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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Back in Sweden again

Tuesday Nancy and I had lunch at a German restaurant in Palatine, and then it was time for me to go to the airport. I had to pay for one extra bag this time. The JetBlue trip to Boston lasted about two hours, and I arrived at the Comfort Inn late in the evening. Got a room on the 7th floor in this recently built hotel.

Wednesday morning I got up early (because of the time zone difference) and decided to make use of the indoor swimming pool at the hotel. It was a nice facility and I was all alone there. Breakfast was included, and then I checked out but left my luggage in storage. I went with the hotel shuttle to the airport train station and after a short ride on the subway I arrived at the New England Aquarium. I spent a couple of hours there, looking at the water tanks with more or less colorful fish. Very popular place for school children on excursion. There was a large round tank in the middle, with a reef. It contained sharks, sea turtles, rays and many other species I don't even know the names for. Two of the staff members dived into this tank and handfed these animals. It was fascinating to see. The other smaller tanks were numerous and what I remember best are the grey-looking fish hiding in the sand, the anaconda sleeping in a tree, the electric eels, the bright blue frogs that didn't move, the large flat ray with a long tail that seemed to sail by in the round tank, the piranhas' scales glimmering in the dark and the jelly fish with long threads. I followed the previously established pattern and had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. A very tasty chicken in herb sauce this time. Same dessert as the other occasions. It was very cold and windy in Boston, so I only did a little bit of sightseeing before heading back to the hotel again. Got my bags and was brought to the airport. Traveled with Icelandair late in the evening. The flight was boring and I couldn't sleep.

I changed planes in Iceland and arrived in Copenhagen around noon Thursday (Swedish time). Because of my cold I had problems with my ears, and it was not pleasant. It still isn't, because I can hardly hear anything on my right ear, it's clogged. Took the train from the airport, changed in Lund and arrived at my apartment in Kävlinge (after a very burdensome walk from the station) at around 2 p.m. I don't want to know how many hours I have been awake now, and I even plan on going to bed when I usually do here.

To all of you who made my trip so memorable and enjoyable I want to say a BIG THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dirty Dancing

Sunday Nancy, Richard and I went downtown Chicago to see the musical Dirty Dancing. It was a wonderful show, the dancers were very talented. The musical had basically the same dialogue as the movie, and it followed the script closely. The set design was intricate with a screen showing different backgrounds and a rotating floor. The final song (I've had the time of my life) was incredible, I learned later that the guy who sang it was an opera singer. Later in the evening we had dinner at Olive Garden in Schaumburg. It was a very popular place, and we had to wait a while to get a table. It's an Italian restaurant with very tasty food.

Monday Nancy, Debbie, Nolan and I had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes in Schaumburg with Jim, Jeane, their daughter Ann and her son Trent. It was very nice to see them again, but sad to have to say goodbye. In the afternoon Nancy, Debbie and I went shopping at the mall right by the restaurant, Woodfield Mall. Nolan got a hat and mittens, but wasn't too interested in wearing them. I bought a top on sale at JC Penney. When I returned to Nancy's place I noticed that I was getting sick. I had a fever and felt generally low.

Today is Tuesday and I still feel sick, even though my temperature is down. It's at the end of my visit here, this evening I'm going to Boston to stay at a hotel for one night, and then I will start on my return trip to Sweden on Wednesday evening. If everything goes according to plan, I will be back home on Thursday afternoon, Swedish time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rockford and other places

Wednesday Nancy, Debbie, Nolan and I went to Rockford about an hours way northwest from here. We visited Nancy's sister Joyce and her husband Pat. Pat was busy working on a new porch, but the rest of us went on a museum tour of Rockford. At the first museum we learned that the first Swede arrived there in 1852. It was a town with a considerable Swedish population, and they were very industrious. They were particularly engaged in furniture manufacturing, tool making and sock knitting. At the second museum (which took a while to locate), we were overwhelmed by the number of Swedish artifacts. It was the home of an Erlander family, whose origin was in Småland. The husband had made his living in the furniture business, and the house had eventually become a museum. It had very nicely decorated interiors and typical style of the 1870s. In the basement the historical society had gathered an interesting book collection with several rare books about Swedish-Americans. In the evening we all had dinner at a Thai restaurant, which served spicy but good food.

Thursday I went by train to Chicago to do research at the Newberry Library. Didn't make any great finds, but a few details. Found a nice Italian restaurant, Giordano's, where I had a chicken sandwich. Did some window shopping also before I took the same train back as Richard.

Friday Debbie came to pick me up, we went to a jewelry fair at a convention center. For some strange reason Nolan was not allowed in to the fair, so Debbie had to stay outside while I was shopping for cheap necklaces and bracelets. We soon departed from there again and went to a mall instead. I did once again some clothes shopping at Lane Bryant. Definitely one of my favorite stores. In the evening we were babysitters to Nolan, while Debbie and her husband went to a party. We watched a lowbudget comedy entitled The Ex, and then we managed to connect my camera to the TV so that we could see the photos I have taken during my trip. The photos were surprisingly good. I'm sure it's pure luck.

Today (Saturday) Nancy and Richard brought me to Oak Park. We started at the architect Frank Lloyd Wright's home (www.wrightplus.org), where we took the self-guided walking tour. We had ipods, where a woman's voice directed us in the neighborhood, so that we could see the houses Wright had designed. Interesting buildings in the prairie style, with horizontal lines and little ornamentation. Directly afterwards we joined the guided tour in his own home and studio. After a quick lunch at a fastfood place, we continued to the other museum in Oak Park, the Hemingway Museum. Ernest Hemingway's life and works were displayed, showing how his childhood memories had ended up being part of his production. We also visited the house where his family lived in the early years. Interesting old house. Dinner was closer to the city, at Mrs Murphy and Sons, an Irish style place. Very good food and the waiter was kind of cute. On the way back we stopped by at Nancy and Richard's son Mark's place, just to say hi to him and Cheryl.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Salt Lake City

I thought that I would gamble at least a little, so I put a dollar bill into one of the machines at the airport. Easily lost money. After just an hour in the air, I arrived in Salt Lake City in the evening. Checked in to the Plaza Hotel at Temple Square. Friday and Saturday were spent doing research at the Family History Library next door to the hotel. The library is five storeys and contains the largest collection of genealogy materials in the world. There are 200 computers with databases, 2.5 million microfilm rolls with scanned records, 700 000 microfiche and 300 000 genealogy books. All of it is run by the mormons at no charge for the visitors. The opening hours are generous, 13 hours most days, closed only on Sundays. The research was successful in some cases and not at all in some. The research I had been asked to do regarded very different locations. Examples: Königsberg/Kaliningrad, Nova Scotia, Lancashire, Brooklyn, Ireland and Boston. After two full days in front of the computer/microfilm screens my brain was in need of a break. Saturday evening I attended a concert by the Utah Symphony Orchestra. The guest conductor Marvin Hamlisch from New York entertained the audience with his Jewish jokes (in a mormon town) and also his music. He has written music for Hollywood movies, for instance A Chorus Line and Sophie's Choice, and has worked with Barbra Streisand. We also got to hear some other popular pieces by Irving Berlin, Scott Joplin and others. The pieces I recognized the best were Ol' Man River and Oklahoma. Very nice concert.

Sunday in such a religious town was in my personal opinion rather boring. The library was closed and so was much else. I spent half an hour in the Planetarium looking at the exhibit, and then I walked for over an hour to a mall. Unfortunately, the effects of the financially bad times had put a large number of the shops out of business. There was nothing there to see, so I had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe instead. In the afternoon I took the lightrail to another mall, which was larger and had a nice book store.

Monday morning I did even more research, and after having lunch at the only restaurant within five blocks, I went to the airport. Salt Lake City really isn't a tourist oriented town, but I guess few people would go there just to see the town. There is a large convention center, the Library and sports centers in the mountains that attract visitors.

Late Monday evening Nancy and her husband came to pick me up at the gigantic airport O'Hare in Chicago. Today (Tuesday) I went with Nancy, her daughter Debbie and grandson Nolan (aged five months) to lunch. I had a very nice lobster sandwich. We also went to a pumpkin farm, where they had images of Disney characters for the kids to play around outdoors, among other things. We didn't get any pumpkins, but we managed to get Nolan to pose for several pictures. Nancy and I spent the afternoon shopping for souvenirs, and later in the evening we went to a movie, Nights in Rodanthe. A romantic and also sad story with Richard Gere.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Las Vegas

Monday I visited Diane, who was working at the Minneapolis Public Library in 1994, when I did my internship there. We have stayed in touch since then, and it was very nice to see her and the cat Licorice. Even though the cat was rather suspicious and didn't want to play with me. In the afternoon Randy came to pick me up, and I spent a few hours before the plane would leave at his parents place. It was one of the most "Swedishly" decorated houses I have ever seen. Enormous amounts of old (and some new) souvenirs and antiques. Nice jukebox that played 45's from Göingeflickorna. Amazing.

The flight to Las Vegas was very bumpy, and we were all very happy when the plane finally landed late Monday night. Linda and Thom brought me through the center of the town, The Strip. It's hard to describe it in words, the neon lights are everywhere, the hotels are huge, the Eiffel Tower, a pyramid, Statue of Liberty and other landmarks are copied here, there are lots of people. Tuesday Linda showed me two different shopping areas, and I did some minor purchases (two pairs of shoes for instance). In the evening we returned to the center of Las Vegas and walked around the casinos and watched the water show outside the Bellagio.

Wednesday we went by car to Hoover Dam, on the border to Arizona. It produces electricity and the lake gives Las Vegas water. Glad I'm not afraid of heights, the distance from the lake to the river down below is huge. Interesting place and a major tourist attraction. In the evening we saw a show in Vegas, it was called The Mentalist. He was like a mindreader that guessed (with the help of some statistics and tricks) peoples names and ages, and many other things. He was very talented, and there is no way I can explain how he did all of that.

Today is Thursday and in the afternoon I will travel on to Salt Lake City.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Leroy Anderson exhibit

Friday morning I took the bus to St Paul on the other side of the river. It took a while, but it's interesting to see the different neighborhoods. I got off at the Minnesota History Center, which is a museum and archive. I spent a few hours there, doing research. Found about half of what I was looking for. Lunch in the cafeteria was cheap and very tasty, Minnesota wild rice soup with chicken and a sandwich. Got on another bus to downtown Minneapolis, and changed there to go to the American Swedish Institute. Jane (who had arrived last night) had been there most of the day working on the exhibit about her father. We were there until about 10 PM and wrote texts for the pictures, and made plans for the Saturday events with the staff. Dinner was a very late cup of soup in Jane's hotel room.

Saturday I did some exploring in the area, I walked Lake Street east and found fairly soon a shop I have heard of many times but had never been to: Ingebretsen's. It was like little Scandinavia in there. They sold lots of Scandinavian souvenirs, glass, ornaments, fridge magnets, books and items relating to the Nordic homelands. The food section was also interesting, they sold salmon, cheese, sausages, brown beans, herring, imported lingonberryjam, crispbread, chocolate and candy, and much else. The place was very popular. After a little more walking and window shopping, I returned to the hotel. At 5 PM Jane and I were picked up and brought to the American Swedish Institute. We attended the reception for the official opening of the Leroy Anderson exhibit, along with some especially invited people. Some of the Nelsons were also there, and we all viewed the complete exhibit. At 7 PM Jane gave a marvelous speech about her father, focusing on the Swedish aspect. A string quartet played several of the best known pieces, like Syncopated Clock, Forgotten Dreams and Sleigh Ride. Great entertainment from all participants. Afterwards Jane and I went to dinner with Bill, Mark and Jen from the Institute.

Today (Sunday) Ron Nelson stopped by the hotel to pick us up and he drove us to Lester & Esther Nelson in west Bloomington. It was very nice to see them again, and we talked about the time they came to Sweden to search for us in 1991. It was the start of everything, that's when I began the research to find the descendants of the emigrants in my family tree. It has lead to a whole lot more than I ever imagined.

This evening a research friend, Randy, brought me to a dinner with some other people with Swedish ancestors; Shelley, Todd and Connie. It was yet another tasty dinner in good company. We discussed difficult research questions and things Swedish.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Around noon Tuesday I said goodbye to the Hagertys in St Charles and traveled to the airport in a taxi. I had waited a little too long before I booked the planeticket, so I had to purchase a seat in first class. It really wasn't worth it. The soda was served in real glasses and the seats might have been a little more comfortable, that's the differences I noticed. After half an hour on the ground waiting in line and one hour in the air, the plane landed in Minneapolis. The hotel was not that far away, the taxi ride was fairly short. It's a nice hotel, but the area it's located in is not the best. The only place I could get any food was KFC (fast food). I ordered a chicken salad and had to wait 20 minutes for it. It gave "fast food" a new meaning. But it wasn't that bad food and I wasn't in a hurry, so I shouldn't complain.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I took the bus from the transit center just outside the hotel and changed to lightrail after a five minute ride. The lightrail is a short modern train, and it took about 15 minutes to the center of Minneapolis. I walked over to the new (2006) public library and visited every floor (4) to see all of it. Many years ago I did my internship here (at the old building), and it was interesting to see what they had changed from that time. It is all in glass and concrete, not much decorations, low book cases in the first half of the room, high in the back. It was a popular place, all the computers were occupied.

After a quick lunch at an almost empty Hard Rock Cafe, I took the lightrail all the way to the end station - Mall of America. It's the largest mall in this country with an amusement park, restaurants, cinemas and 520 stores. No, I didn't visit all of them. But quite a few. Did some shopping, naturally, but only some souvenirs and two tops in a clothing store. Also had dinner there before I returned to the hotel by rail and bus in the evening.

Today I made use of the last minutes of the bus pass I bought yesterday and got on the southbound bus for a ten minute ride. I arrived at Kathy's place just before 11 a.m. Several of the Frank Nelson descendants gathered there to have a very tasty lunch (these Swedes can definitely cook). We had a good time chatting about basically everything, but family matters in particular. A couple of hours later we all drove up to the American Swedish Institute, to view the Leroy Anderson exhibit. It was very well done, but we missed a typewriter! It seemed like the exhibit wasn't completely finished (the official opening of it will be on Saturday), so there might be some more things added later. Apart from the large information boards, there were some musical instruments, a sleigh, album covers, handwritten scores and some of Leroys clothes. The dvd documentary was running on a screen also. We returned to Kathy's place for coffee and even more talking afterwards. It was very nice to see the Nelsons again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Museum visit and more

Saturday evening we went to a local restaurant, where we had a very nice dinner with the Hassmans. The junior member of the party, Nolan, aged 5 months, attracted everybody's attention. Cute (and quiet) kid. Joyce and Pat had traveled all the way from Rockford, and it was great to see everybody again. Since I have done too much shopping, I handed over some of my belongings to Nancy. I will meet them again in a few weeks.

Sunday I went by train to Chicago, this time to go to a museum. The Chicago History Museum is a newly renovated place with very interesting displays. I learned there that the name Chicago comes from a wild onion plant. The exhibits covered many aspects of life in the Windy City; the immigrants through the ages, the big fire in 1871 that devastated 18 000 houses, the World's Fair in 1893, inventions, Chicago architecture, steel and meat industries, race riots, jazz and blues music, sports and Native Americans. The special exhibit contained fancy designer dresses from the 1920s and on.

In the evening we had dinner at Colonial, a restaurant with a long history. It was started in 1901 by Swedish immigrants. The food was very good, but the ice-cream was even better. I had a large cup of vanilla ice-cream with chocolate, peanut butter, whipped cream and M&Ms. Yummy!

Monday I went on the early train again, but this time I got off in Maywood. I visited the library to search for information about my relatives who lived there around 1885-1950. Quite a few people from Norra Strö settled there, and I have always wondered why. I found the city directories from the early years and wrote down all the Swedish-sounding names. There seems to have been three grocery stores, all of them owned by Swedes.

Later in the evening, Ann came over with her family and brought along a delicious crispy cake.

Today I will travel on to Minneapolis, another "Swedish" town.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Thursday I went by train with all the commuters from Geneva to Chicago in the morning. It took a little more than an hour. After walking about six blocks and riding the L-train for half an hour, I arrived in Forest Park. I managed to find the cemetery I was looking for, Forest Home Cemetery, after a while. It's a huge area, and the gravestones I was searching for were of course not close to each other. Several of Leroy Anderson's relatives are buried there; his grandparents, three aunts, one uncle and one cousin. I found all the people I knew would be buried there, and a couple more. The grave of Aunt Augusta's stepson Walter (wife Marie) was also there. I was pretty tired after all that walking, so I returned to the city and had a long lunch at a sandwich place. I did some more clothes shopping at Sears, a top for 4 USD, before I went back to Geneva on the train.

Friday I went on the same train in the morning, and arrived at the Newberry Library at 10. It's a private research library that has a large genealogy collection. I spent several hours there, looking for more information about people in Maywood. Found some more details, but not so much. I started on some of the research questions other people had given me, but didn't get far. It's very time consuming to do this kind of research. People weren't too meticulous when it came to spelling the names 100 years ago either. Often they made themselves younger than they really were when the census taker asked also. Deciphering the handwriting is yet another challenge. But it's very interesting to "meet" these people in the old records.

I returned to Geneva in the late afternoon. Jim is the cook in the household, and he served bratwurst and potato salad with beans for dinner. The first time I have tasted bratwurst, actually.

Today (Saturday) I haven't done much, apart from sending some emails. We will try to get to a mall/shoppingcenter this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Sunday we drove south through the Vermont valleys with trees changing colors into red, yellow and orange. We didn't see much of the tops of the mountains, because they were covered in fog. We stopped at a water stream which had carved deep round pots in the granite. After lunch in Hanover, we arrived at Billings Farm in Woodstock. It's a working farm open to the public, with a small herd of Jersey cows and four horses. People get to see the milking process and other activities. There was also a large agricultural museum, with farm equipment and interiors from a farm house from around 1900. There were displays on ice collecting, cheese making and maple syrup making. Later in the evening we found Mark & Cindy Bergstrom's house near Rutland. Cindy brought us to Mark's job. He works for the electric power company. It was fascinating to see the control room, the huge grid was on a "map" on the wall and the computers were listing figures in massive amounts. We returned to the house and had dinner (chicken), and spent the rest of the evening chatting in front of the TV.

Monday morning we had waffles for breakfast and then Mark took us in the Volvo sports car on a trip in southern Vermont. We went to Manchester, a nice town with lots of outlet stores and craft shops. I did some bargain shopping in the Lane Bryant outlet store, and also got some souvenirs. The bacon cheeseburger at the local diner was delicious. We took the even more scenic route back to Rutland, passing by small lakes and colorful forests. Despite the somewhat chilly weather, we had the top down on the car for quite a while. In the evening we picked Cindy up and went for dinner at the Long Trail Inn. The athmosphere was Irish-inspired and the food was great. After dinner, we made use of the hot tub in Mark & Cindy's back yard. What a luxury!

Tuesday it was time to say goodbye to the Bergstroms (including the dogs Ripple and Nelson). Rolf and Sharon brought me to the airport in Burlington, and I left from there around noon. I changed planes in New York and arrived at O'Hare in Chicago in the afternoon. The taxi ride from the airport to St Charles was long (rush hour), but I finally got there at 6 p.m. I'm visiting my mother's second cousin Jeane and her husband Jim here. Their daughter Ann and her family stopped by and we all had pizza for dinner last night. Today we really haven't done much, apart from talking about family history and using the computer for email. I have also viewed the photos I have taken during my trip, and they seem to have turned out pretty good.