Biographical, Historical, Fiction

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The Norwegian village of Gudrangan was on the banks of the fjord. It was not an exceptional village but the people of the village were hard workers. They were all farmers. They didn’t plow and till the land. They farmed the fjord. The fjord was a haven for many types of marine life. It was particularly full of the favorite food of Scandinavia. Scandinavians love herring in any form. In Germany you will find a street vendor selling wurst on any corner. In Scandinavia you will find a vendor selling herring on any corner. The herring may be smoked or pickled. It may be boiled or baked. Whatever way it is prepared, it will be sold.

Gudrangan was a paradise for fishermen to catch herring. The herring is a schooling fish and if you happen on a large school you can catch enough in an hour that would normally give enough money to last for a month. Every man in Gudrangan was a fisherman. Every morning at sunup you would see fifty fishing boats leave the Gudrangan docks heading for the fjord’s fishing grounds. The fishermen were wise not to over fish the fjord. They would fish the fjord hard for three months and then they would stop fishing the fjord and head seventy kilometers west for the Atlantic Ocean for three months. In the ocean they would be able to catch salmon and cod. These were not marketable like the herring but the fisherman could make enough to cover expenses. The three months absence from the fjord would allow the herring to replenish.

The Anderson family men were fishermen. All but Lars. Lars was afflicted with motion sickness. You can’t fish if you are leaning over the rail vomiting and that is all that Lars could do if on a boat. Lars would get ill watching boats on the water even if he was on the land. Lars had four older brothers that were fishermen and owned their own boats. The family did very well fishing. Lars had an Uncle that was a farmer inland from the ocean and the family sent him there to see if he could be a farmer. Lars wasn’t a farmer.

Lars would have left Gudrangan long ago if it had not been for Frida Peterson. The two were in love but Frida’s parents were not sure that Lars would be able to support Frida if he didn’t fish. Lars and Frida made plans to leave, not just Gudrangan but also Norway. Norway was about fishing and Lars would never do that. They looked at other places and finally decided on the United States of America. Lars did a lot of research and decided that they would move to a small town called Worthington in a territory called Minnesota. Lars picked this spot because it was 2000 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean and 2000 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. It was also 1500 kilometers from the Gulf of Mexico. There was nowhere they could go that would be further from an ocean. The momentous decision was made and preparations were made for the couple to leave. Frida’s parents, seeing they could not stop the wedding, agreed to the two being married as long as the wedding took place before they left. So they married in Gudrangan and the entire town was at the wedding. The wedding was shortened a great deal when the men learned there was a large school of herring just 5 kilometers from town. They all left at once. Even Lars’ brothers and father left.

The Anderson family and Peterson family had given the new couple adequate funds to make the trip and to start a life in the new land. They had also received wedding gifts of money from their friends in Gudrangan. They travelled by coach to Bergen where they could catch a ship to Boston in America. Lars was dreading the trip across the stormy North Atlantic but knew this was the last time he would have to be on the ocean or see the ocean. Fortunately, it was summer and the sea was relatively calm. Lars was sick all the way but not violently ill as he would have been if the sea had been rough.

On arrival in Boston they took a train to Chicago and then a train to St. Paul in the new state of Minnesota. Minnesota had just been granted statehood along with its neighbor to the south, Iowa. From St. Paul they took a coach to Worthington. It had been an arduous trip but it was finally over. It was now September and the farmers were bringing in their crops. The land was lush and green and both Lars and Frida were struck with the beauty of the land. Worthington was not much of a town but it was a town. They had just enough money to buy a small house and time to look for an opportunity.

The new couple was welcomed to Worthington and it seemed to be a friendly place. Lars noticed that there was no barber shop in the town. It would not be difficult to cut hair and give a shave to a man. Lars opened his tonsorial parlor and started looking for customers and an income. He charged 50 cents for a haircut and 50 cents for a shave. If the man had a particularly long beard then he charged a dollar for a haircut and shave. Business was not great but they were making a living. Many people were coming through Worthington and needed some services. Lars decided that adding a bath to his tonsorial parlor could be a good thing. He expanded his building by two rooms and had a bath for women and a bath for men. Frida would service the women’s side and Lars would take care of the men’s side. Business was good. They had some local people that would bathe once a week but most of the people only bathed once a month. The charge for a bath was one dollar for one hour in the bath. This increased their income a great deal. Another opportunity surfaced when the local doctor approached Lars to take on another task. The doctor had been pulling teeth but was tired of that and asked Lars to take on that job. He even gave him his special pliers that would grip the tooth without crushing it. He showed Lars the technique and Lars had another business. He charged a dollar to pull a tooth. If it was the middle of the night it was an extra 50 cents.

Worthington did not have a hotel and Lars thought that would be a good business to have. Many people were travelling through Worthington and needed a place to stay. Lars would need money to build such a place and he did not have the four thousand dollars he would need to build the hotel. The local banker was another Scandinavian named Axel Jorgensen. He was from Denmark but had been a friend to the new couple since their arrival. They approached Axel about their idea and he was interested in helping. He knew that Worthington would grow and they needed special services to entice people to stay. It would also help his business if there were more people. They discussed the idea and Axel had an idea that they should also have a restaurant in the hotel so the guests would have a place to dine. Axel agreed to loan Lars and Frida six thousand dollars to build the hotel and restaurant and get the furniture and fixtures they would need.

The building of the hotel went forward. Frida was sent to St. Paul to acquire the furniture and fixtures. At this time Frida was with child and had to be careful of the trip. The things they needed cost less than they had planned because Frida was a very good negotiator and made certain they got the best price possible.

The hotel was ready to open and Frida gave birth to Olav Anderson. Both Frida and Olav were healthy and Lars was delighted with his new baby boy.

The town was excited. The railroad was coming to Worthington. A new company called the Northern Pacific Railroad was building a railroad line from St. Paul to Seattle in Washington. They had announced plans to build the line to go through Worthington. From Worthington it would go to Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Billings, Missoula, Boise, Spokane and Seattle. It would carry passengers and farm produce to the west coast ports and bring back fruit and lumber from Washington.

Frida gave birth to Clarine, a beautiful little girl.

The Northern Pacific decided that they needed a maintenance base and thought that Worthington would be an ideal location so the plans for the base moved forward. The railroad approached Lars about renting rooms in the hotel when the base and the rail line were completed. This would be several years but they said that they would need ten rooms every night and would pay for them whether or not they were used. That was all the rooms they had so they decided to expand the hotel by 20 rooms. Frida took over the negotiations with the railroad on the price of the rooms. The railroad thought a dollar per room per night was fair. Frida said that she thought three dollars a night per room was fair. The railroad came back with 1.50 per room and Frida came back with three dollars and breakfast would be included for anyone staying in one of the railroads rooms and the deal was done. They approached Axel for more money and told him of the deal with the railroad and he jumped at the opportunity to lend them the money.

Life was good for Lars and Frida. The children were growing strong and healthy. The town now had a school for all the children. Any child could go to school to the age of fourteen. They were able to learn the basics of reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. They also learned penmanship. The arithmetic taught them to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. The teacher was a competent young man from the area. He had gone to school to learn to be a teacher. Olav did well in school but Clarine was exceptional. By the time she was ten she was helping the teacher with the younger children. By the time she was fourteen the teacher convinced the town to hire Clarine to teach and to help him. Clarine loved to teach and her thirst for knowledge went beyond the basics. She cajoled her father into buying her books about history, geography, and science. Lars was happy to do this as he was proud of Clarine and her intelligence.

Clarine was now twenty years old and was a beauty. The young men of Worthington were constantly at her door and requesting walks or buggy rides or whatever they could think of. Clarine found none of the young men to be of interest. Clarine was still teaching and the school now went beyond age 14 and now went to age 16 and the students were getting lessons in history and science and geography.

Axel Jorgensen needed help. The town was growing and the maintenance base of the railroad was a big factor. Once a month the railroad sent the bank $10,000 for payroll and other expenses they incurred in Worthington. Axel was expected to make these payments and to account for the money to the railroad. Axel had a sister in Chicago that had a son that Axel was fond of and he thought he would be ideal to bring into the banking business. Axel approached Richard Andresen about moving to Worthington and helping Axel in the bank. Richard jumped at the opportunity and moved to Worthington.

Clarine took immediate notice of the new young man in town. The new young man also took immediate notice of Clarine. Clarine asked Lars if she could make the daily bank deposits for the hotel and other businesses owned by Lars. Lars knew something was up as he had seen the two exchange looks so he agreed. He liked Richard and was certain that he had a bright future in Worthington.

The townspeople took little notice of the five men that arrived. Two of the men arrived by train from the east. Another man arrived from the west. Two of the men arrived by horseback from the south. The men made no waves and were very nondescript. The three men that arrived by train bought horses from the local livery stable and had the horses outfitted with saddles. They explained that they were going north to explore.

The day arrived when the payroll arrived. The payroll came by train and was hand delivered to the bank by the local station master. As he arrived at the bank the five men also arrived at the bank. It was a bank hold-up. They grabbed the bag from the train and told Richard to open the safe. Richard said no and one of the men panicked and fired two shots at Richard. One of the bullets hit Richard in the shoulder and the other in the upper thigh. Gunshots would be certain to draw a crowd so the men fled. What the station master or the robbers didn’t know was that the railroad had sent two bags. One bag contained $1000 and the other bag had $9000. The men got the bag with $1000 in it. The other bag was still on the train. The local marshal and his deputies took off in pursuit of the men. A few miles from town the bandits rode through some wet lands and the trail was lost and the lawmen returned to town.

The doctor was summoned for Richard. He was bleeding profusely and the doctor was able to stem the flow of blood. He had Richard taken to his office and he removed the bullet from his shoulder. The bullet in the upper thigh had penetrated all the way through the soft inner part of the thigh. Richard would require nursing to be certain that an infection didn’t start. The doctor was too busy to handle that chore and Clarine volunteered. Richard was moved to the hotel and placed in the room next to Clarine so she would be able to assist him. She had to clean the wounds twice a day and change the dressings. While Clarine was teaching she would have Frida look in on Richard and give him lunch.

Clarine had never seen a grown man with no clothes. As a school teacher she had seen young boys. The wound on the inside of the upper thigh would require that Richard have no covering if the wound would be treated. Richard implored the doctor to handle that wound but the doctor laughed and said he didn’t have time for such foolishness. If Richard didn’t want Clarine to treat the wound then he would come back in a week to remove the leg to be rid of the gangrene. Richard decided that he liked his leg and agreed to let Clarine care for the wound. Clarine thought that she would be embarrassed to see Richard in this way but instead she was amused by Richard’s discomfort and embarrassment and took pleasure in watching his reaction when she cleaned and dressed the wound.

The doctor came by when his schedule allowed and was pleased with the thoroughness of the treatment that Clarine was giving Richard. After a week the doctor decided that the wound had sufficiently healed that Richard should be getting out of bed and getting exercise before his muscles atrophied. Clarine told Richard what the doctor said and told him to get up. Richard said he didn’t feel like it and wanted to stay in bed. Clarine had discovered a secret about Richard while treating his shoulder wound. Richard was ticklish. She told Richard that if he wouldn’t get up for exercise he would exercise in bed and proceeded to tickle him. Richard thrashed on the bed and Frida ran in to see what the fuss was. Richard decided that getting out of bed would be better than being tickled. Clarine and Frida helped him out of bed and then Clarine helped him to walk around the room. She set him in a chair and gave him his dinner sitting up.

After that Richard got up willingly and was getting up without help. Clarine took Richard for a walk around town and they were greeted by everyone they met. Everyone was happy that Richard was getting better. Clarine had the hotel buggy brought around and she and Richard went for a ride in the country and had a picnic by a small lake. Richard expressed to Clarine, that in spite of his embarrassment, how much he appreciated her nursing him. He also told her that he had fallen in love with her even before that ordeal and wanted her to be his wife. Clarine was delighted and she told Richard that she wanted to be certain he got well and that is the reason she cared for him. She would not have him for a husband if he was dead. They agreed to be married and to live in Worthington. The people of Worthington thought it funny that Clarine made such a small change in her name. Only one letter changed and two letters were reversed. In celebration of the wedding, Axel Jorgensen told Lars that the last $1000 dollars he owed on the money he borrowed to build the hotel would be forgiven. This was the least that he could do for the Anderson family and all that they had done to help his nephew to get better from the terrible wounds.

Lars was happy that he had left Norway and that Frida had agreed to come with him as his wife. Frida was happy that she had disagreed with her family about Lars and that they had married. Axel Jorgensen was delighted that the Andersons had moved to Worthington and became his friends. He was especially happy that Richard had agreed to join him in the bank. Richard was happy that he had accepted his Uncles offer to join him at the bank. The wounds inflicted by the bank robbers were terrible but the care that he received from Clarine was wonderful and he appreciated it more than he could express. Clarine was just happy.

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