Andrew Anderson was born in Tonsburg, Norway on September 16,1883. His Norse name was Andres Andersen. He was the first son born to Hans Henrik Andersen and Ingeborg Helene Lansrudatter. They would have two more sons, Hagbart (not known) and Haakon(1891). Until about the time of Andrew’s death, we really did not know much about our family in Norway. The year after his death we received a phone call from a man in Minnesota. He indicated that he was related to the wife of my mother’s cousin and that her cousin was planning to visit Minnesota the following year. “Your cousin and his wife would like to visit you in Michigan while they are here if that would be OK.” he stated. He gave Mom contact information and she wrote them a letter inviting them to Michigan for a visit.
As a child I remember that my Grandpa Anderson spent a lot of time with us. Grandma died the year I was born, before I was born so with Grandpa retired he had a lot of time on his hands. We lived 45 minutes to an hour away from him so regularly he would visit. Every Birthday and every holiday that I can remember Grandpa would come and stay a day or two. He slept on the rollaway in the living room or family room once we built it on the house.
When Grandpa came to visit, he always brought treats with him. He brought some sweet bread from the Marine City Bakery. The loaves were round like tubes instead of square and the bread was more yellow than white. I believe it may have been egg bread but I do not know for sure but we loved it. It was my favorite toast with cinnamon sugar on it.
Every afternoon in the summer at 3 in the afternoon, Grandpa would come out of the house and sit on the porch with a pocket full of 5 stick packs of fruit striped gum. The kids from all over the neighborhood would come running and he would give everyone a piece of gum. All the kids in the neighborhood called him Grandpa. He would remind us all not to swallow it, “Make sure you spit it out in the waste basket cause I don’t want to get in trouble from your Mom” he would tell us with a wink of his left eye. We would go off to play and he would sit on the porch and watch us!
I remember one time while on vacation to the Upper Peninsula we visited the Soo Locks. While we were walking along the locks and looking at the ships, Grandpa noticed a Norwegian ship. The ship had sailors on the deck, so my Grandfather yelled something to them. My Grandfather was very gentle and soft spoken. I had never heard him raise his voice. It scared me at first but I knew he was not angry but just talking loud. I could not understand him either but the sailors on the ship sure did! As we walked, he and the sailors yelled back and forth, laughing and musing. Grandpa smiled and seemed to come alive. It seemed that he was somehow a bit different but I did not understand how or why. Grandpa and I walked the full length of the lock and he conversed with his countrymen. It was so exciting to hear him speak a different language; I had never heard any one who spoke anything other than English. I was so proud walking along with him. Eventually we reached the end of the walkway, Grandpa yelled a couple more things to the sailor and wave his hand. I saw the twinkle begin to fade and he was my Grandpa again.
I asked him who that was, and he said that the man is a sailor from Norway. I asked him “well what did he say Grandpa , what did he say? “ Grandpa said, “Oh nothing….” I was so disappointed. I thought for sure that he would tell me something exciting but he didn’t. Grandpa was a sailor on the Great Lakes for many years as a young man. It could be that this was a sailor’s conversation not meant for my small ears like mine, as I think about it now. Grandpa never seemed to talk about it again.
More about Andres Andersen and how and why he came to America in a future blog.