Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: What would our elders say?

Layout 1 (Page 1)Although they weren’t on the same boat, Ingaborg Slindy along with George Samuelson came to America from Norway and married before homesteading up around Hazen in the early 1900s. In due time, they became my great grandparents that lived in the house next to my grandparents. Take deep breath here.

I remember sitting in Grandma Cora’s living room when man landed on the moon and Great Grandma Samuelson guffawed, “What a waste, we have so many needs here, UF DA!” I was in junior high then and tried to tell her about all the wonderful things the space race would discover for mankind. Velcro, Depends, on and on and she just guffawed at me again.

Imagine what George and Ingaborg would say about all the technology we have today… UF DA? There was something special about Great Grandma Samuelson. She was born on Norwegian Independence day, syttende mai (meaning May Seventeenth). For you German-Russians and such out there, that’s the day Norwegians celebrated their constitution and independence from the king of Sweden.

The day was usually celebrated at Grandma Cora’s house (Ingabord’s daughter) with lefsa, lutefisk and Swedish meatballs for the kids. As I recall, it wasn’t a good day to hang around Grandma’s house because the lutefisk smell was nauseating to us kids. I’ve always wondered how the adults could handle the smell and as I look back I’m left to wonder if the cocktail hour may have started at the same time they dumped the lutefisk into the boiling water… but then again memories fade, you know.

Grandma always made sure that there was plenty of lefsa (with butter and brown sugar) and meatballs for the kids, and we usually stuffed ourselves with that whilst the adults chowed down on the lutefisk. As I recall, I was 14 when I discovered that lutefisk tastes better than it smells, all you have to do is smother it in butter, close your eyes and it slips right down your throat.

However, given all that genetic background, lutefisk is not on my favorite food list. Maybe that’s because I’m only half Norwegian mixed with German-Russian, and a few other things that no one in my family can remember… so how come I’m bringing this up?

Well I’ve decided to retire from my full-time job on Syttende Mai, and it seemed an appropriate date to declare my independence and give Great Grandma Samuelson a salute on the way out.

May 17 also happens to be the day that Custer left Mandan and, as you know, he never came back. So I was thinking that would be a good day to tell my present employer that I ain’t coming back.

Of course as time passes, plans have a tendency to alter, so here’s mine. After a modicum of celebrating my retirement I’m going to take off my first summer off since grade school (my first job began in seventh grade and I’ve worked every summer since). Then towards the end of September I plan to review my financial standing to determine how much longer my creditors will allow me to pretend I’m retired.

Of course, since I will be more dependent than ever on the $10 a week I get for writing this stuff down, as I go along I plan to continue offering these words to both my loyal readers. In the meantime I hope that you’re able to express your independence without having to consume to much lutefisk…