Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Vær Så God... Tusen Takk!

Curious about the words above? Here's a translation:

"Vær så god" literally means "be so good" as in "be so good as to join me." It is an idiom often used to call everyone to the table, and would mean "here you go" or "dig in." I'm using it somewhat liberally in this post, with the emphasis on "join me." 

"Tusen takk" means "a thousand thanks." I heard "tusen takk" or "mange takk" over and over as a child. If my parents visited at a friend's house, it was "tusen takk" as they left. "Mange takk" is "many thanks."

I'm sure that Otto and Henrietta used these words often in the restaurant. There was a certain pleasure and pride in offering hospitality, never mind the hard work. Otto spent most of his daylight hours at the restaurant. For a while, he even ran two restaurants on Main Street until a friend pointed out that Otto was competing with himself. Maybe that struck a chord because soon he was back to one restaurant.

Once her children were old enough, Henrietta went to help at the restaurant. I think everyone shared jobs there, but apparently she baked all the pies. In order to take care of household needs, she sometimes hired a woman to come to the house and sew for her. This beautiful quilt, passed down to me, is an example. 

I remember sleeping under this quilt as a child, especially when we had a full house. We think it was made by one of Grandma's seamstresses, perhaps a woman from the Fossum family.

This brings us to an early memory. My sister Marion remembers walking with Margaret, Emil Jr. and our cousin, Virginia Ike, from the restaurant to Otto and Henrietta's one evening when they were all quite young. They walked along the dirt alleyway, between big bushes and through scary shadows, and into Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was dark inside so they turned on a light, probably a single lightbulb in the ceiling, when they saw an old woman, unknown to them, come out of the pantry. Her hair was white, her gown was long and white, and she spoke a language they didn't understand. Maybe she was a ghost! The kids screamed and ran back to the restaurant.  Once they explained their fright and were calmed down, they found out that she was a seamstress, a friend to the family, hired to come and do some sewing for Grandma. Whew! Close call!!! 

Virginia Ike, Marion & Margaret play wedding.

My family had many reasons to say "mange takk" to Otto and Henrietta. During the depression, when my oldest siblings were small and my father was between jobs, our grandparents said "vær så god" and our family moved in with them. Several times my older siblings lived there, went to school in Spring Grove, ate at the restaurant, and slept in the upstairs of the big old house. They remember those days fondly, and surely we can't say "tusen takk" enough for the generous support of our family.

Three Brothers:
Jacob & Johanna...Otto & Henrietta... Edward & Ingen

Otto had three brothers who emigrated to the US, several seen in the photo above. Jacob and Johanna moved to North Dakota to pursue farming. Edward and Ingen lived in Spring Grove and raised ten children there. The tenth was a boy named Timan, which translates from Norwegian to "tenth man." I rather love that bit of the story, especially since our family had ten kids also. 

Hans Evenson

Otto's brother Hans went to prospect for gold in the Klondike and, like many others, he came back penniless and in poor health. Apparently Otto again said "vær så god" because Hans lived with Otto and Henrietta for a while, and would be seen in the restaurant.  When Hans died, Otto provided a gravestone by donating a portion of the marble countertop from the restaurant. 

You can still find it in the Trinity Cemetery in Spring Grove.

Mange tusen takk to Otto and Henrietta, for all their hard work and hospitality. And tusen takk to all who stop by to read about them. Much appreciated!

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