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Archive for the ‘52 Stories’ Category

52 Stories #13—Childhood Homes

Back in the 50’s and 60’s, when your dad worked in the oil business you moved around a lot. The petroleum companies liked to give people some experience in their various field offices, so they transferred people every couple of years. My dad, a petroleum landman, needed to acquire knowledge of the various oil fields operated by his company. Our family packed up and moved several times to accomplish that.

Dad took a job with The Ohio Oil Company in 1954, right after he graduated with a degree in business from the University of Wyoming. They sent him to Casper, Wyoming for training, and my mom and I moved in with my maternal grandparents in Rapid City, South Dakota for the summer. I was still an infant.

That fall, my dad began his first assignment in Bismarck, North Dakota. Our little family took up residence in an upstairs apartment across the street from his office. I have a couple of vague recollections of living there, but we did not stay long.

Soon my brother was on the way. We moved to larger accommodations, the ground floor of a small house. Another family lived in the basement. Again, I sort of recall the place, and again, we did not stay long.

When I was 2 ½, we began renting a house all to ourselves. Constructed a few years earlier for a raffle, this house was known locally as “The Dream House”. It sat across the street from the North Dakota capitol building and had two bedrooms, a living room, a small kitchen, and a basement. My brother and I shared one of the bedrooms and slept in bunk beds. The house had a nice, fenced yard where we spent many hours playing with the neighbor kids. Another brother arrived while I was in kindergarten.

All too soon, the time came for my dad to move on to another assignment. We relocated to Sidney, Nebraska while I was in the first grade. This time we rented a 3-bedroom house. I had my own room, and my brothers shared a room. We quickly made friends with the kids at school, but my dad did not like Nebraska. He requested a transfer almost as soon as we arrived.

We moved again, to Casper, Wyoming, when I finished the second grade. My parents looked for another house to rent. Nothing seemed suitable. The situation became more and more desperate as the company wanted us settled and the start of a new school year loomed. Finally, my folks decided to consider purchasing their first house.

The Ohio Oil Company had rebranded itself as Marathon Oil by that time, and several other “Marathoners” were buying newly-built homes on the east end of Casper. My folks joined them, and we moved into our new house amongst all the other oil people just before school started. My mother did not really care for the house, but she thought it would be temporary quarters for just a couple of years. Little did she know.

The company philosophy had changed by then, and people stayed in one place. My parents lived in that house for the next 23 years.

The ranch-style house, located half a block from the elementary school, had three bedrooms, 1 ½ baths, and dirt for a yard. My parents got to work right away planting grass and a couple of saplings. They had earth moved to flatten out the lot. They installed clothes lines. My mom disliked the salmon-pink exterior of the house and quickly prevailed upon my dad to repaint it blue.

I occupied the smallest bedroom and again my brothers shared another. My mom decorated my tiny room in a way she liked but I hated. She painted three walls pink and put fussy, floral wallpaper on the fourth wall. She installed a puffy, white curtain on the window and put a canopy over the bed. I lived in that overly-feminine room until I started junior high.

By then, I had a baby sister. When she outgrew her crib in our parents’ bedroom, she moved into the pink room. I helped my dad build a new bedroom in the basement and moved down there as soon as it was completed. I was thrilled with my good fortune.

I kept that room until I married eight years later. I loved its big window, large closet, and double bed. Best of all, it had privacy and space away from my mothers’ cigarette smoke. I spent hours down there reading, listening to music, and playing my guitar.

Of all the bedrooms I had during my childhood, I liked that last one best. I had it to myself, and the décor pleased me. I do not recall doing much to personalize it, but I did get to choose the floor tile, the wallpaper, and the bedspread. That was enough to make me happy in a room of my own.

52 Stories #12—My Career as a Genealogist

Have I had a career? I have had jobs, but I never stuck with a single line of work through my adult life. The only activity that would count as a career for me has been my study of genealogy and family history.

My coming-of-age years paralleled the movement for women’s equal rights. During my childhood, no one’s mother worked for money, and I never expected to either. The idea that having a job was somehow inappropriate and undesirable for women never left me. I liked the idea of staying at home, answering to no one, setting my own schedule, and pursuing my own interests, namely genealogy. This appealed to me more than any job ever could.

But times were changing, and as I entered adulthood, women needed to enter the workforce just to stay even with the sort of life my parents had. I went to college and on to law school. From there, I followed my dad into the oil business where I did contract and land title work for a major oil company.

This interesting, challenging work provided a good living, but boy, was the work environment a pressure-cooker. I spent hours at the office, longing to spend more quality time with my young boys, only to arrive home just in time to give them dinner and put them to bed. What an impossible schedule! It was a relief when my company closed the local office and left for Houston, a place I knew I did not want to live. I resigned my position. I had gleaned what I needed from that job—a good financial start and a much better understanding of all the legal documents a genealogist must discover and analyze.

I spent the next several years at home, happily raising my kids and beginning my genealogical research in earnest. I learned my way around the Denver Public Library genealogy collection, the Denver branch of the National Archives, and my local Family History Center. I joined a genealogy club and attended conferences and seminars.

In the meantime, the boys grew older, and they wanted to participate on sports teams. Each year required more and more team travel with more and more expense. The time came when again I needed to find a paying job. I resurrected my old teaching certificate and began substituting in the school libraries.

A few years later, I hired on part time with the public library to get a regular schedule. Working there just half-time allowed me to continue with my genealogical research while getting paid to learn valuable computer and reference skills. I stayed there for over a decade and never again took a full-time job.

Today, I am at home again, and I devote as much time to genealogy as I can. The other jobs I have had enabled me to pursue this, my true passion. I have documented the lives of generations of my family and preserved the information for posterity. This is the happy, fulfilling life I wanted for myself, and I will never retire from this career.



52 Stories #11—My First Paycheck

Everyone remembers their first job. These work situations provide us with places to learn basic workplace skills such as reporting on time, following directions, and getting along with others. Then we get that great reward—money of our own. Many of us feel real dismay when we realize for the first time just how much of our hard-earned cash goes straight to Uncle Sam.

I found my first job when I was seventeen years old. I worked that summer at the front counter of the local Tastee Freeze fast food franchise. There I waited on customers by preparing frozen treats like ice cream cones, malts and milkshakes, sundaes, and floats. I also took orders for hamburger and chicken meals. We had no cash registers and accepted only cash at the Tastee Freeze, so I learned to add up a ticket quickly and to make change correctly. One day someone handed me a one-hundred-dollar bill, the first time I had ever seen such a thing.

A married couple owned the Tastee Freeze, and they worked alongside the teenagers they hired. She was pretty nice to all the high school students who worked there, but he was not. In fact, I remember choosing him as my subject a few years later when I had to write a school paper about the worst boss I ever had.

He shouted at us when he did not think we worked hard enough or did not focus on the job. In the evenings, after it got dark, he often sat outside in his car, watching us through the restaurant windows to see if he could catch us doing wrong. One night after the place closed and our crew prepared to go home, we stopped to check the work schedule for the next day. Our boss had erased several names from the schedule, in essence firing people in that way instead of speaking with them directly. He said they had not shown proper respect for his expensive equipment, and he seemed to have no interest in re-training them or giving them a second chance. I thought him very unfair.

I stayed at this job through the summer, disliking the work environment more and more as the weeks continued. I left shortly after school started that fall. I had made enough money that summer to save a bit and purchase desired items I would not have had otherwise. I knew I would miss a regular paycheck in the coming months, but I would not miss this overbearing boss.

Working at the Tastee Freeze did provide me with some fundamental job skills. At subsequent jobs, I put them to use, and since then I have had a great appreciation for kind supervisors. I worked much harder for them than I ever did for my first boss.

A pleasant workplace became a real priority for me, and late in life I left another job because of another difficult boss. During the intervening years, when I had employees to supervise, I hope I treated them better than the Tastee Freeze guy treated his first-time workers.

52 Stories #10—Family Hobbies

Sometimes we become interested in a hobby because we learned it at our parents’ knees. I have a couple of hobbies like that.

Mom’s Hobby—Embroidery

My mother liked to embroider in her spare time. I can recall often seeing her embroidery hoops out with a project underway. She kept a bin of embroidery floss in many colors for use in her newest creation.

Mom used to embellish our bed and kitchen linens with colorful designs sown on pre-stamped items like pillow cases and kitchen towels. She knew how to do the standard stitches like back stitch, chain stitch, cross-stitch, French knots, and satin stitch. She sewed with great precision, but she always tied knots in her threads. I later learned this practice is a no-no in embroidery world.

She taught me to embroider when I was in the fourth grade, and I liked it immediately. I, too, began decorating household items. Later, when my high school graduation time rolled around, I needed a white dress to wear beneath my white graduation gown. Mom made a dress, and I decorated both sleeves with an embroidered design. I still have that dress.

When I got older, I learned about a specialized form of embroidery from Norway called Hardanger. Family members say my mom’s Norwegian grandmother had been proficient at this, but Mom had never learned to do it. The family and cultural connection of this type of embroidery intrigued me, so I took a lesson and then taught myself more about it. Last year I earned a Cultural Skill pin in Hardanger Embroidery from the Sons of Norway.

After my mom died, I found a lot of embroidery supplies and embroidered items among her things. She had learned embroidery from her own Finnish mom, and some of the things I found had belonged to my grandmother. I kept it all. Now I have a large stash of embroidery floss and needles, lots of patterns, and several pieces that both my mom and grandmother completed.

Dad’s Hobby—Genealogy

My Dad always showed an interest in his family history. When I received a blank family tree chart as a teenager, he helped me fill it out to the best of his knowledge. Right away, I was hooked.

Dad put me in contact with other members of his family who pursued genealogy and knew about our family history. I learned that his family goes back to colonial times in America.

When I reached adulthood, I began to take genealogy classes. I completed the National Genealogical Society course in American Genealogy in 2004.

Over the years, I have worked hard to build my family tree. Dad took a continued interest in my findings and encouraged me to keep digging at our roots.

Today, I have notebooks and file cabinets full of family information. I maintain an online family tree. I have prepared numerous written character sketches for my ancestors several generations back. I love genealogy more now than I did when my dad first introduced me to the hobby.

These hobbies, one from my mom and one from my dad, have given me so much enjoyment over the years. I enjoy pursuing both, and both give me sense of connection to previous generations. They truly qualify as family hobbies.

52 Stories #9—Childhood Hobbies and Pastimes

What does a girl do while growing up in the oilpatch in the 50’s and 60’s? During my childhood we lived in small towns in Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming as my dad pursued a career on the road as a petroleum landman. Because he was gone a lot and my mother did not know how to drive, we entertained ourselves mostly at home. I found several ways to do that:

  1. I loved dolls. I named my earliest one Carol, and I played with her a lot. When she was not enough and I wanted an additional doll, I requested a bride doll for Christmas. Naughty me—I opened the suspected gift ahead of time when my mother was not looking. Of course, I found out it was the perfect doll, but then I had to re-wrap it and act surprised when Christmas Eve rolled around. When I was a little older during my elementary school years, I often played Barbies with the neighbor girls. About the same time, my grandmother gave me a set of dolls representing the countries of the world, and I had many hours of fun with them, too. Troll dolls became popular when I was about 10, and I acquired a collection of those as well. I liked making and decorating houses for them out of cardboard boxes.
  2. During the second grade, I discovered a love of reading. I had received a “D” in deportment at school that year because I talked too much and disturbed the other children. My Dad decided the cure for me was to carry a fat book to school every day and pull it out whenever I had nothing to do. That year I began reading the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and animal stories by Thornton W. Burgess. Dad took me to the library every weekend to replenish my supply of reading material, a habit I still follow.
  3. My mom took time to teach me the needle arts beginning when I as nine or so. I disliked making clothes, knitting, and crochet. Embroidery did appeal to me, and I finished a set of pillowcases for my first project. Over the years I have decorated many pieces of linen and clothing. I have sacks full of patterns, fabric, and embroidery floss.
  4. I learned to appreciate music as a small child. My brother and I shared a record player and a stack of records. In second grade I started piano lessons, and then I began choral singing a year later when we moved to Wyoming. We belonged to a church within walking distance of our house, and I joined the after-school children’s choir. On and off over the years I have continued to sing in a church choir, and my current one will tour in Germany later this year. I have also been called upon to play the piano sometimes for different groups, and currently I serve as the Musician for my local Sons of Norway lodge.

Looking back now, I am surprised at how sedentary my early life was despite living in an area known for outdoor recreation. My parents just had no interest in the outdoors beyond taking care of their own yard. They never took us for open-air activities such as camping, hiking, or skiing although they saw to it that we acquired life skills like riding a bike and swimming. Beyond that, we did not participate in any sports or attend sporting events.

Nowadays, I still pursue my early interests of reading, embroidery and music. None provided me with a way to make a living, but each has enriched my life. I am glad I have had the opportunity to learn and enjoy these hobbies.

52 Stories #8—Shared Experiences

My husband/tech advisor and I married over 42 years ago. Consequently, we have lots of shared memories. Let’s see if I can recall a few of the highlights:

1972—Mutual friends introduced us at the University of Wyoming.

1973—We went to a movie on our first date, became inseparable, and got engaged later that year. He received a B.S. in engineering that spring and began graduate school.

1974—We were married at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Casper, Wyoming. We honeymooned in Hawaii where we tried surfing. We never did it again.

1975—I received a B.A. in education. He received an M.S. in engineering. We moved to Austin, Texas.

1976—We embarked on our first jobs. He worked at Texas Instruments while I taught in a Lutheran school.

1977—I began law school at the University of Texas at Austin.

1978—We bought our first house.

1979—Our eldest son was born.

1980—I graduated from law school. We returned to our home town in Wyoming, and he went to work for Tooke Engineering. We attended his first high school reunion.

1981—I went to work as a Petroleum Landman for Gulf Oil and Exploration Company. He began spending evening and weekends as a sports referee.

1982—He took a new job with MiniMart convenience stores managing the computer department. I volunteered as a piano accompanist at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

1984—Our younger son was born. Our eldest son started kindergarten. We took a 10th anniversary cruise around the Hawaiian Islands.

1985—I was transferred to Colorado after Gulf was sold to Chevron Corporation. He left MiniMart and went to work for McDonnell Douglas in Aurora, CO. We began long careers as sports and Boy Scout parents, starting with soccer and moving on through swimming, tee ball, basketball, lacrosse, and hockey. The boys both eventually achieved the Eagle Scout rank.

1986—He began free-lance computer consulting, and his work took him to China. I passed the Colorado Bar Exam.

1987—He changed jobs again, going to work for Gates Corporation.

1988—I left Chevron and began a stint as a stay-at-home mom. During those years I taught Sunday School and volunteered as a Cub Scout Den Mother.

1990—He had back surgery the same week our house was severely damaged in a hail storm.

1992—I went back to work as a substitute teacher in the local middle and high schools. He stopped refereeing and began arranging handbell music.

1993—We joined in a family hunting trip to Grand Teton National Park, and our eldest son got his first elk.

1994—We took a Caribbean cruise for our 20th anniversary.

1995—I began a 4-year stint on the Colorado Genealogical Society Board of Directors.

1996—I went to work part-time for the local library district.

1997—Our eldest son graduated from high school and began college at my husband/tech advisor’s engineering school.

1999—We took another Caribbean cruise for our 25th anniversary.

2000—He had a second back surgery.

2001—We took a third Caribbean cruise with the in-laws for their 50th wedding anniversary. Our older son graduated from the University of Wyoming.

2002—Our younger son graduated from high school and joined the Army.

2003—We joined Bethany Lutheran Church. We took my dad on a 75th birthday trip to England and Scotland in May. Our younger son began attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in August, and we became West Point Parents. We attended Plebe Parent weekend and our first All-Service Academy Ball. Over the next four years we took several trips to West Point for special events, and we used that as a launching spot for vacations in every direction—Niagara Falls, Fort Ticonderoga, Philadelphia and Valley Forge, Boston and Cape Cod.

2004—He began bell ringing with the Bethany Carillons Handbell Choir, and I joined the group the following year.

2007—Our son graduated from West Point and got married.

2008—We took a Rhine River cruise with my husband’s brother and his wife. I retired. Our first granddaughter was born, and we attended her baptism.

2009—Our first grandson was born.

2010—Our elder son was married, and we acquired two step-grandaughters.

2011—Our second grandson was born. I left the handbell choir and joined the Bethany Chancel Choir. That Christmas, I had the opportunity to perform Handel’s Messiah. We sold the house the boys grew up in and bought a patio home.

2012—Another granddaughter was born.

2013—We took a trip to Norway to celebrate our birthdays. We visited farms where our ancestors had lived in Hedmark and Nordland.

2014—We traveled to spots my ancestors lived in Finland and Russia to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We joined the Sons of Norway and became active in Fjelldalen Lodge.

2015—With the Chancel Choir, I performed Bach’s St. John’s Passion in German. I was elected Musician of the Sons of Norway Lodge.

2016—We took our first train trip when we rode Amtrak’s California Zephyr to San Francisco. I represented Fjelldalen Lodge at the District Six Convention.


This list cannot contain all we did over the years. It simply lists the high points I can recall in one sitting.

Lots of great memories!








52 Stories #7—Finding A Spouse

Last week I wrote about how my parents and grandparents found their spouses. This week I will tell how I found mine.

As teenagers, my friends and I often thought about our future marriages. Even in those “Women’s Lib” days, I think most of us wanted to find a Prince Charming–someone tall and handsome. Beyond that, I wanted a guy who was smart, responsible, nice, Lutheran, and a non-smoker.

Looking back, my odds probably would have been better had I attended a Lutheran college. Unfortunately, those institutions were all far away from my small, Wyoming town, and they cost more than the state schools did. So I dutifully went off to the University of Wyoming and hoped for the best. After all, I thought, my parents had met there.

Before long, I, too, had found the almost-perfect person to marry. He was an engineering student, a couple of years older than me. Mutual friends introduced us.

Our first date presented some difficulties. When he first called me and suggested going out, I already had an out-of-town trip planned for that day. Luckily, he called again and suggested another time, which I happily accepted. Then I got sick. Not wanting to postpone again and risk losing him forever, I skipped classes that day in hopes of getting better fast.

That evening, still not feeling great and probably contagious, I went out with him anyway. As the evening progresses, we talked non-stop and found we had so much in common. Same home town. Norwegian heritage. Mothers who were teachers from Minnesota. Interests in music and the outdoors. We even learned that I already knew several of his cousins.

There was only one problem. He was Roman Catholic. This would be a deal-breaker for me. I have always felt families should attend church together, but there is no way I could convert in good conscience to Catholicism and subscribe to some of their beliefs.

Luckily for me, he was not all that committed to the Roman faith himself; in fact, his father’s family was Lutheran. My true love was willing to leave the Catholic Church and embrace his paternal Lutheran religion. And he did.

Yes! Now he truly was perfect, and we married in the Lutheran Church a couple of years later. We still belong to a local Lutheran congregation. Activities there constitute much of our life together. This year we will travel with the church choir to the Land of Luther to see all the German sites associated with our Lutheran heritage.

To this day, my spouse fits the bill—tall, handsome, smart, responsible, nice, and a Lutheran!



52 Stories #6—Parents and Grandparents

Ah, love is in the air this week, and for this week’s assignment I will retell the stories of how my parents and grandparents met and married.

My Parents

My mom and dad, Earl and Joyce, met in college at the University of Wyoming about 1950. Both needed to work to get through school even though my father had money from the GI Bill after his naval service in World War II. He had always liked to wash dishes, and he took a dishwasher job in the women’s dining hall. My mother worked as a server there. Imagine that, a college eatery where they had wait staff instead of a buffet line. Anyway, they met at work.

They dated for several years, even after my mother graduated and moved on to a small Wyoming town to teach high school. It was important to her to get two years’ teaching experience before she got married. During those years, my dad worked odd jobs around Wyoming and Colorado and went to school off and on.

I asked Mom once about his wedding proposal. All she would say is that it happened in a car.

They married in the Lutheran church on December 22, 1952 in Rapid City, South Dakota, where her parents resided. For their honeymoon, they drove to Salt Lake City because they wanted to see a city that was new to both of them. There, in a store window, they saw television for the first time.

Mom and Dad had been married for 47 years when she passed away in 2000.

My Dad’s Parents

Owen Herbert Reed (1896-1935) and Grace Riddle (1896-1976) met when he moved west from Missouri to work on her family’s Nebraska ranch near Hyannis. Herbert’s father, a couple of brothers, and a sister had already moved to the area, so it must have been natural for him to follow them.

Grace’s cousin Henry Evert had previously married Herbert’s sister Bertha. The marriage of Herbert and Grace strengthened the tie between the two families. My grandparents were married by the Grant County Judge on April 18, 1918. I wish I had thought to ask her about her wedding.

Unfortunately, their marriage was not a long one. My grandfather died in a road accident in 1935 after they had been married for seventeen years. Grandma never remarried.

My Mom’s Parents

Bjarne Kaurin Bentsen (1906-1986) and Martha Louise Mattila (1906-1977) met when she left her Minnesota home after finishing college and went to teach at a country school in Montana. Teachers there boarded with the families of their students, and she lived on the Bentsen homestead near the Two Tree School. My grandfather had two younger siblings in her class.

Both Bjarne and Martha grew up in Lutheran families, but for reasons unknown to me, they did not marry in the local Lutheran church. Instead, they went to the nearest bigger town, Plentywood, and married at the Congregational Church on June 2, 1928. Again, I wish I had asked my grandmother why this was. They raised their children as Lutherans.

We always liked to say that theirs was a mixed marriage because he was Norwegian and she was Finnish. Indeed, their marriage was a stormy one that ended in divorce thirty-two years later in 1960, a couple of years after their youngest child had left home.

My grandfather remarried right away, but my grandmother never did. They carefully avoided one another when I was young. We were all surprised when he attended her funeral.


52 Stories #5–Friends

As I begin to work my way through the suggested Story topic for February, I come to Friends. Here again, I have some difficulty addressing the proposed subject. I am a bit of a loner.

In my early years, I played mostly with my brother, who is just 20 months younger than me. We served as each other’s best friend. We lived in North Dakota, where the weather often made it too cold to play outside much. In those days, parents never dreamed of arranging play dates. Most kids simply played with their numerous Baby Boomer siblings when we were not outdoors.

Our family moved to a new house when I was a preschooler, and there I met the girl next door, Linda. She was a year older than me, but we spent a lot of time together. By then I was old enough to use the telephone, and on my own I could arrange get-togethers with her. Linda had several older sisters who were even older than us. The one closest to her in age, Linnea, played with us quite often. Linnea taught us how to catch butterflies and mount them in a display case. Linda and I liked to play in my backyard where we had very little supervision because my mother stayed inside doing housework and tending to my brothers. Once when Linda and I were out on my swing, I got my long hair caught on the chain. Linda ran inside to alert my mother to come and free me. Another time, as Linda attempted to climb over our locked gate, her jacket hood caught on a picket and left her hanging in the air. My mother finally heard her frightened shouts and ran outside to lift her down.

We left North Dakota when I was six, and I never saw Linda again. Of course we were too young to keep in touch with letters.

After a couple of moves, my family ended up in Wyoming. During my school years there, I had a couple of good friends. Karen lived nearby, and we met in the third grade. In high school, we teamed up as debate partners for two years, and that required us to work closely and travel together. We went on to the same college where we were roommates for a year. After that, we seemed to grow in separate ways, and we no longer keep in touch.

I met Penny when I was in the third grade, too. She and I sang together in the children’s choir at our church. We both liked to participate in church activities, and you could find us together at those as we grew up. Penny and I served as Maids of Honor for one another when we got married. Our children are close in age, and she is Godmother to one of mine. She now lives in South Dakota, while I live in Colorado, but we keep in touch and have enjoyed occasional visits over the years.

During college, I met Heather, who is just like me. We have so many interests in common—love of history and genealogy, pursuit of handiwork hobbies like knitting and embroidery, interest in book clubs and libraries, and a desire to make music. We moved to different states after graduation but have always corresponded. We often find that we independently do the same things. One year we discovered that we had both planted the same variety of cherry tree so that we could make pies. I see her sometimes when she comes to Colorado to visit her mother.

Nowadays, my husband/tech advisor is my best friend. We do everything together—music activities at church, Sons of Norway events, genealogy. I was comfortable with him on our first date while we were in college, and we have been inseparable ever since. Outside of our little duo, we participate in various civic groups, but mostly we tend to keep to ourselves.

Like I said, I am a bit of a loner. I find it stressful to be around other people too much. It is enough to keep in touch with Penny and Heather and to know all my neighbors.


52 Stories no. 4–Achievements

As I attempt to fulfill the goal of recording 52 stories of my life this year, I am having a tough time with this week’s topic. I am to relate the hidden achievements and the greatest achievements in my life so far. I have to say, nothing readily came to mind, but after some reflection I can list a few ideas.

The term “hidden achievements” means those things that I have found challenging even though they might have seemed simple to someone else. Many people find it easy to create beautiful things, but I am not one. I have little artistic ability. Nevertheless, I have some hidden accomplishments in the artistic realm:

  1. I learned to play the piano at a young age. This musical training enabled me to serve as pianist on various occasions ranging from accompanying the choir for my 6th grade Christmas program to serving currently as the Musician for my local Sons of Norway lodge. With my piano background, I learned to play handbells many years ago and participated in a couple of church handbell choirs over the years.
  2. Nearly a decade ago, I returned to the church vocal choir after an absence of many years. I enjoy singing even though I do not have a great voice. With this choir, I have had the good fortune to sing with two wonderful, demanding directors, and a couple of our concerts stand out in my mind. I have successfully sung Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St. John’s Passion (in German, no less!).
  3. My mother taught me to embroider when I was young. Later, I built on those skills to teach myself Hardanger embroidery, a Norwegian craft. I have never felt inspired to develop my own designs, but I have stitched some beautiful pieces from patterns created by others.

Still, my meagre talent does not allow me to truly excel in the arts. Where, then, would I look for my greatest achievement in this life?

Since adolescence, I have felt a strong desire to uncover and share my family history. Here I found my passion. The information I have gathered, analyzed, and documented certainly stands as my legacy and my life’s greatest achievement.

I have devoted 50 years to this goal, and I like to think I do genealogical work on a professional level. I have developed quite a family tree that I continually share with my extended family. I have also contributed to the genealogical community by sitting on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Genealogical Society, by writing articles for their quarterly magazine, and by serving as a judge for their writing contest. I have taught genealogy classes at my local public library. I enjoy everything related to the pursuit of family history.