So in June 1913 after saying goodbye to my parents, some friends from Söndrum saw me off at the railroad station in Halmstad. Then I came to Malmö where Hilda, Hilma and I embarked on a boat to Copenhagen in Denmark. It had been three years since August and his brother had set off on a similar journey. As we boarded the boat in Malmö I recall that there what was clearly a well-to-do family almost shoving a drunk young man onto the boat. He was wearing a white student's cap which was a symbol of being well educated in those days. From Copenhagen we went to Esbörg, then to Hull in England. We took the train across England to Liverpool. After staying over night in Liverpool we boarded a big ocean liner named "Franconia", a Cunard steamship bound for Boston, Massachusetts.
There were many passengers on the Franconia, almost two thousand of them, and of many nationalities. We sailed in third class and the food was not good, but we survived. I remember seeing that young man with the student's cap on board, still drunk. I wonder what became of him.
On board the Franconia, we became friendly with a family where the man was Danish and the wife was Swedish. I think their name was Larsen and they had a daughter named Laura. They treated us to coffee that they made on a little stove they had with them. They amused us for the wife was always scolding her husband for something, and one day she said she was scolding him because he had been in the Senate in Copenhagen, and here she said, "He goes hobnobbing with all kinds of people". He seemed to take this good-naturedly. The family's destination was Boston, where they had sons in some kind of contracting business.
An odd thing is that twenty five years later, August and I had an errand to the Odd Fellows Retirement Home in Worcester and some men were standing around outside as we entered. I remarked to one of them that it was a beautiful day. As I said this I thought I recognized him. He responded by saying that he did not speak English very well because he had been so old when he had come to America. I asked him if he had come over on the Franconia. He said he had. Then I asked him if he had a daughter named Laura. Yes, yes, he said, she had been seventeen at the time. August and I invited him to our home. He came to visit us and read some speeches for us that he had held in the Senate, so he was not just lying. He was then eighty five years old, and he passed away soon thereafter.
The weather during our sea voyage to America was good most of the time, only one severe storm made us all quite seasick. There were four girls in our cabin, and we all got sick at the same time. It was really terrible to be seasick, but fortunately we were not far from land. I shall never forget the first time we saw the east coast of the United States of America. It was truly an unforgettable sight. The sky was blue and clear. There was a strip of land, then woods, and it was not long before the Franconia had docked in the port city of Boston. That was on June 5th 1913.
August and his brother Olof met Hilda, Hilma and me and brought us to the train heading for Worcester where the oldest brother Otto and his wife, Anna, welcomed us. Otto and Anna had just recently moved into a newly built house where everything was nice and clean. It seemed so nice to come to a clean home after such a long sea voyage and a ride on a dirty coal burning train to Worcester. Anna had just baked fresh bread, I can still remember the smell. Anna was glad that some girls had arrived, as earlier it had been only menfolks that came.
August and Hilda were to stay at their brother's house while Hilma and I took in at the YWCA and then we had to face the question of getting a job. I felt lost then, for there was no work available of the kind I had been doing. Those jobs were considered to be too hard for women and so I had to take what I could get.
Three of us girls went to a Swedish employment agency, and pretty soon Hilda, who had experience in doing housework, got a job, so did Hilma. I lied, saying that I could do cooking, but American cooking was so very different from the Swedish that it was just as well that I did not know so much about it. Finally I got a job on a farm where they grew nothing but strawberries. I loved strawberries. The family's name was Ward, English, and they never served any strawberries at the table, but there were baked beans every day. The Ward family consisted of an old mother, her daughter Effie, her brother who was the boss and two hired men. And then there were about forty women and children who picked the berries. I was out of a job in the summer, but I had not been happy there. The work was hard and the food was poor.
Anton had moved out west and had started a fruit farm. Somewhere around this time Hilma Brodin went West, too, so they could get married (photo).
I then got a job as a domestic with an English family, a lawyer. This job was a little better. But the man died of a heart attack soon after I started. The wife decided to move to Texas and said that she didn't need me any more. August came by one day and said that he had more money and that we should get married.
In the fall Olof got married to Elsa Mattsson and they decided to go to Chicago to try their luck there (photo). They asked me if I wanted to go with them, but I refused because of August. Before Olof and Elsa moved to Chicago they borrowed five hundred dollars from August. Together with a man named Jackson they bought or rented a moving picture hall. They had it for only a short while for it did not go so well. The one on the other side of the street did alright, they said. Then Olof and Elsa moved out west to Oregon and had a blacksmith shop for while, but that did not go so well either. Finally, they moved to California, where they stayed.
August's sister Hilda married a man name Presgard Valentin Pedersson. He had changed his middle name to his last name and Americanized the spelling so his name was Presgard Valentine. Hilda and Presgard moved out west, too, like Anton and Olof. So of all that family it was only August and Otto that stayed in Worcester. (photo of August and Otto) All the younger ones moved out west.
When a couple wanted to get married at that time they had to apply for a marriage license and then wait five days before they could get married. (later copy of marriage certificate)
August and I were trying to fix a place to live. We wanted to get some furniture but August had lent most of his money to his brother Olof, but he had enough left to buy the most necessary things like a stove, a table, some chairs, a bureau and a bed - the cheapest we could find.
So we got married on the, snowy, cold evening of 8th December 1913. We got married in the home of pastor Wahlström. With us were Otto and Anna Anderson who were the witnesses. After the ceremony Otto and Anna invited us to their home for coffee and cakes. (wedding photo) We had previously arranged for a tenement, four rooms, with no heat except in the kitchen stove. Winters were more severe in Worcester than in Halmstad or Skåne in Sweden. I remember that we had to let the water in the pipes run a little, or else the pipes would freeze in the night. Needless to say, there was no electric lights or electricity. The building was close to the railroad tracks. I was a little apprehensive because we had come to America in the hope of a much better life. We stayed in this place, 22 Summerhill Avenue, Worcester, Massachusetts, for five years.
In the middle of the summer of the following year, 1914, August came home and told me "Now, there is war in Europe." The World War had begun and from that time on, everything became strange. Shops got very busy with orders coming from all over. For some reason August had sympathized with the Germans and August felt that the company was keeping an eye on him.
I had been in Worcester only a short time when my brother Ivan arrived in America. I was watering flowers and there came Ivan who stood there sort of laughing at me while I was spraying the flowers with a hose. And he wanted to know if August could help him get a job as a stonecutter. So August and Ivan went to look for a job and he got one, way out in the country picking strawberries. Soon after it became clear that Ivan was having trouble with his lungs and then he started to cough blood. He had tuberculosis. He was engaged to get married to a girl named Anna in Sweden who was going to come to America as soon as he had found work. Ivan sent her a message and told her to stay in Sweden, he was coming back. Anna did not know what to do so she went to my mother, Ulla, and she made arrangements for Ivan to stay in a sanatorium north of Halmstad and it was cousin Frans who paid for the stay. Frans Jonasson was the son of Charlotta Jonasdotter who was my aunt. Anna stayed with my mother for a couple of years there in Halmstad while Ivan was hospitalized.
August and I had joined a Swedish fraternity called the Odd Fellows that fall and they had arranged a subscription dance at a place in the center of the city called Mechanics Hall. All the girls bought new dresses, white lace, mostly cheap, but they prettied them up with colored ribbons. At the entrance to the hall, the girls were given dance orders on which they boys were to write their names for which dance they were to have with a certain girl during the evening. August did not dance, but I got to dance and I enjoyed myself. Although August did not really take part in many of the fraternity's activities, it made him feel secure. He said that the men in the order were the only ones he really trusted.
August was working at the Morgan Construction Company and the owners would not give the workers any more pay for they additional work. So the workers became dissatisfied and began to organize. Then one morning the doors to the place were locked. That meant a lockout. August came home and told me about it and said that he was going to see a sort of guide or union organizer to find out if there was going to be a strike and to find out about the rules against working. Then after about two weeks he found out that some of the men had left for another city, Bridgeport, in Connecticut and had gotten jobs there at the Remington Arms Company. They made guns there and the pay was very good. I suggested to August that he try to get a job there too. "Yes, I think I will," he said. He went together with another man named Oscar Nelson and they both got jobs there.
In the fall of 1915 many people were moving into the city of Bridgeport and August and Oscar had difficulty finding a place to live. The only thing they had been able to find was a summer cottage near the shore. They were building many apartments in the city but they were being rented out even before the foundations were laid. August moved back to Worcester in the spring of 1916 because by then I was about seven months pregnant and we had begun to think of Worcester as our home town. Once back in Worcester August went back to the Morgan Spring Company. By then they were glad to take the workers back, realizing that they had been foolish not to have given them more pay in the first place.
My son Roland was born June 17th 1916, a Saturday, during a storm. After about 12 hours of labor, August told me, "You look better than I do," and that was all he said. I never really learned to understand his reticence. (1917 photo of Roland)
August had taken the side of the Germans and when the war was over and an armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, August felt so bad that he went out in the morning and did not return until the evening. Soon thereafter the bosses asked the workers if they would give a day's pay to the Knights of Columbus which is a catholic order and August refused and walked out. He came home and said that now he had quit Norton Company and was going to New Hampshire to buy a farm. Little Roland was then two and a half years old and going to look for a farm would be too much for a boy that young. I had no relatives who could take care of him so I decided not to go with August to New Hampshire to look around. He went alone and was gone two or three days. When he came back he said he had found a place near a city called Manchester. He said he had put down a deposit of two hundred dollars, but he was already in doubt as to whether he had done the right thing. The nearest town was a small place named Barnstead and between Manchester and Barnstead was a somewhat larger town, Pittsfield.
We went to see the farm. It was quite old but for the past few years it had been owned for some years by a railroad man from Boston who lived there only during the summer. The farm house was good-sized, snow white, with six rooms with no conveniences, not even water in the house. I remember particularly how snow white it seemed, even though it surely had not been painted in many years. It was built without nails, only wooden pegs. In those days, they had two kitchens; one was a separate summer kitchen for use during the hot summer. Wood stoves produced so much heat that they could make the living quarters unlivable. In Worcester, where we had lived for six years, we had a coal range in the winter and a gas stove in the summer, plus hot and cold water. The barn was large with a red painted silo in need of some repair. The barn needed a new roof, too, but the people who built it must have had modern ideas for there were something like chutes to rake the manure directly into the cellar of the barn where it could be carted out by wagon through lower level doors at the far end of the barn. There were stalls for three horses and about eight cows.