Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy 60th Anniversary Mom and Dad

My parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary on Friday, December 10th.  Married at Grandview Covenant Church, in rural Larchwood, IA, in 1950, it was a cold winter day but one warmed by two hearts joining together.  One wonders if they ever dreamed of this day sixty years later.  I made a book for them that is posted on my blog (temporarily) at the top of the page, take a look at their lives together.
Dad, born and raised on our family farm in rural Larchwood, was a young farmer.  Mom, born in Sioux Falls, was raised in locations in Iowa, Montana and South Dakota.  A graduate of Brookings, SD high school, she enrolled in Nettleton Commercial College in S.F., but left school at a job opportunity in February 1950, at E.J. Gustafson Company, a Philco Distributor in S.F..
February 1950, was a lucky month for her when she met Dad on a blind date. The dating period proceeded.
Parking in Dad's car, on what is now 26th Street (near McKennan Park!) in Sioux Falls, (At that time it was the edge of town!) Calvin asked Darlene to marry him and gave her a diamond ring in July of 1950.  Of course, she said "Yes!"  Dad remembered, "She cried."
The rest of the story is the journey their love has taken!
December 10, 1050
Dear Mom and Dad,
You both mean more each day, to everyone your lives have touched, in such a loving way.  One by one each year flew by since you both said "I do".  Sixty years of memories, shared by the two of you.  From big events and holidays, to simple daily pleasures.  Some tearful times along life's way, some joys that can't be measured.  One by one each year now gone, but still they're yours forever.  Each and every memory of sixty years together!
Happy Diamond Anniversary!
Love, Your Family

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy 85th Birthday Papa!

85 years have passed since that day in the little temporary home (later the chicken house) on our farm when Calvin Theodore Johnson was born.  Imagine calling the same address home his entire life.
He has given me a lifetime of precious memories.  Childhood memories of being carried upstairs, building my tree house, being comforted and cared for in times of need, the strong hands that give the best back rubs, time on the farm, family vacations, antique car doings, teaching me to drive, setting an example of how to act, the teacher - showing me how to do things, gifts he's given from the heart, the ultimate craftsman, humor and the gift of gab, his work ethic, the helper - setting an example to follow, being a good friend, loving his family,...
To Dad,
This is a special birthday wish that comes with love to you
It brings warm and heartfelt thanks for all the thoughtful things you do--
It also comes to let you know you mean more to me each day
From everyone your life has touched in such a loving way.

Wishing Dad all the best today and everyday as he celebrates his 85th Birthday!
Love hugs and kisses being sent across the miles!
Love, Diane

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Hometown

Larchwood, IA is in the Northwest corner of Iowa.  This past summer Dad and I were in the Larchwood Family Days parade in his 1918 Paige touring car.  Here's a view at the start of the parade.  Lots of memories in this scene.  The old bank, pool hall, the old Trophy Case Bar, a former grocery store, the post office, the Corner...  All these businesses have changed since I lived in the area (except the post office), but I still love the memories seeing them creates.  You CAN go home again; whether it's looking at photos, reading a story, hearing a familiar voice or walking down a street.  May you take that trip again soon.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Construction at School

This year at school, we're dealing with construction as they add additional rooms for the K-2 school to move over and join the 3-12 complex.  There are already sections to the school added on here and there with; high school, middle school and 3-5 areas.  With the addition there will be remodeling of some of the existing areas as well.
I used to have easy access to the outside, but now that is gone and replaced by the sound of construction outside my window and on the other side of the wall.  Parking and access to the school has also changed and instead of one locked door to the outside I have three, and a much longer path to walk.
Completion is scheduled for August 2011.  I have started taking photos out the old door in my hallway and hope to take weekly photos to watch the progress.  I should have started this a couple months ago but here are some beginning photos to share.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Farewell Chicken House

My Grandparents Joe and Phoebe Johnson lived in a small two room house on their farm while the "big" house was being built. They had a toddler, my aunt Joyce (b. April 1, 1924, at Moe Hospital in Sioux Falls), and made themselves at home in a two room abode that my Grandma fixed up with curtains, pictures on the wall, doilies, furniture, a cookstove and all the comforts of home. This hilltop location overlooked the Blood Run Creek valley and was close to Grandma's parents farm, below the hill. This is where my Dad was born, November 24, 1925, all 10 pounds of him. Grandpa Joe's niece, Amanda Long, came to help with the birth and do the cooking. Family lore has it that she made enough oatmeal for breakfast one morning to feed an army (of course she came from a family of 15 and obviously was used to cooking in larger quantities.)My ancestors were known to save papers and photos, but up to now we've only been able to find one photo of the little house, taken days after Calvin's birth. The family of 4 lived in the little house for only three weeks after Calvin's birth before moving into the larger family home (the home I grew up in.) Dad enjoyed the line, "I wasn't born in a barn but I was born in a chicken house."The little house became a chicken house, gone were the touches my Grandparents added to the furnishings it once held. Many years later it transformed into a storage building when Dad and some of his friends would fill it with old car parts and other miscellaneous items. Years after that one side was "cleaned out" so the west end where Calvin was born became a "cat house". Kittens and generations of cats were pampered here with left overs from family meals and other cat food Mom gave freely. In my childhood there was a line of lilac bushes going down the front of the chicken house, sheltering it from view. The clothesline was by the lilacs, including the swing at the end. Clotheslines were another childhood treat as I think back of all the blankets draped over the line and secured with a rock to create a tent to dream away the day in or venture to sleep in overnight (or part of the night.) When we were kids we'd put a ladder up on the blind side of the chicken house, facing away from the house and climb up to the roof and jump back and forth hiding from the "it" person during hide and seek. There was a junk pile out back where we put cans and bottles in an old oil barrel, things that wouldn't burn in the fire garbage. An old car was stored behind the chicken house, hidden from view so long trees grew up in the middle of the car, locking it in place next to the family garden including patches of rhubarb and winter onions.It was a little building full of history connecting us to loved ones that came down this summer. Dad started emptying the items stored in there, Mom's cats left over the years when they went to winter in Mesa and the missing or broken windows and holes in the roof and walls gave evidence it was time to retire. I came home to the farm at the end of June, prepared to help Dad empty the storage side. Many things in there had a story all their own. I found an old sled, our childhood swing, and a few other small items to rescue. There was a sewing machine my Grandma and Grandpa Wettestad got as a wedding present in 1910. We all knew it was in there but I can still hear Dad repeat, "We should have gotten this out of here a long time ago". The machine inside looked great but the wood cabinet had definitely seen better days. Out it came and has joined other family sewing machines from the old days in the machine shed. A little tug at the heart came when we came across my brother Steve's rock polisher that Dad made for him in his days of collecting rocks as a boy, another save had been made. Antique car parts, lights, tires, seats, carburetors, doors, windshields, all made their way to the scrap pile or movement into one of the garages. Plaster from the walls and ceiling had fallen amongst the clutter, broken glass and piles of nails, bolts, and other miscellaneous things scattered the floor as I finally used a rake to search for that missing treasure. What could I salvage from the building itself? I took the two doors from each end, a few windows and the sliding doors from the chicken holes. Photos were taken to capture the end of the old building, it was becoming an emotional goodbye.The day finally arrived, July 8th, when the Wulf brothers arrived with their heavy equipment to push the building down. (they also demolished a hog house and the corn crib, another posting perhaps) By luck it was the day my cousin Robin (Aunt Joyce's daughter) had come for lunch and a trip to some ancestral places in the area. We had just returned from our "tour" of the places when the big tractor trailer arrived with the caterpillar. Mom, Robin and I grabbed our cameras as Dad went out to be by the chicken house. It didn't take long to collapse the house so Robin and I could go out and rescue the couplas from the roof and pull out bricks from the chimney for a garden path. Once those things were clear the rest was crushed and compacted to be hauled away to a burn pit. I have to admit I got choked up when it first started to come down, especially when I saw Dad sitting close by to it overseeing the demolition.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

A day set aside to honor Fathers. Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad. ~ Anonymous. How lucky I am to have had mine! A few shots of Dad through the years. Love ya Papa!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Enjoying my summer, hope you are too! I'll be heading to the farm in a week and a half! There's no place like home... I painted this view of the house many summers ago.Rainbow on the farm after a storm, 2009.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Looking for letters...

I do this assignment with my students when I first hand over cameras to them. I try to get them to look at what they are filling their viewfinder with instead of just snapping photos randomly.

A high school classmate and fellow art teacher, Carol recently started gathering alphabet photos in an album on her facebook page. She invited others to add to her alphabet so I joined in the fun. Now I've started my own alphabet on my facebook page. I have multiple choices for some letters, and still have a few to find to complete the whole alphabet, but I've got the whole summer to search.
Today was the start to my vacation from school!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Love a Veteran, I do!

The only son in his family, Dad entered the U.S. Army on May 29, 1946 after having worked at Martin Bomber Plant working on B-26 aircraft in 1943 and returning to high school in Sioux Falls he was drafted into the service. He served 4 and 1/2 months in the states and 11 months 24 days as a construction foreman serving with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Engineer Combat Battalion in Occupied Japan, where he supervised men in construction work. He was part of the foreign presence that marked the first time in its history that the island nation had been occupied by a foreign power.

Dad was inducted at Fort Snelling, St. Paul, MN, before heading to Ft. Lewis in Washington state for his basic training. My Grandmother saved all his letters from Basic Training and it's fun to read through them to get a sense of what Dad's day to day life was like back then.

Heading to Japan, Dad went across the ocean on the Marine Swallow. The boat was jammed with about 2500-3000 soldiers. Most of them were sea sick. One guy even vomited on Dads pants and Dad tells of how he dropped them right there. No one could eat because people were getting sick at the tables all the time and it was hard to listen to that and feel hungry too.

Calvin Theodore Johnson achieved the rank of Technical 4 Corporal and wore 2 stripes over a T on his sleeve. He was in charge of various shops in a camp in Kokura, Japan. It was a Japanese Army Camp rebuilt for the U.S. Army by the Japanese. The shops included Plumbing, Paint, Electric, Carpentry, Machine and Tin.

Many of Dad's army friends called him "Box-Johnson" since he was always sending boxes of items home. Phoebe sent a family photo to Cal in Japan. A Chinese man who worked in one of the army shops Cal was in charge of painted a reproduction of the family photo. Pete Miyazaki got the finished painting to Cal after he came home and it still hangs in our family home.

Once General MacArthur was coming and they had about 5 days to make 65 mess tables - workers worked longer hours to complete them. Four mess halls collected their extra leftover food and gave it to Japanese workers for working overtime on tables. Most of the workers ate way too much, most of them hadn't had the opportunity to eat all they could in ages. (MacArthur never stopped, he just drove in and drove out.) The tables were given to Pete Miyazaki's priest who bowed and bowed and bowed in grateful thanks. Pete Miyazaki served as an interpreter for Dad on the base and became friends, staying in touch until Pete's death decades later. Before Dad went home to the U.S.A., he stopped at the priests house with Pete. Dad had taken his clothes to the laundry and he only had 1 sock to wear. He told Pete of his predicament and when taking his shoes off in the priests home the priest, through motions at Dad, stopped him. Dad asked Pete what was wrong, Pete said "He knows you only have one sock and doesn't want to embarrass you."

Calvin came back on the General John Pope. This ship had a capacity for 11,000 people but only 600 G.I.'s were on board coming home. Warm fresh showers were a rarity on the ship, one night "Hot showers!" was called out and everyone ran for their towels. Dad grabbed his and forgot he had packed glassware in all his towels. Glass went flying, while he caught some others broke. He was discharged October 8th, 1947. On his return home, he helped on the family farm. His parents moved to Sioux Falls in November of 1949. Dad and Uncle Carl Johnson, lived alone until Dad and Mom were married in 1950.

Dad's Army photos are all at home on the farm... I'll scan some someday to share and treasure.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Rains...

Spring rains bring growth to my flower beds outside and my spring birthday also brought flowers from dear friends of mine (left). Both make me smile and isn't that what spring is all about? Renewed growth, a fresh start, new inspiration!
The week ahead, for that matter the month ahead, is a busy one for me. The Denver K-12 Art show is May 4th! Lots of artwork to be prepped and hung in a short time. I look forward to all that work going home to proud parents and out of the artroom, giving me space to move around and finish up the school year. Putting everything away is something that doesn't happen overnight and of course there are still projects to me made and things to learn!
May 8th a friend and I are having a garage sale at my place. It's Denver's City Wide Garage Sale Day. My biggest asset is after getting everything out myself, I don't feel like buying anything to drag back into my home! It's the give and take, reuse and recycle that I enjoy. It's also a chance to visit with a good friend and all the repeat visitors who come to our annual garage sale.
Last week my wonderful neighbors cut down the tree in my front yard that was growing too close to my house. The cut had been talked about and in the plans for years and what a surprise for me to come home after work and find all remnants of it gone! Helpful neighbors are the best, and mine are just that. The tree has been replaced with a birdbath laying on it's stump. A friend and I made the large birdbaths last fall. Spring rains have filled it this weekend. Back to my flower beds... I need to clean them out, erase the remnants of fall and winter, but that is waiting for another day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

Some of the Johnson Stones at Grandview Covenant Cemetery, Larchwood, IA
Joe and Phoebe (Swanson) Johnson's stone on the left, Mom and Dad's stone awaiting them on the right.Andrew and Albertina (Gustafsdotter) Johnson (In front of the large Johnson stone in the photo on top.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Carl Larsson

A favorite artist of mine for many years, Carl Larsson connects me to my Swedish heritage. One of my first encounters with his work was as a teenager, when as an exchange student, my host family in Sweden took me to his home in Sundborn, Sweden, on vacation in 1975. Carl and his wife Karin were given a small house by Karin’s father in 1888 in Sundborn, named Lilla Hyttnäs (little furnace). From that time on I could easily recognize his work in Scandinavian stores here in the states wherever we went and started collecting prints and other items with his work on them. For photos of his home and his art go to this link.
Little was I to know on that first visit, that I would return in 2001, with my Mom, Aunt and Cousin. We visited the village of Sundborn, going to the church first, awaiting the opening of the museum home. After our tour and time in the gift shop, we had a picnic lunch in the garden near the house just soaking in the atmosphere.
My first print I picked up on that first visit to Sundborn in 1975, hangs in my bedroom. Left: "Front Yard and the Wash House" His work is well represented in my home, I have stationary, a plate, trays, numerous calendars, boxes and prints.
Right: "Flowers on the Windowsill, 1894" I have this print on a tray that hangs on the wall in my kitchen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

News from Chile

In 1972 we had an exchange student live with our family from Chile. Carmen attended West Lyon Community School as a senior with my sister Deb and became an addition to our family for life.
As the news of an earthquake in Chile came to light we immediately thought of Carmen's family and home country and contacted her for news. She lives with her husband Dennis in New Zealand now, so we knew she was safe, but were concerned about her loved ones who lived in the areas hit by the earthquake.
Carmen has started a blog to keep people informed of the continued news from Chile and her family. It gives the personal touch to this disaster and shows how prayers are still needed for so many. Take a look at her blog Earthquake in Chile - My Experience.
Right: Carmen and Dennis Brown

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

The Johnson kids on the cement entry to the "little garage". (Diane, Joe, Steve, Debbie) Four little cone heads in the spring of 1960. Come on SPRING!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bänorp, Östergötland, Sweden Connections

Information and help from Sweden came this weekend from cousin Rune Larsson. Rune has compiled a lot of information dealing with the people, customs, and lifestyle of generations of Swedes before us who were connected to the farm Bänorp. Rune's morfar morfar’s (Gustaf Pettersson 1813-1895) farm, Bänorp was where my Great Grandparents, Anders and Albertina Johnson lived before they immigrated to the Canton, SD area.
Before marriage Anders Petter lived with his parents in cottage Slättmotorp in Ljung parish. He moves in 1854 to the farm Djupsjö in Ljung parish and worked for the farmer Bengt Jonsson. 1855 he moved to Tjällmo parish and came back to Ljung parish in 1859. He worked for farmers in the village Slättmon and 1860 he moved to Bänorp. There he was living and worked on a farm when he married Albertina. Together they were living in a cottage Fredriksberg that belong to the Bänorp farm in Ljung parish. Albertina and Anders Peter move 1874 to cottage Nysätter. In 1880 they move to Grönkulla. 1881 to North America.
Both my Swanson and Johnson sides connect with Rune's ancestry.

Here is some information Rune has compiled.

The Bänorp farm village during the 1800s.

In the beginning of 1800s there were about seven owner families living in the Bänorp village. All farm houses were grouped together like a village. Every field in the village was divided into several small fields and each villager had his share in the respective field. This means that all farmers in the village had to use the same crop rotation and to plow, sow and harvest at the same time. It was impossible to get access to one's field if the field next to yours wasn't harvest at the same time. So the village was managed in a close cooperation.
To modernize the farming and to get a better yield of the land there were several parliament acts called "skiftesreformer" - Redistribution of Land Holdings. The purpose was to gather each farmer’s fields into as few as possible (rather one large field then several small ones). In order to carry this out the land surveyors had to do accurate valuations of the fruitfulness of the village's fields in order to redistribute them in a equitable way. For Bänorp that was performed during 1833-35.
The reform gave Bänorp five separate farms A - E. All the farm owners (man or woman) have relation to my ancestor Simon Håkansson 1686-1767 and also a farmer at Bänorp. (Diane's note - Simon Håkansson's son Jön Simonsson was the first husband of my 5 G Grandmother Margareta Jönsdotter connected to my farmor farfar Karl August Swanson and my farmor morfar Adolph Frederik Swanson)
The reform involved the movement of some farmhouses from the village into each farmer's farmland. But farm A, B, D and E still had many of their houses in the ‘village’. Many of the farm owners did have family relation to each other. The redistribution document for Bänorp can be read on the site Lantmateriet - Historical Maps. The document is in Swedish only but contains a detailed map.
During the period 1840 - 1885 my morfar’s morfar Gustaf Pettersson in several transactions bought the other farms, except the C farm. (In the church books he often is named Gustaf Person but in documents he signed he wrote Pettersson.)
When Gustaf’s farm in 1902 was distributed by the land surveyors after Gustaf’s death in 1895, his two daughters and their families each got half of the farm. The elder daughter Sofia Charlotta married to Göran Sällin in 1873 got the north house and farm including the cottage Nysätter.
The younger daughter Augusta Amalia, my morfar’s mother, married to Daniel August Danielsson in 1881 got the south house and farm and the cottage Fredriksberg. The two families had been farming the two farms since several years. The Sällin family since 1878 and the Danielsson family since 1891. The redistribution document for 1902 can be read on the site Lantmateriet - Historical Maps. It includes a detailed map.
The houses in Bänorp for each of the two farms were in 1902 a manor house with kitchen and three rooms, a shed for food, a stable for horses and a shed for carriages, a barn for cows and needed hay during the winter, a woodshed, a pig house.
When were the buildings built? On the map 1833 most of the buildings were there. I have been told that some of the buildings were enlarged about 1900. The ‘Sällin’ houses where owned by Gustaf and Charlotta. When the Sällin family came to Bänorp in 1878 they lived there together with Gustaf and Charlotta. When Gustaf and Charlotta purchased the B farm in 1883 they moved over to its manor house as they lived there when the Danilesson family in 1891 permanently moved to Bänorp. Houses at Nysätter: a manor house with kitchen and one room, a barn for cow(s) and hay, a shed for wood
Houses at Fredriksberg located at the Eigils farm E and bought by Gustaf in 1883 two small manor houses with kitchen and one room, a barn for cow(s) and hay and wood.
On current maps the Sällin farm houses are named Snickarstugan and the Danielson’s Bergkulla. The house named ‘Bänorp 1’ is the old C farm.
Many of the farm houses at Bänorp are still in place as they were during the end of the 1800s. But some are rebuilt, especially indoors. And some new have been added during the 1900s. There were many more small living houses in Bänorp during the 1800 period. Some is still there e.g. Rosenlund but many of them have been removed. You can see the locations on the different historical maps. Stensätter was the name of two cottages close to Nysätter but they were removed during late 1800s. The cottages in the south part of the Bänorp area, just north of Gillerberga, where built during the 1800s. Some of them, e.g. ‘Lilla Bänorp’, were for some time owned by the Ljung parish and used as ‘fattigstuga’, where poor and disabled persons were taken care of. In 1902 the total area of all farms in Bänorp was 170 ha i.e. about 340 tunnland or 420 acre. Of that, the area defined as arable and pasture land was 65 ha about 130 tunnland or 165 acre.

Some facts about farmers living in Bänorp and the surroundings.
The farmers in Bänorp were during the period 1600-1900 ‘owners’ of their own farm. Many of the farms neighbor to Bänorp were during 1700 - 1839 owned by the large farm “Ljungs säteri” The manor farm close to the church. When “Ljungs säteri” became insolvent in 1867 a commercial bank took over some of the farms but sold them later to different investors or new farmers. The farms involved were e.g. Norrby, Slättmon, Blixtorp, Hjälmsätter, Klasbäck, Skallorp, Sibborp, Djupsjö, Flistorp and some more. That means that the farmers at those farms had, during a period, been tenant farmers under “Ljungs säteri”. As it was relatively small farms it meant that the tenant farmers, including wife and children, had to work a certain number of days at the owners farm land in parallel to farm their own land in order to pay for the rent. However, when Gustaf’s family lived in Slättmon before they moved to Bänorp in about 1833 the farther Peter Gustafsson is the owner and also a Nämndeman. As the farmers in Bänorp owned their farms they were able to vote and also able to be elected to the parish council or to be a layman at the local or regional court. The elected person was then named “Nämndeman” for a period of six years. Most of the farmers in Bänorp are in the church books named “Nämndeman”, a title they kept as long they lived. Even if the council and the court only met two or three times a year they were able to meet and make contact with other Nämndemän from other parishes, and with their families. I have recognized that some of the Nämndemän’s children often were married to each other. as e.g. in my family tree.

The kitchen in manor houses and cottages
Before ca 1800 the manor houses often had a brick build oven for bread baking but the cooking was, made over an open fire. That fire gave a warm kitchen during the cold periods and light for indoor working during the dark period, autumn to spring. In this part of Sweden, Östergötland, the daylight exist only between 9 AM and 3 PM during Dec and Jan. During Jun - Aug daylight is at least between 4 AM and 10 PM. During the first part of 1800 the iron range was installed at many large farms accompanied by some kind of oil lamps. In second half, all farms and cottages had a iron range and often also a iron stove in several of the rooms. I assume that iron ranges were installed very early at Gustaf’s manor houses.

The farm animals at Bänorp
I have not yet found any documents (tax document) that describe which animals that lived at the Bänorps farms and how many, but I assume the following: At the farms in Bänorp there were Horses for the farming and transportation (My morfars morfar
Gustaf Pettersson may have had two or three), Oxen for farming, perhaps only during early 1800s, Cows, to get milk and produce some butter and cheese and to get meat etc. Pigs for meat (and perhaps for sale)Hens, for the eggs and meat. Other possible animals may have been some sheep. And of cause some dogs and cats.

What were grown in Bänorp
At the fields the farmers may have grown: Rye, Oats, Barley, Leguminous plants, Potatoes, Some Rutabaga (kålrot) - the base root vegetable before the potatoes were introduced in Sweden during 1700s. Maybe, the farmers in Bänorp, as they had done before 1835, cooperated by specializing on special crops. And then share it. All farms had a garden for vegetables e.g. carrots and brown beans. Most probably they also had black and red current bushes, gooseberry (krusbär) and some apple trees. Cherry trees may have been found among trees in the surroundings, just as apple trees. In the woods they found bilberry (blåbär) and in early summer strawberry (smultron). In late summer lingonberry (cranberry).
I have inherited a cookbook printed in 1835 and owned by Gustaf’s wife Charlotta. It contains recipes for ”fine cooking”. I can see that the most read pages were about how to make jam and jelly based on e.g. black and red current, gooseberry, blueberry, apple, lingonberry etc. And how to make fruit syrup based on different kinds of fruits, including cherry.
Other food. Did they eat fish? Probably. The cook book includes several recipes for preparing fish found in the lakes around Bänorp. And also a recipe for preparing ‘Lutfisk’ from the dry codfish and how to cook ‘julgröt’ on rice and milk and butter. Lutfisk and julgröt are described by Diane Johnson’s Blog as memories from past Christmas eves. They are still popular dishes in Sweden at Christmas time and the New Year days. But perhaps not so much in younger people’s homes.

The background for emigration
The detailed story of the emigration from Sweden to North America is found in many articles on internet.
The emigration from Ljung parish in late 1800s may have been a result of e.g.
- the bad weather and crop failures during mid 1860s.
- the beginning of a new period in Sweden where farm children had to find work on other places than on other farms but where there were lack of such opportunities in Östergötland,
- there were lot of reports in newspapers and from earlier emigrants about the possibilities in Northern America, including from the agents for travel agencies. During 1869 the number of emigrants from the Ljung Parish was 105. The years before and after, the numbers often were between 10 and 20. Another peak was around 1881. The number of inhabitants in Ljung parish was about 1 900. I have counted the inhabitants at Bänorp’s farms to be between 50 and 70 during the 1800s, including the children. About 100 persons lived at farms neighbor to Bänorp.
Education for the children in Bänorp
The school system in Sweden was before 1842 a responsibility for the parents. They were obliged to educate their children so they could read, write and count. But they must not do it themselves. The well situated farmers could hire a person to educate their children. Those persons moved around between farms. In 1842 the parishes got responsible to set up public schools so all children could be educated by a teacher. And the parents were obliged to let the children go to school. But not all children became education until the end of 1800s when it became compulsory.
How in Bänorp during 1800s? There were two groups of persons that in early 1800s probably were able to read and write
- those who had the title Nämndeman - as they need to have knowledge as member of the Parish council. I.e. most of the farm owners.
- most of the soldiers - education in reading, writing and counting was part of the soldiers’ training. If he was a corporal, as Eigil, he must be good in it.
- most of the Nämndemän’s and the soldier’s children
- those children that were educated by a relative or friend to the family.
On the map from 1868 (häradsekonomisk) I have found tree school houses in Ljung Parish, one close to the church, one north of Bänorp at Klasbäck and one at Djupsjö. In Djupsjö Eigil’s youngest daughter Wilhelmina Eigil was teacher during 1868 - 77. In Dec 1876 she married a teacher from the town of Motala and moved there.

‘Undantag’- a benefit for rest of the life
When a son or daughter took over after the parents or when a farm was sold to another family the earlier farmer and his wife often made an agreement for a ‘undatags’ living. ‘Undantag’ meant that previous owners got some benefits for the rest of their lives. They were guaranteed free lodging, normally in a smaller house on the farm, free firewood and a certain amount of food e.g. milk, meat, flour, potatoes etc. Often they also got a small area of land for growing garden products.

Farmhands and maids
Children under 21 years of age had to stay and work at the parents home/farm. But if they were not needed there, the parents should carter for a job at another place/farm. The contact between the employer/farmer and the employee/farmhand or maid was regulated in a law, ‘tjänstejonsstadgan’ (until 1926 when the agreements between unions took over). This law regulated the basic rules for a contract. E.g. it specified that the employment period should start the 24 October each year, and that the contract should be extended for another year if that was agreed upon during the month of August. The salary was housing and food, some clothing and an agreed small sum of money. If the farmhand or maid moved to another farm he/she has to be at the new farm before the 31 October.

Thanks Rune!
Right: Rune Larsson

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

No excuses, I've been bad at posting to my blog. I've become addicted to facebook and write to friends there instead of posting things here.
One thing I have gotten into is making Jib Jab videos and pictures of family and friends. They are easy to post to other facebook friends, send in an e-mail or post on a web site. Here are a couple I've made.
Mom and Dad sharing some popcorn.
In honor of their anniversary and snow birding down in Mesa.
AJ and Sal (Sally) Swanson.
I thought this one reminded me of the ancestral Swanson homestead behind them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Help a School

In these tough times, here is a wonderful opportunity to help a local school win a nationwide library makeover contest. A co-worker's husband is the Principal of the school. Please consider voting!

Washington Irving Elementary, Waverly, Iowa, is a national finalist for a library makeover. The school was flooded in the big floods of Iowa in 2008. All was lost in a matter of hours. They would like your vote… only one vote is accepted per email address. (If you would consider voting from home and work, that would be great!) Please vote for Washington Irving Elementary from Waverly, Iowa, and forward this request on to all your friends and neighbors.

Click here to vote!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My first piano recital in Brandon, SD. 1967 at Alma Burkland's (spelling?) with her music students. Brother Steve with accordian, Sister Deb with plaid dress in back, Me with plaid dress in front. Cousins Kristy Jacobson in polka dot dress and Linda Swanson with flute.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Captain 11

Today there are many adults who grew up in the tri-state area around Sioux Falls, SD, who are traveling back with their memories, to their childhood, remembering a man we knew as Captain 11. Dave Dedrick passed away last night at 81 years young.

Captain 11 was a popular after-school children's program for 41 years on KELO- TV on channel 11, from 1955-1996.

Each show opened with these words, "One man in each century is given the power to control time. The man chosen to receive this power is carefully selected. He must be kind. He must be fair. He must be brave. You have fulfilled these requirements; and, we of the Outer Galaxies designate to you the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of Atlas. YOU are CAPTAIN 11!"

The show played cartoons and featured the Captain entertaining the children with the treasure chest, flicking switches for his "crew members" playing games while he was dressed in a blue pilot's uniform. My favorite activity was to first wave one hand, then both hands, then wave both hands and jump, etc. until he'd declare "Now FREEZE!" Then he would pick some child to raise in the air in their frozen state. It all sounds so simple now but it was simplier times and oh so special to so many "crew members" remembering especially today.

I wrote to Dave Dedrick back in 2005 after seeing him at a funeral of a relative:
...I am a child of the early Captain 11 era. Now an art teacher in NE Iowa, another teacher in my district grew up in NW Iowa where I did and we were just talking about Captain 11 at school and our good memories of watching your show. I can imagine myself jumping up and down on one foot and now two feet in my living room and "freezing" along with the kids in the studio. I was also in the hospital when I was 5 years old and you visited our ward one day and I got a red balloon from you that you were handing out and I kept that balloon until is shriveled and laid down on the floor in our toy room to fly no more. How special I felt that you visited.
I just wanted to tell you how much you and your show meant to us kids of the 60's.
"... He must be kind. He must be fair. He must be brave. You have fulfilled these requirements..."
Flicking a switch on the time convertor for you.
Thanks for the memories.

Here is what he wrote back to me with the subject of his e-mail "Captain 11 Reporting"
Dear Diane,
I am flattered that you remember. I am also amazed at how frequently I am contacted by former Crew Members. Letters, phone calls, emails....all recalling some special thing we shared.
In retirement I can honestly say the rapport that exists between Crew Members and the Captain is most gratifying. Three generations of little people in four states have found a few moments for a flicker-flashback setting of happiness and carefree times.
That is most obvious when someone sees me in a restaurant or a hardware store and I stand in awe as I observe them staring intently before they point and ask," Are you Captain 11?"
"I used to be"
Then the metamorphoses sets in and they revert to being a little child as they rattle off their recollections of childhood memories. It is a wonder to behold. I just love it.
Thank you for writing and sharing...take good care of my little friends...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I should be at school...

Another day of no school due to winter weather. A mixture of snow and freezing rain is visiting NE Iowa.
I was downloading some photos from the school cameras this week trying to clear off photos from my Graphic Design class of last semester and came across these. A student must have taken these photos for a photo montage assignment. (I montaged the photos for this view) Oh my, what a wake up call to see the multiple photos joined together to make up this scene. It needs to be organized, filed and cleaned up drastically but obviously I'm having a hard time finding the time to get it done.We've had three days of school called off this year already and one late start. Add that to ending one semester of classes and adding a new group of classes and projects to get out. I've got to file away last semester so there is room for this semesters materials. It's about priorities I guess. While trying to make the current projects and classes progress the old stuff gets buried deeper into piles. Excuses, excuses... when I get it cleaned I'll have to post a new view.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mexico 1990

20 years ago I chaperoned a group of students on a trip to Mexico with two Spanish teachers. I found this travel log in my files and thought it would be of interest to some of you. It brought back memories of the trip and things I'd forgotten.

Wednesday, August 1, 1990 - We Left school (Denver, IA) in 3 vehicles for Des Moines and the Hampton Inn. Drivers were Marge Lieb, Mr. Jacobson and Diane Johnson. After checking in the 3 boys went to Young Guns II while the girls went to the freezing pool and later watched a pay cable movie "Bird on a Wire."

Thursday, August 2 - Got up at 4 am, no problems catching United flight to Chicago. We had some first time fliers in our group and one deathly scarred flyer (Diane Jacobson). After a long walk through O'Hara airport to the Mexicana desk we prepared to board our Mexicana Flight to Mexico City. We were seated over the wing so seeing the city from the air was a little difficult. The air appeared hazy, we had heard a lot about the pollution and elevation of the city. We were met by our guide Carlos who helped us to our bus and then guided us through the city to the Hotel Prim. I shared a room (Rm #533) with Marge and Sandra Lieb. The view out of our window was that of poverty and wealth. A building was being renovated directly across the street and next to it in an abandoned lot (from the earthquake) there were a couple of shacks where families lived.

Friday, August 3 - Everyone had been prewarned about drinking the water and the Hotel Prim supplied bottled drinking water to their guests. Marge did not feel well today and spent the day resting and trying to get back on her feet. We left by bus to first stop at the Plaza of the Three Cultures, where a Spanish Cathedral, Aztec Ruins, and Modern Mexican Buildings are all located together to symbolize the past and present history of Mexico. Our next stop was to the most revered religious monument in Latin America, the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Legend has it that Juan Diego a basket seller saw a floating lady and was persuaded by her to ask the bishop for a shrine. It took much persuasion on Juans part but after giving a gift from the lady of roses wrapped in a cloth the Bishop gave his consent to have the shrine built. The cloth that was wrapped around the roses had the image of the lady on it. It is framed and shown at the newly built temple which opened in 1979 to accommodate the people that come. Many people bring gifts to the lady and some crawl in on their knees in tribute to the lady.
Driving out of the city we saw evidence of so much poverty while driving through more industrial areas away from the center of the city. We were now on our way to Teotihuacan ("The Place of Gods") to see the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. First we went to a shop where they were forming volcanic stone into various items for sale. We also were given a presentation about the Century Plant, a large cactus plant that was used for paper, needle and thread and the juice of it when fermented becomes tequila. A strike of the workers and some venders made us reroute our approach to the pyramids. They were discovered in 1901 or 1905 and are dated back to being inhabited between 700 BC - 700 AD by farmers. Nomads came in 760 AD and killed the farmers destroying the civilization. There are still mounds of unexcavated areas leaving 80% of the area excavated. The pyramid of the Sun has 245 steps and is 65 meters high. The Pyramid of the Moon is shorter. The steps were difficult to climb in the high elevation and heat. About half of the students made it to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. I made it up to the first large platform. We also visited the Temple of the Jaguars that had 13 steps symbolizing the 13 nations.
Lunch was served to us at the Gran Teocalli Restaurant - a Mexican fiesta with strolling mariachis and Indian dancers in full costumes. Tables were filled with fruits, salads and hot dishes. Most of the students at least tasted warm cactus. Returning to Mexico City we took a walking tour of the Zocalo; the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the newly unearthed Templo Mayor of the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan. In the palace we viewed the huge Diego Rivera mural with scenes of Mexicos history. The guards were everywhere as the president was in residence. Everyone was scarred about taking pictures of the guards as they have been known to break cameras. The National Cathedral is the most important cathedral in the whole country. Part of the cathedral, which is built in the shape of a cross, is sinking and there is always the need for ongoing repairs. The top part of the cross of the cathedral floor plan was subject to a fire in 1962. Inside there are two grand pipe organs the Mexican Organ built in 1760 was built at a cost of only 20,000 pesos! The whole cathedral was built for 20 million pesos! (we received aproximately 2,850 per dollar while we were there!)
Carlos is full of information and we were told Mexico has 80 million people of which 18-20 million live in Mexico City the most populated city in the world. Mexico City, D.F. has a ratio of 4:1 women to men. Mexico covers 2 million square kilometers.

Saturday, August 4 - (Marge is moving today!) Riding the Metro, Mexico Cities subway system was an experience for many of us. Our destination was the 1000 - acre Chapultepec Park. Our first visit was to the Castle of Maximilian and Carlota. Positioned on top of a hill we prepared for the walk to the top. Building up our calf muscles must of been our first priority as the incline along with the high elevation was almost enough to do us in. What kept us going were the people exercising on the hill running up and down and when we reached the top we saw a large group doing aerobics. The castle used to be a military academy and 6 cadets once stayed there to defend the Mexican flag from the Spaniards. One cadet wrapped his body in the flag and jumped down the cliff to save it being taken by the Spanish in victory from it's pole. The six young cadets are national heros and even have their pictures on a 5 or 10 thousand peso bill.
We crossed Reforma Boulevard to explore the Museum of Anthropology. The park had boats on the water and birds to entertain the many people out on a Saturday morning. We were surprised to see 5 men on top of a pole suspended by ropes around their waist fall off the pole backwards and spin down to the ground. The museum featured the calendar stone, stone gods and artifacts of early Mexico, a modern environment for pieces used long ago.
The evening found us trying to organize transportation to the Latin American Tower for a view of the city from the tallest building in Latin America. A beautiful view at night.

Sunday, August 5 - Our last morning in Mexico City found us trying to get to the Ballet Folklorico. The President of Mexico was speaking in the Zocalo resulting in streets being closed all over the place. We ended up walked within 2 blocks of the President. The Ballet Folklorico was a beautiful display of native costumes and dances showcasing native stories, music and color. After the program we again boarded the bus for the floating gardens of Xochimilco. Carlos and Arturo (our bus driver) had gone and bought us Kentucky Fried Chicken box lunches and we took them aboard our floating gondola. All the girls were presented with bouquets of flowers upon boarding the boat. The canal was packed with musicians, families, peddlers, and groups of all kinds. When we got off the gondola we gave our scraps to some dogs and almost started some dog fights. Leaving Xochimilco we headed for Taxco on a new road that had been opened only 2 months. A surprise for some and we were all glad to be avoiding the winding curving roads into the mountains. (We got in on a few of them closer to Taxco.) On the way we saw fields of sugar cane and acres and acres of roses.
Our first stop in Taxco was at a shop where complimentary beverages were given (pop for the kids, Tequila for the teachers) and information about silver was explained. Pure silver is impossible to work, it needs to have an alloy. Most of the pieces in Taxco are between 94% - 98% silver. To earn the government stamp jewelry must contain 92.5% silver. All the silver mining is controlled by the government and artisans then buy the silver from them. The government stamp contains 2 initials of the designer/artisan and 2 numbers the federal # register of the workshop and the quality of silver. For cleaning silver ammonia is not good, the artisans claimed it would eventually eat away at the surface. Clean gold with ammonia and water. The amethyst stone, which stands for good luck, is also mined in Taxco along with many other stones. High above the city is located the Hotel Monte Taxco. We reached the Hotel by riding in a sky lift that accommodates 4 passengers and received a fantastic view of the city. The motel was a beautiful group of buildings and facilities that included a pool, disco, lounge, restaurant, game room, gym, tennis and basketball courts, horse rides, a golf course and shops. Arriving on a Sunday night most of the facilities were closing or being renovated. The disco had a special that night to anyone wearing black and white and after trading clothes around. The teachers went to the lounge to listen to Carl a singer/piano player from the Bahamas that came highly recommended. We enjoyed ourselves greatly.

Monday, August 6 - We traveled down the mountain via the sky lifts to tour Taxco, the world capitol of silver with a population of 200,000. The main highway going through Taxco is called John F. Kennedy Avenue. We went to silver shops and toured a mine no longer in production where we saw examples of the stones found in the region and old equipment used in the mines. There are currently 6 mines being worked around the clock in Taxco. We walked through the narrow stoned covered streets to the Cathedral of Santo Prisca, one of the world's most beautiful churches. It was built with money donated by one of the early silver pioneers whose only son and heir became a priest. Artisans were working on it's restoration and we viewed some of the clean up process and gold leaf painting. Some venders upon hearing we were headed for Acapulco that day told us the temperature there was 110 degrees! We decided to get some pizzas for the ride instead of stopping for lunch and were surprised to get cut up hot dogs posing as sausage on a couple of pizzas. Carlos and Arturo presented us with a contest for us all to guess what time we would arrive at a certain spot in Acapulco. Two surprise gifts were wrapped tempting everyone to guess the correct hour, minute and second of our arrival. The trip out of Taxco was very winding and many people tried to sleep to avoid the queezy feeling the road was giving us. We traveled over the Sierra Madres formed from the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountain ranges where they meet in Mexico. Our guide told us of many movies made in the area and we enjoyed the country side. Chandelier cactus were common is an area the guide compared to our Grand Canyon.
Our first sights of Acapulco were of a more industrial side of the city with some road construction going on. Everyone was looking for their first glimpse of the ocean it finally came at the top of a hill looking through some residential homes. Acapulco has one main street running parallel to the beach that has most of the points of interests. We traveled to the Tortuga (Turtle) Hotel located in the center of Acapulco Bay. Everyone went off to either enjoy the pool, explore the area or eat. The three teachers went to Sanborns and ate while looking out over the Bay. Window shopping filled the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, August 7 - Today a free day we planned to meet down for our breakfast buffet early, a feast of food, most took advantage of a chef who made omelets to order in the dining area. We traveled across the street to the beach area walking along the waters edge. While examining the sand and looking for crabs a wave surprised the three teachers giving us our first douse of water. We came upon Disco Beach where parasailing, Banana boats and Jet skis were for rent and figured the kids would find their way there and decided to settle. We had huge blue and white umbrellas and lounge chairs and tables in both shaded areas and the sun. The boys came later and the parasailing started first with John, Jason, Sam, and Jed. The excitement and enthusiasm the boys showed tempted the rest of us and Niki, Sandra, Ann, and Diane (yep me, I went parasailing!) followed. Marge tried to follow but the boat broke down for the day. (tomorrow) After a day of fun at the beach we shopped and then got ready for a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe, newly opened in Acapulco.
The Hard Rock Cafe was a treasure of music and movie memorabilia. A person could look at the items on the walls forever. T- shirts and Hard Rock items were purchased by most and we ventured nearer to the hotel by bus. I remember Brian saying "Do we have to pay extra for the sauna?" The bus was extremely hot and crowded, many of us would of walked if only we could get off! We then went to a disco near the hotel where many danced away their excess energy.

Wednesday, August 8 - Again to the beach, the coolest place around. We were told the heat reached 48 degrees C. today (That would be nearing 120 degrees F.!!!) There was less wind but first on our agenda was watching Marge parasail! She did it, a woman who can't float or swim out over the ocean! Quick shopping was in order before leaving for a cruise on the Bonanza to see the beautiful Acapulco Bay from the ocean side. The rock of the water didn't agree with many students but the views were great as we saw Frank Sinatra's, The Shah of Iran, and many other homes. Music and dancing accompanied us around the bay as we viewed "our" beach from the water. Our next stop by bus was to the famous Cliffs of La Quebrada to see the daredevil cliff-divers. The distance they dove was up to 138 feet while having to watch the roll of the waves against the rocks to complete a safe dive. It was interesting to learn the practice of diving from the cliff started as recently as back when a Tarzan movie was shot and Johnny Weismillers double had to dive from the cliff. After the movie was shot the double kept on diving for the crowd that would gather and a tradition was started. This was also the sight of Elvis Presley's movie "Fun in Acapulco". Many of us went to Pizza Hut that evening and while the teachers packed. Carlos took the students to Eve's a popular disco about a block away where they danced their last night away.

Thursday, August 9 - Our last morning in Mexico found us having an early breakfast, gathering of luggage and final group pictures before leaving in a bus for the airport. On our way to the airport we were able to see Sylvester Stalones impressive home and the Black Lagoon where part of the African Queen was shot and many other movies. The Acapulco Airport was not very large at all and we were all surprised at how such a famous location could have such a small airport. Everyone was exhausted and it showed (we saw people we traveled down to Mexico on and they commented we looked beat).
We arrived in Des Moines near midnight and were met by the Dunlaps. The three vehicles then headed home in a rain storm. I was Very low on gas and when we finally reached a gas station in Waverly that was open it wasn't until there that we heard about the US sending troops to Kuwait, the prices for gas was 1.25.
The trip was a success.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Elmer's Hill

On Section 20, of Sioux township, in Lyon County, IA, many children and adults of the area went sledding on the hill that seemed to be made for many groups to enjoy when it became snow covered. In my lifetime it was known as “Elmer’s (Swanson) Hill". Elmer Swanson was my Great Uncle, a brother to my Grandma Phoebe. The hill, next to a little valley where Blood Run Creek traveled on it's way to the Sioux River, wasn't far from the house where they grew up and about a mile from my childhood home (as the bird flies).
Families, churches, schools, neighbors and groups of friends found themselves sledding there, enjoying the thrill of the speed down the hill and the warmth from many bonfires built at the top. There was an area near the gravel road that you had to stay away from because of rocks and rough terrain but a few yards to the west, the hill was a treasure to coast down. In later years I remember Dad and neighbor Eddie Hildring bringing their snowmobiles there, to give rides back to the top of the hill. Not far away were ruts in the land where the old stagecoach trail once was. A place of history in more ways that one.
Eventually a fence was put at the bottom, after the land was sold, and the hill became silent after decades of laughter and screams of excitement. If you listen closely you may still hear the sounds of laughter from memories of your own sledding days.
My Grandmother wrote this poem in January 1966, about the hill and adventures down it, remembering the hill when her father owned the land.

Hilarious Adventure
by Phoebe (Swanson) Johnson
Yes, we had fun and many a thrill, As bravely we would interlock, When coasting down steep Pasture Hill.
Though sometimes we would take a spill, We dared again for one more shock... Yes, we had fun and many a thrill.
We never suffered any ill - Perhaps a tear in pant or frock... When speeding down that perilous hill.
To steer the sled took grit and skill, As steel flashed fire on hidden rock... Yes it was fun - How we did thrill!
A long pull up for Jack and Jill, Then swiftly down to scare the cock, While coasting on the Pasture Hill.
When nighttime came and all was still, Said Little Nod to Blinkum Block, “Yes, we had fun and many a thrill, When coasting down steep Pasture Hill.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Days... Cold Days...

“Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.”
Wishing you some warm memories today and everyday.

Left: The frosted window view out my back door this morning.

We've had school canceled two days this week due to weather. The calls came to me around 5:30 am on the phone tree the last two days. I'm an early riser so there's no problem there, but I've been unable to go back to sleep each morning, so I begin my day with the promise of a nap in the afternoon if I'm productive in the morning. (Yesterday I got a nap AND watched the movie "Munich")
Yesterday morning I actually went up to school (I only live 5 blocks from school) and put my grades on the computer around 7:45 am, meeting the predetermined deadline that the office was determined that everyone meet. My neighbor had blown my driveway out early and the plows had gone on the streets. The school parking lot was still snow covered and it continued to snow and blow. I was resenting the fact that they pressured me to go up to school and post my grades when school was canceled, afterall these snow days are actually my "summer vacation" days! I was glad it was done after the fact and it only took about 10 minutes to complete. Done, onto the next task.
I will be teaching a digital imaging / tech workshop next weekend on the 16th. It's part of our teacher quality money and Denver teachers will be paid a stipend to attend. This is one of two workshops I'll run. The free time that the canceled school days bring, is allowing me to prepare for the workshop. I'm making a handout with tips and links, to e-mail out to those involved. It has always been a frustration of mine when someone reads a link out loud and expects you to type each link in, while you're trying to explore these sites. It makes you have to keep to their pace and limits true exploration. It has taken me much longer than I thought it would, to compile this handout, but I seem to find new things to add to it and am enjoying visiting and revisiting the wealth of information and programs out there. We'll be focusing on digital images and using iPhoto, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I also promised I would show them how easy it is to create a blog.
There is much to do and now I have the time to attack some of it. It's a No procrastination Zone at my house today.


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