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Interview with Iver Anderson




Beginning in 1998, the City of Duluth (Minn.) Sister Cities Commission collaborated with the Iron Range Research Center to record a series of oral history interviews. Independent scholar Dr. JoAnn Hanson-Stone acted as the lead interviewer. The voluntary, self-selecting participants were second-generation Swedish Americans whose parents settled in northeast Minnesota in the early 1900s. The interviews were initiated to create supplementary material for a planned exhibit, “A Long Way Home: Swedish Immigrant Life in Duluth and Northeast Minnesota, 1890-1940.”





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Use of this oral history is governed by U.S. and international copyright law. Please contact the Iron Range Research Center for more information in regard to this oral history; http://mndiscoverycenter.com/research-center/archive



Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
Angust 19, 1999

DATE : August 19, 1999
SUBJECT : Interview with Iver Emil Anderson, Duluth, Minnesota
INTERVIEWER : Dr. Joann Hanson-Stone
PROGRAM : Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
City of Duluth Sister Cities Commission

This is Joann Hanson-Stone. It is Thursday, August 19, 1999. I am in Duluth Minnesota
with Emil Iver Anderson, also known as Captain Iver Anderson. It is -we are going to
do an interview as part of the Swedish Immigrant Life in Duluth Oral History project. I

----------would-like-tlnlSlnrfew questions about your familybacJ(grouna;Yourimmii;gr;i.a~n

Swedish mom and dad who came from various places from Sweden to Minnesota
and I'd like to for the record have your father's name and your mother's name.

My mother's name was SveyaAnatolia Anderson and my dad was John Rodemar? Anderson;
they both lived, after they got married, in McKinley, Minnesota.

Now they were from separate places in Sweden, provinces?
No, dad came from Harverviik? and my mother came from Medelparden1-also known as
Sunstabl 1, Sweden -middle part of Sweden.

Do you know how they met in Sweden?
No, I have no idea. Dad never talked much about his family because I guess he was adopted
or something; I don't know. That is why his maiden name was John Berg and he changed itto

his mother who was married before he came to this country and her name was Anderson so
he changed his name to John Anderson. Otherwise he'd be known as John Berg.
What type of work did he do in Sweden?
He worked on boats. He was on a ship there that sailed on the Baltic Sea and he left Sweden

because he didn't want to get to the draft. That is the reason he left.
What year did he emigrate to the US?
Your mother?

Afterwards in 1914. And they both had sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws in McKinley so
that is why they settled in McKinley, Minnesota.

SwedishImmigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 2

I just want to make sure that I understand that your mother and father had met each

other in Sweden before your Dad emigrated?


When she came did he send for her?

ThatIdon'tknow. I'm suremysisterwouldprobablyknow becausetheytalkedabout it. Of

courseIwasn'thome -afterIgrewupIwentawaytotheserviceandmyyoungersister-she

wasat home soI'm sureshe knows aheck ofalotmoreaboutmyfamilythanIdo.

But your mom -she was born-when we talked earlier -she was born in 1895?


So they were young people?

Theywereyoungpeople;theywere18's and 19's.

Were there other family members?

withhimandtheylivedona farmandhelivedinthetownofMcKinleyandheworkedin the
mines andthenhewentasa stationaryengineerforthe schoolsuptherein McKinley. Then
whenheleftMcKinley in 1926I wasjust 4 or 5 yearsoldandtheycamedownand moved to
39th Avenue West ri~t
downinthatareaandthey livedtherefora few-ormaybea yearand
then he moved to II Avenue Westand6th Street-10somethingWest6th Streetandthen
afterthatheboughta homeon 5th Avenue West and 6th Streetbutthat house didn't have a
foundation and didn't -it wasjust builtonahillandhewasa goodworkeranda good

Was it the West End?

No,itwascalledsortofbetween West.DuluthandWestEnd -thenwhentheymovedupto
Central Hillside, then IIth Avenue

What's your birthday?


Where were you born?

In McKinley, Minnesota.

Didtheytellyouthe circumstances ofyour birth?

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 3

I was bom in the house there -where there was a midwife I guess that they have in them
days. Whether they had a doctor I don't know.

How many childr~n
were in the family?
MyolderbrotherJohn, myoldersisterIreneaod myselfaodthentheyhadonechildthatdied
right after birth. He took me up there to show me that the child was buried in the back woods
in some cemetery in McKinley.

When would that have happened?

Well it would be the year before I was born. That is when this boy was born.
--,S...o,,-,you are the middle child.

Would you give me your full name?

Iver Emil Anderson.

Emil was actually your first name?

That was my first name aod I was named after my uncle. I guess they had a tradition that they

always named it after somebody that looked like you or thought you were going to look like

them. It was ao honor given to the relatives.

So your first name was Emil after your Uncle Emil Berg.


And then your middle name is Iver,


The tradition of having two names and going by the second name.


It looks like that happened with your sisters and yeur brother too.


Do you have an idea when your parents married?
Well I am sure my sister would know. She has a copy ofthe license. All the papers aod stuff
more or less went to her.

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 4

Ifyour older brother was born in 1914 we could guess that they were probably married
when your mom arrived. So we could say 1914.

Theydidn't believein livingtogetherinthose daysyouknowso I am surewhenshegothere
they got married.

They lived here and then went to McKinley?


DaddidmentionthattheylivedinBiwabikforaboutayeartoo.Andthenbackto McKinley
I guessmyunclehadgiventhemsomewayto getthis houseandsomebody livedin

McKinley. I guess prior to that they lived in Biwabik.


No.Hedidn'twanttotalkmuchaboutthat.Hedidn'tlike working inthe mines. Hefinally
gotoutofitandwentasastationary engineer. OfcoursehewasasmartmanandIhaveoften
saidandI'llalwayssayIwishIhadhalfhis brains;hewasverysmart.Hewasahard worker.
Hewasagoodprovider. Mymotherneverhadto worry. That'sthewayitwas.Itwasa

Swedishtraditionhehadtobeboss,superman. Hedidn'thavenothingto sayaboutitbut theyalwaysmadesurethewifehadnecessaryitems.
progressive man;hebelieved inmodernizationandhe always usedto saytome,"don'tstop
progress."Youknow, andhewasverymuchone oftheseguyswhowouldgetthe latest
model caroutandModelTandthenenclosedcar;thenhewasjustthatway.Hewashefty.
Whenhewas75yearsoldhewasclimbingontop ofroofsfixingchimneys andheworeshort
pantsandhewouldneverthinkofwearingthatwhenhewasa youngerboybutheckhegot
progressyouwon'thave anything," andheusedtosay, "justlookatit;wehavethetrainsout
there,"andyouknowthat istrue.JustlikeIhavesaidironoreisgoingto bedepletedwithin
somanyyearsandsomething elsewilltake its place.Therealways is.Maybeitwillbegrain
orcoalthat iscominginfromthe western statesandtheyhaulitdownnowandprettysoon
thatwillbewhat'skeepthesefolks going. Ironoreisgoingout,let'sfaceit.Aluminumcars
andplasticcarsandthat'sthewaylifeis, "butyoucan'tstopprogress," heusedto always
itis.Youhavetohavemodemconvenience. Lookattheplasticandnowthecomputers come
along. Iusedtospendawholedaydrillingonecribbageboardyou know.NowIhaveaguy
whodrillsitwithhiscomputer; hesetsthecomputerandhedrillsallmycribbageboardsfor
me and it takes him five minutes.

So you do use computers a little bit?

Oh,youbetallthese dotsaremadebycomputers now.I usedto paintthembefore.They
chargemea lotlike3 centsa piecefortheseandfortheseand

So they're applying letters as well?

SwedishImmigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999


These aren't holes?

No,youmightsay decal.Iusedtoputalltheselettersonby hand. ButnowIbuythemall


Your name is Captain Anderson.

Thatwasgivento mebykidsin schools. Iusedto goout totalktothemaboutbuildingboats
andonetimeIwasoverin Nemadji, southofSuperior, andtheyinvitedme tothisschooland
bigaudience andI gottalkingaboutboatsandthis onefellowstepped upandsays, "Well,
captain, doyoumindtellingmeaboutthisorthat?"Well,thenitjust mushroomed;


How long have you been building wooden replicas?

20years.It'sanicehobbybutit'sgetting tobea burdenand-becauseIgetcallseverydaywantthisandwantthat
-Ihavetolookuptheboatandtry tobuildsomethingsimilartowhat
theywantandtheyhavesilly requestsyouknow-hereisaguythatwantsadrumsetputon
aboat becauseheusedtoplaythe drums onhisboat when hewentfromDuluthto Fonddu
Lac.Sothiswasanoperationof 1942.Irodethisthingmanytimes;yougofrom5th Avenue
Westwheretheybuiltan aquarium dockrightthereandtheywouldrunthat boatuptheriver
andthisisthewaytheboatwasbuiltandhewantsa drumsetbecauseheplayedthe drums
foranorchestra.Well,Ifinally found adrumsetafterresearchingandIsentoneandIam
waiting for it to comein soI canseehowtheyaregoingto fit onthe boat.

And these are -this is the Montauk was a paddle?

Paddle wheeler. Thisgoesupanddownandtheenginekeepspumpingthesepedalsandthey
just keep turningwheels.

Was that steam?


Didyour dad or anyoneelseinyour familyliketo work withwood?

Well,mydadlovedworkingwithwood. Buthemadefurniture andforthechurchandhe
lovedtomakeknick-knacks likethatshelfupthere;thatwasoneofhis.Hemadealotof
furniture,alotofdesksand stuffandhejustlovedworkingwithwood. Buthehimselfwasa
brilliantengineeryouknowandbuthelovedworkingwithwood. Ineverlikedit;Iwouldn't
havewastedtimeyouknowbutnowit's mushroomedforme.Ihavebuiltplanters andtables
andstuffstartedoutandnowit's all boats.

After you retired?

SwedishImmigrant Oral History Project
, Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 6

Iretired,yeah-aboutayear beforeIretiredandafterIretiredIdevotedfulltimetoit.

Maybe we should back up again. Your mom was a housewife.

Ahousewifeandveryverysuperstitious andveryveryreligious butshewasnotachurch
goingpersonbutsheknewtheBibleandshewould say," becarefulwhatthou?"Thouthat
lifetime Imoreorlesshavetakenafterherandstudiedthatandhowtrueitis.Allthe
haveotherqualities. Theylovecookingandtheyhavearegoodbusiness people. It's amazing
youknowhowshewas so rightonsomanyofthosethings.

Do you have examples of her superstitions?

Well,she'dsay,"becarefulhowthyhonorthyfatherand mother," andI'dsay,"well,why
mom?"andshe'd say, "ifyouhonoryourfather andifyouhonoryourmotheryoushalllive
threescoreplusten."Which means atleast70 years. Butshewasverysuperstitious. Abird
flewagainstthewindowshe'dsaythat'sabad omen. Ifyousteponacrackoralltheselittle
thingsweresuperstitiousbutshebelieved them. Shereallydidandshewasjustagood
person. I always sayIhadtwo saints inmylife,mywifeandmymotherandmydaughteris
growingto bethe samething, a realniceperson.

Did your mother do any work outside ofthe home?

No,shewas alwayshomebutshedidalotofcrochetingandthatwasher-sheusedto
crochetbeautifuldollsandbeautiful bedspreadsandshewasveryvery -thatwasherlifejust
building stuffout of crocheting. .

Sounds like she was busy all the time?

Herkidswereherwholelife,you know. Ican remember, sillyas itmay sound,-I can
rememberwhenwewerekidswedidn'thavemuch heatinthehouseandshe wouldgetup
earlyinthemorningandbuilda coalfireinthefirewoodstovethatwehadthereandI
overusanditwaswarmupagainstherlegsandyouknowtodayyouwouldn'tdoit but they
wore big skirtsthen andthey neverworepants.

Was that in McKinley?

No, that was in Duluth, here.

I wanted to establish that you moved back to Duluth after you were born around 1926.
What did your dad do as head ofthe household in Duluth? .

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 7

He worked at Northern Brewery, Karlsbrew, Fitger's, People's brewery on 39th Avenue West.
He was the stationary engineer. Well, a stationary engineer was the one that feeds the boiler
with coal and he works some places where they make the steam that makes the generator that
makes the power plants for that industry or plant or whatever and its -he went to the U ofM
and the same thing he was a stationary engineer up there and he would -that was their main
job was to shovel coal and it was a hard job but then they walked around and oiled the

So it was not only the heat but it sounded like they kept things moving?

The machinery and the pumps and some ofthe industries that he worked for produced their

own electricity.


Oh, I don't know; all I can say is he joined the university when it was a college -teachers'
college and a year after Duluth Teachers' College sold the building and became U of
Minnesota that is when my dad went up there and worked

The old or first campus?

That's right; then they moved up to-I call it -when he first started there he hired me to work
planting aUthe trees so I planted all the trees that goes into that science building. Now they're
abont 30-40 feet high. I planted all those. That was the only building there then when he was
up there. The Science building the first building. Then they started one or two more buildings
before he died.

Did he work up until his death or did he retire?

He retired. But he wasn't retired very long.

We have him passing away in April of 1966.

Yeah I think he -he was born in 1891 in April. Then he worked until he was 65 so added to
that would be what -1956. That meant that he had about 10 years.

Your parents were living in Central Hillside. When you were growing up in the house
that you lived in for the majority ofyour childhood -could you describe that house?

Itwas old -fashion, didn't have a basement in it, he built the basement and built the walls,

dugallthe dirtouthimselfandputafurnaceinthereandchanged thewalls soinstead of

having a hallway they had at the bottom ofthe stairs you opened it all up and he made a big

living room and big dining room and big kitchen. Only three rooms -then he added on a

porch and built a porch -the picture shows it open here but he built an enclosed porch. Then

we had an old car; we had a Willis Overland and he decided that he was going to build a

driveway in the back ofthe house so he came all across from 6th Street from it'd be 3«1

SwedishImmigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 8

Avenue Westallthe wayto FifthAvenue West-hebuiltthe roadhimselfandhebuilta
garageandthenhedecided wellthatwastoofarto drivesohewouldgoupa steep hilltoget
intohishouseinthebackofhishousethroughthat field andweallgotscaredtodeathwhen
wehadto rideupthathill,buthewasaworkerandhehadgardens andhejustlovedto work.
His wholelife was working.

And the bedrooms were upstairs?

Thebedrooms wereupstairsandwehad4 bedrooms andwhenthekidsstartedmoving outof
coursehetookthewallsoutand madethreebedrooms andtwobigbedrooms andthatwashewas
always busywithwallsandplastering. Hewasnotonetositstill.Heworkedthe
afternoon shiftandhewouldworkinthemorningandworkalldaylongand eatandgoto

Did you have relatives that lived near you in Duluth?

No;inMcKinleythey livedaboutahalfablockapartbutinDuluthitwas -theclosest
relative was at the West End.

Who was that?

EmilBerg;they moveddownheretoo.Ithinkhe moved beforemydaddid.He followed him
downhere.Thenmydad'smothercamedown. Shewas downhereabout4or5 monthsand
then she died. On 391hAvenueWestthere.Theyhadahousethere. Hotel... rightacrossfrom

So you did have an uncle nearby?

Yeah,Ihadalot ofuncles.Wespentthemajorityofourtime-ifweweren'thomewewere
visitingthem.Weplayedcardsandtheirwholelifewasplayingcards. 500or-whist.

Did you walk over there yourself?

Oh,yeah,wewalkedas young kids. Thatwasabigdealtowalkover-

They come and visit you too?

Ohyes -thenIgotalittleoldertooandmyunclewouldletmedrivehiscarwhenhe wanted
togo somewhere,andputitinthe garage. Youknow,itmademefeelimportant.

What language did you speak in the household?

Mymother spokemostlySwedish andbroken English.

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 9


What did they do to make you say or feel that?

Well,therewouldbesomeneighborsthat moved in and they weredifferentnationalities and
theywouldsay,"oh,Iwishthehecktheywerea Swede,"and,"nothing likeaSwede,"and
theywouldbe-ofcoursemydadhadatremendous dislikeforItalians andthe reason hehad
thisdislikeiswhenthey workedupinthemines-mostof them were Italians up there and

youknowhowtheyganguponthecertain individualandtheyusedtopickonmydad
somethinghorribleandthenfinallymydadhad enough sohemetalltheguysupthereandI
don't knowifitistodaybutup'tiltenyearsagotheyhadapictureofmydad flooring these
fiveguys-oh,hewasabrutalguy,mydad,hejust-takeitsolong,andthen -bang,

Nowwhere is this picture?

Idon'tknowifitisstillthere -Idon'tknowifthetavernisstillupthere.It usedto be inthe
tavern, therewasthisbig SwedethatknockedoutthesefiveItalians.

Is this in Biwabik or Mckinley?


Do you remember the name of it? So there is a tavern?

Well,therewas five, sixtavernsthere,see-Ithinkthattavern-thebuildingistore down. I
amsureitis.Mydad'snameusedtobeonthebigrockasyoucomebetween Gilbertand
andmydadwasknownforbeatinguptheseguys. Sillystuff.Irememberoneyeardadthen
wastellingmeyou,hesays,"I rememberwhenthewarfirstcameonin 1914,"andhesays
weusedtohaveto finagle waystogetthingssoIguesstheyfinagledawaytogetawholecar
loadofflourandyouknowthatwasagainstthelawtodothat soIguesstheyallgottogether
upthereandtheyalldecidedtopitchinandbuythis carloadofflourso mydadat thattime
wasworkingontherailroadasa sectionhandandmy unclewasa foreman intherailroadso
theyallgottogetherandtheboughtthiscarloadofflour -canyouimagineacarloadof
theyweretoldthesheriffwasgoingto raidthemthenextnightso mydadandmyunclethey
hada lakeinbackofthetown ofMcKinleyandmydadsaystheytooktheflourandthey
dumped itinthislakeandhesaysthatlaketurnedpurewhite;youwouldn't believe it-they
weresoscaredtheyweregoingto be apprehended, andIguessthechurchcomeuptoaskto
seethisrailroadcarandmydadsaysthey dumped itallinthislakeandwewereallso
worried-thatlakewaspurewhite.Thelakeitselfwasablocksquare-justa smallpondbut
heusedtotellthestories ofsomeofthethingsheusedto do.

Didyour mother associatewithother Swedishwomen?

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil An\lerson
August 19, 1999
Page 10

No;mymotherwasa veryprivateperson-sheonlywent withrelatives or -of course she
knewEnglishandbutthen shehad a coupleSwedishfriends-theywere goodfriendsandshe
theybecameverygoodfriends, theycouldcommunicate; Idon'tknowhowtheydiditbut
mymotherhadone ofthebiggestfuneralsthistownhasever known. Itoldyouthat.Well
didn'tknowany ofthesepeopleandthisguysays -1askedhim,"howdidyouknowmy
youknowyourmotherwouldlookinthepaperandshewouldseeit's somebody'sbirthday
or wedding announcement and shewouldsenda hankieand a cardandthat's what shedid."
Wedidn't knowthat. Shemadea lot offriends thatway.

New babies too?

Babies,birthannouncements; shegotitinherheadtosendandshewouldsendit.
Handkerchiefs-shewouldbuyhandkerchiefs-wellthosehankieswere -mywifecouldn't
figure out what she was doingwithall those hankies, isn't that right, Ma?

So she was quietly spreading good cheer?

Shewouldneverneverwould-Ihavenever known mymotherto useprofanity,1havenever
seenher angry; soshewasjustagoodperson.Ithinkbackyouknow,Ithinkboy,Ihopethat
she'smovedaheadyouknowbecauseshewassuchagood -andwhenIthinkbackIdon't
knowif!didornot-I'm sorrynowthatIwasn'tabetterchildtoher youknowwhatImean
lettersandyetIhadwoncertificatesforbeautifulhand-writingandpenmanship butIjustdid
notlikewritingletters.Iwouldwritemymotheronceeveryyeara lettertellingherIwasok.
I amsorryaboutthat.

Did you -what languages did you speak?

IcansayIdidn't speakSwedish.IusedtosaythingsbackinAmericanlanguage;mymother
wouldknowwhatImeantbutitwasmostlySwedishin ourhomeuntilwegotolder;thenmy
dad-he spokeEnglishbecausehe wasout mixing withpeopleand motherwasn't but-

Did your parents encourage you to speak Swedish?

No.Itellyouthereasontheydidn't isbecausewehadsort ofrebellious attitudeyou know;
wewouldsay,"you're inthiscountry, MomandDad;whydon'tyoulearnhowto speak
English?"andthat's wrongonourpartbutthatwaswhatwethoughtbecauseitwouldbe
kindofembarrassing youknow;youwouldbringpeoplehomeand they-you'd haveto tell
them,well,whatyourmothersaidorsomethingyou know, anditwasn'tthattheyweren't
goodparentsbecausetheywere damngoodparents,-the best -butwewere iguorantandI
haveto honestlysayIbelievedstronglyandIstilldotothisdaythat I'mabout20years
behind;nowthatmaysoundsillytoyoubutwhat1meanbythat isIdidn't dothingslikethe
kidsaredoingtodayat 16and17.Ididn'tdothemuntilIwas30and31

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 11

You're not alone, Iver,

I had -you know I see things today and I think, boy, I must have been awful stupid.

Tell me about the grade school you attended?

I attended Jackson school and that particular school was right now where the parking lot for
the core officers and when I was a young boy she was a very very strict principal; you had to
come with a tie on and your hair had to be combed and she picked on my brother something
horrible because he had the curliest hair you could see on a man and he just could not get a
hair comb through it and I think her dislike for him made it tough on me because she would
grab my ear, pull me this way and that, holler at me for this and that and very 'very strict.

Did you speak language when you started school?

I spoke English; like itwas broken English -it was hard for me to understand different things
because I didn't know the difference -s an example: I was 15 or 13 years old before I even
knew what an accordion was, see, and mother would call it dranspiel? and I didn't know what
it meant and then when the teacher wanted to ask me what I played and I told her dranspiel?
and she looked at me and she says, "don't get smart with me," and I went home that night and
I said, "Mother, the teacher got aogry at me." I said, " I told her I played the dranspiel? and
she says, "oh, that means accordion in English."-see, that was a difficulty and I wasn't a
very bright student. I spent too much time working or playing.

At home and no homework was done?

My dad being such a brilliant man, I would ask him, "how do you do this algebra
problem?"and he would tell me but only in Swedish and I couldn't switch it-he would give
me the right answers and I would have the answer but then when the teacher would say,
"well, get up on the board and show me how you got them,": well, I couldn't do it-I would
tell her my dad got that answer for you -he was a brilliant man.

Could you have told her in Swedish?

No. no.

So dad and mom were interested in your life at school. Do you remember anything in
the school, grade, middle -how far did you get in school?

I graduated from Central.

What year?


Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 12

Do you remember early on was there a real conscious effort on the teacher's part for
you not to speak any other language than English?

No. Never heard anybody say anything like that.

Who made up your student body?

Well you know that's wltat I say; I must have been dumb -stupid and dumb-because I don't
remember nothing of-I think probably I would have to say this: my school years weren't
happy. They were not happy. I worked the last four years I was in high school. I worked in a
dental laboratory and so it was my dad would holler that I was not doing enough and he was
probably right but I didn't care to get A's and I didn't want to excel in school. I just thoughtI
thought school was a waste oftime; that is wltat I thought.

Well, you had other things to do?

Yeah. But you know when I stop and see the kids that I went to school with or graduated with
and that they would say things I don't even remember you know; and I think, gee, I don't
remember that and they went to different functions and different parties: well, I don't
remember that and the only school friends that I ever had was my next door neighbor's girl I
had a crush on her when I was a young kid and ofcourse I never did anything about it, you

What was her name?

Julia McGregor.

Your best friend in the neighborhood?

No, I had one or two boy friends but life was kind oftough there. I used to get beat up all the
time and the kids

Did you hang out with Swedish kids?

No, most ofthem were Italians and in fact the majority ofthem were Italians because we
lived in the Italian neighborhood and very very few Scandinavian, mostly Polish and Italians
and French so very very few Swedish people. I got picked on a lot when I was a kid.I don't
know why. I just did.

Did you belong to any organizations?

Well,yeah, Dad was very very active in Swedish-American -I don't know what you call itthe
Woodman Hall and they had Swedish American fraternal organization. This was a lodge.
This is a Swedish lodge but it was Swithid? Lodge and we were active in that and we go to
dances all the time out there and that was on 21" Avenue and western Third Street.

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 13

Itwas your mom and dad?
Mom and dad.
This was when you were growing up?
Yeah, and we would go there; of course I never wanted to dance and I always saw them

dancing and we were kids and we would sit around and watch and that was our whole
Do you remember other things that the lodge did?
They had Swedish -American picnics and they had insurance and I know that Dad talked me
---------to-go-intoiogetherto-buy-a-couple-slot machines so anhanimeliewent and bougJitthem and
then after we bought them they were confiscated by the law.
When was this?
That was about in 1936 or 1937.

What was your dad going to do with the slot machines?
We were going to make some money on these things. We were going to put them in the lodge
and that is what we did; we put them in the Swithid?Lodge and they were confiscated.

He used to take me fishing a lot but he never would take my brother -he resented my brother
to this day and I think it's because my brother was very religious and he was extreme
religious and his life was Jesus, let me tell you, and he was studying to be a missionary and
he got killed walking home one night from Grandma's.

He was the oldest?
And he was also named John.
Yes. They were opposite believe me but I always thought my dad treated me better than my

brother; I always thought that.
What was it like growing up with sisters?
I had to honestly say my dad showed favoritism to the girls and my mother showed

favoritism to me and my brother and Example?

Swedish Immigrant Oral History Project
Iver Emil Anderson
August 19, 1999
Page 14

Well ,at Christmas time my one sister she would say, "I want a typewriter, Dad," and he
would get her a typewriter and 1would say 1want this and 1wouldn't get it; 1would get
whatever they want to give me. He did buy me an accordion; 1wanted an accordion one year
and he did buy me that, but itwasn't real accordion-it was a squeeze box and it wasn't a very
easy thing for me to do and

So you did play?
Very little.
How did your mom and day bring your heritage or traditions from Sweden and how

you experienced them?

Hebelievecfin gooa morals.-He was very strict on morals and iliat was theSwediSli tradition
and we all had to go to church and we all -you bet he made us go to church and
And your mom?
She made me go to church.
But did she go to church?
Did you dad go to church?
No, just the kids.
What church?
Methodist. First Methodist Church on 3" Avenue West and 3" Street; it is now the "copper


Were there very many other Swedish kids at that church?

1don't think so. 1don't have too much recollection. 1remember going to Bible School and
completing all those studies and so forth. Being confirmed. Well -r-
There was nota Swedish church?
No, there was Swedish food -at home.
What do you remember?
Well, Momalwayshad oatmealandalwayshadalot ofgardenvegetables andtheyhad a

cow in McKinley and they believed in homelife, and 1 remember Dad would bring herring

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home and lutefisk and of course I didn't like it but then he had to take it and that is what they
fixed and you had to eat it. A lot of Swedish dishes -mother made Swedish syllta and
Swedish sylltsala?-herring mixed in with vegetables. I don't like herring.

Even to this day?
No -not pickled herring, pickled beets -no.
What holidays did you celebrate?
Well, Christmas was the biggest holiday and everybody was invited to the house for that.

They would color eggs for Easter and take part in the Easter and there wasn't a holiday that
wasn't celebrated. On Thanksgiving they got a big turkey and had a Pilgrim's dinner but they
called it a Swedish dinner but it was turkey, bread pudding and whatever else-

Any traditions?

No, my mother's birthday was around Christmas time. But no -we used to go out and cut our
tree it was a big tree and Dad put up a big tree and we would decorate the tree-
Who would do that?
All ofus kids -we all Do
you remember the decorations?
Alot ofSwedishballsanditwasnothinglikemostotherpeople whohadpopcorn andstuff

------------,ournva]l-all omaments and Swedisll ornaments.
What is a Swedish ball?
Well, nowadays you've got -it's like a baseball; they are made out ofglass and they are blue

and yellow and then the Swedish would have those and they would have lots ofthose. The
Swedish ornaments.
What were they made out of?

Made out ofwood and they were painted yellow flags and Swedish flags on them.
Are there any ofthose left?
I don't know my sisters got all that Swedish stuff-
Did you have candles?

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No, we had lights but then we had a lot ofthat little it looks like rope to me and it would be

red, green-


Yes and lots oftinsel; the more tinsel you got on the tree the better they liked it.

Did you go to church?

We go to church on all the holidays.

Did mom and dad go?


like that.

Did you celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

ChristmasEvealways.Thatwas abigtime oftheyearforall ofus. AllChristmas Eve

Christmas Day would be something at the lodge but they always had Christmas Eve too -day

time celebrations, but they always had a Swedish dinner too -always the biggest meal was on

the 24th and then they would clear out all the dishes and plates and we would hear a knock on

the door and then somebody would come carrying a basket or there would be a big bag laying

out there on the porch and they would run out there and get it and then they would divvy out

the presents and they had coffee and pie afterwards

Do you remember any singing or music?


Did you have stockings?


So Santa clause was not part of it?


Did you celebrate St. Lucia?


Mid -summer?

Oh yes,we always made sure we went to Lincoln Park on mid -summer day for the mid

summer festival. It would be the Swedish celebration then

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What do you remember about it?

.Ohthereweresomanytentsanda carnivalatmosphere andpeopleandtablesandpicnics and

gamesandjust a bigaffair.Mid-summerdayyoucouldwalkupanddownthatLincoln Park

andgoto allthesedifferenttentsandtablesforwhathaveyou.

And you brought a picnic lunch?

Youalwaysbroughta picniclunchbutthenthey were servingthingsthat the clubsdonate
anditwouldbeicecreamorpoporwhateverorwewouldbringsomepopandthatwas -you
metotherSwedishpeople-everybodygatheredthereandtherewouldbethousands of
peoplethere -justunbelievable.

Do you remember 4th of July?

Ohyeah,thatwasabigcelebration-wewentoutandwent to-atthattimewewentoutto

LesterRiverandtheyhadthefireworks outthereandwewouldsitthereonthegrounds with

familyandwatchedthefireworks. Huge,bigdisplay-whatdotheyhavedownhereon4th

... I laughedwhen I seenthat

Out on the harbor?

That'snothingcompared to-weusedtosittherefortwohoursandwatchedthe fireworks

andtheywouldhaveallthesedifferentclubsopenupontheLesterRiver -thatwouldbe

LesterParkandyouhave -Carnivalatmospherewasgoingonandhundreds ofpeople

walkingandsittingonthegrasswatchingthefireworks; thatwasa bigdeal.

So your family did participate in that?

Ohyou bet.

How did you family look at their heritage -talk about their feelings and attitudes?

No,theyneverneverdiscussed that. The Oldytime I everheardthem mentionthat wasin

1936mymothersaid,"I'mgoinghometo Swedento seemysisters"


Shewentbacktoseeher fathers, mothersandkidsandprobablyagoodthingthatshewent

becausethatyearin1936wasthehottestsununer Duluthhaseverhad.Wehada 104and it

lastedforaweek.Wesleptoutsideontheporchandlaidthemattresses outthere arid shejust

couldn't take it.

How long was she gone?

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Overa month Iwouldsay.

Did your dad ever go back?
Mydadwentbackin1956or '57.

About the time he retired?

Yeah,hewentbackbecausemydad's dadwasnamedBerg -averywealthyman-andhe
owneddimestoresin Sweden sohewentto seeifhecouldcollectsomeofthemoneythat
wasleftbutasIunderstandwhatmydadtoldmethathewouldbeentitledto a couple million
ifhegaveuphiscitizenship andmovedbackto Sweden;thatwastheonlyway togetthis
moneysomydadsaysnowaywouldIgiveupmyAmerican citizenship sothat'sthat.

So he had it in his will that you had to be a Swedish citizen?

Yeah,youhad to comebackandlivein Sweden xnumberofyearsandyouhadtogiveup
yourcitizenship ofAmerica orwhateverandmydadsaysnoway.
Did they write letters back and forth?
Mymotherwroteoccasionallybutshewasjustasbadas Iwas;shedidn't caretowritebut

sheusedtogetletters onceandawhile.AndIremember sheusedtotellusaboutitonceand
a while.

Did you have any Swedish relatives come to visit you here?
Yeah, myaunt,mymother'ssisterGrita,Shecameoverhereandspentmaybetwo months
overhere.Because shehadtwo sistershere, mymotherandmyaunt.

Do you remember when?

Oh,thiswasjustbeforemymother died. Aboutin1959or1960's.1think1 showedyoua
pictureofher. 1957-therewego.Thereiseverybodytogether. My mother, mydad,her
sisterfrom Sweden andherauntfrom Duluthhere.

It sounds like your family wasn't into the music part?
We talked about food, any Swedish drinks?
Daddrankbeeranda littlebit of winebuttherewasnotraditionalChristmas drinks. Mother

didn't thinkyoushouldparticipatein alcohol. Shewasagainstit.

What did you enjoy eating that mother made for you?

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I think back as a kid I think she at Christmas time made what they call a pyltsa? I used to love
that and now my boy loves that but nobody makes it. Liver ground up -cooked liver ground
up mixed with barley and onion-like a hash.

You don't have it today?
Nobody makes it.
Any family heirlooms that were special?
My mother had a Swedish watch. I gave that to one ofthe girls. My daughter has it. My dad

has Swedish rings and I gave that to my boy. John Waldemar Anderson..

Your children-do you feel they identify with their Swedish background?

No, I don't think it's been carried on; it's just -I just think the morals parts ofit. My son is
stubborn like my dad and whatever but he's very sentimental like my dad. When my dad died
I said a prayer to theLord asking, "please give me some sign," and it bothered me and so
what do you suppose happened, my dad died on Good Friday and that was a sign right there.
Now I know my beliefs. But he was a man who showed no fear and but still when he was told
that he only had two weeks to live he went into the hospital and he said -he came to me and
he said, "Iver, Iwant a promise from you; I want you to promise you will not leave me
alone."Thatwasthefirsttimehehadevershownfear soall ofuskidsgottogetherandthe
grandkids and we all took a tum staying with him in the hospital and we never left him alone;
we kept our word.

How many children you had?

I had 6. John Arthur -born 1945, Marilyn Lee and Marlene Lou -twins 1946, Karl Roland

1953, Vivian "S." -the reason we did that was my mother's name was Sveya., and her
mother's name was S?, 1958, Iver Raymond -1949; he is after the twins.

What did you do in your work starting your family?

The first job I had I worked in a dental lab for four years, lab technician and then I went to
the service and in the service I was an advance scout and a few other things for the army, in
charge oftroop ships and what have you and I was in the Aleutian Islands. I was up there for
five years and then I came back and went shipped to Kansas and that is where I met my wife.

What is your wife's name?

Vivian Rae. I met her standing at a carnival; she was standing with her sister and her brother
and brother-in-law and he came over to me and he kicked me in the shins and he says ,
''would you mind taking that broad offmy hands? I want to be with her sister." And I says,
''well,yeah, "soallofasuddenitstarted torainlikeheck, soshesaid, 'Well,Iwanttogo

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home':'and I said,"where doyoulive?"andshetoldmeand I said,"calla cabdriver," sowe
calleda cab and her and I gotinthe cab andweretalkingandshegave-I said, ''what is your
name?"andshesaid "Vivian Rae."And,"oh," I said, "ok,"soI dropped heroffandwent
backinthecabandtookthecabouttothe air baseandI got to thinking, gee I don't even
knowherlastnameso -but I heardher mention that sheworkedatthetelephonecompany so
I calledthetelephonecompany and I says, "this is an emergency; I amtryingto locatea
VivianRae,"andshe says,"you'retalkingtome."-Well,that's strange,andhernamewasshethoughtI
meantherlastnametoo, soitwas Vivian RaeRae.

So when did you get married?

Twodayslaterwe got married. I just knew. I don'tknowwhy.Shesays,"don't bother
coming out; I have a date .'1 said, "Well, I'm comin an ow."Twodayslaterwewere
roam . 944May10 .ThefunnypartofitiswhenIbroughtherhomemydaddidn'tlike
her.Hesaidsheisnot Swedish. Talkabout Swedishtradition. SheisIndian,see.That made
mydadworseyet. AmericanIndian. SheisCherokeeand Chickashaw, andsoanywaywhen
hedied, beforehediedhesaid,"honey, I wantyouto knowthat I love you morethan my

Did he also not care for American Indian people either?

Oh,yeah. Hedidn't likeanybodythatwasn't Swedish. Ok;thereyougo.Hejustthoughtthat
therewasn'tanything betterthana Swede.

What do you think of your parent's immigration from Sweden?

Well,I didn't think anything of it. The onlything I resented wasthe factthatthey didnot
speakandwrite English. I thoughtthat as long as I'm bornhere I should speak-I resented
whenI wasinthe service I resented Japanese. Tothisday I don't like it because I fought
them andI supposeit's the Swedishtradition butittookmethelongesttimebeforeI would
buyanythingthatwasn'tmadeinthiscountrybecause }:...

How do you feel about your Swedish heritage?

I amproudof it ; I amnotonebit ashamedofitandasfarasI'm concerned I was given by
Godthebestfatherand mother a personcouldhave. I didn't knowitatthetime.

Do you belong to any Swedish groups now?


Anythingthat makesyoumeetother Swedishpeople?

No.I suppose itsingrained inmethat I wasbitterandmyfolkswerenotspeaking English or
AmericanandIthinkitrunoverintoalotofthings. Idon'tliketobuyanything foreignandit
iswronginmypartbutI wouldnotbuya foreign car;Iwouldn'tbuythisandthat,noteven

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underwear unlessitwas made inthis countrybut I wasproudofthe factthat I was American
and I feltthattheyshouldbebecausetheyarein America andtheyareproudtobe Americans
-theygottheir citizenship-at thetime I wasstupidasa kid;thatwasso dumb. I think ofhow
bad I was. I don'

What did you do after the service?

I wasaninsurance salesman fora fewyearsforPrudential. I soldpots andpans for Watkins.
Doorto doorandthen I wasa meterreaderandthen I startedgoingupthe ladderandtothis
andtothisanda safetytrainingofficer.

So you retired in Duluth what year?


And you have been making boats ever since?

'yeah. Therearethingslikenowthat I had an opportunity to go to school. I dowishthat. Kind
oflook upmydadandmother'sheritageandunderstandthat. I am American and I feltthat
everybodyshouldbethat's herebutthat's wrongtoo.Now I realize it.