Letters to the Editor - July 4, 2010
Bernie was right about leaving Minnesota I really enjoyed the June 27 column from Bernie Nordman, "A Duluth Girl and the Harsh Reality of Montana Not-So-Nice." (See attached link.) In 1969, Uncle Sam pulled a bunch of us young boys from Oulu, Wis...
Bernie was right about leaving Minnesota
I really enjoyed the June 27 column from Bernie Nordman, "A Duluth Girl and the Harsh Reality of Montana Not-So-Nice." (See attached link.)
In 1969, Uncle Sam pulled a bunch of us young boys from Oulu, Wis., to Embarrass, Minn. We were mostly second-generation Finns, Swedes and Norwegians -- with a few Poles and Slovacks thrown in for good measure.
We were being drafted into the Marine Corps for Vietnam cannon fodder, but ended up in the Navy.
Many of us knew each other. Many of us were cousins, in-laws or somehow otherwise related. They grabbed us because we were so backward and innocent that we could easily get special security clearances.
Life outside the Northland was real different.
We were first sent to San Diego, where I quickly learned that Canada was considered a foreign country -- the money in my wallet was half Canadian, and they wouldn't accept it.
The second weekend we were allowed to attend church. I thought Lutherans were Lutherans. Wow. What a mistake. In. Out. No coffee. No lefse. No hotdish.
The Navy let me loose in 1975. I headed to the East Coast. It was OK, but not real friendly. We moved every few years, each time with a change in churches.
Again, I found that Lutherans weren't Lutherans. No basements.
Then, about 10 years ago, we moved to West Virginia. We live in a place that is much like 1950s or 1960s Oulu. Dirt roads. Few people.
Most everybody, except for us, is related somehow. The people are incredible.
We are treated like long-lost relatives who might leave a large inheritance.
Our pastor, from South Dakota, is of Norwegian descent.
Still no lefse and lutefisk on holidays, no mojaka and no pickled herring -- but we feel very much at home.
My wife, who is from the East Coast, is frustrated by our youngest granddaughter (age 7), who takes about 30 minutes to get out of church on Sunday mornings after coffee and cookies (bars), as she says goodbye to everyone and gives them a big hug.
Hampshire County, W.V.
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