Voices of Ballard and Beyond Excerpts

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Nordic Heritage Museum 3014 NW 67th Street Seattle, WA 98117-6215 206.789.5707 www.nordicmuseum.org

Voices of Ballard and Beyond

Above: A conceptual rendering of Fjord Hall, the entrance of the new Nordic Heritage Museum. The lobby features a cafĂŠ, gift shop, orientation area for school groups, a sun terrace, and the entry to a spacious auditorium. The new Museum plans to open its doors in late 2015. Image by Chris Sjoberg of Mithun architects.

Voices of Ballard and Beyond Stories of Immigrants and Their Descendants in The Pacific Northwest


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Margarethe (Grethe) Cammermeyer “When I was younger, and these folks were staying with us while they were waiting to escape from the Nazis in Norway, every time the telephone rang, or somebody rang on the door, the guests who were with us would take their plates and leave, so that there would be no indication that they had been sitting at the table. So, I started doing the same thing. Whenever somebody rang on the telephone, I’d take my plate and I would go into another room, so there’d be no indication that there were other people at the dinner table. My parents never corrected me on that until after the war.” I was born in Oslo, Norway, March 24, 1942. It was during the Nazi occupation of Norway. I lived with my parents in an apartment on the second floor in Camilla Colletsvei, which supposedly was cattycorner from Gestapo headquarters. My parents were working with the Norwegian underground, sheltering those at risk for being arrested by the Nazis. They had to flee Norway to Sweden or England because if found and arrested they would be interrogated, tortured, killed or sent to a concentration camp either in Norway or Germany. My parents were sheltering those that were at risk for being picked up by the Nazis, so I was raised under the threat of being found out and killed. My mother, Margrethe Grimsgård Cammermeyer, used to say as I grew older that she was really pretty tough when they knew that the Nazis were going to be coming to our home until they knocked on the door the first time. That was intimidating and a reality shock of how dangerous it was to live under the Nazi reign. We had a Polish refugee who had escaped from the concentration camp in Grethe and her mother Norway. He lived with us for several during the war.

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weeks until he could safely be taken out of the country. He would go out on our balcony, and sing Polish national songs whenever my mother would walk to the grocery store across the street. She would hear him from the street, and come charging back to get him to get off the balcony. Hearing these stories was exciting Grethe and brother celebrating and frightening but generated pride Norway’s freedom in 1945. at my parents’ participation with the resistance forces. My father was Johan Widding Cammermeyer, better known as Dr. Jan Cammermeyer MD. He was a neuropathologist. After the war, he was the first Norwegian to get a Rockefeller Fellowship, and went to Boston where he, and we, lived for nine months, and then went back to Norway. When we came to Boston, we lived with this very prominent neurologist, Dr. Ray Adams MD, and his family, in their gorgeous home. Ray Adams was considered the father of modern neurology. We were with this very fine family. Whenever the doorbell or phone would ring I would take my plate and leave, because that’s what I had been permitted to do during the war. It took several months for me to break that habit. And then we went back to Norway I started school and went through the second grade. Then my father was invited to immigrate to the United States to work at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C., for a number of years. Ultimately he transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where he had his own neuropathology laboratory. I was nearly nine when we came to the United States, not speaking English. Mathematics was the only subject I could do in school, and eventually when I learned to speak English I caught up with my classmates. When you move to a new country and community you want to become part of that community. But my parents thought it very important we maintain both languages to retain our heritage so whenever we came home from school we would switch over to speak Norwegian. I got a little sloppy as a teenager and felt it was too much effort to switch languages so I only spoke English. Finally when I was a senior in high school I realized that if I didn’t speak it [Norwegian] I was going to lose

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it and became quite avid about using my mother tongue. I have four sons, and all of them were raised with Norwegian as their first, mother language. I spoke Norwegian to them from the day that they were born. My aunt, Aagot Grimsgaard, lived with us for a number of years and we all spoke Norwegian together which reinforced it for the kids. Even today it is very unusual to speak English to my children, because it’s been so automatic, that it’s always been Norwegian. You could call it indoctrination. In Washington, D.C., there were a lot of immigrants and lots of diplomats and we knew the Norwegian ambassador and his family and Bernt Balchen who flew over the North Pole. I didn’t feel awkward until I went from elementary school to junior high and asked: “When is recess?” I did not know that in junior high you did not have recess. Everybody laughed at me and I didn’t ask another question in school until I was a senior in college. That’s how embarrassed I was by my own ignorance and I didn’t want to be laughed at. But other than that I don’t recall being ostracized in any way, or bullied because of being a foreigner. In the early 1950s, when we came to America, it was a time when there was assimilation. So you didn’t maintain your native language usually. You became an American, rather than being like a NorwegianAmerican, which is different from, probably the past 20 years, where all of a sudden you take your ethnic background, and tie it in with being American. So Norwegian-American is OK now, rather than to say you’re just an American. We [my parents and I] never talked about why they stood up against the Nazis, though looking back it was the right thing to stand up to defend your homeland. There was no question about that, both in their minds and in mine. You stood up for your country and did what needed to be done. It was the most natural thing in the world. It was just part of being Norwegians. There was another story that my mother used to tell and that I have written in my own book, called “Serving in Silence.” I was a baby used as a decoy where she would push a baby carriage around through town and just stroll along. Then we’d go into an alleyway and some people would jump out of the doorways. They would hand me to my mother while they would take the guns out from underneath my mattress. Then my mother would take me and we’d be on our way. She made it seem as though it was the most natural thing in the world. That’s what every good Norwegian did. But it was never explicit.

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I had always wanted to be a doctor and that was just part of my belief that’s what I should do. Except that was not common in those days. Women’s roles were as a teacher, wife, secretary or nurse. I ended up finding out about the undergrad nurse program where the Army would pay for two years of college, in turn you give back three years. Joining the Army Student Nurse program meant training to become a nurse. It fit in with having been part of the World War II experience as an infant, and being able serve where nurses should be taking care of the American service members. I joined the Army student nurse program and went on active duty when women could not be married and be in the military. That policy changed. And while I was serving in Germany I met my husband-to-be and we dated for a year and then were married. This was in the midst of the build-up for Vietnam and my husband got orders for Fort Lee, Virginia, and then to Vietnam. I was also transferred back to Fort Lee, Virginia, and asked to be sent to Vietnam if my husband were to go. He got orders for Vietnam; then I got orders. His were canceled and mine were not. So I was in Vietnam from February 1967 until May 1968 and my husband from May 1967 to May 1968. I was forced to leave the military in 1968 when we started our family. Then in 1971-72 when the policy changed and women were allowed to have dependents and serve in the military, I rejoined but went into the Army Reserve. Now I was a part-time soldier, a mother, and I went back to graduate school to get my master’s degree in neuroscience nursing. I also worked full-time in the Veterans Administration medical system taking care of soldiers. It was the whole package -- send them to war, fix them up, take care of them afterwards. Then my husband and I ended up divorcing. I left the area for a few years. The kids remained in the Seattle area with him. Then I came back and earned my PhD in nursing at the University of Washington. In the military I transferred from the Army Reserves and became the state chief nurse of the Washington National Guard.. I had — over an eight or ten years period — an epiphany. That epiphany was that perhaps there was a reason why I got divorced, and why my marriage always seemed a little off, and that I always felt different. I had related this to being Norwegian and an immigrant in America. That’s enough to make anybody feel different. As time went on, I realized that I was a lesbian. It took a while for that to come to my consciousness. And it happened because I met “this woman” and couldn’t quite put it all together for a while. The kids loved her and so did I.

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There was going to be a clash between the military and my personal life. But I really believed that the military was going to take care of its own and that I’d already served for 25 years. I was decorated in Vietnam. I had a stellar military career and was finishing up my doctorate, so I wasn’t exactly a dunce. I had proved that I was a good nurse and a good leader, as a chief nurse of the National Guard. But I wanted to be a general. I applied for a top secret clearance and to be truthful said: “I am a lesbian.” Six months later, the military said that they were going to start discharge proceedings against me, based on my statement. I did not want to leave the military. Now it was my turn to stand up and challenge the military policy which prohibited homosexuals from serving in the military. I decided that I was going to fight that discharge, because it seemed unfair and the policy was wrong. By this time, I had also learned that there were other gays and lesbians in the military, and many others who had experienced the same treatment and discharge. I got a legal team together, and after the military discharged me, I filed suit in federal court. Twenty-five months after my discharge, the court ruled that my discharge was unconstitutional and that I should be immediately reinstated. There was a lot of notoriety around my case at the time, because people now began to question: “What’s wrong with somebody who is homosexual and who’s already served, and how dangerous could this grandmother be to serving in the military?” There is a book and movie, “Serving in Silence,” which describes in the events leading up to my discharge and lawsuit. Glenn Close played me, Colonel Cammermeyer. Barbra Streisand was one of the producers of the film. Curiously, after the final repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” [the policy banning homosexuals from service in the United States military] the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten, printed a long article entitled: “Hun Forandret USA” April 21, 2012. It gave me credit for changing the USA. Obviously that gives me much too much credit, but it is nice to be recognized as a Norwegian taking on the American government and winning for social justice.

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Margarethe (Grethe) Cammermeyer is a retired colonel from the United States Army Nurse Corps. Cammermeyer earned a nursing degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Washington. She served in Vietnam and Germany and in numerous stateside posts. She retired from the National Guard in 1997. She is the mother of four sons, Matt, David, Andy and Tom Hawken. Andy died in 2007 in a snowmobile accident. On July 23, 2007, Cammermeyer and Diane Divelbess registered as domestic partners in Washington state. They reside in Langley, Washington.

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Rita Vermala-Koski “So my mother made a call at Christmastime--I believe I was probably about five years old--and she wanted to speak with her daughter. I came on the phone. I didn’t understand a word she was saying. She didn’t understand a word I was saying, and she was crying her heart out on the other end. I was just shrugging my shoulders, and my foster parents couldn’t do anything because they didn’t speak a word of Finnish. So that was traumatic for her, and a few months later she said she wants her daughter back in Finland.”


’m an only child. My parents, Aino and Sergei Vermala, met on a cruise to Estonia when they were young. My dad was born in Russia. My mother was born in Finland. I lived a rather charmed, wonderful childhood, maybe because I was an only child. Life was good according to pictures, anyway, and stories that I heard in my younger years. My first real recollection of any kind of things being out of the normal was one fall mid afternoon when I heard sirens. My father was home. He had not had to report for army duty yet. Mom and Dad were home, and the alarms sounded. My father ordered my mom and myself out of the house. We lived in a highrise apartment building onto a grassy cliff that was covered in fall leaves. I heard some airplanes I thought, overhead, and I heard some popping noises. At that time I didn’t know what popcorn was, but now I realize that it sounded like popping popcorn. My father pushed me down to the ground very hard and flew right on top of me and covered my body with his body. He didn’t have time to say

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anything to me certainly. I’m sure he probably told my mom to get down on the ground, too. What the popping noise was and what I viewed from underneath being under my dad were the leaves just jumping all over and around us, the fall leaves. What I later found out was that they were Russian bombers making their first attacks on Helsinki. They had machine-gunners at the back of their bombers, and the machine-gunners were trying to do as much damage as they could. Now the interesting thing is why did we go outside? Why would you be told to go outside if there’s an attack alarm? In those days for some reason, that was the rule. Well, I had a chip on my shoulder, you can imagine, for quite a while against my dad. It wasn’t funny to be shoved down when you’re just a little girl. But those memories soon faded, and my dad joined the army. My mother was very active in the home-front women. The order of the day again was that everybody who had gold rings would put them in for collection. They got a little iron band in exchange for this support to fund and to outfit the Finnish Army. That was a part of it. Anybody who had reasonable linen sheets, pillowcases, whatever, they were torn into strips for bandages for the Red Cross and for the Army Corps of medics to use on the home front. There was sacrifice and duties for youngsters and children as well. Our chore was to collect, for example, dandelion roots. They were then dried and then made into chicory, which was like a pretend coffee for the forces. We also collected raspberry bush leaves, which again were dried, and they were made into a kind of a tea. So there was something for everybody to do during those years. After a while my mother felt that it really was unsafe for me to be in Finland. Mom and Dad had made arrangements. My father was in the hotel business, so he had colleagues in Stockholm. Arrangements were made for me to be transported to Stockholm to stay with a family that we knew. So I went the first time, I believe it was 1940 or maybe 1941, on a ship from Åbo to Stockholm, was met by my Swedish family, and became a part of their family very quickly. I learned to speak perfect Swedish very quickly and totally forgot Finnish. So my mother made a call at Christmastime--I believe I was probably about five years old--and she wanted to speak with her daughter. I came on the phone. I didn’t understand a word she was saying. She didn’t understand a word I was saying, and she was crying her heart out on the other end. I was just shrugging my shoulders, and my foster parents

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couldn’t do anything because they didn’t speak a word of Finnish. So that was traumatic for her, and a few months later she said she wants her daughter back in Finland. Things had calmed down anyway, so I was shipped back to Finland. Of course, it didn’t take me more than a few weeks to relearn my Finnish, and I never did forget my Swedish, thank goodness. Soon after I came back from that first trip, things started heating up again. The alarm sirens were going off almost every day. The orders were to go into the bomb cellars, and there was one time that we spent six nights in the bomb cellar without being able to come up at all. We forged a lot of great friendships. Obviously, the families pretty much knew each other living in the apartment complexes, but we forged stronger friendships and a lot of innovative ways to entertain the children. A lot of these bomb shelters were also cellars, so people would have their supply of potatoes there. We learned to carve faces on potatoes and make puppets out of them and do all kinds of goofy stuff. As soon as that longest stay in the bomb shelter was cleared, Mom decided that if it’s going to be like this, Rita might as well go back to Stockholm. So this time I was put on a bomber plane. Yeah, it was a bomber, but all the guts were taken out. There were about eighty or ninety of us children that were all strapped down on the floor of the bomber. We flew over to Sweden the second time. I think the reason we were flown was that it was not safe anymore to have ships traveling between Finland and Sweden, especially passenger ships, because the waters were mined. There was a lot of war activity going on. So back I went to the family then. The second time I was enrolled in a school in Stockholm, Sofia Folkskola. I went there for a full year, had an incredibly wonderful teacher, learned a lot of incredibly wonderful things about growing, making, and an appreciation for life. We grew our own wheat on a windowsill. We dried it. We chafed it, separated the kernels. We ground it between two rocks and made bread out of the flour that we made. It was just wonderful for a city girl to see how it really happens. It’s great. I stayed there for a year that time, and then came back home and went for the next two years of school in Helsinki. Then the war ended. My father came back from the war. He went back into the hotel business. Now, he was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and he escaped during the Revolution in 1917 to Finland with his grandmother and his aunt, who had a condominium in Helsinki. He was five years old. Dad was then brought up by these two wonderful ladies and went on

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to be a great school boy and a wonderful attribute to the community. He was a water polo player and went with the Finnish water polo team to Berlin in the 1936 Olympics. He was on the governing board of the orphan boys’ home or shelter in Helsinki. He was very active, a very positive, very wonderful, fun, kind guy, but his past caught up with him. After the war, the war crimes tribunals started, and people were being brought in to answer for war crimes against the Russian people. It was an agreement between the Finnish government and the Russian government that this could take place. So we had a knock one evening at our home, and Dad answered. He was asked to step outside, and we didn’t see him for a day or two after that. Records indicated that he was born in Russia, was a Russian citizen, and had fought in the Finnish Army against the Russians throughout the war. In other words it was a Russian fighting against the Russians, so therefore he would be charged with war crimes against Russia. He came back from that. I don’t remember very much, but things started happening that I later on realized were some sort of preparations being made, which I didn’t pay much attention to. I was going to school, playing outside, having a good time, going to Girl Guides, and whatever. Then probably about a month or so after that first knock on the door came a second knock on the door. This time Dad was interrogated for about two days, and he got home from there, too. That time I remember he came home and he was very pale. He and Mom went in the kitchen, closed the doors, and had some sort of a pow wow. It wasn’t too long after that that we simply escaped from Finland to Sweden, long story short, because Dad would have been arrested and sent, I don’t know, to Siberia or whatever. So there we were in Sweden. Dad was a Russian citizen. No passports to go anywhere, but he had his army papers to show that he’d been in the Finnish Army. Mom and I were issued Finnish passports, so we were basically free to go wherever there would be immigration availabilities. Through the intervention of the president’s wife, Alli Paasikivi. Paasikivi was president of Finland at the time. Alli Paasikivi and my grandmother had gone to the same girls’ school in Helsinki. So through her intervention, have no idea what all was done, but lo and behold after about three months my father was issued a Finnish passport by the Finnish embassy in Stockholm. Off we went by ship from Gothenburg to New York. We were given a forty-eight-hour transit to go through the United States, that was the longest we could stay in the States, and to Canada.

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So that in a nutshell is what happened in the war years. They were memorable. I was shielded from a lot of the agony obviously. I was shielded from the lack of food, the lack of clothing. My mother always made sure that I had something to eat, several versions of oatmeal porridge if nothing else. Rita Vermala, Koski-born in Helsinki, Finland in 1936, immigrated to Montreal, Canada, with her parents in 1947, then to Chicago, Illinois in 1963 and moved to Seattle in 1981. Mother of three and grandmother of five Rita, now lives in retirement with husband Alvar Koski in Mukilteo, Washington. In 1968 Rita found work at a local travel agency in the Chicago area and began a career that continued for some 40 years. In Seattle Rita was offered the opportunity to buy the agency she was managing and that deal worked out well for all concerned. Rita has been president of Finlandia Foundation Seattle Chapter, Nordic Heritage Festival and Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest. She was on the board of trustees for both the Nordic Heritage Museum Foundation and Finlandia Foundation National; served on the Finnish Lutheran Church Council and was an officer for SSK/Finnish School of Seattle and Lloyd W. Nordstrom Guild of the Seattle Children’s Hospital - serving as treasurer for both organizations; volunteering at community events as well as raising funds for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Rita chaired Northern Lights Auktions for NHM and served as vice-president for the National FinnFest USA in 1989, a five-day festival, held on the University of Washington campus. In 2002 Rita Vermala-Koski received Knight, Order of the Lion of Finland medal awarded by the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, in recognition of civilian merit in support of Finnish culture in the USA.

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Bertil Lundh “So I walked back on Greenwood Avenue, while it was snowing, and a big Lincoln stopped and the driver said, ‘Would you like to have a ride downtown?’ I said, ‘That would be just fine.’ He says, ‘Go in the back.’ So I get in the back and I told the guy sitting there, ‘Thank you very much for taking me downtown.’ He says, ‘Where are you from?’ I said, ‘Sweden.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘Here’s another Swede, Senator Magnuson.’”


was born May 1, 1927, in Landskrona, Sweden, and I had a wonderful upbringing. In my second grade I wrote a little essay saying that by the time I became 23, I will be in the United States and on the West Coast. And that’s exactly what happened. But before that happened, I was in the Air Force in Sweden from 1946 to ‘48. And I knew that I was going to the U.S. one way or the other. I found out that my grandmother had a brother who emigrated in 1892 when he was only 12 years of age and he went to sea. And, sorry enough, we never heard from the guy until 1947. My grandmother wrote letters to the Salvation Army in New York, and they finally found him in Castle Rock, Washington. So, it took close to 50 years for him to write a note that he was still alive. And the only thing he said in that card was, “Everything is fine with me, I hope it’s fine with you,” to my grandmother and that was the end of it. But I got the address anyhow and I never told anybody and I wrote him a letter. In those days it took about 30 days to get a letter from Sweden to the U.S. or vice versa. So I got a letter back and he said, “You want to come to the U.S.,” but, he says, “I can’t help you because I have no money and I couldn’t take care of you.” But he said, “I’ve got a relation, a young girl who is a lawyer and she might.” So he talked to her and I got a letter from her and she said, yeah, she would underwrite, which was quite a lot to do in those days because (it meant) you were responsible for everything, including financial (support) and hospitalization. I came over the 8th of December, 1949, to Boston. I came to Seattle about the 2nd of January of 1950 and as a good immigrant, the first thing

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you did in those days, you had to register with the U.S. Government and the U.S. military service, which I did. Getting a (construction) job then was pretty tough because of snowy weather.But I found a contractor who lived two blocks away from the Seattle Golf Club. I walked there from downtown. And I got there about 9:30 in the morning. So you can imagine how many hours I walked. Unfortunately, he had just left. So I walked back on Greenwood Avenue, while it was snowing, and a big Lincoln stopped and the driver said, “Would you like to have a ride downtown?” I said, “That would be just fine.” He says, “Go in the back.” So I get in the back and I told the guy sitting there, “Thank you very much for taking me downtown.” He says, “Where are you from?” I said, “Sweden.” “Well,” he said, “here’s another Swede, Senator Magnuson.” So they drove me downtown and, I can tell you, I became a very good friend of U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson. Two days later I walked back to see this fellow by the Seattle Golf Club and finally met him. And he said, “Yeah, I’m building a building at the University of Washington, but we are down because of the weather.” “Well,” I said, “Is there anything I can do? Like, can I clean up the building . . .or anything?” He said, “If you’re willing to do that, that would be fine.” So I cleaned that building up. It took me about ten days to do it. And The job gave me enough money to eat, anyhow. There’s one other thing about coming to Seattle. I took the train up from Castle Rock and as I was leaving the King Street Station, I happened to run into a guy I knew in Kalmar, Sweden. And I said, “I have no place to stay, you know,” and he said, “Well I haven’t got anything, I’ve just got a tiny room. But, I know a lady close to the University of Washington who has a big house and she takes in some students.” So he drove me out there. I didn’t have any money, but everything works out, you know. So I talk to her and it’s, “Yeah, you can move in.” And, she said, “I’d like to have some money.” And I said, “What about if I gave you my U.S. (immigration) card?” “That’d be fine,” she said. I gave her the card and I stayed about two months. Got the card back and paid her off. So that was kind of

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interesting how everything just fall in place, you know? After that job at the UW, the weather got a little bit better. I started out as a carpenter and worked for a couple of pretty good companies. And then, in middle of May, 1950, the U.S. government wants me to come in to the military. I was in the first draft for the Korean War in Seattle. I went down, I think it was down on First Avenue, you had to go in and register and everything. And because it was the first draft, Senator Magnuson was there and he was the guy that interviewed me and signed me up for the service. Then, in a short time, I moved into the Swedish Club and one of the fellows that lived there was a superintendent up in Alaska. So he said, “I know you haven’t got any money, so why don’t you take a job up in Alaska with me, in the fishing industry, Peninsula Packers?” I said, “Fine.” So I went to Alaska and worked up there for a month during the fishing season. While I was up there, there was a guy came in on a short, little airplane, about a two‑seater, and got to our big ship. And he asked my friend, “Who’s this guy?” My friend said, “He’s Swedish.” The guy said, “For Christ’s sake, can’t we hire anybody but Swedes on this Goddamned boat?” So anyhow, it was a pretty good job, paid a lot of money. After one month’s working I earned six thousand dollars and in 1950 that was a lot of money. You could even buy a house in Magnolia for that kind of money. So I got back in Seattle (and) I went to Frederick and Nelson (department store) and ran into Senator Magnuson. And he asked what I was doing and so forth and said, “Well, look, here are two tickets for you to go to the Chamber of Commerce dinner tonight. Have you got a friend?” I said, “Yeah,” I said, “I find one.” So I got two tickets from him and went to this elaborate affair. So we get in, sit down, and I was lucky enough to sit right across from Senator Magnuson. And his friend next (to him) was the guy that owned the fishing company that I was working for and who got off the airplane and said, “Can’t we hire anything but Swedes in this damn boat?” I mean everything just kind of falls in place. So they start serving dinner and in those days, remember, they had those big crab cocktails, you know, that you had before the salad. So I ate mine and my friend ate his. Senator Magnuson and the other guy says,

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“Here’s one more.” And we ate theirs and then the salad came in, we ate the salad and then Maggie and the other guy said, “Here’s the salad.” So, basically, we each ate two meals. Then I went in the service and I spent four months in the U.S. and 20 months overseas, four months in Japan and 16 months in Korea. And I have to say, that was probably the worst thing I’ve ever been into. Not only the war itself, I mean how many people get killed, it was just incredible in 1950 and 1951, but the weather. I had never seen anything like it. Twice as cold as in Sweden, but the worst thing for me was summertime, 120 degrees with the full uniform and helmet and everything on. Anyhow, I got back to Seattle and, again, I met a friend at the same doggone King Street Station. He was a young lawyer and we had joined a place called the Soldier Club, Alaska Club, and they served dinner and had dancing every night. He said, “Where are you going tonight?” And I said, “Well, I’m just coming back from San Francisco and the war.” And he said, “Well, good, I’ll drive you wherever you want to go.” So, we went to this place for dinner and there was this whole group of people there from one of the offices in Seattle. There were two ladies left at that party. So, naturally, they moved over to our table. One girl was from Copenhagen and the other one she was just moved up here from Oregon. And, after about four years, she became my wife. We are still married. So it really takes luck. Everything just falls in, you know. And then in 1958 I went into construction and had my own company. And I had a wonderful time. We retired that company in ’92. Now I got to give something away. I’d already been president for ten years of the Nordic Heritage Museum. So I start learning (about) a lot of non‑profit organizations (to decide) which one I was going to carry on with. In the meantime I was president of the Swedish Club.. I finally joined the Northwest Kidney Center in 2000. I was president of the Northwest Kidney Foundation for three years and I’m still in the foundation and out raising money every day. So I’ve had a pretty good life. So I’ve always been lucky. But, you see, luck, you create that yourself.

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Bertil and Jarene Lundh

Bertil O. Lundh was born May 1, 1927, in Landskrona, Sweden and immigrated to the United States on December 8, 1949. Drafted into the U.S. Army in September 1950, he served in Korea and Japan. Bert was a founding member of the Swedish Royal Roundtable and the Nordic Heritage Museum, where he served as president from 1985 to 1995. As a member of the Associated General Contractors of Seattle from 1958 to1994, Bert served on the steering committee for Century 21, the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, and built the Swedish Pavilion. He established the Porcelain Gallery in 1973. He also has been active in the Swedish Club, Vasa Order of America, Swedish Business Association, Rotary Club, College Club, Millionair Charity Club Inc., Magnolia Chamber of Commerce, Norse Home and Swedish Council of America, the Northwest Kidney Foundation, the Moyer Foundation. Additionally Bert chaired festivities for the visit of the Swedish King and Queen during Scandinavia Today in 1983. In 2000 he was fundraising chairman for the Viking Exhibit for the Smithsonian. In 2002 he was awarded the Royal Order of the Polar Star, Commander first class, by King Carl Gustaf XVI. The award is conferred on foreign nationals to recognize service to Sweden and cultural promotion. Bert and the former Jarene Fair were married in 1954. They have two sons, Michael, who died in May 2012, and Steven (Susan); daughter-in-law, Kathy, and four grandchildren.

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Nordic Heritage Museum 3014 NW 67th Street Seattle, WA 98117-6215 206.789.5707 www.nordicmuseum.org

Voices of Ballard and Beyond

Above: A conceptual rendering of Fjord Hall, the entrance of the new Nordic Heritage Museum. The lobby features a cafĂŠ, gift shop, orientation area for school groups, a sun terrace, and the entry to a spacious auditorium. The new Museum plans to open its doors in late 2015. Image by Chris Sjoberg of Mithun architects.

Voices of Ballard and Beyond Stories of Immigrants and Their Descendants in The Pacific Northwest


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