Just today my cousin Unni from Norway posted this photo, one of several picnic pics. These are wild strawberries, about the size of marbles. The jordbaer pictured here only understand Norwegian. Though I never had the patience to gather a mess of them in a container, friend and neighbor Willis and I picked them in the ditches in our neighborhood east of Amery, WI. Eating each one was like taking a bite of strawberry sugar. Intense, natural.
Today for the first time this season I stopped at our local farm market downtown Wisconsin Rapids by City Hall. What a sight, and what tremendous amounts of produce available. Tomatoes galore, beautiful red beauties along with so many other garden vegetables. The Amish sold bread, pickles, and jam along with their produce, plus fresh eggs, in the same location as last summer. The Hmong stands sold a variety of noodles, egg rolls, rice, and other specialties. Photos to come in August.
During the years of the First World War the mansion became a medical hospital, and it became important when the worldwide flu epidemic struck. The years of the Blalock Asylum were over in 1915.
In late 1918 Turid and her mother Solveig knocked on the door at the Blalock and nursing staff welcomed them, but when asked questions neither could answer because they spoke Norwegian only. From the looks of Turid, though, she showed symptoms of the flu that ravished the US and the world at that time. The staff brought them in and gave them an area on the first floor, Turid being too weak to climb the stairs. Her mother slept nearby. Despite the nurturing and comforting care Solveig provided, Turid took a turn for the worse and died a week into January of the new year, 1919.
Solveig continued to work at the Blalock as a volunteer, slowly learning English and living at the mansion. No one knows what Solveig did with the body, the employees discovering one morning that Turid had disappeared. The best guess was that her mother took her into the massive basement and buried her body in the dirt floor somewhere.
Here’s the strange part. Solveig stayed with the medical building for nearly 5 years, and every month at the date of Turid’s death, for a time the above scene would be seen. They’d speak to each other in Norwegian but wouldn’t touch, and soon Solveig would be alone again for another month.
Western Norway. Original Larson farm left of center, near the red building. The area on a fjord is between Bergen and Stavanger, near Olen. The farm setting looks like a gentle slope, but when a person is on it the angle is significant. The area is called Aarak, and if you’ll notice that is part of his name, his signature, at the bottom of the letter– Lars Peder Aarak.
Aarak the 4 of November 1895
My son Ole !
We have had your welcome letter of 16 September, where by we greet you with our loving thanks.
We saw to our joy that you had your health and that you lived well and had got in the corn, Wheat and Oats.
Our health are by the same as before. we have harvested this year, but it was difficult this autumn because of the ongoing rain that made our potatoes bad.
Here has already fallen shoe snow, but it seems to go off again
The crops were medium this year, except for the potatoes and some of the hay less saved.
We appreciate you for your persistent writing , that is of great joy to us.
You father has the pocket watch he got from you, it works still good, it is his comrade when he is out to sell sheep in the summer, he is so fond of it, since he got it from you.