30 - 31 aug 2003
On the following pages ŗre 4 letters that were found in Uncle Kristianís belongings after his death. All were written in Danish, of course, but Esther translated them into English so we could enjoy them. They really give a great insight into conditions in the U.S. in the early years at our parentsí lives here.
Some of Dadís expressions were hard to translate, so the language is sometimes awkward and disconnected, but I think Esther did a great job of keeping the ďflavorĒ at Dadís writing and portraying his thoughts accurately.
Selma, Nov. 30, 1925, Rte 1 Box 170
Dean Brother and Family,
How the inksplots must be sent to Denmark if they are to reach you in time for ďChristmas.Ē (Dad wrote Christmas purposely instead of Jul.) Donít you think itís a strange expression for ďJulĒ, but it is also surely some Christmas stuff they put on for Chnistmas over here. They donít understand how to celebrate Christmas here in America; but we will wish you a real festive Chnistmas to all at you there at home in Jesus name. It is sure so, that in the name of Jesus Ofering Bowl, all mother tongues melt, and we who are not ashamed of bieng Danish, will celebrate Chnistmas here by ourselves.
Tell us something about Cailifornia? Yes, we got 18 ton raisins, which grossed us an income at $457 for the year. Dut at this all expenses must be covered in connection with farming. We produce hay here on our own place so that expense is out. Table grapes (Malagas) are not selling, so they ane still sitting on the vines, ca. 12 tons, 4 times bigger harvest than last year, but what good does that do. I feed the mules with them, but they canít stand them too well, and our caw slows down in milk production if we feed the grapes to her. At the same time, 100 lbs. at potatoes cost $5.00. What do you think the trade and shipping industries between countnies are dreaming of, if export and import in Denmark and Californiaís laws put obstacles in the way, so if a sailor and businessman will want to be millionaires, they only need to sail to L.A. or S.F. with a bange of patatoes and get grapes with them back next year in October, and their pension is secure. If I had the money, I would soon get that arrangedÖ 50 crowns for each ton of potatoes fill the barge full of grapes for 5 cents a pound. I wonder how long it would be before he would be sold out in Copenhagen, even it he gets 50 cents, 1000% freight and trade profit.
Our little ďMutterĒ (Mom) is not so good, but I can see she is a little better, and I thank and praise God for that. All the children ane well, and are growing each one according to their age, ane energetic and doing well in school, so we are getting along, only a little more money; but here we donít have enough, though no complaints. Now we are waiting for a long letter from you for Christmas with information about
this and that, then you can always get a pair at ink splots again. Now goodby and Godís peace. Greet also Uncle Rasmus,
Yours, Borge, Gudrun, Einer, Esther, Musse, and me, Theodor
Selma, Calif. 1/8/29 Rte. 3 Box 333 (August 1)
Dean Brother and Family,
I am taking 2 hours in the middle of the morning to keep up our communication with yau. We say thanks for your last letter with the music and everything is alnight and Moneteren (payment 2/3 this Fall and the rest next summer will also be allright). I have reminded Esther about sending you the money for the music, but she says ďKristian had wnitten one time that we could send raisins for payment, and now that we have come so far that we are harvesting our own raisins, and if everything goes well, it will be that way this Fall. We will attempt to send you by freight 100 lbs, so expect you will receive them around Christmas time. By postal mail you would receive them sooner, but the cost is too high. I remember once we sent to Jens Hansen in Sandager 20 lbs. and paid by mail a little over $3.00, that time about 15 crowns. Rate at Exchange at that time was 5 crowns to one dollar, and then we will get them stemmed at the packing house. That means you will not get the raisins from our harvest. If you want them from our farm, we will have to send them with the stems an, and this we would recommend as they will keep better; also on our place we had exceptionally large and fine grapes this year, the reason is that our place, as previously mentioned, was hit by frost in the Spring, so what was left are neally perfect. In about a month the raisin harvest begins, and the whole drying process will be going strong. As we donít have any money, we must harvest the whole thing ourselves, but we can make it, we ane all in good health. These days the vines are getting their last irrigation, and as we have two places who share one pump, this pump has been pumping continuously day and night during June and July and is pumping 1 cubic foot per second an about 2000 liters water per minute.
We wonder if it is safe to pump all this water out at the ground as time goes by; I donít think so, as it shows the water level in the ground is sinking 3 to 4 feet every year, and the pumps have to be dug deeper down, and it means that the work power must be increased. Some day it will reach the point that the expense will be too great to water the ground, and if it canít be watered, it will be valueless; but by that time we hope to be back in Denmank again, then we will let the Amenicans pump.
We are pretty well agreed that we canít mix in with these people, even though we are trying very hard; therefore, we canít fit in here; but we have many bright moments with our older and younger children, so it is not always dark.
These days it is very comfortable, the temperature is around 95 degrees But from June 17 to Juiy 10, it was about 105-110 degrees every day. Thatís too warm, so we perspire like everything and we can easily work ourselves to a frenzy, both people and animals. It also gets too hot for the grapes, and it shows some of our grapes were burnt, although it is a comfont to know that others suffered more damage than we did. Ah yes, thatís what we humans find to be a comfort--to think how good we are.
Yesterday we baught 100 lbs. prune plums which mother is busy canning today, and as Gudrun is busy wiping them, she says to Doris, ďTutte, you can come and help me? ď ďYes,Ē says the little one, ďdo you want me to wipe them or eat them?Ē Yes, she is the little comical one in spite of her 3 years. She comes with questions and answers so grown up like, that we nearly die of laughter; but she also has more teachers than the first ones had.
Live well all at you with the greeting from us all,
Marie and Theodor Nielsen
Selma, Calif. Rte 3 box 333 June 2, 1929
Dean Brothen and Family,
Youn birthday I forgot until we got to May l9th, and knowing it was too late for a letter to reach you by the 29th of May I could just as well wait a little longer, as Esther is waiting for that music from you, we would probably get a letter from you soon. It doesnít make any difference, today I have a little time so this letter is going to Denmark with Best Wishes to yau, Kristian, for the 44 years, so if you received any advantage of wishing you good health and good luck with the 43 years, you must experienced it by now. I have noticed though, that you seldom hit my birthday, right?
I have been thinking, wondering if you have it like the Herrenhuts, they should be a little annoyed on that day, because the flesh came into existence and became visible in this world?
Well, I think that you home in old Denmark , itís easy for you. Just take a good glass of beer and also some good humor. How ane Marie and Theodor in California? Thanks. Yes, we feel a little better, even though we canít find our way in or out of the few dollars we have saved. When thatís eaten up, then we will again have to eat off the children. Then when thatís eaten, we will see what we will have to or shall do, which we donít know today.
The night between April lst and 2nd, 24 hours after we took over the place as our own, over half ot the harvest was damaged by frost. Right now they are working very hard to get the farmers to sign a 3 year contract for delivening raisins for 3Ĺ cents per pound and for me to see, it is one of the most sensible ideas I have seen so far; but the farmers have been taken by the nose so often, and so thoroughly that it is almost impossible for them to believe in anything. However I assure you that if you read through the contract which they forced the farmers to sign for in 1923, you would never stop laughing.
Einen is sick today with mumps. Borge had it 14 days ago. Esther is down at the church. She is now steady organist, but since it is for Americans, we are not in church. We understand too little ot it.
Now Best wishes and greetings from all at us here.
Marie and Theodor
About November, 1929
Are you wishing us Good Luck to start.
This winter we are taking English lessons; mother and I, and if we canít make it, Iím not going to spend any more time on it. It will have to go the best it can. So if they canít use us as citizens, they can forget it, maybe we will get into a situation where Mr. Hoover wonít have us in his crowd and King Christian X may not either. Then we must be able to call ourselves free people.
We sincenely thank you all for all your letters during the past year, and other dispatches which have been an inconvenience an expense for you. We should have had our picture taken by a regular photographer now for Christmas; but we canít afford it, so maybe another time when we come rich, such as, real nich you understand. Now Esther says she is coming to Denmark in 2 years to be a housemaid. Now we shall see how that goes.
Now itís Monday evening and the pig has been butchered, and we are all tired, so it feels good to sit down and rest a bit. It is the first time we have butchered a pig ourselves, and it was a big one, but everything went as planned.
It must be some terrible storms that are going over Denmark right now. We are reading in the Fresno Republican about floods, ship losses, high water, turned over houses and all kinds of disaster. We are almost ready to think that itís a good thing we donít live there. What does Marius and Lydia say (their house is right by the beach). Yes, your house wonít be sailing, but maybe you will get the lower floor full of water, but then you can move up to the upstairs rooms. I believe it was built of solid concrete on iron girders.
This summer it looks like a lot of our church people are coming to Denmank for a Lutheran World Conference. There will be some from Selma, our mailmanís wife, Mrs. Dora Petersen. She is daughter at the train supervisor from Skaldborg by Aalborg; and also a student at Dana College Seminary, Harold Jorgensen. He taught us English 3 years ago for a whole winter. He is a fine young man. Maybe we can get him to take a little side trip to Verninge with a fresh greeting, as his father, Niels Jorgensen is from Trolleborg Cammunity by Faaborg and on his motherís side an uncle in Kerteminde, a High School Superintendent, Nielsen Svindige. We will see how it goes.
I think all our patients ane doing betten tonight.
As soon as we begin to harvest raisins ourselve, Kristian, you are going to get as many as you wish. It is too expensive to send by mail. Twenty pounds will cost $4.00, but if we send by freight Ĺ ton, they can go to Denrnark also for $4.00; but the trip will take about 3 months.
Money for the music will follow in a money order. We are having a lot of enjoyment out ot the music. Thanks for all the inconvenience for us. Yes, Christian, now you will be County Supervisor, your next position. Godís blessing with all of it.
Many loving greetings to all at you from us all here.
Marie and Theodor.