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Interview with Fred G. Anderson

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Fred Anderson was born in 1907 in Sweden. He came to the United States in 1926. He initially worked as a painter of homes and churches, specializing in stencil work and marbling technique. In 1948 he opened his own wallpaper & paint store in St. Louis Park.

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0:18:58

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License Please contact American Swedish Institute staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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INTERVIEWER: What I was going to ask you was do you get any Swedish newspapers, did you or Swedish American ones?
F. G. ANDERSON: I did, and you know all I did Sweden now you know but I was somehow out there.
INTERVIEWER: But somehow, Minneapolis were many out there.
F. G. ANDERSON: I do. And then again I had from the [ex Roman] used to subtract on that more opinion, you know [unintelligible - 00:00:29] in Sweden in Darlana so that [unintelligible - 00:00:33] and he read that he give it to me so for years but now he discontinued, you know [unintelligible - 00:00:41] so few people he knows and as he is two years older than I am, so reading the paper same to me give me the paper I look for my relatives that was again [unintelligible - 00:00:56] somebody that I knew and I don't know what they mean but at the moment personal attachments so today I don't really.
INTERVIEWER: Did you read many of the Swedish American papers that were released here or?
F. G. ANDERSON: Years ago I did but…
INTERVIEWER: Did you use them the newspaper to hire your man and all?
F. G. ANDERSON: No, no, no.
INTERVIEWER: How did you go about finding workers?
F. G. ANDERSON: I did not hire this [unintelligible - 00:01:29], there is this one man that I thought about he was Irish, he was [unintelligible - 00:01:33] Rinds, R-I-N-D-S. And his first name was Tom, Tom, I heard if he was you know like I told you I told you he was a painter, but his parents lived in Princeton so he was here just visiting. So, I went to their house and English-Swedish dictionary to me, not trying to talk to him and he kind of like, it's a joke. But you know I could see I couldn't get the first base, so then I had this, my great uncle’s son you know, and he just he was sitting you know like I told he bought for me first, or started working for me that time so then I took him with me. And then I understood, if I’m not in the US, he was working for this man that time he’s working for government monitoring and I can't remember, in Michigan. You know the artist work, on a conference so he was you know, it's like vacation so finally he decided okay I’ll work for it, you got to work for couple days and then the captain says what they say.
INTERVIEWER: He really liked.
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah he -- so later on that he on his life he bought-- you know because he was 20 years old man he was 40 years old at that time. He said he was tired of you know just he was tired of office work. You know, monitoring. And it's entertaining and so relaxing, it felt so much better to impress easily. I do not even think that you will pay me. You feel free so you don't you know, it's not -- you don't even feel it’s work. So, he really enjoyed the training but he did help me in business as far as…
INTERVIEWER: Recounting after…
F. G. ANDERSON: Recounting and you know he would tuck off the bed for me and so I was dependent very much on him.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have to do a lot of training of your workers?
F. G. ANDERSON: Yes, sure that's because we’re not really famous when we started because what I wanted, I wanted somebody that was not tied on you know with families because they are moving from place to place. So, I had bachelors working for me and young people at home so I don't handle that problem of Miles Johnson, and he was drunk here from school and he is a [unintelligible - 00:04:17] and he was a bachelor so I had to-- and I had another his name was Thomas Pit Thomas and he was up here in [unintelligible - 00:04:27] nor bachelor. So I had someone you know, that I wanted people you know who can move from place to place and all year so especially working there because I didn't do too much residential work and I still did commercial work.
INTERVIEWER: And you started with churches?
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah so if you got, you know what, stencils and they got mostly because that was-- nowadays you know time shuts the door. Bad future on my days, those days it was [00:05:00] the most stencil work are done nicer but I don’t know, it wasn’t enough that the same night we kind of dressed up the Church we did – the Church has a sense of work to me as I lived there on that address.
INTERVIEWER: Have you visited some of those early places that you worked on?
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah it was back in down in Siberia in I think in the church. And I get there’s two Lutheran churches I can think of, there is an older church smaller one and then back in-- I saw a man there, I talked with the janitor, he's an older man you know worked from different pieces and taking up stuff. And of course he said, "Are you Father Erickson?" I said, yes, some government so I can't remember but he still know that for 25 years or a bit 30 years.
INTERVIEWER: And he remembered you from doing that?
F. G. ANDERSON: So but he, he remembered my voice. It might have I don't know but I wouldn't stop and I didn’t recognize him so it's got to be interesting. I did that time they had painted this church very long. For long he had done church over because he had now said he's got something, no I didn't and he said there is a, but in that, someone stands in work. It was some light fixtures in the ceiling and it had what we call russet you know around these light fixtures to make it you know more…
INTERVIEWER: Dress it up.
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah dress it up. So they had various painting cut on rows and that was russet designs that put on those pictures.
INTERVIEWER: So they are in still there?
F. G. ANDERSON: And then and so few others that we’re left in there but that's only, and most of them, you know that normally never went back, haven't talked to [unintelligible - 00:07:00] here, but now this you know think of a thing that on that such far, haven’t become it must have been…
INTERVIEWER: 60 years ago.
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah it's a that one was done about 1929.
INTERVIEWER: Almost 60 years.
F. G. ANDERSON: So that's – the plan in all the church you know, and all those churches have gave in, so they gave in, you know we plastered them because we renovate it and so that were about to see.
INTERVIEWER: Now you somewhere took a stage, this is did he go there because it was a Swedish school or did he decide or did you?
F. G. ANDERSON: No I didn't, no I didn't [unintelligible - 00:07:48] at all but then and he did the -- he stayed there two years, but he liked art so he left me at the school to work and the he spent scholarship he spent one year in Amsterdam in a place where he sculptured. And so he take you know grant and he took semester for [unintelligible - 00:08:09].
INTERVIEWER: Oh really?
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah, both kids have interest in arts they have been background so they have interest in arts. You see the studio in Boston, get there.
INTERVIEWER: Really?
F. G. ANDERSON: And that time she decided no, had to move for, settled in to the beaches and I said no because that’s pressure because she was teaching school at one time. And [unintelligible - 00:08:36] doing some teaching in high school.
INTERVIEWER: Did your wife help with the business at all through the years?
F. G. ANDERSON: When it first started she was [unintelligible - 00:08:48] No. She’s on the four kids and before I come here then Tom was just nodding, Tom Rings and he was, you know. So back then you said no cure though the Swedes, he was married when he became a close friend and he came to business here and his [unintelligible - 00:09:12], like I said he’s German and his father worked for me and his this John’s boys and three boys to work for me. And back then Nadia, you know everybody would want to school and Nadia can take my piece.
INTERVIEWER: When you left Sweden, had you had enough of trainings so you would have been considered like a mode of [unintelligible - 00:09:35] or…?
F. G. ANDERSON: No, I went, you know in fact and I start 20 years of theater, and I will never forget that. So I thought I would call on it you are a man you know. I won’t call on it, yeah. So he asked me how I was doing [unintelligible - 00:09:50] So he left me no terms or hated on me, clearly to say whenever they're… [00:10:00] allowed to be [unintelligible - 00:10:02], they studied more than they appeared in content. Because I did not qualify for it, you know.
INTERVIEWER: Goodness.
F. G. ANDERSON: And he is, he was very good craftsman very good I’m saying you know real fine arts in one way but very critical. And we had I never forget we were want them you know and I said is he would take, he have to take and he would spend time with [unintelligible - 00:10:34] Francis. But you never done anything good enough for him because when he worked he started at seven and he worked to six during the week. And then so that’s it, it was the only time he would you know teach to get some teach he does some teaching. But he was very critical and I never forget there is something he called marbleizing he you know that he had a piece of farm just to you know to top it marbleize it that look like imitation marble. And, and then you had to rub the tip you know smooth then I had to keep it like this what process to marbleizing and, and at the same time you might get a higher degree in, in probably the marble but in there you get no [unintelligible - 00:11:23]. If it’s the smooth so it has to peel, peel like marble so you, you know and it’s very hard to keep it dust free so with me working at the shop where we used to take dust brush we call them that’s thick brush. And put it in more and sprinkle ourselves, with water so you know and then sprinkle the floor.
INTERVIEWER: To keep the dust down?
F. G. ANDERSON: To keep the dust down so then you know so then you put your navel on or you go to sun you know that you keep then it be all just the last thing you do in a day and then you know walk across with nobody in there you know? So I had to add this piece and I worked hard so I asked him you know what he thought of it and he walked by and then he walk by. And he just went straight ahead but he put his hand on the surface and say whoa, and then he admitted the mark I’ll never forget that [unintelligible - 00:12:31]. The YEMP, YEMP means smooth millana, millana means rough spots. It’s smooth between the rough spots, and he even looked at the beautiful he just look straight ahead and just…
INTERVIEWER: And just felt.
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah your heartbreak,
INTERVIEWER: Yeah.
F. G. ANDERSON: But he was a good teacher but he was impossible, but after he was sent by his own work, he used very creative colors. He was a -- at one way he was unhappy man he was I think I would say this in arts and that he would -- first I think he is a very unhappy life. I guess he was [unintelligible - 00:13:13] he don’t fit in there and I don’t -- you can’t have somebody in art work if he did, it can be very frustrating life.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah.
F. G. ANDERSON: It’s not it’s not I think his happiness that only think always he got talent but I think in other time it is.
INTERVIEWER: A lot of struggle.
F. G. ANDERSON: Yes, there is a struggle yeah. Because becoming good at something is you have to you have to be you have to be great on yourself.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah well despite of all the hardships your family had when they were young and seems like they have done quite well.
F. G. ANDERSON: Yeah we’ve been, we’ve been very fortunate and I’m -- he had a wonderful mother because she was,
INTERVIEWER: Did you send money home from here? To help your family?
F. G. ANDERSON: No but you see when I first came here then I had no worries about concern for myself.
INTERVIEWER: Right.
F. G. ANDERSON: Then she re-married so it depend you know, my stepfather he made he made a nice home for mother. She was the type of person [unintelligible - 00:14:19] but she was not critical nor see you may feel good you know felt good being a,
INTERVIEWER: Being supportive?
F. G. ANDERSON: Because how often do you get this stuff, she would always say you know she would take a look at you and then I’ll straighten up you know and you know and you know have a nice time but you know. But she was brave you felt very good because she was type of person that you, you couldn’t help but enjoy.
INTERVIEWER: When your father was killed was there any kind of,
F. G. ANDERSON: There is no,
INTERVIEWER: Money from the government here?
F. G. ANDERSON: No, but then my mother hired a [00:15:00] judge to sue the company, that’s you know -- and then the – and he lost the suite, he lost it because you see its 3 people that were killed at the same time. And they you know as we had lost our you know case of the murder.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah.
F. G. ANDERSON: We lost here but after my mother getting married, then they had, they had a tailor in town [unintelligible - 00:15:36] and he know something about laws and have interest in politics. He took the case up [unintelligible - 00:15:43] as new evidence you know they have reconstruct some you know some of this you know, how this happened, this action happened. And what happened was this actually it’s a guess in this big cylinder tank that’s a two-story tank that you know that have some gas. They used to keep the pressure in that tank so it wouldn’t escape. You know you had to have some, some of the vapor for it to escape. You put the ore you know or you know that iron ore you know and because this is in high temperature and they put something right in this tank they were floating on top. But then kind of it’s just like cooking so that it bubbles, this gas the gas fumes you know it would escape.
INTERVIEWER: Into the hair.
F. G. ANDERSON: The cut but the temperature vent you know they keep the temperature up, it could you know some of this is not and then this formed a scale you know or hardened the ore you know.
INTERVIEWER: On the surface?
F. G. ANDERSON: Surface and then it explodes but that’s but then, then I consulted an attorney but then the tailor you know that you know finally took the case you know. And he took the court again you know and it’s evident and then my mother did concept.
INTERVIEWER: Much needed.
F. G. ANDERSON: But so it was not too much we got a 100 crowns in a month I think it’s the same thing in this country, there’s no, really no…
INTERVIEWER: Protection yes yeah.
F. G. ANDERSON: Protection, and I think law attend to this. Law people take too much pride in to their opponent and as for help and my mother was one of those.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah were your workers ever involved any kind of painters union or trade union or?
F. G. ANDERSON: In this country?
INTERVIEWER: Yeah.
F. G. ANDERSON: Oh yeah sure.
INTERVIEWER: So were you a member of the union and,
F. G. ANDERSON: No if I am a member,
INTERVIEWER: You may not,
F. G. ANDERSON: Oh yes, yes.
INTERVIEWER: Did you have any problems with the unions or?
F. G. ANDERSON: No, I got a big portion yeah sure. Well I had long time to strike at years ago and I have so I’m here about the [unintelligible - 00:18:24] the committee for the you know [unintelligible - 00:18:26] committee you know negotiate committee so that’s how they become [unintelligible - 00:18:33]
INTERVIEWER: So your boss had quite good relations with your workers?
F. G. ANDERSON: Oh yeah yes I’m sure.
INTERVIEWER: Well I don’t know if I have many more questions I think we’ve covered,
F. G. ANDERSON: Okay fine then,
INTERVIEWER: Your autobiography,
F. G. ANDERSON: I thought the, I thought I can see what we have to talk about because I know there is enough [unintelligible - 00:18:50] now it’s not enough having it up here.
INTERVIEWER: But it’s been fascinating if there is anything else you want to add,
F. G. ANDERSON: No that’s it.