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This document is about my mother, Vivian Lund, 1922-2002; it is one chapter from a much longer family history, which takes a looong time to load, whereas a single chapter like this one loads very quickly. Thanks largely to my newly found cousins, Sandy (Lund) Stout and Betty Rae (Lund) Vanmoorlehem, and to Mark Mattison for some clarification of patronymics. Key:

Dad = my father, Francis da Cruz Sr., Vivian's husband (Frank, "Roach").
Frank Rider = Mom's companion in California for her last 30 years.
Audie = Audrey Doney, my father's second wife.
Judy, Mommy = Judy Scott (my ex-wife).
You, you guys, Peter, Amy = my children Peter and Amy da Cruz.
—Frank da Cruz <fdc@columbia.edu>
Most recent update: 2 March 2024 07:29:23

My mother...


Acknowledgments to Cousin Sandy (Lund) Stout (my Mom's brother Zeke's daughter) for countless photos and stories, "1940" author Dana Yost, Cherri Schmig at the Minneota Mascot for sending numerous clippings, and Allyson Breyfogle and Jeremy Frie at the Minneota public school.

Carl Lund and Mom
Carl Lund and
Baby Vivian 1922*
Mom in 1946
Mom in 1946
Vivian Maxine Lund, born (at home) Minneota, Minnesota, March 5, 1922; died July 26, 2002, in Indio, California, at age 80, stroke. Height: 5'4".

Her father: Carl Nicolai Lund, born September 8, 1869, in Winchester, Wisconsin. Deserted the family somewhere between 1924 and 1930. Died in 1936 of cirrhosis of the liver in Long Beach CA. Mom's parents were both pretty old when she was born.

Mom's mother: Hannah Engeborg Johnson, born July 4th, 1883, Nordland Township, Minnesota; died Sept 30, 1954 in Minneota, Minnesota. Her Norwegian name Johanna Ingeborg Jansen is listed on her death certificate. I never met her, but my mother went to see her shortly before she died when I was 9 or 10. Hannah and Carl were married in Wisconsin on April 12th, 1902, lived in Minneota until 1905, then in Streeter, North Dakota (where Carl's parents lived), and returned to Minnesota, living in several towns until settling in in Minneota about 1920.

* There is some doubt about this identification. My Mom told me that the man in this picture was her father. Below you will see another man identified by other family members as Carl Lund. At this writing (September 2018), it remains a mystery.

Lund family residences

Within any given town, they might also have moved from house to house. For the most part we don't have addresses, but I know from my mother that she lived in at least two different houses in Minneota after she was born in 1922. Here's a map of the main places, click the image to enlarge it:

Lunds Map
Where the Lunds lived 1869-1954 (Carl came from Winchester WI; my Mom lived only in Minneota)

Years Town Authority
1869 Winchester, Winnebago County, Wisconsin 1870 census; marriage of Carl's parents, birth of Carl
1877-1899 Minneota[1], Lyon County, Minnesota Birth of Hannah in 1883[2] and all her brothers and sisters.
1900-1904 Minneota, Minnesota 1900 census, birth of Polly and Mabel, Polly marriage record, Hannah obituary
1905-1912 Streeter, North Dakota[3] 1910 census, births of Clarence and Marvin, Hannah obituary
1913-1920 Underwood[4], Otter Tail County, Minnesota 1920 census; Births of Ella, Raymond, and Gislie; Hannah obituary
1920-1954 Minneota, Minnesota Birth of Vivian, Doris, and Shirley, and death of Hannah[5]. At least two different houses during this period.
[1]  In census, church, and other records, the names Nordland, Eidsvold, and Minneota seem to be used interchangeably; Minneota is village at the border of Eidsvold and Nordland townships, in Lyon County. Nordland township should not be confused with the town of Nordland, which is about 100 miles north of Minneapolis. The use of different names for the same place (and the same name for different places) can make it seem that the Lunds moved around more than they actually did. The records between 1875 and 1900 show Hannah's parents living in Nordland, Minneota, Nordland, Minneota, Nordland... I suspect they were not moving every year, but that Nordland and Minneota were names for the same place used by different jurisdictions. John and Martina Johnson lived in Minneota until their deaths in 1925 and 1929, respectively.
[2]  Minnesota Births and Christenings Index 1840-1980; In Hannah's case also confirmed in church marriage record (hvor født = birthplace = Minneota). All of Hannah's brothers and sisters were born in Minneota or Nordland.
[3]  This is where Carl's parents lived. Carl's father Peter died in 1908, and was probably in decline in 1906, so I imagine the family moved to Streeter to help out. Clarence and Marvin were born there.
[4]  They are reported at different times as living in Underwood and in Maine Township, which are next door to each other; they might have moved or it might just be a variation in reporting jurisdictions. Hannah's obituary says they lived in Underwood but doesn't mention Maine.
[5]  Personal knowledge, Mom's birth certificate, and Hannah's obituary.

So Carl was in Minneota for some reason, met Hannah, they went to Carl's family's town to get married, then came straight back to Minnesota to live in Minneota for four years. Why Minneota? Because that's where Hannah's family (parents, brothers, and sisters) had lived since 1875. Meanwhile Carl's family moved from Wisconsin to North Dakota and Hannah, Carl, and children went to live on their farm for four years, then they came back to Minnesota and lived in Otter Tail County (Underwood and/or Maine) for 6-7 years until finally settling in Minneota.

Norwegian names

Lund was a common place name in Norway; it means "grove of trees", and there are countless places that fit that description. It was chosen as a surname upon entry to the USA, since Norwegians did not have surnames until the law of 1923 but our Norwegian ancestors came between 1842 and 1868. Usually they picked some variation of the current generation's patronymic, or else the name of their town or farm. Since, as far as I can tell, there is no town named Lund in Hedmark, it must have been the name of Peder's farm.

Traditionally Norwegian people were called name son-of-father's-name, or name daughter-of-father's-name, such as Jan Jansen or Kristin Jansdatter. Strictly speaking, the father's name is in genetive (possessive) case, like Peders, so if Carl had been born in Norway, he would be Carl Pedersen, i.e. "Carl, Peder's son". It might also be Petersson, but usually a single 's' is used in Norway, whereas in Sweden the suffix is usually "ssen". Norwegian immigrants to the USA who kept the patronymic as a last name would often change it to 'son' to be like English. And then, if the name had an English equivalent, that would often be substituted, so Pedersen might become Peterson. For women, "datter" or "dotter" is used instead of "sen" or "son". But any daughter patronymics that survived immigration either died out or were subsumed by marriage. Meanwhile, although most names of immigrants and their offspring were anglicized, there were exceptions in our family like Carl's half-sister Ragnhild, which sounds pretty Wagnerian to me.

How to spell "Lund"

Hope Lutheran Church
The original Hope Lutheran Church, where many Lunds are buried
Norwegian family records were kept in the Ministrialbog for Minneota Norsk-Evang. Lutherske Menighed, 1872-1910 (Ministry Register of the Minneota Norwegian-Evangelical Lutheran Fellowship) at Hope Lutheran Church in Minneota. This is a journal written in Norwegian by hand. Wherever the name Lund appears, it seems to be spelled "Lünd" (with an umlaut), and is transcribed that way in the digital version of the register. But it is not an umlaut; it is a convention in Norwegian handwriting (as it is in German) to put a line over the letter "u" to differentiate it from the letter "n". If you look carefully, you can see all the u's have a mark on top, which can look like a macron, an umlaut, a breve, or a tilde (so the shape doesn't matter). There is no word "Lünd" in the language, and for that matter there is no letter "ü" in Norwegian orthography. Strictly speaking, there is no umlaut at all, but Norwegians often write 'ö' instead of 'ø'.

Children of Carl of and Hannah Lund

I include this now because their names are used freely from here on and "you can't tell the players without a scorecard."

Lund Children

Children of Carl and Hannah Lund
Name a.k.a. Dates Schooling Civilian occupation(s) Left Spouse Years Kids
Palma Bertina Polly 1903-1995 10th PT&T telephone operator and later, executive ~1927 Harold Blanchette1927-//// 0
Mabel Josephine May 1904-1987 8th 1920s Lloyd Poehler1928-//// 2
Clarence J.†† 1906-1973 8th Janitor, carpenter, bartender, ship's cook 1920s Ethel Swanson 1926-//// 3
Marvin Selmer Zeke 1909-2001 7th Painter, bootlegger; later owned or managed various businesses (ice/beer/general distributing) in Long Beach, then Anaheim. ??? Mildred Graham 1934-???? 0
Alva Conrad ????-???? 1
Sally Strate 1947-//// 2
Merrie S. 1910-1910
Gislir Edwin 1911-1912
Ella Gladys 1913-2009 Managed Colonial House apts, Long Beach 1935 (none) 0
Raymond LesterRay 1917-1974 College grad Fireman, Long Beach 1930s? Barbara ????-???? 0
Gislie MelvinPug 1919-1995 12th Gas station (Minneota), Calship shipyard (Liberty ships, Los Angeles); Sudduth Tire Co. (Long Beach) 1940 Ruth Wise 1938-//// 1
Vivian Maxine 1922-2002 12th Joy movie theater ticket booth (Minneota), Drafts­woman (PT&T San Francisco), radio­telegraph operator (Navy Washington DC), medical/legal secretary (Long Beach) 1940 Francis F. da Cruz1944-1963 2
Frank Rider 1972-//// 0
Doris Viola 1924-1990 ≥10th (never) Earl Jasperson1949-???? 5
Clyde Burgress1960-???? 2
Shirley Ione 1925-1994 ≥8th (never) Leonard Hasel1954-1959 3
Norman Torgeson1966-???? 1
†  Served in the Navy in WWII (Lloyd Poehler died in Guadalcanal 1944)
‡  Served in the Army in WWII (Raymond in the Army Air Corps; Harold was in WWI, not WWII)
†† Served in Merchant Marine in WWII (Clarence was Chief Cook and was still at sea as late as 1955)
(All military Lunds and spouses were enlisted, not officers)


Carl Lund

Carl Lund 1913
Carl Lund 1913 (age 44)
Carl Lund about 1930
Carl Lund (?) about 1930
My grandfather Carl Nicolai Lund. The photo on the left turned up recently and is clearly the same person as the man in Mom's scrapbook, who my Mom told me was her father. The studio portrait on the right was passed down by Ella and is believed by some family members be Carl. But these are two different persons; leaving aside the total lack of resemblence, you can see that the younger Carl has a free earlobe while the older one has an attached earlobe. Luckily we have another, verified, photo of Carl from 1892 in which the face, the shape of the head, and the earlobe match the 1913 photo.

Anyway, whatever he looked like, Carl Lund wound up as a drifter, alcoholic, and eventually a derelict. On the 1900 census he's listed as a blacksmith; in 1910 as a farmer (on his parents' farm in Streeter, North Dakota); in 1920 a farmer (in Otter Tail County, Minnesota); on my mother's birth certificate his occupation is listed as "laborer". At some point between 1924 and 1930 Carl walked away from the family. My cousin Sandy, Mom's brother's Zeke's daughter, says "Carl, from what my dad said was almost never home, he was a blacksmith and traveled with the builders ... spent most of the time in the tavern and when he left Hannah with all those kids he told the owner of the General Store that when they had eaten all of what the house was worth he could have the house."

In 1930 Carl was living with daughter Mabel and her husband Lloyd and their baby girl in Casper, Wyoming, occupation "None", marital status "Divorced". He had left Hannah and the three youngest children — Vivian, Doris, and Shirley, who were still in school — and was mooching off his second child and her husband. To Hannah, Carl was as good as dead; she listed her marital status as "Widowed" on the 1930 census. Just as the Great Depression kicked in, she had to find a way to house and feed the three girls. I don't know the whole story but somehow she held it all together at least until 1940, when my Mom left home.

Mabel and Lloyd must have kicked Carl out because he made his way somehow to Long Beach, California, where several other of his children lived, including Sandy's father Zeke. The next thing I know is that he was found dead on the beach, January 27, 1936, liver failure. Sandy says, "Ella at age 95 still cried about her dad... she just remembers he bought her a red dress. I don't think she saw him [when he came to Long Beach]. Ella loved him for the good memory of a new red dress. They were poor and everyone had to work to support 10 kids. Seems if anyone knew he was in Long Beach we would have heard Dad say something about it and Carl was never mentioned." Certainly Mom never knew what happened to him because Frank Rider hired a detective to investigate, only to find out that he died on the very same beach that their apartment looked out on.

Carl's Norwegian family

Betsey and Peter Lund
Betsey and Peter Lund about 1885

Our Norway towns
Carl's father: Peder Nicolaisen, born 1841 in Løiten (now Løten), Hedmark, who became Peter Nicolai Lund when he arrived in the United States in 1868. Carl's mother: Bergit Høljesdatter, born Gransherad, Telemark, in 1834, who arrived in the US in 1842 and became Betsey Lund when (after a first marriage) she married Peter Lund.

Peter and Betsey met in Wisconsin, were married in 1869, lived in Winchester, Winnebago County, where the had four children: Carl Nicolai (1869), Martha Oline (1871), Eliza Elise Sophia (1874), and Melvin Bernard (1878). They also had Betsey's four children from her previous marriage to Knud Hanson, a Norwegian immigrant and Union soldier who had died in 1865 in Andersonville prison camp in Georgia: Ragnhild (1857), Caroline (1858), Anna Maria (1861), and Henry (1863).

Lund family
Betsey and Peter Lund family 1880
Lund family
Betsey and Peter Lund family 1892

These extraordinary photos showed up on EBay, cousin Sandy found them; the most amazing part is that they came with captions saying who everybody is; Click the photos to see the captions. Carl is on the left in the 1880 photo and third from the left, top row, in the 1892 photo.

Peder Lund
Peder Lund[8]
I have to say that the Peter (Peder) Lund in these group photos appears to have a normal body, whereas there is an authenticated photo (right) of Peder Lund in the book Wisconsin My Home[8], and he is very small. The book says Bergit "..was a tall woman and ... he was a short hunchback ..."; elsewhere she says "this small Norwegian man, who had been so crippled with some kind of rheumatism when he was eleven years old that he had a big bump on his back and chest. Both his head and arms were the same size as any other grown-up man, but his legs were so short that I don't believe he could have been over four feet tall. Because of this deformity his parents in Norway had educated him very well ... [he soon married the [Civil War] Widow Hansen (Bergit)] [and] there were four children [including Carl] born to this union, and a better father, husband, and stepfather has never lived, I am sure."

Peder was a prominent figure in the in the Winchester Norwegian community: church klokker (sextant) and bell-ringer, hymn leader, town assessor (of Winchester), parochial school teacher (where children learned not only the Lutheran religion but also to speak, read, and write Norwegian), night-school teacher, farmer, story-teller, and comforter of the sick and dying.

I'm inclined to believe the man in the group photos is indeed Peder Lund, not only because he is identified as such in the photo legend, but also because Sandy ran the photos at the top of this section through a face-matching app with an 81.37% look-alike score.

Hannah Lund

Hannah Lund 1940s
Hannah Lund 1940s
Hannah Lund 1930ss
Hannah Lund 1930s
Hannah Lund
Hannah Lund
(standing) 1902
My grandmother Hannah Engeborg Lund, born Ingeborg Johanna Johnson (anglicization of Janssen, her father's patronymic), raised ten children in conditions of unremitting chaos and hardship, as far as I can tell. Carl was not a good husband; he was never home, he drank up much of whatever money he managed to earn, and he deserted the family when my Mom was somewhere between four and eight years old and Doris and Shirley were very little.

I know little about the early years, but Sandy says her father Zeke (who was born in 1909) remembers living in a sod house; that's like a hole in the ground, typical of many newly-arrived Scandinavian immigrants who settled in northern plains states, where there are few trees; this would have been in either North Dakota or Minnesota, nobody is left alive who can say for sure. He remembered "having only flour and water to eat and if they were lucky they could sprinkle cinnamon on it for flavor." My own Mom had a similar story about eating snow.

Despite all this, and despite the fact that all the children except Doris and Shirley had gotten the heck out of Minnesota at the earliest possible moment, most of them without finishing school, Hannah was much loved by her children. Mom, like all her brothers and sisters, couldn't wait to get out but when she was still on the cross-country train she was already homesick...

I am more than 3000 feet above sea level in the Rockie Mts. It's 11:30 now, Sunday morning. It's all very wonderful. We stopped in Denver this morning and met some of the Jack B's wife's relations. Harold [Polly's husband] is shaving. There hasn't been time to write so I bought this [foldout postcard mailer] for 25¢. Harold's been feeding me so much I'm stuffed. There is snow on the mts. Now we're going thru an 11 mile tunnel. Will be in S.F. 9:35 Mon. nite. Tell all the kids hello I miss Viola [Doris] all ready. Phyllis Knight bought stockings in Marshall [Minnesota]. I had dinner over to Blanchette [Polly's married name]. I can't write its so bumpy. I'm afraid I'm going to be lonesome.
Postmarked June 11, 1940, in East Portal, Colorado, addressed simply to "Hanna Lund, Minneota, Minn" (notice the touches of "Fargo" dialect towards the end). I guess Polly and Harold must have come out from San Francisco to meet her halfway somehow.

So now it was just Hannah, Doris, and Shirley left in Minneota, less mouths to feed but also less people to earn money. The offspring who went west, I'm not sure how they all managed it, but Zeke worked his way across; at one point as a logger and others as a farm hand. Later on, in the 1940s and 50s the ones who had money like Polly and Zeke were able to send money to Hannah in Minneota and also to brothers and sisters down on their luck.

Hannah Marker
Hanna's marker
We (da Cruz's) were still pretty poor while Hannah was alive, but somehow my Mom got plane tickets to go see her in March 1954 when she was dying, the first visit since she left home. Maybe Polly sent her the money. I have postcards from Mom when she was there; she sounds happy being where she grew up and with her family and friends. Ella went to Minneota after Mom and stayed with Hannah until she died. Somehow Hannah's funeral and burial were paid for and an obituary was printed in the Minneota Mascot:
Mrs. Lund dies; Rites Held Monday
Mrs. Hannah Lund, a resident of this community for years, died at her home Thursday of last week after a lingering illness of several months. ¶ She was buried here Monday afternoon following services at Hope Lutheran Church. ¶ Rev. Ott Dale officiated at the funeral rites, with the following acting as pallbearers: ¶ Arby Furgeson, Orrin Hanson, Henry Johnson, Irving Johnson, and Richard Lund. ¶ Hannah Engeborg Lund, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Johnson, was born on July 4, 1883, in Nordland township. ¶ At the time of her death she was 71 years old. ¶ On April 12, 1902 she was united in marriage to Carl N. Lund and they first made their home in this community. ¶ In 1905 they moved to Streeter, N.D., and later to Underwood, Minnesota. ¶ They returned to Minneota in 1920 and since that time this has been Mrs. Lund's home. ¶ To this union 11 children were born of which 10 are living. ¶ She was preceded in death by her husband, one son, parents, five brothers and sisters. ¶ Mrs. Lund is survived by her 10 children: Palma (Mrs. Harold Blanchette) of San Francisco, Calif.; Mabel (Mrs. Mabel Poehler) of Sheridan, Wyoming; Clarence, Marvin, Raymond, and Gislie of Long Beach, Calif.; Ella of Glendale, Calif.; Vivian (Mrs. Francis da Cruz of Falls Church, Virginia; Doris (Mrs. Earl Jasperson) of Storden, Minn.; Shirley (Mrs. Leonard Hasel of Minneota. ¶ She is also survived by two brothers, Andrew Johnson of Ivanhoe, Gislie Johnson of Minneota; and two sisters, Mrs. Theo Furgeson of Minneota, Mrs. Carl Wigness of Fessenden, N.D.; 16 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Hannah's Norwegian Family

Hannah's father: John Bjorn Johnson, birth name Bjørn Jansen (or Janssen) in 1852 in Sauherad, Telemark, Norway (see map); arrived USA 1861, died 1925. Hannah's mother: Martina Halvorson, born Simonine Mathene Andersdatter in Bamle, Telemark, who took the surname Halvorson (her father's patronymic) when she arrived in the US in 1861, and became Martina Johnson when she married John Bjorn Johnson in 1875. They lived in Iowa and Wisconsin before settling in Minnesota, and had 12 children.

John Bjorn Johnson
John Bjorn Johnson

Martina Halvorson
Martina Halvorson
Children of John Bjorn Johnson and Martina Halvorson
Name Dates Born Died
Bernard Johnson* 1875-1953 Minnesota Minnesota
Anne/Anna Johnson 1877-1961 Minneota MN Lincoln MN
John Johnson 1878-1925 Nordland MN Nordland MN
Stener Johnson 1880-1907 Nordland MN Hendricks MN
Johanna Ingeborg Johnson** 1883-1954 Minneota MN Minneota MN
Andrew Johnson 1884-1960 Nordland MN Hendricks MN
Joseph Martinias Johnson 1887-1946 Nordland MN Lyon County MN
Julia Clareth Johnson 1890-1946 Nordland MN Stettler, Alberta
(baby girl) 1892-1892 Nordland MN Nordland MN
Ella Andrea Johnson 1893-1945 Nordland MN Todd MN
Tilda Nellie Johnson 1896-1982 Nordland MN San Leandro CA
Selmer Adolph Johnson 1898-1945 Nordland MN Fort Dodge IA
Gislie Louis Johnson 1900-1984 Nordland MN Sioux Falls SD
Bear in mind, Nordland and Minneota are most likely the same place.
*  Bernard and his wife Annie Kass were close with Hannah her whole life.
** Johanna is Hannah.

Summary of Mom's Norwegian immigrant grandparents

Norwegian name American name Born-died Arrived From Relation
Peder Nicolaisen Peter Nicolai Lund 1841-1908 1868 Løiten, Hedmark Carl's father
Bergit Høljesdatter Betsey Lund 1834-1926 1842 Granserad, Telemark Carl's mother
Bjørn Jansen John Bjorn Johnson 1852-1925 1861 Sauherad, Telemark Hannah's father
Simonine Mathene Andersdatter Martina Halvorson Johnson 1859-1921 1861 Bamle, Telemark Hannah's mother

So all of Mom's grandparents were immigrants from southeastern Norway, three from Telemark and one from Hedmark, and both couples met in the USA. Meanwhile on Bergit's side we have 4 generations of documented ancestors before her going back to Hans Olsen (1696-1740) and Gunlov Såmåldatter (born 1696) and on Simonine's side (Hanna's mother), five generations going back to Jon Nilson (1710-1763) and Live Knudsdatter (1713-1750).


Minneota Station 1908
Minneota station and grain elevators 1908
Minneota aerial view 1938
Minneota aerial view 1938
Minneota Main Street
Minneota Main Street (before it was paved)
Minneota is a tiny town on the Yellow Medicine River in the plains of southwestern Minnesota. It grew up around a railroad station built in 1877 for the coal-burning trains to take on water from the river for their boilers, and was incorporated in 1881 in the middle of a vast flat landscape of farmland and featured huge grain elevators and warehouses where the farmers brought their crops and livestock be taken to market on the train. In 1938 the town was a grid of 6 by 6 streets (give or take) and only the main street (1st Street) was paved. Farmers brought goods to town in horse-drawn wagons, and there were still hitching posts in front of the stores. The town ends abruptly at the farmers's fields, there were and are no suburbs. To this day, houses in Minneota have no fences, and it's not much bigger than it was then.

Minneota Big Store
Inside The Big Store
Minneota Big Store
Minneota Big Store
Although the population was only 1065 in 1940, Minneota had six grocery stores, three hardware stores, the Big Store (a 1900-era department store), five churches, five agricultural businesses, five cafés, four auto dealers, two gas stations, a drug store, a jeweler, a bakery, a pool hall (Dero's), a Public school and a Catholic school, and the Joy movie theater (where my Mom was cashier), plus a doctor, a dentist, a vet, and an undertaker. This is because Minneota served the nearby towns (which had very little in the way of retail) and the farms scattered over a vast expanse; it was the only place to buy stuff for hundreds (thousands?) of square miles to the west, north, and east. The larger town of Mashall was 12 miles to the Southeast, but if you were coming from the north, why go an extra 24 miles to Marshall and back if you could buy what you needed in Minneota?

Minneota Farmers and Merchants Bank
Farmers & Merchants Bank
Minneota bank clock
Bank clock
Minneota's population was Norwegian, Icelandic, and Belgian: some immigrants, others children and grandchildren of immigrants. The Belgians were Catholic Walloons (Dutch speakers); the Norwegians and Icelanders were Lutherans, with separate churches. The Norwegians and Icelanders went to the public school, the Belgians to the Catholic school. In 1940, the average annual family income was under $900, far below the national average. 24 Minneotans worked for the WPA that year. It was normal for families to have lots of kids; 41% of the population were children. Telephones existed but not everybody had them; phone numbers were two digits. The town had electricity but it was only just beginning to reach the farms through an electrical cooperative funded by FDR's Rural Electrification Administration. Even today, 20% of Minnesotans get their electricity from cooperatives.
Dana Yost points out that "Minnesota was well ahead of the rest of the nation as far as number of co-operatives and still is ... Minnesota was, indeed, a state with socialist tendencies from the 1890s up to World War II, largely as off-shoots of farm activist organizations, labor unions, etc. Interestingly, the left/socialist organizations started in more rural areas than urban ... From 1915-1920, an anti-banking, anti-big business organization known as the NonPartisan League had more than 50,000 members in Minnesota. It started as a farm-activist group but supported flat-out socialist policies in many areas and supported the state equivalent of nationalizing grain elevators ... (it gave) rise to the Farmer-Labor political party, which remains intact today in Minnesota as part of the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party." Minneota itself had a gas-and-oil cooperative and a dairy co-op.
The Depression was as hard on Minneota as it was throughout the midwest: drought, farm failures, food shortages, lost jobs, and even an uprising of foreclosed farmers, but Minneota survived. My Mom was only seven years old when the Depression started, and hard times were all she knew during her formative years.
References - Source material and recommended reading and viewing...
  1. Yost, Dana, 1940, Journal of a Midwestern Town, Story of an Era, Ellis Press (2017), 665pp. A whole book about Minneota in the pivotal year of 1940.
  2. Federal Writers Project, The WPA Guide to Minnesota (1938); reissued by the Minnesota Historical Society.
  3. Kenney, Dave, Minnesota Goes to War: The Home Front during World War II, Minnesota Historical Society Press (2004).
  4. Haugen, Einar, Language Conflict and Language Planning, Harvard University Press (1966). Language and spelling standardization and reform in Norway.
  5. Haugen, Einar, The Norwegian Language in America, Indiana University Press (1969). The growing problems in communication between Norwegian immigrants in America and their relatives back home.
  6. Rølvaag, Ole Edvart, Giants in the Earth, Harper (1924-25). A novel about Norwegian immigrants to the upper midwest in the late 1800s. Rølvaag lived near Minneota.
  7. Moberg, Vilhelm, The Emigrants series of novels (The Emigrants, Unto a Good Land, The Settlers, The Last Letter Home, 1951-61). About Swedes rather than Norwegians but the same experience. Also available as two excellent (if depressing) films: The Emigrants (1971), and The New Land (1972).
  8. Oleson, Thurine, Wisconsin My Home, University of Wisconsin Presss (1950), 2012 edition. This is the autobiography of Thurine Oleson (1866-1990), as told to her daughter Erna Oleson Xan. Peder and Birgit Lund lived next door and appear throughout the book.

The Lunds in Minneota

Baby Mom
Baby Mom
Mom, Doris, Shirley
Mom, Doris, Shirley
Mom in 1937
Mom in 1937
Minneota winter
Mom had a whole photo album of Minnesota and her time in the Navy, but it disappeared after she died. There were photos of the house, of her as a little girl, and even of a snowfall so deep that people went from place to place through snow tunnels... treasures she had preserved her whole life. Luckily, on a visit to Big Bear in the 1980s, I took black and white photos of all the pages with a film camera. But un-luckily, almost all of my photos-of-photos were overexposed and washed out. I've done my best with Photoshop to rescue the faded ones you see in this section.

When Mom was born in 1922, the Lunds lived in a modest two-story house on South Jefferson Street which was big enough for Hannah, Carl, and the seven children (only Polly had left home, and Doris and Shirley were yet to arrive). Carl was presumably still contributing something to the support of the family, but I don't know the details. Even so, Mom said her mother was on welfare ("home relief") and took in laundry but that still wasn't enough to pay the rent so the kids would have to miss school to babysit or do other chores to get some money. Ella, for example, was farmed out as a live-in babysitter in faraway places for weeks and months at a time. Of course no food went to waste; nobody was a picky eater. Even in later life, when Mom ate an apple, she ate the whole thing, core, seeds, and all. When she ate chicken, she ate the bones too.

Minneota Public School
Minneota Public School
Minneota Joy Theater
Minneota Joy Theater
By the time Mom was a teen, no later than 1935, they moved to a tiny one-room house with one bed for everybody, right across from the school. The rent was $10 a month. Carl and seven of the children had already left home, so it was just Hannah, Mom, Doris, and Shirley. Mom worked as a cashier at the Joy movie theater ("Hollywood glamour available year-round"), which allowed her to stay in school and eventually to graduate.

Vivian Lund 1940
Vivian Lund 1940
Minneota HS class of 1940
Minneota HS class of 1940
I know that Mom was popular in high school, acted in school plays, was a big fan of Swing music, liked to dance, and probably had boyfriends. Dana Yost says there were none of the normal kinds of teenage hangouts in Minneota, such as a drug store or soda fountain, but the Big Store had an "opera hall" upstairs with a dance floor, where touring bands sometimes gave dance concerts. For any real nightlife they'd have had to go to the Blue Moon in Marshall, 12 miles away, but I don't know if Minneota teenagers drove cars in those days. But in any case, the April 1940 Mexican-themed Junior-Senior prom was the event of the season and I'm sure it was a big deal for Mom. The photos are from the from the Minneota Mascot, high-school graduation issue, June 1940; Mom is 4th row, 4th from the left, full-size cutout to its right. The accompanying Mascot article noted that "First choice for school queen and generally accepted as the class beauty, Vivian Lund says that everything is 'Jake' with her and has been for the last decade." ["Jake" is 1940 hep-cat talk.]

Mom's houses

First house
First house
Mom birth house?
House at 111 South Jefferson Street
I was interested to know if the houses where Mom lived were still standing. A breakthrough came when Sandy spoke with Betty VanMoorlehem (born in 1931), daughter of Mom's brother Clarence. Betty said the Lunds' first house was at 106 South Jefferson Street; the house that is there today, although very small, does not match Mom's photo at all. So I looked around the immediate area in Google Street View and across the street I found the house shown in the color photo, at 111 South Jefferson Street, right next door to Hope Lutheran Church. It seems to be a perfect match; look at the configuration of the roof, gables, and second-story windows. Clearly there have been considerable additions since then (and the chimney moved) but this could be the house where Mom was born, and Doris, and Shirley.

House at 400 E. 3rd St.
Newer house the same address
First house
Second house
Betty said the second house, the one by the school, was at 400 East 3rd Street, on the corner with North Jackson Street. The color photo from Google Street View shows the house on that corner as of 2013; clearly it bears no resemblence Mom's photo. Betty also said that later (after Mom and Doris moved out), "Shirley and Hannah also lived in the little house north of Bill Holm's house. She remembers that Hannah would give Shirley a nickel and Shirley would go down to Meger's Cafe and drink pop while other girls their age would be working for someone to raise money." Sandy, repeating a story of those days passed down by one of Mom's little sisters, said that this house "had no running water...they were very poor...she hated to go to school because she could smell how bad she stunk."

The girls who drowned

The search for the girls
The search for the girls
A melancholy postscript on the Lunds of Minneota. Doris and Shirley still lived there in 1960; Doris was married with Earl Jasperson and they had five children; Shirley was married with Leonard Hasel and had four children, including one from a previous marriage. One day Doris's 8-year-old daughter, Judy Ann, and Shirley's 4-year old daughter Cheryl went out to play and never came back. They fell into the Yellow Medicine River and drowned. CLICK HERE to read the story in the Minneota Mascot. It was a blow that Doris and Shirley never recovered from and, I suspect, the reason they never left Minneota.

San Francisco

Polly and Mom
Polly, Mom 1940
All of the Lund kids but the last two left home as soon as they had a chance. Polly was the first to leave at some point between 1920 and 1927; she got a job at Pacific Telephone & Telegraph in San Luis Obispo as a telephone operator, transferred to San Francisco in 1935, and rose through the ranks to become important enough to be able to bring some of her sisters and brothers to California and, in some cases, got them jobs there too. My Mom for one, who went there right after she graduated high school in 1940 and became a telephone company draftswoman, a job Polly arranged for her, and she lived with Polly for about a year. [SEE NAVY WAVES GALLERY]

Mom in the Navy
Mom in the Navy, Cedar Falls Iowa 1942
Mom in the Navy
Mom in the Navy, Cedar Falls
Mascot Article
Mascot article
Besides her PT&T job, Mom also got training as a private secretary, learning typing and Gregg shorthand. When the USA entered World War II in December 1941 she wanted to do her part so, while still working, she joined the American Womens Voluntary Service, sold War Bonds, and also went to night school in radio communications. There was talk that the armed services would open up to women and she wanted a head start. By this time she had moved out of the house of Polly (who, Mom said, treated her like a slave) and lived at the YWCA. As soon as she finished her training she signed up for the just-created women's branch of the Navy, the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) November 14, 1942. Her hometown newspaper, the Minneota Mascot, published an article about it (this, along with most of her Navy pictures, were in a scrapbook I do not have, but later I obtained a copy of the article from the people at the Mascot, which still exists and has all its back issues in binders). She had her six weeks of Basic Training at the US Naval Training School in Cedar Falls, Iowa — not at Lehman College as I had fantasized (Lehman — Hunter in those days — is near my Bronx apartment and was the only WAVES basic training center from 1943 onwards. Then they received advanced training in their assigned specialties at Oklahoma A&M, Indiana University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Smith College, Miami University of Ohio, Georgia State Collge, Burdett College, etc [11].

Waves Radio School
Waves Radio School 1943
Waves in Cedar Falls
Waves in Cedar Falls 1943

After Basic Training in Cedar Falls, Mom went to Navy Radio School at "RS NYD Washington DC" (Radio School Washington Navy Yard) in Anacostia. She excelled as a military code operator. Just like my dad, she could transcribe incoming Morse code onto a clunky old manual typewriter at 120wpm, and nobody could transmit code faster than she could; a special side-to-side code key was built for her that had all kinds of springs, balances, counterweights, and adjustment points... I think it's called a "semiautomatic paddle key"... purely mechanical but she could make it "autorepeat" at lightning speed, which took enormous skill (we had it in our house when I was little; I have no pictures but it looked a bit — not exactly — like this one).

Mom Navy portrait
Mom Navy portrait 1942

Mom Navy pictures
Mom Navy pictures (and Dennis)
She was so good that she was assigned to Navy headquarters in Washington DC, nerve center for the naval war in all theaters, where she worked as a "Radio Wave"; as a recruiting poster said, "receiving dispatches direct from the battle fleet ... an important link between the men who plan strategy ashore and those who carry it out at sea." She met my father who wound up there too, having some five years experience as a radioman on ships such as the USS Omaha. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about my Mom's years at the Navy Department, except that she lived in temporary barracks near the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and close to the Navy building. One interesting thing about the WAVES, though: it was the only branch of US military service that was fully integrated in WWII (but starting only in December 1944). The framed pictures are of Mom in the Navy in Washington DC. I don't have copies of them.

Mom and Dad March 14, 1944
Wedding day
Mom and Dad wedding portrait 1944
Wedding portrait
My mother and father were married March 14, 1944, in Washington DC in their Navy uniforms, most likely in one of the Navy buildings, perhaps the observatory (right photo).

She was released from the Navy May 10, 1944, two months after getting married, because she was pregnant (official reason: "Convenience of the government"). If that had not happened, her enlistment would have ended March 2, 1946 (six months after the Japanese surrender on September 2nd, 1945 — all wartime hitches were for "duration plus six months"). Fifty-some years later she received a citation from President Bush (W) thanking her for her service. I know that her time in the Navy was a high point of her life; she had a lot of friends — it was like going to college and living in the girls' dorm — and she was doing important War work. In later years she was proud to display the photos of herself in uniform. My great regret with her, as with all my family, is that I never asked them about their lives.

References - Source material and recommended reading and viewing...
  1. Bachner, Evan, "Making Waves - Navy Women of World War II", Abrams, New York (undated). A big coffee-table book of photographs of WAVES during the War.
  2. Mundy, Liza, "Code Girls - The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II", Hachette Books (2017). My Mom was not a code breaker as far as I know but she transmitted messages they had encrypted and received encrypted messages for them to decrypt. Chapter 6, "Q for Communications", is about the WAVES codebreakers and the buildings they worked in.
  3. WWII Women Cracking the Code, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: "A major part of the WAVES’ job was building and operating the Navy Cryptanalytic Bombe, a 2.5 - ton electromechanical device developed to break the four-rotor enigma messages from German U-boats. Six hundred WAVES worked three eight-hour shifts, seven days a week at the National Cash Register Company (NCR) in Dayton, Ohio, where they learned how to solder and connect wires, read electrical diagrams, assemble rotors, and build 121 of these machines with no idea what they were building or why. It was tiresome, tedious work that allowed no room for error. After the first successful Bombe run in May 1943, the WAVES traveled with their Bombes by rail back to the Navy Annex in Washington, DC, where they operated the machines through the end of the war." The Navy Annex was about four miles north of the Navy building (see this page).
  4. Video: U.S. Navy Cryptanalytic Bombe, National Cryptological Museum.
  5. "Navy Service - A short History of the United States Naval Training School (Womens Reserve), Bronx, New York", US Navy Training Service (1944).
  6. "Here Come the WAVES", Hollywood feature film; Mark Sandrich (Director), Paramount (1944). Includes location shots at USS Hunter.
  7. "Homefront Heroines: The WAVES of World War II", documentary film; Kathleen M. Ryan (Director) [website] (2012).
  8. The little-known story of the Navy women codebreakers who helped Allied forces win WWII, CNN, 4 August 2020.
  9. Munch, Janet Butler, Making Waves in the Bronx: The Story of the U.S. Naval Training School (WR) at Hunter College, City University of New York (1993).
  10. Christine Heidenrich, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service: The WAVES PROGRAM in World War II, National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC (2020).
  11. Speciality Training, at Homefrontheroines.com, accessed 30 November 2023.
  12. Major General Mari K. Eder, The Girls Who Stepped Out Of Line, Sourcebooks (2021). Chapter 12: Code Secrets. More about the WAVES who worked in Signals Intelligence during World War II.

After the Navy

Mom and Dad on a date 1947
Mom & Dad on a date, DC Aug 1947
Mom was a housewife for 20 years. Like many postwar mothers, she didn't have a job; she stayed home all day to take care of the house and kids. I don't think I knew any women who had jobs when I was a child, except my teachers (and my friend George Gilmer's mother who had been social worker before marriage, and then worked in a church office and then at AG Bell, Alexander Graham Bell Society for the Deaf). In those days, even a meager salary from one single 9-5 job was enough to support a family, even with a house and a car. My dad got out of the Navy in 1946 and had bought a house by 1947 (with a GI loan, of course), supporting a wife and one child and making mortage payments on one paycheck. Three years later, a second child and a car. He left the house for work at 8:30am and got home 5:30. The whole time I lived at home (until 1962), his salary was the only income.

Mom did a lot of things with me when I was little… she taught me to read and write, she made flashcards for math, and sometimes we even played together (I remember some races, and I remember a dough fight we had once when she was baking bread). The only time she ever asserted herself with us was when we refused to eat something; she could never let food go to waste.

I reconnected with childhood friend Jimmie Walker in 2014 (after 58 years). One of the first things he said to me was "[your Mom] used to just appear with a platter of orange slices or other goodies. She was like an angel — perfect in every way. All the other boys wanted a mom like Vivian da Cruz. I think of her often and remember how very beautiful she was." It's true; back in those days there used to be chain gangs of Black convicts working on the dirt road in front of our house; she'd bring them orange slices and big pitchers of cold water. George Gilmer, who I've known since 1947 said "I always thought that your Mom was one of the prettiest and nicest Mom's in our neighborhood."

At some point in the early 1950s my father's personality changed. I remember him being pretty normal when I was little; I liked him, I wasn't scared of him. He and Mom got along well and even had some funny routines, like long conversations in Navy jargon or Morse code. But now he was angry all the time, yelling at us, beating us, and he subjected Mom to withering verbal abuse every night when he came home, especially over dinner. Then after dinner he drank until he passed out. So that was Mom's (and our) life for about ten years.

In October 2018 Danny sent me scans of letters from Dad to Pete, 1941-1959. In them he speaks admiringly and at length of Mom. Throughout the first five years of marriage, the only anger he expressed was towards greedy money-hungry doctors and wishing for "socialized medicine". Just before Dennis was born in April 1949, Dad and Mom were already planning on a third child, a girl to be named Delores (not Maritornes, he joked — a character from Don Quixote, which he had just read, probably to impress his dad, who was a professor of it and even had published a translation, which was no doubt the one Dad had read). Mom's first suicide attempt was in mid-1953. Dad concluded it was because the house was too small and that's why he built the addition.
My Mom was the typical stoic Norwegian. She put up with dad's abuse and other hardships all that time, never complaining, but withdrew; she didn't talk about herself, she never expressed opinions, and after things got bad around the house, she never expressed any emotion, never laughed or cried; she wasn't affectionate, she just did her cooking and cleaning and sewing all day every day and put up with Dad. When I read "Giants in the Earth", I pretty much recognized my Mom in Per Hansa's wife, Beret.

Mom and me on 19th Street 1945
Mom & me 19th Street 1945
Mom and me on 19th Street 1945
19th Street 1945
Dennis, Mom, and Me Chesterbrook 1951
Chesterbrook 1951
Mom giving me a haircut
Haircut 1952
Mom and Dennis Chesterbrook 1952
Mom & Dennis Chesterbrook 1952
Us in 1952
At Gus's house 1952
Aunt Polly
With Aunt Polly 1952

Although I never saw dad hit my Mom (Audie, Dad's second wife, whose back he once broke, told me that he did), he was unremittingly cruel to her, eventually driving her to try to kill herself at least four times between 1953 and 1959. After each of these incidents (Dennis and I would come home from school to find her unconscious from pills or in a bloody bathtub), Dad would commit her to a mental hospital for months of shock treatments, which — even at the time — I didn't think was right because she wasn't crazy, just miserable. In July 2014, Jimmie Walker said:

I will fill in what I remember. Apparently, she tried using the sleeping pills twice. Early one morning, you and Denny came over to my house and asked if I could help you wake up your mom. You had tried pinching her, shaking her and yelling at her to no avail. When I could not wake her, I ran back home and woke-up my mother. She ran over and then called the ambulance. Then I recall the time she got a razor blade, locked the bathroom door and cut her wrists in the bathtub. Her life must have been a "living hell" because of him. One time he physically abused me and left marks on my chest and stomach. My dad marched next door and rang the door bell. When your dad opened his front door, my dad said "Frank, if you ever, ever, touch my son again, I will mop up this sidewalk with your bodily remains!" He could have done it, too, because I've heard stories about how my dad beat-up six guys at once inside of Coppicks Bar in Vienna.
Six months after writing that, Jimmie was dead.

Frankfurt, Germany, 1959-61

As described in the Frankfurt chapter, Dad was sent to work in Frankfurt for a few years in 1959, bringing Mom, Dennis, and me along. We lived in a German apartment for a few months and then moved to Army housing.
Mom passport photo 1961
Mom passport photo 1961
Mom tried to kill herself again shortly after we arrived. Looking through one of dad's albums I find this comment:
One night in Frankfurt, about July 1959, the whole gang decided to attend the "Merry Widow" ... Henri was in Paris translating for Eisenhower (when Krushchev chewed him out) and my spouse was in the rubber room at the 97th General Hospital. So I escorted Betty.
Nice guy. Anyway as a result of being strapped down and electrocuted so many times over so many years, and who-knows-what mind-numbing drugs, there was very little left. She had no emotions, no opinions, no engagement, no curiosity, she just went through the motions of living. The only thing that kept her going was her secret plan to escape, and finally she did it, but both she and Dennis were wrecked for life by that monster. I don't say that because Dennis was gay, even though that might well have had something to do with my dad's bedtime romps with him every night when he was a child, but he couldn't function in life; he couldn't graduate from high school, he couldn't earn a living as a musician no matter how talented he was, and he just bounced around from one situation to another where somebody else took care of him. And if you think about how my mom was when we went to visit her, she never really had anything to say. Once she was free of dad, the pressure was off but she was empty. If you asked her how she was doing, she'd say "Everything is wonderful!". And it was.

But what I didn't know was that she had been truly happy in the hospital. She had long breaks from Dad and she made good, deep friends there. One day some of her hospital friends paid her a surprise visit when I was home (and dad wasn't). Suddenly she was a person I had never seen before: lively, laughing, joking, saying outrageous things. It was the only time I ever saw her so lively and animated; I imagine that's how she was in high school and the Navy.

In later life I wondered why Dad turned so mean and brutal, especially since his mother and father were good people, and his brother was a charming, easygoing guy. According to Audrey, when he got Mom pregnant he had no intention of marrying her, but was ordered to by his CO, a random event to which all of us owe our existence. Audie says that's why he hated Mom so much, that she "trapped" him, condemning him to the life of a poor working stiff with no chance of becoming a big shot.

In 1976 my brother Dennis told me that that dad had told him that he was one of the unwitting subjects in the CIA's experiments with mind-altering drugs (Project MKultra) in the early 1950s. All I know is that he was angry and full of hate until about his 70th year when he calmed down a bit, but he had abused his own body so badly and for so long that he would only live another couple years.

Me at Mom's hospital
Me at Mom's hospital, mid-1950s
I've never had anal­ysis or psy­cho­therapy, but I do try to figure stuff out. Is there some part of me that resents my mom for trying to abandon us so many times? I don't think so but I do know that every time she disappeared into the mental hospital for a month or two and we only had dad around, it was pretty frightening. Dennis and I both believed he could kill us at any moment. I had nightmares for decades about that, even when we lived on 118th Street (I was in my 30s and 40s).

Trip to Norway, 1960

Mom and Dennis in Norway
Mom and Dennis in Norway 1960
As noted in another chapter, in the summer of 1960 while we were living in Germany, my dad took us all on an epic road trip that included Northern Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Despite his cruelty towards my mother, he wanted to fulfill her dream of seeing her ancestral homeland; she had a storehouse of Norwegian lore and she told us many stories of the Norwegian countryside when we were children that were passed down from her grandparents, all of whom emigrated from Norway. But she had no idea where her family had lived. Anyway we covered a lot of ground and she was able to experience many aspects of the country thanks to my dad, for which he deserves credit.

Long Beach, California, 1963-80

Dennis 1963
Free at last!  Dennis and Mom
in Long Beach, 1963
Soon after I joined the Army 1963, one day while my dad was at work my mom took Dennis and flew to California (Dad said she cleaned out the joint bank account, Frank Rider said there was no joint bank account and she had been saving pocket change for years until she had enough). In her quiet way, she freed herself and Dennis from his brutal domination and she put 3000 miles between them. From there she obtained a divorce, and probably got some restraining orders too. At first she stayed with brother Zeke and his wife Sally and daughters Sandy and Mary in Anaheim.
In late 2018, Cousin Sandy sent me a six-page typed letter Dad sent to Mom in August 1963, shortly after she left him. It's threatening, sarcastic, cruel, and — given the degree to which he had abused her for so long — delusional. As though he is the aggrieved party, not Mom. It confirms my impression that the reason he hated her so much is that starting around 1952 or -53 she "denied [him his] marital rights" for reasons I can only imagine; this leaves open the frightening question of whether he forced himself on her after (or before) that. He describes his marriage to "an impractical and ignorant woman" (and elswhere, "emasculatory") as "nineteen years of almost unremitting horror", even though the horror was all Mom's, Dennis's, and mine. He refers to her "appetite for gin and tranquilizers", which is news to me... and this from a man who was drinking two fifths of gin each evening by himself. He describes his ideal woman as one "free of small-town inhibitions" and "who has come to realize that a man is man and a woman is a woman; that they are not equal and never will be; that one leads and the other follows; that that is why she was born and fashioned as she is." He ends on a semi-conciliatory note: "I must say in all truth that I write this in some sorrow. In spite of the fact that we got off to a shaky start [i.e. that he was ordered to marry her by his Navy CO], you were a beautiful and devoted girl, nubile and all a man could ask for. A wonderful mother, too. But somewhere along the line you got off track and never quite succeeded in getting back on."
After staying with Zeke, Mom got an apartment in Long Beach and went to the Career Training Institute there (and perhaps also Long Beach Business College) to become a medical stenographer and secretary, and then was the office manager of an orthopaedic practice for 10 or 15 years.

Mom in Long Beach 1964
Mom and sibling 1964
Mom and sibling 1964
Mom and sibling 1964
Mom and sibling 1964

The photos above were taken shortly after Mom arrived in California in 1963. At first she had a small apartment (first photo) with Dennis. Some of her brothers and sisters lived in the area, and they appear in the next four photos. The second photo is Mom with Polly's husband Harold Blanchette. The third is Mom with Zeke's wife Sally. The fourth photo is of Ella, Mom, Zeke and Zeke's daughters Mary and Sandy, and fifth is Pug with his wife Ruth.

In the building where she lived she met Frank Rider, a divorcée who worked as a legal aide; his strategy for meeting women was to spend a lot of time in the laundry room, which is how they met. He looked like Dean Martin with blond hair. Frank was too young to have been in the War, ten years younger than my mother; he worked in a defense plant as a teenager, zooming around on his bicycle delivering stuff between the buildings. I think it was a shipyard in or around Vancouver WA where they built Liberty ships.

Mom's apartment building in Long Beach
Apartment in Long Beach
They decided to live together and rented a large and luxurious apartment on a high floor of a high-rise right on the beach, with a big picture window and a balcony overlooking the beach and the ocean. Mommy and I visited them there both before and after you guys were born.

At Laguna Beach 1976
At Laguna Beach 1976
I got out of the Army in 1966 but it was 10 more years before I saw my mother. In 1976 after Judy and I got married we went to see Mom and Frank Rider in Long Beach. They met us at the airport and Mom gave me such a huge hug, I never knew she had so much strength. That was the closest she ever came to expressing her feelings with me in person (after we got back, she wrote "I can't tell you both how much your visit meant to me, and to Dennis. It was one of the happiest times of my life. I have played the tapes [of Dennis and me making some music together] over and over, hope they don't wear out. I think you two are a great combination. I love my daughter-in-law, and I am very excited about being grandmother" [Judy's unsuccessful first pregnancy].) As you can see, she and Judy got along great and Judy and Dennis were also crazy about each other. Frank Rider rubbed Mommie the wrong way at first because he kept making little jibes about New York City, but as the years went by I think we all adjusted to each other pretty well.

Judy Peter Mom in 1978
Judy, Peter, and my Mom in 1978
Frank Rider and Peter
Frank Rider & Peter
Mom in 1978
Mom in 1978
On that first trip, Dennis picked us up in his 1959 Cadillac, possibly the biggest car ever made, and with the biggest fins. It was kind of a wreck but he was proud of it. He drove us all over southern Cali­fornia including San Diego, San Simeon, and Laguna Beach where Mom found a shop that sold a kind of Norwegian flatbread called lefse she used to have as a kid. When we got to her house she made it for us; you have steam it or something until it becomes flexible and spongy (kind of like injera, Ethiopian bread, but chewier) and that you can roll stuff up in it.

Frank Rider and Mom
Frank Rider and Mom
Dennis and me 1976
Dennis and me 1976
Dennis and me in Big Bear
Dennis and me in Big Bear 1976
By 1976, Mom and Frank had also rented or bought a small cabin in Big Bear in the San Bernardino mountains near Big Bear Lake and we went there too on this same trip. We'd go for long walks up the mountain... the air was pretty thin, it was at 10,000 feet. I fixed Frank's putt-putt motorcycle that hadn't worked in years and took Dennis for a ride around the lake, about 10 miles. He didn't want to drive it himself because he had had a serious and traumatizing motorcycle accident at some point (I don't remember the details) but he trusted me to drive.

Death of Dennis, 1978

Dennis 1968
Dennis 1968
I tell the story of Dennis's death in the Dennis chapter but, briefly... In early 1978, he had some strange symptoms, saw a doctor, and it was a cancer that had metastasized all over his thorax, every organ was involved; it was inoperable. Judy and I and 4-month-old Peter flew to Long Beach, and found that the oncologist was optimistic and, indeed, after two weeks of chemotherapy his cancer was in remission, but he would need to continue chemotherapy for a long period. He hated the chemo, the nausea, the hair falling out, and all the other side effects, so when the cancer came back six months later he declined treatment and died at 29 years of age on his own terms. This was devastating blow for my Mom but, always the stoic, she soldiered on for another 22 years. One consolation for her was that she was finally a grandmother. And within 18 months, she was a grandmother again!

Big Bear, 1980-1995

Peter, Mom, and Amy, Big Bear, 1980
Grandma Vivian Big Bear 1980
Flight to Big Bear
Flight to Big Bear 1981
When Mom and Frank retired about 1980, they sold their Long Beach apartment and moved to a much bigger cabin in Big Bear, where Mom's favorite pastime was feeding the racoons, chipmunks, and birds. Frank made a modest living doing real estate deals, maybe one a year. On one of our visits, Mom and Frank hired a small plane to fly us direct from LAX to "Big Bear X", as Mom called it. I don't know if you remember, it was quite an adventure... We went up and up and up and then just landed without going down again. And that's when Mom met Amy, her second grandchild. She came alive when you guys were there.

Death Valley
Peter and Mommie in Death Valley
At Big Bear Lake
At Big Bear Lake
Disneyland 1980
Disneyland 1980
Another time we had to drive across Death Valley.

Big Bear 1986
At Big Bear 1986
Us at Big Bear 1986
At the big cabin 1986
We always had fun at Big Bear. Once we went to a rodeo, remember? That was the time Peter rode on the legendary horse, Buttermilk. On that same trip, we also went to Disneyland, where Peter and I went on Dumbo about 500 times; it was the only thing he wanted to do, especially after that red-eyed monster popped out in front of him in a dark tunnel on the Magic Mountain ride!

We went again in 1986, when Amy was a sentient being, so this visit and the one in 1990 are the ones she remembers Granma Vivian from. But on this occasion Mom decided to bring out the family slides that my father had taken in the 1940s and 50s and that he sent her when Dennis got sick. As we watched them she got more and more upset and drank a lot of wine and finally passed out. She was mortified the next day and very angry with herself for losing control and as far as I know, she never did again.

Oregon 1990

On the beach Oregon 1990
Oregon beach 1990
Oregon beach 1990
Oregon beach - motel in background
Oregon diner 1990
Oregon diner 1990

Oregon 1990
Mom & Amy 1990
The last time we saw my Mom and Frank we went to stay with them in a place they were renting in Gold Beach on the Oregon coast. There was no direct flight to anywhere near there so we flew to Los Angeles and drove 500 miles up the coast highway. It was pretty nice, we went through Castroville (Artichoke Capital of the World), stopped in Bodega Bay (The Birds), we went along Big Sur, went in the redwood forests... It took us three days; the first night we stayed in a seedy old motel like in the Bogart movies in Santa Rosa; the next night we slept in the car; no motels had vacancies. I guess the most famous thing we did in Oregon was drive 160 miles north to get giant 12-inch-diameter hamburgers at the Big Wheel... Twice! This episode was the basis for Amy's Lehmen College application essay (the Big Wheel is still there; it's in Waldport). We also went to Eugene one day. We talked about going to Crater Lake but it was too much.

In 2018 cousin Sandy Stout (Mom's niece) told me "I noticed you were in Oregon in 1990. I believe that was probably the year we went to that same restaurant in Astoria and by happenstance saw your mom and Frank there. My parents were visiting me in Washington State (we live 20 minutes from Vancouver Wa and 45 min from Portland). That day we drove out to the coast and ate in that same restaurant with the red leather booths. When we walked in we saw Vivian and Frank and couldn't believe it. That was the last time I saw her. It took her a few minutes to put things together because it was such a serendipitous meeting. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. Neither could we! There was a picture of all of us together that my parents had. It would be cool to find that picture."

Indio, California, 1995-2002

Mom loved Big Bear and liked to walk around the area, which is truly beautiful, but the hills were steep and she could only go very slowly and it made her more and more tired as time passed. Eventually she saw a doctor about it and was diagnosed with a blood disorder called polycythemia, similar to sickle cell anemia, that was aggravated by the 10,000-foot altitude. As the symptoms grew worse the doctors told her she had to get out of the high altitude.

They moved to Indio CA in 1988, which is 13 feet below sea level and hellishly hot and arid. Nothing to do and too hot to go outside, they just stayed inside in the air conditioning. Mom and Frank were both in bad shape and most of the outings were to doctors and hospitals. There was an excellent hospital there that Bob Hope had paid for himself and then made extensive use of, that Mom also used.

Mom died a slow death. It started in 1982 when she had a stroke while riding with Frank Rider in a bus in Mexico. Ever since then she had more strokes, plus a bout of cancer (lymphoma) in 1990 that was totally cured and never came back. But the strokes persisted and increasingly affected her memory, speech, and strength. Then in 1992 she had an embolism in her femoral artery, which was resected in a big operation. Later the site developed a staph infection and had to be resected again, and again, and again, until this was being done almost monthly, for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile the strokes came more frequently, until by late 2001 she could no longer communicate. Finally in late 2002 she had a huge stroke and, according to her living will, nature was allowed to take its course and no fuss was made; there was no burial, no service, no trace of her is left except us (she wrote me a letter a couple years prior, expressing her wishes very clearly while she still could). Frank Rider loved her very much and was kind and attentive always; he stayed by her through her 20 years of medical nightmares, including dementia in the final years, up to the very end. There was no funeral or burial; Mom didn't want any of that, no fuss, no "spectacle", as she wrote in her letter. She was cremated and the "cremains" released to Frank Rider. Here's her obituary from the Palm Springs Desert Sun:

Vivian da Cruz Vivian M. da Cruz, 80, of Indio died July 26, 2002, in Palm Desert. She was born March 5, 1922, to Carl and Johanna Engeborg Johnson Lund in Minneota, Minn. She was a medical legal secretary for the Orthopedic Group. She served in the Navy. She is survived by her companion, Frank Rider of Indio; her son, Frank of New York; her sister, Ella Lund of Orange County; and two grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her son, Dennis in 1978  [see full obituary].
Mom was the nicest person in the world; she never had a bad thing to say about anybody. She wasn't prejudiced or narrow-minded. She was kind and considerate and loved children and animals (except bluejays). She never got angry, never argued. She never spoke of herself or her past and did not show her emotions. And on top of all that, she was intelligent and highly competent: she mastered mechanical drawing, shorthand, typing, and Morse Code, as well as everything it takes to administer a medical practice. And she was a tireless correspondent; I still have a stack of her letters over a foot deep. I loved her a lot but (now that it's too late) I only wish I knew her better.

I also wish I had gone to see her before she died, despite her wishes. But at least after 20 nightmarish years with my father she had almost 30 good years in California. Frank and my Mom were together until Mom died but they never married; Mom said "once is enough". He treated her like a queen and was crazy in love with her right up through her dementia and then her death and even after that. After the nightmare life my mom had with Frank #1, Frank Rider was just about the best thing that could have happened to her: gentle, considerate, soft-spoken, and adoring.

I stayed in touch with Frank after that. In late 2009 he was diagnosed with terminal kidney disease. He decided not to have dialysis; he didn't have that much to live for to go through so much agony and expense to prolong his life. Instead he went to Puerto Rico to relive a trip he made there once with Mom, which he said was the best time of his life. I spoke to him in Jan 2011, he said he only had a couple months left. But a year later he called and he was fine, the kidney problem just went away by itself. He was living in an assisted-living place in Oroville CA, near his first wife, Nancy Crowe. After that I had a long talk with him about once a year. The kidneys finally quit and he died February 17, 2017, in Enloe Hospital (CA) of kidney failure and is buried in Vancouver WA, where he grew up. He also had a son Rick I never met, who (last I heard) buys fruit in South America and sells it in Asia, and who was married to Sara (who I talk to by email); they had two sons and divorced in 2012.

The day Mom died I sent you guys an email that is a kind of epitaph, click here to see it again.

Most recent update: 2 March 2024 07:29:25