The Johanson (Johnson) Children
(Donald's paternal aunts and uncles)
Back: Bennie, George, John; middle: Anna, Olga; front: Lena and Inga.
Birth order: Oline Andrie (Lena) 12/16/1869-6/2/1949; Jorgen (George) 6/18/1872-9/8/1965; Anna 11/24/1874-1954; Johan (John) 12/15/1876-4/14/1945; Inga 2/21/1879-10/31/1922; Bernt (Bennie) 1/18/1881-4/30/1948; Olga Kammalie (Camilla) 7/25/1884-1/30/1937.
Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:
"Pa was named Bernt Johanson, but when he started school the teacher Americanized it to Bennie Johnson, with no middle name. [2.2-2]
"Pa was the [fifth] of seven kids, four girls and three boys. His mother told Ma he was worse than any other two she had to raise. His father died when he was 13 and his mother married a bachelor who hated kids. He often threatened to hang himself and Pa's oldest sister would tell him to go ahead and she would help find him a rope. He never did, though, and both he and my grandmother lived into their 80s." [1.1-6]
"Pa's family's two or three cows were dry one winter. The kids were so hungry that when a neighbor gave them a pailful of skim milk, it was too precious to drink, so they stood around and dipped bread in it and ate that." [2.159-4]
"Pa said his folks told about the hungry people in Norway. They had mostly potatoes and a few herrings to eat, so they tied a string to the herring's tail and swallowed it to push the potatoes down. Then they pulled the herring up again! (I don't guarantee the authenticity of the stories I heard told, but the ones I've told of myself are all 100 percent true and authentic.)" [2.159-5]
"When Pa was a kid he was sent to one of their more affluent neighbors on some errand and she gave him a piece of pie and then she asked if he would like another piece. He was too polite or bashful to say yes, so he shook his head, no. I suppose she thought he didn't like her pie, so she said, 'I'll give it to the chickens then,' and stepped to the door and tossed it out to the chickens. He lamented that many times, all the rest of his life." [2.159-3]
"Pa could speak Norwegian and (at least) understand Swedish but he hardly ever called anything by its right name in English. I don't know where he got the names from, but he used them all his life. For instance, most any animal's nose was its 'snobble' and if a dog stuck his nose up to lick your face or to be petted a lot, or 'smelled around' a lot, he was 'snobbly.' The settlings or dirt in the bottom of any liquid in a glass or pail, etc. was always the 'boom-fal.' A cookie was always a 'shu-tu.' He never called a bull a bull; that was almost like a dirty word or swearing. He always called a bull an 'emeral.'" [2.159-5]