never got paid. I just climbed into my $100 Lincoln and took off for Alexandria and headed for another flying outfit over there. Alexandria to Crash So I drove over to Alexandria, Louisiana. I'd heard about this guy, Herman Myers, who had a crop dusting outfit. I went to see him and he had a real nice operation with a mechanic on duty fulltime. He hired me and I finished the season with him. I made a few bucks but not much. He had another guy flying for him, too. He said to us, “You two come on down to New Orleans with me to fly seaplanes.” I said, “I don’t have a seaplane rating.” He said, “Don’t worry, I know a guy, an FAA designee, he can get you a rating.” So I followed him down to the New Orleans area to a town called Westwego, where a guy had 2 seaplanes. He wasn’t too sure of me when I told him I only had 20 bucks, but said, “Okay, let’s try you out.” I got in the airplane, we went out and did flying, 20
docking, all the things you do with seaplanes. So he says, “Okay, you're hired. Can you start tomorrow?” I said sure, so I started flying for him for $500 a month, and that went on for some time. I enjoyed this job very much. Then I got a better job with Sam Carline Construction Company where they paid me $600 a month! Then after that I went back to New Orleans and continued flying for a charter outfit that had an amphibian plane that could land on both water and land. I had a real mishap with that plane after flying for them for about a year. I was going down to Mississippi to pick up a guy for a contract on a cold winter day. I flew from New Orleans airport down to a bayou next to the Mississippi River. I came zooming down there making a 360 overhead looking for an air approach. I went down using the spiral military 360 overhead approach and touched down on a little bayou where there were some houses on each side. All of sudden the airplane dove like a high-speed submarine, flipped over forward, and the windshield came off. All I could feel was a stream of water coming over me. Next thing it was dark, and I was sliding on the bottom of this canal. Somehow or other I felt I was going to survive it, and I did. The door fell off and I did my best and swam out. On the shoreline was a woman screaming. A boat came along and a man picked me out, took me into a house and got me some warm clothes. We couldn’t even see the airplane, there was nothing to be seen. After about a half hour we could see some bubbles, lots of bubbles and then 3 wheels sticking up out of the water. And I knew that I had made a big mistake. I had landed with the landing gear down into the water. I went to the feds and told them what happened, that it was my fault. They said, “Well, you’re never going to do that again. You’re going to be pretty safe on that, so we’re going to forget about it.” And that was the end of it.
My P-51 Mustang Airplane I bought a P-51 Mustang fighter while I was flying seaplanes around 1958 before I met Arda. I saw an ad in The Trader Plane: P-51 Mustangs for sale, $2600. I thought, “Twenty-six hundred dollars, those things cost the Air Force at the time $150,000 to build.” So I called up the guy. He said I had to get the plane at a military field in London, Ontario, in Canada. I took a bus up there and met the lieutenant. He asked to see my experience flying P-51 Mustangs. I said, “I don’t have any experience.” “Then you can’t take it,” he says. “You have no experience.” I replied, “Well, the airplane is mine, I’ve shown you my papers, I guess I can do whatever I want with it.” So that evening, I read the manual on how to fly the airplane. I got up early the next morning, went to the field, got in the airplane, got a little bit familiar with it, and went up and down the runway a couple of times. In the meantime, they had all these fire engines out, thinking I’d probably crash on take-off. But I took off after getting the green light from the tower, and I didn’t crash. It was the biggest thrill of my life! Before I knew it I was at 10,000 feet. There were no instruments in the plane as far as navigation. All the guns had been taken out but everything else was in there So I flew back to New Orleans by the seat of my pants by following the roads and railroads tracks. I landed at New Orleans Lakeside Airport where they only had a 3000 foot runway at the time, so I had to squeeze the airplane in there. By the way, I had to clear customs in Cleveland, Ohio. I had no radio, they gave me a green light to land. I cleared customs and continued on to New Orleans. I kept that airplane about 3 years, and I had a lot of fun with it doing aerobatics and high-speed flying. That’s when gas was about 30 cents a gallon. I can truly say that flying the P-51 Mustang was one of the biggest thrills of my life. Here’s a little history on the P-51 Mustang. It was built during 22
WWII by North American Aviation, and they built several thousand of them. It became the famous airplane escorting the bombers across the North Sea during the war and then saving the bombers from being shot down. It was quite an airplane, and it challenged the Germans’ Messerschmitt 109s. At that time it cost the Air Force about $150,000 to build. Today if you can find one, they’re worth over $3 million. If I’d kept that airplane, it would have been a good deal for me. It had a Rolls Royce 2000 horsepower engine in it, and I would cruise it at 300 mph, and it could go 500 mph. I used to put on air shows with it in New Orleans. It was fun to fly and quite an airplane to own. I made a mistake by selling that airplane. I had financed it with Union Finance Company for $185 a month. I don’t know how they could finance it, it might have been a crooked deal. I had gone out to California to get my airline transport rating, and I had given a half-interest in the plane to this guy who used to fly them during WWII, and he was going to pay it off, which he never did. I was out there crop dusting in the San Joaquin Valley, and I got this call from Union saying I was 3 payments behind, so I had to sell the airplane over the phone to some person I’d never met. If I’d kept it, it would have been worth a lot of money today, but those are the mistakes one makes. I understand my P-51 Mustang ended up in South American as a fighter plane. Meeting and Marrying Arda There was a girl in New Orleans that I was dating. She told me she knew a girl from Holland named Arda and that she would like to go for a ride in the seaplane, and I told her okay. I had just purchased a new car, a Chevy Impala, shiny white with a red interior, very nice, air-conditioning, automatic windows, the whole thing. I
immediately fell in love with Arda, it was like lightning had struck me as soon as we met. After the seaplane ride, I took her inside the hangar where there was entertainment and a bar. I asked her to dance. She said, â€œNo, you are too tall.â€? So I drove her home to her auntâ€™s house. The aunt finally convinced Arda to go out with me. There was only one problem. Arda was engaged to Carl in Holland who lived with her parents there. She told me she was confused about her relationship with Carl. She told me she wanted to date him for awhile when he arrived in New Orleans. So I let her have my car so she could find out. In the meantime, I had decided to go crop dusting in California to save money to get my airline transport rating there. I got a job at Cedric Aviation Company in California, and after taking the written test on crops and how to apply chemicals on different crops, I got hired there. They had 250 horsepower Steermans they used for spraying grapes. The chemicals were poisonous. I finished the season with Cedric, made some money but needed $500 more to get my airline transport rating on a DC-3, the plane used by the FAA designee. So I telephoned Arda and she sent me the $500 right away, and I was able to get my rating. I returned to New Orleans, and in the meantime Arda had decided that Carl was not for her. She and I continued dating. One day I showed up at her work when she was finished for the day. I had purchased a ring, so I asked her to marry me, and she accepted. We were very happy, both of us. One year to the date we got married. The wedding was inexpensive but very nice. Friends, mostly seaplane pilots, came to the wedding. 25
My Parents Both my mom and dad were born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They both were from large families: they each had seven siblings. My mother’s father had house ware and fine china stores. My father’s father had shoe stores for Holland’s wealthy citizens. They were fifteen and sixteen years old when they met. They dated on bicycles and the like. At 18 years old, my father decided he was going to join the military service. He signed up with his brother for the army, and they were both sent to Indonesia, which were Dutch colonies called the Dutch East Indies: Java, Borneo and the Sumatra Islands. After he was there about a year-and-a-half, he wrote my mother and her family about marriage, asking her father for her hand in marriage. Her father, being very serious, wrote to my father’s superiors in the service asking about his conduct. Getting a good report, my grandfather consented to the marriage. In those days, there were a lot of brides who married by proxy before joining their military men husbands in Indonesia. They called this the bride flight or the white glove girls. There would be the white gown and lots of guests at the wedding. My mother’s brother stood in for the groom, and my father got the telegram in Indonesia saying that he was now married. My mother could now go officially with all the other new brides on the ship to Indonesia to be with her husband. It was a four-week trip. 29
Indonesia and the Prisoner of War Camps In Indonesia, these were wonderful days. The islands were beautiful, the sunsets were gorgeous, and they had maids and servants. They loved it, it was a great life with dances and lots of friends. I was born there in 1942. All was well for about a year-and-a-half. The war had already broken out in Europe. The Germans were occupying the Netherlands, Rotterdam was bombed. My grandfather lost his business, and no one died in either family. My father and mother, however, were taken prisoner in Indonesia for three-and-ahalf years. They were in separate prison camps occupied by the Japanese. They didn’t know if each other was alive during this period. My mother had a number of illnesses in the camps. We got very little food, just one little scoop of rice each day. The prisoners lived and slept in big rooms with a lot of people. It was a hard time for both of them, and luckily I don’t remember much about it, just what I was told later. I was too young. One of the things I remember is my mother’s friend in the camp, Tontasit. She had a little boy. The two women made a pact that they would take care of each other. In the camp they had to dig graves and work in the fields, and they would watch each other’s child while the other went to work. We actually moved camps many times. We would be taken from camp to camp to camp, so life never felt settled even for a little girl like me. My father worked on the bridge of the River Kwai. He was very sick, too, and finally one of the doctor’s chose him to go to the hospital to get well. He also worked in the coal mines, the railroads, the jungle. Luckily, they were very young while prisoners of war, 20 and 21 years old. Some of the older people had a much harder time as they did not have the same perseverance to survive.
When the Americans bombed Hiroshima is the time we were freed. There were parachutes dropping food. I had thought everyone would immediately storm out of the camp, but my mother said they had no place to go, so the camp had become their home. The end result was that my father’s brother found my mother and me first, and he ended up getting us to some sort of palace by their standards. He got my mother a job there, and we were waiting to find my dad or for him to find us. She went everyday to the Red Cross office just like everyone else to see if his name was on the list. We continued waiting, we were both sick. It was decided it might be better if we went back to Holland. So we got passage on a freighter where they packed in all the women and children for the journey. I don’t remember this, but here’s what happened. My dad found out that we were anchored on a smaller ship getting ready to sail for Java to board a big ship back to Holland. One of the little boats brought my dad to our ship, and with a rope he got on board and went through all the women and children and found us! We all went back to Holland. My mother and I both had to learn to eat again. All my Dutch family and cousins tried to help, but I just wouldn’t eat. Finally, I was made to eat and I survived. That’s how my life started in Holland, especially with my mother’s very large family who were very close and loving. They were so happy to have her back. The war was over for them, too. My grandfather had lost all his stores; the heart of Rotterdam was totally bombed out. One very touching memory I have is that my mother walked out of the camp with just me and the Bible, and I still have this Bible today. It is very precious to me. It symbolizes her faith that we would survive and be a family once again.
Life in Holland Life was tough once I got to Holland. I had to go to school. My aunts had problems with me. I didn’t know the daily life there, I wasn’t used to stoplights or cars. The aunts wanted to take care of me, but I’m told I wasn’t an easy child. In school the teacher was always saying something to my parents about my being disorganized. I would forget my books and my assignments. After a yearand-a-half we had to return to Indonesia because my father was still in the service and he got reassigned there. In the meantime, my sister had been born in Holland, so all four of us went. I attended Catholic school there. Everything was pretty chaotic. I remember getting private tutoring at the Catholic school. Sometimes I would go to school with two German police dogs my father had bought for protection because at that time there were actions against the Dutch. They wanted the Dutch out and for Sukarno to take over. Lots of moving for us again, and again my life never felt settled. My mother and I were understandably very close. She was a fantastic mom. You can see this from photos of us when I was young. She, my sister and I came back to Holland a second time when I was ten. Sukarno was taking over, the Dutch people were being killed, so my dad had us go back to Holland. We would go visit him in Indonesia every so often, always on the freighters where I would play games with the other children, but in the end, I was always with my mother. I wasn’t that close to my father because he was gone for such long periods of time. It felt strange to me when he finally came home to Holland after his service in Indonesia was over. That eventually changed over the years, and I did get to feeling closer to him.
What was really nice in Holland was the large family with all my cousins. Birthdays were always celebrated with the whole family coming over. St. Nicholas Day on December 5 was always celebrated together. We looked for any reason to celebrate. My mother and her sisters used to get together on the weekends and make a big pot of soup for everyone. This was a very nice time for us. It was lost when we would go to Indonesia, but we would get it back when we would return from the trips. We lived in Rotterdam for quite a few years after we came back, and of course, I went to elementary and high school. I learned three different languages, and I took the bookkeeping and language side of the high school subjects. The last five years we lived in Lake Holland, a nice place, and I worked for the Arabian-American Oil Company for the last few months before I left for the US. This was nice because the main boss of my department was always telling me exciting stories about going to the US. He usually just talked only to me because he was so excited that I was planning to go to America, and he wanted to make sure I would like it.
Emigrating to the United States The next happening in my life was when my dad decided he wanted to emigrate to the United States. He had contact with the American army while he was a prisoner. He was lucky in his desire because one of his sisters met and married an American and lived in New Orleans. She didn’t have any children and so was always asking my dad to come and bring his children. My dad went on the immigration list for American. He next had a medical problem that turned out to be leukemia, and so he had to get off the list. My dad’s next plan was to work on me when I was about 17 to go to America and live my aunt who didn’t have any children. So that is basically how I got set up to go to New Orleans. I always thought it was my idea to go to America, but by doing this story and researching it and by talking to some of my cousins in Holland, I’m realizing it was my dad kind of twisting my arm to do it. He said, “You know, you go for a year on a permanent visa, you might like it.” I wasn’t that keen on going to America because I was engaged at the time to a Dutch guy in Holland. His name was Carl, and he was actually training to become a pilot in the Dutch army. There was a big engagement party. It was a formal occasion with invitations and gifts with both his and my families attending. All during this engagement period my dad was still working on me. So I told Carl that I’d promised my dad and my aunt, so I must go. In the meantime, Carl decided he was going to America, too, and he started applying for his papers.
So I went to my aunt’s home in New Orleans. She was my sponsor, and she said I didn’t need to get a job for the first year, just get used to life in America. Carl moved in with my parents until his papers came. My parents then decided they would try again to go to America. They were all seeing what they could do about emigrating. The doctors couldn’t find the leukemia in my father, so he was able to be considered again. My mother had said she would never, never go to the US, but after I was gone, she found she couldn’t be separated from me, so she agreed to go on the list again. A year later the papers were in order, and they all came. When my parents learned they might be coming, they asked my aunt to sponsor them, too. She said she couldn’t do it. So I started looking for sponsors for them. I went knocking on church doors to find sponsors.
Life and Work in New Orleans In school I had studied German, French, English and Dutch. The one thing I hadn’t realized was how much the languages were an asset to me. I did know the bookkeeping part was an asset, though. When I got to my aunt’s house, even though she told me I didn’t have to work for a year, she soon changed her mind. She got out the newspaper and we looked at the job ads. We would go downtown and sit in Walgreen’s Drug Store and circle the ads. Then we’d call, and I’d tell them I wanted a job . There was one employer looking for an operator for a NCR 3500 machine, which was a big clunker of a machine. He was interviewing something like 15 girls for the job, and this was unbelievable to me. He also needed a telephone operator. This was my first job hunting experience in the US. He sent us all to the NCR school where they gave us instructions on how to work the machine, then they would see how fast the applicant could do the work. Then there was an interview, followed by all of us going to lunch with small talk and the like. All the other girls were gorgeous with clothes and high-heel shoes to match, beautiful make-up, and I only had come from Holland with one suitcase and just a few clothes. I went to my aunt almost crying when I got home saying, “You shouldn’t be making me do this. You promised me I didn’t have to go to work, and now you’re making me go on these job interviews with all these beautifully-dressed girls.” I was crying and didn’t want to go to Walgreen’s again the next day and look for a job, but what happened is that I got called and got offered the biggest job, the bookkeeping job! I didn’t really know what kind of company it was, Orleans Manufacturing Company, but when I came in the first day, the boss took me to the showroom, and they made caskets. I just about died! He started laughing at my reaction to all the open caskets with their different interiors and exteriors. I suddenly wasn’t too happy 37
about all this. And he said, “Look, you’re never going to be seeing this because you’ll be doing the bookkeeping work. I’m going to take you to the office now.” As it turned out, the ladies there were so nice. They thought I was the cat’s meow because at lunchtime I would walk down the street, go to the jukebox and put money in it. I just thought I was in heaven listening to Elvis Presley. I didn’t even eat lunch, I was so excited about the jukebox. The ladies got a great laugh out of me. My second experience in the US was learning that when someone tells you they will see you or pick you up, they don’t always mean it. This is much different from Holland. If you say you will do something, you do it. A funny twist to this was a girl who always said she was going to pick me up on Saturday and show me around New Orleans. So I would get dressed up and ready to go and she didn’t come. On Monday I would come to work, and she would say she had something else to do but would come for sure next Saturday. Next Saturday, all dressed up, same thing, no girl friend. So the third Saturday I didn’t even get ready. I was in the garden picking weeds, and here she comes with Trygve as her date, saying, “We’re here to pick you up, and we’re going to go seaplane flying.” So that’s the story of me meeting Trygve for the first time. Of course, Trygve started asking me all sorts of questions, “Why do you have this ring on?” “I’m engaged to this Dutch guy. His name is Carl. He’s coming over in about a year. We’re going to be married. I just got to New Orleans.” Trygve kept asking questions, saying I could still go out once in awhile. The girl he was dating kept telling me she was crazy about him, and I let him know that. Also, that I wasn’t dating him because I was engaged. So that’s how our friendship got started. My aunt was saying, “You know, this guy keeps calling you, he’s nice, he’s from Norway. You can still go out and just go to a movie. It’s okay.” She was pushing for this, and Trygve got the idea she was on his side. Meanwhile, I kept telling Trygve he was too tall. 38
I got a better job with an oil company, more pay, very prestigious office. One day a co-worker told me Trygve had been waiting in the lobby for almost an hour, so we decided something must be up. And sure enough that evening, he asked me to marry him. Up to this point, it had always been no, no, no. I had thought he was too tall—not good for dancing—but he would take me to the Roosevelt Hotel where tall men danced with shorter women. Trygve was a great dancer, smooth talker, always very nice and patient. He kind of just changed my mind to thinking he was pretty nice after all. When my mother got really ill with a manic-depressive condition and had to go to the hospital for treatment, it was Trygve who helped me through the whole ordeal. He was there every step of the way. He slowly but surely stole my heart, and I finally decided that he was the guy for me after all. Soon after our engagement Trygve went to work for Taca Airlines. We actually had a very nice wedding, October 1960, in a church with a Dutch minister. I had a white wedding dress, and the reception was at my parents’ house. We had friends from both our work, my parents, my aunt and uncle. It was a small wedding but nice.
Mexico City, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, British Honduras, Panama Our honeymoon to Mexico had to be postponed because I didn’t have the proper travel and citizenship documents. Trygve promised we would work it out and I could still go with him on a working flight on a DC-4, which we did, and it was wonderful and a lot of fun. I was able to go to all these countries and see just what he did as a pilot. I was wined and dined the whole way and Trygve bought me a beautiful dress and jewelry along with paying for me to go to special hairdressers and the like.
About six months later I told Trygve he needed to go home to Norway to see his family so we scheduled a trip there. I was pregnant at the time. (Trygve, Jr. was born in December 1961.) It was a very nice trip. I got to meet his family. They were thrilled to see Trygve because he hadn’t been home in so many years. They cooked wonderful meals and we did many activities with the various family members. This is how our frequent trips to Norway began, which became a big portion of our lives. We went almost every year because my parents were in this country but his were in Norway, and we thought this was the only way they would know our family. Trygve, Jr’s first trip to Norway was when he was about 4 months old. We could fly for free, we only had to pay taxes, so it was economical. The photos in this book show all the beautiful scenery, cabins, boating, and fishing we did over the years with Trygve’s family. After the first trip, Trygve was ready to move back to Norway, but I wasn’t in favor of it. I preferred our long visits there, and Trygve eventually changed his mind about moving full-time to Norway. 40
Trygve: Married Life and Taca Airlines I went back to Johnny Ellis and continued flying for him. I still wanted to fly for the airlines. There was this outfit, Taca Airlines, out of New Orleans Airport. The chief pilot named Al said they didn’t need anybody and besides I didn’t have any experience. So I made up some log books like I had the experience. I kept going out there and talking to him. He says, “You don’t want to give up, do you?” I said, “No-o-o-o.” So he says, “Well, let’s go try you out. And we got in a DC-4, took off, and I made some take offs and landings and different things. He said, “OK, you’re hired. As long as you know how to fly with the seat back.” That’s when I started flying for Taca Airlines. The schedule was New Orleans, Belize, British Honduras, Panama, Mexico City, then back to New Orleans. After my first year with Taca Airlines, I earned a three-week vacation. Arda told me I must go see my parents in Norway. I had been gone for 13 years, so we went. Arda was now pregnant. Trygve Jr. was born in New Orleans, and we were very happy and excited to have a baby. I kept flying for Taca for three years. One day I received a call from a guy who told me a new company was starting up in California called Futura Airlines, and if I went out there right away, I could check into school for captains immediately. So I decided to do that, and this became a big mistake. We got out there, and I started school with Futura, but after a couple of weeks, the airline folded. No job. Arda was now pregnant with Brigitte. I ended up selling cars to make ends meet. Things were pretty lean—I earned only $50 if I sold a car. After a time, I received a call from another 42
DC-8 Four-Engine Jet
pilot telling me about Santop Airlines in Newport, Michigan, flying automotive freight all over the United States. I applied and was hired right away, leaving Arda in California with all the responsibilities of home and family. I started C-46 school and checked out as captain right away. I found out one had to learn fast. Arda and Trygve joined me in Michigan and we settled into an apartment. It was wintertime, snow, sleet and freezing temperatures. I was flying constantly, leaving Arda to handle everything at home. We got transferred to Indianapolis and things became a lot better for all of us. When the company got DC-7 airplanes I checked out as captain right away, and we got based in Norfolk, Virginia. We purchased our first home there on the GI Bill, no money down, $105 a month payment, and that was a good deal. Then after a year I got transferred to Oakland, California, one more time. We decided to settle in Glendale, close to Ardaâ€™s parents. I would commute wherever the company wanted to send me, and it worked out okay until I got orders to go to Denver to check out on DC-8 four-engine jets. By the end of my career, I logged over 15,000 hours on the DC-8, mainly flying worldwide with Transamerica Airlines for 20+ years. We bought a new home in Costa Mesa where we lived for 14 years. After that we decided to buy a new home in Encinitas. But just as we completed the purchase, the job ended. We now had two homes to pay for and no job. The new home in Encinitas needed window coverings, so Arda suggested I find a way to make window shutters. I did some research. I didnâ€™t have a good table saw, so I made my own saw and then made shutters from scratch. Soon the neighbors wanted shutters just like ours, and I had a new business that started snowballing. In the meantime, Arda became art director for a large art gallery in La Jolla. She made terrific money plus commission, so we pulled out of the financial problems fast. 45
One day I got a call to go back to flying as a captain of a DC-8. We finally had a nice life with family, all of us together. But my selfish temptation got to me. I wanted to go back flying, so I accepted the offer. We got based in San Diego and that was very nice. There was no need to move this time. This company folded after about two years when UPS got their own planes and pilots. So that became the end of my flying career. I still fly but only for fun.
Our Children and Grandchildren Our daughter Brigitte is married to Ted. He is a physician, and they have three children, Madison, Molly and Harry. They live in Red Bluff, California. Our son Trygve, Jr. has two children, Brandon and Matthew. Brandon is married to Kim, and they have one child, Tyler, and have the second one on the way. We are now great-grandparents!
Arda: Important People, Dates and Places Birth: Arda Bernadina Maria Kolenberg, 1942, Malang, Indonesia Parents: Hendrikus Kolenberg, 1917, and Maaike Vos, 1918, both born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands Siblings: Johanna Kolenberg Johnson Duffy Johannes Adriaanes Kolenberg Grade School: Christian School, Rotterdam High School Graduation: Rotterdam, 1958 College: AA, Orange County CA, 1972 Marriage: Trygve Lovsto, October 1, 1960, New Orleans LA Children: Trygve, Jr., 1961 Brigitte Linette Shea, 1963 Career Highlights: Aramco Oil Company, Rotterdam Tidelands Drilling Co. and Orleans Mfg. Co. Laguna Originals Art Galleriesâ€”art gallery director Eagle Art Gallery Places Iâ€™ve Lived:
Dress Shops in Glendale and Del Mar CA Indonesia
The Netherlands Virginia Beach Foster City CA Costa Mesa
Long Beach CA
New Orleans Ann Arbor Indianapolis Encinitas 52
Walnut Creek CA San Jose
Trygve: Important People, Dates and Places Birth: Trygve Lovsto, February 17, 1930, Mandal, Norway Parents: Alf Lovsto and Lilli Olsen both born in Norway One Sister: Eldbjord, born 1927 Grade School: Halse, County of Mandal High School Graduation: Mandal, 1947 Military Service: Korean Way, stateside, 1951-1953
Final Thoughts in 2011 We are enjoying our retirement. We receive retirement from Trans America Airlines plus social security and we get along fine financially. We have a home in Vista, close to San Diego where we stay in the summertime. In the colder months we live in our second home in Palm Desert. It is very enjoyable in the desert; there are so many things to do there. We have lots of wonderful friends in San Diego and Palm Desert. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our about our childhoods and how we ended up meeting in New Orleans, of all places, and where life’s journey has taken us since then. In 2010 we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, a very happy milestone for us. We went to Europe for five weeks this summer, 2011. Arda has many cousins in Holland, and they took us to Germany, Spain and France where we had a wonderful time. We also traveled to Norway. In the early years our children Trygve, Jr. and Brigitte discovered a different life in Norway: no TV, lots of family activities, boating and fishing. Trygve’s parents and sister are now gone, but there are still four cousins in Norway. We are very thankful for having such a nice life. We are writing this in November 2011 just before Thanksgiving and Christmas with our family.
Still Lovebirds 50 Years Later October 1, 2010
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