By Anna Hanssen
I was born in Bergen April 5th 1908 to Inga and Oscar Christensen and was baptized in Johannes “kirken”. My brother Johan was born in 1912 and my sister Inger in 1914.
My father was a machinist and was often away from home several years at a time.
I went to Sofia Lindstrom’s Pike Skole for four years. In 1917 my father left the ship and settled in Brooklyn. He worked in Olsen’s Shipyard. In August 1918 my mother, brother, sister and I sailed to America. We took the train to Kristiania and stayed a few days with my aunt Julia Lampe. Then we boarded the S/S Bergensfjord. World War I was still on so the ship had to get permission from the Germans to leave Norway. The ship was so crowded that we had to share our cabin with another lady and her baby. People were sleeping in the lounges and there were three table settings.
Shortly after we sailed there was an epidemic of Spanish Flu. Many people were very sick and at least six died on board. One was a mother who had three children. There was a funeral at sea outside Halifax. When we came to Brooklyn the ambulances were waiting to take the sick to the hospital.
My father was waiting on the pier for us. He had rented an apartment and furnished it at 5309 6thAvenue. The apartment had five rooms and a bathroom. That was quite a change – no wooden tub to take bath in.
My mother had two uncles and families living here so we had a wonderful welcome.
In September I started school at P.S. 94. That was quite a change for me. I had gone to a girl’s school and now there were boys in the classes. It didn’t take me long to learn English. I had help from one of the girls whose parents were Norwegian and she had cards. One word I kept having trouble with was church. I kept spelling it “kirke”.
I will never forget November 11th, 1918. The school was let out, the church bells were ringing and people were out in the street celebrating.
Our first Christmas was at my mother’s aunt and uncle’s house on 68th St. It was a real Norwegian Christmas going around the tree and singing all the familiar song and hymns.
After some time my father got a job on a United Fruit ship and started sailing again. In 1921 my sister passed away; she was 7 years old. When the school was over, we moved to 315 68th St. I started school at P.S. 102.
I started working after I was confirmed at the age of 16. I worked for the telephone company at the Sunset Exchange on 52nd St., and it later became Sister Elizabeth’s Maternity Hospital
In 1926, I met my husband, Haakon Hanssen, also from Bergen. He came over in 1923 and worked in Philadelphia till 1926. We became engaged in 1927. He was 8 years older than me. We were married in 1929, at Zion Lutheran Church. The wedding dinner was at the Norwegian Club. In July 1931, our daughter Gertrude was born at the Lutheran Hospital. Dr. Pedro Platou was my doctor.
In 1934, Union Carbide called my husband back and we moved to Charleston, W.VA. We lived in a small town outside Charleston, St. Allians. I was expecting my son that Christmas so we went to Brooklyn for Christmas and I stayed till May. My husband had rented a house in Charleston.
In 1944, we bought a house in St. Allians. In 1946 our youngest Anna Marie was born, it was starting a new family.
In 1952, we went to Woodlock Pines to Svenningsens. My daughter Gertrude her husband there and they were married in November. She moved to Brooklyn. Her husband’s name was Gustav Tallaksen. They have 5 children, one son and five daughters. Gus Tallaksen passed away in “96
In 1962 my husband retired from Carbide and we moved to Bethel, Connecticut. Anna Marie finished high school there and four years later she met her husband. They were married in 1966. They have two sons and now live in Baltimore. My son joined the Navy and met his wife in Australia. They have three children and live in Virginia.
In 1968, we moved to Brooklyn and bought a house on 7th Ave. In 1972 my husband had a heart attack so we moved to Toms River to Holiday City. My husband passed away in 1984 and in 1985 I moved back to Brooklyn where I still am.
The family still celebrates Christmas Eve and they always attend the 17th of May parade.
In 1998, I celebrated my 90th birthday. They had a party for me at the Danish Club. There were about 50 guests including great grandchildren. My niece and nephew and his wife came over from Bergen as a surprise.
So far I’m doing fine.
October 7, 1999