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Mary (Marit) Kana
1883 - 1975

My Story.


Grandma's life history what she can remember - I am afraid it wont be much although my first 19 years were the most carefree time as I see it now.
My home was a small farm between a high mountain and the fjord. I was the third of five girls, a boy arrived last. Quite young I and I suppose the girls before me had to go to grandma as she could teach us to read before we started school, (what a silly notion that we had to do that) really easy to be teacher in those days. the first two years we had a lady teacher after that we had men. An old man at that, but most of us loved him. Wouldn't for the life of me come to school not knowing my lesson. we had a younger one we didn't care about, naturally we didn't do our best. Know I didn't enjoy to see him mad, he used to bite his lips and alt the black hair on his fingers stood straight up. wintertime we waded in snow over our knee's and I am sure it was two miles maybe more. can you imagine now days you had to do that. but it didn't last so many years maybe six or seven, then it was to go and read for confirmation then we were grown up. could put up our hair on top of our head, and wear long skirts.
White going to school. Guess it was my job to help father (far) put the fish nets into the boat they had dried since the day before I put a wooden stick (that was the float), and he put a stone on his side, that way the net stood upright in the water when the fish same swimming, he got caught and tangled. I had to run the boat slowly while Dad put the net into the water, in the early morning he went alone and took the net up and fish with it. That's the fish story of one eating fresh, salted, lutefisk, dry-fish, fisk-boller. (fish balls). There were not much meat butchered in the fall and everything was used, hides for shoes, blood for blood sausage, intestines cleaned for the sausage, that had to last one year. I remember we had chickens, but we didn't get an egg nor did we eat the chicken, they died of old age, eggs and butter were traded for coffee, sugar, and white flour. Can you kids imagine a life not seeing any cookies or cakes except at Christmas time? No wonder we had the right Christmas spirit, for three weeks or more they made julekake, "lefse" (fladbread we had the year around) and all of wheat flour, we couldn't raise that so far north, only barley oats and rye-,, potatoes, carrots and onions. Mother had her special herb garden she grew most all we buy now.. She also had her little plot of flax she made linen cloth for trade and towels for company.
I couldn't have been very old when I recall I sat on my father's lap and watched the doctor cut a tumor from grandfather's lip, now why I had to sit and watch that is more than I can understand unless it was I was such a pest I probably would have hit the doctor with something for hurting grandpa, another time I misbehaved (they used to be many) we had an Uncle staying with us. he and I didn't get along so good. he didn't want me to go along to my Aunts wedding. Told my mother I would get into bad. ah well, I would get even with him. found some live frogs and put in his coat pockets, and when he took up his handkerchief the frog came too. any way I promised to be good so I went to the wedding. My uncle didn't know there were frogs in several pockets, was he mad. but everybody laughed, maybe he found out he couldn't get the best of me.
but I did a few good turns too. saved three men from drowning, one day I sat at the beach watching a big sail boat loaded with lumber. I always wandered how they could sail against the wind, of course I learned the simple trick later but I was maybe five when I saw the boat turning sharply and maybe to sharply as "it turned over men and lumber were in the water. I ran and got my father, he good his boat and got the men, took them to the house where Mother took over she stripped them and put all three into the same bed, covered them with quilts and blankets and she gave them something hot to drink, she had a remedy for everything, she was the doctor and midwife in the neighborhood, she set about drying their clothes as it was cold, imagine they had lots of heavy clothes on. by the time father with the help of neighbors had picked up the lumber, righted the boat and they took off again, wonder if they as much as said thanks, another time I wake up at nite and saw a flickering light in a tittle building at the neighbors, thought it was funny so late at nite. then I called dad again and he went to investigate, sure enough it was burning, and he got there just in time to get the people up and so they had to carry water from a well. it took a long time to get the fire out. I thought of all the animals that was in the barn near by. I was glad I had brains enough to know something was wrong, so much for my good deeds, maybe I caused more trouble then good. When summer came we took the cows and sheep up into the mountains, where we had a log cabin, and barn. as there were four families that did the same and just us youngsters we had a good time. but days were long when we watched the animals from straying away, generally there were two of us but many times I was alone.
I was confirmed when I was 14 so then you were grown up. Had to go and work for somebody else to make money, probably only earned our clothes and a pair of shoes, so when my two cousins by marriage (their step mother was my aunt) was getting ready to go to America I wanted to go too.. I was 19. They a year and 2 older. I didn't have any money but Dad borrowed from the bank and I could go. Know they all felt bad. but you know young folks had to get out, and America was a lovely place to go to. those that?s been here came back and told how great it was, lots of money to get for almost no work and we three girls were going to be rich in no time and come back in a few years with all kinds of lovely things. It wasn't bad from Trondheim to Hull England. The North Sea was calm. got on a train going south, how funny we thought it was. No mountains only flat land, houses dose together, looked more like a village, had to get on a street car drawn by the biggest horses you have ever seen. Didn't think much of London - it looked dirty, we finally landed in Southampton, a town on the English channel. stayed at a hotel for emigrants for several days waiting for the boat that would take us to America. England was at war so saw some of the Boer War aftermath, the hotel was near the waterfront. I was always curious so spent much time watching war ships bringing dead and wounded home from Africa, the other girls wasn't interested, they were afraid they would get lost. finally we got on a boat and on our way.
The smelt on the ship made me almost sick. but found out it got worse when we got on the stormy Atlantic and Karen the youngest of the two sisters and I was seasick almost all the time while we crossed the ocean, was glad when we saw the Statue of Liberty so know we were near
land, was very impressed by seeing the great Lady. when we landed and set foot on land we was cured of seasickness, that is the funniest sickness, and were we hungry--' after six days of almost no food. with every ship landing there?s plenty of peddler with all kinds of things we were only interested in food, looked, but didn't see anything familiar. bought a bag of something (found out later it was doughnuts, they tasted good, ate the whole bag full. there must have been several dozen, than we bought a pie, never seen that before, we look at each other and at the flat thing in a tin plate, how in sam hill were we going to eat that! someone saw our predicament and gave us each a plastic fork. the rest was easy. our agent, that was to look after us, to get us on the train, he also gave us each a bag of food that was to last us three days or was it four? most of it went out through the window, we had a tittle money, so we bought what looked good from the man that came through the train with his wagon, he was a life saver, saw lot of country on our way to Grafton North Dak. Karen, one of the girls knew a boy that live there and had been to Norway on a visit, he was supposed to meet us but he didn't, it wasn't hard to find any one that could speak Norwegian, as mostly all were at that time. 73 years ago. we were directed to Pete Jorgenson. Mr. Jorgenson's wife was this boys sister. My first impression of Grafton wasn't very good, board walks, that tipped up if you stepped on the other end, and dirt!! goodness if you should happen to step off the sidewalk you would be stuck, either you would loose your shoe or you had to have help to get out. and the deport! I thought of the one we left in Trondheim there was such a different, the one in Norway was tike a palace to this one in America. Jorgenson's were nice people, we stayed there until we got work, and that wasn't
hard. everyone that needed help invited a green new comer. They were good workers. Karen stayed with Jorgenson as a maid. Marit got work at another family. I got the best place of all. A big farm, five small children, husband and wife, and goodness knows how many hired men. of course the rule was of if you were good worker we would get $3.00 a week. after a week they thought I was worth $4.00. goodness how I worked! up at five and work until nine. I did mostly washing dishes, scrub floors and tend to babies. those babies are in their 70's some of them. Now father, mother, two sons are dead. I have kept their friend-ship all these years, write to each other, they look on me as their second mother especially the baby, or should say he was while I was there, they had another later, some are grandparents, some didn't have any children.
There?s were I met my future husband, but I didn't think much of him at that time. I teamed to talk English in a sort of way, broken you know. hear them to this day don't matter what nationality even here in a old folks home and I 92 years old. here is 200 residents, and all come from different country, one Finlander just died 99 years old and a lady 102, but bed ridden. The Finlander name Moses. Oh yes we also have Abraham a Jew. Moses was blind but he liked to talk about Finland and I told him about the Laplander, that used to live in the mountain in Northern Norway and Sweden and they were from Finland but had emigrated to Norway. They raised raindeers, lived off them, used the hide for clothing and tents, when they got much snow in the mountains, they came down to the coast. remember when they came and gave us kids a ride in those funny sleds they looked more like a boat. 5 raindeers all in a row. that is
one after the other and could they run! Guess we never had such fast ride until we were in America and cars came in use, remember they traded with mother, she had sugar and coffee and they had deer meat, and moccasins made from the hide and even jackets and some funny caps they used to wear, all new to us and we were glad to get them, they had their own language, but they understood Norwegian, they were little men. never saw any children or womenfolk?s
Guess they had their tents and put them up any place, still in the mountains but nearer the cost. those reindeer live on a white moss that grew mostly in higher altitudes, in the wintertime they dig away the snow so they can get at it, they probably ate other grass or brush, you seen the wild deers how they nibble on low bushes, you know these Laps milk the raindeers like we do cows. they make cheese, don't know if they make butter. know mother gave them bread and butter, but don't remember if they ate the butter, it was always such fun when they came. Just like gypsies, whole families of them came often in the summertime they were a pest by telling fortune they could get a chicken or eggs and they were always begging for wool. they had horses and wagons and always dressed in colorful clothes. Many time I wished I was a gypsy they were all good looking, dark eyes and hair. maybe that was the attraction, we were towheads and our clothes were very drab, dark so they would last longer, didn't need to be washed so often.
Better leave the Laps and Gypsies maybe that all something from the past, but we enjoyed them. Better get back to America, and my experience. After one year and a half on the farm went to work for a doctor.
they lived in town, two children (Glaspel's) girl was going to
University. the boy 10 years old was at home. he spent most of the evening in the kitchen, guess he had fun hearing me talk. maybe I learned most there with that family that spoke only English.
The boy grew up and got to be a doctor, married no children, if they had maybe they would have been together yet. She got a diverse and moved away. he lived in a nice big house alone until he retired and he also moved away. Maybe to the same place as his old wife has been alt these years, he is now 82. I am sure she is that old maybe older, remember when the old doctor came him in the morning he was tired and grumpy. been in the country delivering a baby. he used to come to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, he used to say, Mary when you get married and have baby's don't you dare have them at nite. I thought to myself when that happened you won't be called old boy. there?s others and I never had him. the midwife thought that was funny, he was a special friend of her. I only had the doctor twice for the first one and the last. the doctors in those days used horses and in the wintertime it wasn?t much fun living out on the prairie at nite in all kinds of weather, didn't' suppose they charged so much either, know the midwife got only five dollars. I should know had her seven times, a long lapse of time from the time I left Norway and until I was married and had babies (one every two years) until there was eight. You see I didn't have her when the youngest one was born. maybe she was dead by then, don't remember, we lived on a farm (renters) no crop to speak of. that is nothing left when all bills were paid. My husband had five operations, ulcer on one eye three times, so got tired of farmlife and moved to town. Kids have a habit of growing
up soon they were out of high school, and out to make their own living. all married, three has no families, rest are grandparents, even the oldest is great grandfather, makes me a great great grandmother, five generations. Two has passed away, so there's six left. I am proud of them all and they are good to their 92 year old mother.
Suppose I could stop here. Naturally there's many things I remember from the 19 years in Norway but it would be a long story, still have my brothers widow there in the same old house, and 4 nephews, lots of cousins but lost track of most of them. it's different there now, electricity, running water, cars, and no going to the mountains in the summertime. they don't spin and weave tike we used to do. had to wear home spun clothes, never had anything bought, but when one don't see anything else we were happy, don't see that people are more satisfied now so many years later. When we have too much of everything, remember a picture I used to sit and watch Sunday morning when we were on our way from the mountains seems like the fjord was always smooth and sun was shining, big and small boats full of people moving from their homes miles away to church. Men in white shirt sleeves, they had their food along for the day. they ate when they landed and also after church, before they took to their boats and on their way home. as a rule the roads were full of dark dressed people walking to church at least they looked dark from where we sat. it was our resting place on our way up and coming down. had to carry all the milk and cream home so Mother could churn butter, make cheese, white, brown and something like cottage cheese and some like smelly limburger only better, oh yes we had goats hired them out -in the summer time to a family that took them on shares, that is
they got half of the cheese they made, we get it now imported from Norway and its not cheap, but good if you tike it. I do and many of my families like it. A grand Lady here at Sunset home would have been horrified if I had told that she used to straddle the goats to milk them and made our cheese but I never told anyone it would have hurt her pride. Not that it would hurt anyone to work at a honest business, even if its not so dignified to straddle a goat. the only way you could do it. wonder how they do it now days. Well guess I have told enough, many things have happened in 92 years if one was smart enough to write it.

Written by Mary Kana 92 years old,
in the beginning of March 1975.



1969
65 Years: Kanas to Note Wedding Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. John 0. Kana of the Foss Sunset Home, 13023 Greenwood Ave. N., will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the home. The Kanas were married November 10, 1904, in Grafton, N. D. They carne here in 1941. Kana worked for the Western Farmers Association and the Firland Sanitarium before retiring in 1964. Kana. 84, was born in Nash, N. D. Mrs. Kana, 86, was born in Norway. The couple has four daugh-ters, Mrs. George M.
West, Seattle; Mrs. Frederick H. Clewley, Oakland, Calif.; Mrs. Mary Ann Forrest, Reno, Nev., and Mrs. Betty Andrews, St. Louis, MI.; three sons, Manville, Den-ver; Lawrence, Fargo, N. D., and Oliver Kana, Grafton; 15 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren. Mr. and Mrs. John 0. Kana


The ship Saint Paul, who brought Marit to New York 14th of june 1902.