Andreas (Andy) Olia Langvad Oral History Interview, 1982  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Langvad, Andres (Andy) Olia
1982 (inclusive)
3 file folders
7 photographs
2 sound cassettes
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Andreas (Andy) Olia Langvad, a Norwegian immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Andreas (Andy) Olia Langvad was born on March 15, 1902 in Saltdal, Rognan, Norway, which is ten Norwegian miles east of Bodø in northern Norway. He was one of eleven children by Christian Hansen and Gjertene Olsen; Andy changed his name to Langvad, the name of a place in Norway, when he left home. He went to school for seven years, and, every Sunday morning, the family went to the Saltdal Kirke (church), which was about seven English miles from home. He worked in a copper mine the summer he was fourteen and left home when he was fifteen. He made cod liver oil in northern Norway for a year and returned home, but he left a week later for the West Coast of Norway. He got a job in Sundnes, near Stavanger, in the same shipyard where his cousin, Johan Langvad, worked. Johan decided they should emigrate, and they left Oslo on the "Bergensfjord" on May 10, 1921; they entered the U.S. at Ellis Island and took the immigrant train to Wisconsin. Andy first got a job digging ditches for the Water and Light Company in Superior, WI, which is close to Duluth, MN. Johan became a longshoreman on Lake Superior, and Andy later got a job as a waterboy with the same outfit. In addition, they would work in the woods in Minnesota for about six weeks when there was not much longshoring, and Andy did this work in the woods for about thirty years. While in Wisconsin, he worked as a longshoreman and cooper and he sewed flour sacks; he also had a store for a while. One winter, he went to Cleveland, where Johan was, and worked for about three months at a place in Cleveland that made furnaces. Andy had a brother in Bremerton, WA and moved to Washington State in 1947. He got a job in a lumber mill in Tacoma, WA and later worked at a plywood plant for twenty years. He met his wife, Jean Kingsley, at a restaurant in downtown Tacoma, and they married three years later on November 10, 1950; Jean was not Norwegian and was born in Fargo, ND. She had one daughter and two sons-Carol Jean, Peter, and Danny-and Andy adopted them; Andy had also been married in Wisconsin and had one daughter, Audrey Mae Langvad Danielson, from that marriage. Andy bought a Scandinavian import store from Waldemar Lind, a man he knew from the plywood plant, and they sold imported gifts and food; Jean did the baking for the store, but it eventually was too much work for too little profit, and they sold the business. Andy belongs to Sons of Norway and Nordlandslaget and has attended Bethlehem Lutheran Church; he retired from the plywood plant in 1967. He has visited Norway in 1956 and 1972; during the 1956 visit, he also traveled to England, France, Sweden, and the rest of Europe except for Greece and Russia.


Full Name: Andreas (Andy) Olia Langvad. Father: Christian Hansen. Mother: Gjertene Olsen. Paternal Grandfather: Han Fordel. Paternal Grandmother: Anna Fordel. Maternal Grandfather: Ole Hansen. Maternal Grandmother: Josefine Hansen. Brothers and Sisters: Marie Aasjord, Anne Johnsen, Helga Hansen, Hanna Buvik, Conrad Langvad, Anna Sneli, Otto Langvad, Gottfred Langvad, Olga Andersen. Spouse: Jean Kingsley Langvad. Children: Audrey Mae Langvad Danielson, Peter Royae Langvad, Carol Jean Langvad, Danny P. Langvad.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Andreas (Andy) Langvad on February 17, 1982 in Tacoma, Washington. This interview contains information on family history, family name, childhood life and home, school, church, Christmas traditions, work in Norway, home remedies, toys, preparation for emigrating, working in a copper mine, voyage to America, trips to Norway, feelings about leaving Norway, first impression of America, work in the Midwest, language difficulties, reasons for moving to the West Coast, work in Washington, meeting spouse, marriage and family, Scandinavian import store, Norwegian organizations, Norwegian traditions, church in Washington, changes in Norway, effects of WWII on northern Norway, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also provides a photograph of Andreas Langvad, his brother, and other immigrants from Langvad-Lien (1923), four photographs of his wife, Jean Langvad, at their Scandinavian store in Tacoma, WA, and two photographs of Andreas at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in English.

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Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
144, side 1 015:
Andy Olia Langvad. Born in Saltdal, Rognan, Norway. Saltdal is located ten Norwegian miles east of Bodø in northern Norway. Born on March 15, 1902
144, side 1 045: PARENTS
Christian Hansen and Gjertene Olsen. Father was a fisherman.
144, side 1 063: SISTERS
Eleven children in the family. Marie married Peder Aasjord. Anne married a fisherman and lived in Melbu. Helga married a foreman of a copper mine in Sulitjelma. Hanna. Anna lived in Rognan, Saltdal; husband was a carpenter. Olga lives in Sweden; married a Laplander.
144, side 1 189: BROTHERS
Andy is the oldest of the boys. Conrad lived in Tacoma; was a longshoreman. Otto lives in Fauske; was a crane operator in Mo i Rana. Gottfred was a carpenter. Alfred died when young.
144, side 1 243: GRANDPARENTS
Maternal were Ole Hansen and Josefine Olsen Hansen. Andy's mother lived in Fauske with one of her sons. Got notice to come to Saltdal. Her mother had died. When she got there, her father was dead too. They were both 96 years old. Paternal were Anna and Han Fordel. Barely remembers his grandmother. Grandfather was German.
144, side 1 316: FAMILY NAME
Langvad is a place in Norway. Too many Hansens, Johnsens, and Petersens. Took the name of the place they were from when they left.
144, side 1 380: CHILDHOOD
They were poor. Too many kids. Father was a fisherman. They ate a lot of fish and potatoes. Andy worked on the farm like a grown man when he was 7 years old. Tells about taking the cows to the woods and bringing them back at night. Tells about putting in the hay.
144, side 1 439:
Story about "gammel beste," an old lady who sat by a Juniper tree in the woods with her spinning wheel.
144, side 1 448:
Tells about 16 people who drowned in the river that goes through Rogan. In June the river is too big and fast. Big rock in river caused boats to turn over.
144, side 1 500: SCHOOL
Went for seven years. Had to cross the river. Had to take a boat in the spring when the ice broke up. Used both a boat and skis. Easier to get across in the winter when the frozen solid.
144, side 1 548: CHURCH
Went every Sunday morning. About seven English miles. Went to Saltdal Kirke. Father is buried there. Mother is buried at the church in Roekland.
144, side 1 580: CHRISTMAS TIME
Most beautiful thing when you hear the horses coming up the river. Ice on the river shines. Sleigh with three seats (sluffe) loaded with people. Cold had to have blankets. Bells ringing. Get up at 5:30 to go to church. Andy's family went to church with the neighbors.
144, side 1 616: CHRISTMAS FOOD
Start preparing 4 to 6 weeks before. "Jul handle" go to town and buy "good stuff." Rullepoelser, flesk (pork), lefse, waffles.
144, side 1 649: CHRISTMAS TREE
Made decorations from straw. Used candles on the tree.
144, side 1 662:
Clothing they had was homemade. Mother carded the wool, spun the wool. Describes shrinking the wool. Sewed shirts and bedclothes.
144, side 1 701: CHILDHOOD HOME
Wasn't big. Older kids moved out. Make room for the young.
144, side 1 715: WORK
Left home when 15 years old. Made cod liver oil in northern Norway. Lived on a little ship close to Hammerfest. They'd follow the fish north. Spent a couple of months around Lofoten in the winter. As the climate got warmer they'd move north with the fish. Describes how they made cod liver oil.
144, side 1 811: HOME REMEDIES
Naphtha used for colds. Had something they rubbed on their chests.
144, side 1 829: TOYS
Used to make sailboat. Played with them at the river. His mother would get angry. The river (Saltdalselven) was swift.
144, side 1 844:
Spent a year making cod liver oil. Came home. Helped mother with the hay. Left a week later for the west coast of Norway. Andy's cousins from America got a job working in a shipyard in Sundnes, near Stavanger.
144, side 1 947: PREPARING FOR THE TRIP
Said goodbye to friends in Stavanger, Took the boat "Hurtigrutte" from Stavanger to Bodø. Took one week.. Took another boat to Saltdalfjord. Took four hours to get to Rognan. Mother didn't know he was coming. When he told his mother he was going to America, "she just about turned wild; started crying." He had been in Stavanger 2-3 years. 18 years old when he left Norway. At that time nothing hurt. He was in a hurry to get going. Andy's uncle convinced his mother that it would be better for him to go to America to find work.
144, side 1 1006:
Tells about the work he did in a copper mine when he was 14 years old. Nearly got killed one time. Worked there in the summer. Went to Lofoten and Hammerfest in the winter. Made good money. Gone for six months. (See also I-715 and I-844) Went to Stavanger for three years. Went home during Easter. (See also I-844)
144, side 1 1080: TRIP TO BODØ
The farm near Stavanger that Andy and his cousin lived with didn't want Andy to go. Farmer said that Andy hadn't paid his local taxes. Andy argued that he hadn't worked on that commune. When they left Saltdal for America (See also I-947), they met John's cousin from Rognan. He took them to Bodø on his boat. Faster than the local boat. Two policemen were looking for Andy when he got to Bodø. (Story continues on Side II)
144, side 2 027:
The policeman told him he hadn't paid his taxes. Andy said he had. They said they'd let him go if he paid 500 crowns. Andy didn't have any money. His cousin's money was in New York. When they got to Trondheim, John wired to New York for money to pay the 500 crowns.
144, side 2 104: TRIP TO AMERICA
Left Oslo on the Bergensfjord. Ate meals on the boat. They came to Ellis Island and then had to go straight to the immigration train. No time to go to the bank in New York. They had only three crowns. Took a couple of days to get to Wisconsin. Bought a basket in New York.
144, side 2 169:
Left Norway on May 10, 1921. Andy got seasick on the boat. Tells about a Jewish woman who died on the boat. Stormy weather. Buried her at sea.
144, side 2 275:
Ship was too far north. Ran into icebergs. Had to go further south. Made the journey one day longer. Tells about when he flew to Norway in 1965. Flew over Greenland. Icebergs there were bigger than any building in Vancouver, B.C.
He just wanted to travel. Never satisfied. Wanted to work in the coalmines on Spitzbergen when he was younger but he was too young.
Had seen beautiful pictures of America. Disappointed with Lake Superior, Wisconsin. Wanted to go back to Norway right away. He was used to farms where everything was green. Didn't like the wind and sand.
144, side 2 347: WORK
Hard to get a job. Finally got a job digging ditches. Describes his job. Tells about a Finnish man who could dig much faster than he could. The foreman gave Andy another job. He got to put the dirt back in the holes. Worked for the Water and Light Company in Superior, Wisconsin.
Couldn't order food. Had a lot of coffee and donuts. An Irishman started helping him order his breakfast. Ordered "pannekake" once. The two girls who waited on him laughed. One was Norwegian. Picked up the English language without many problems.
144, side 2 447:
The lady they stayed with in Superior asked him to go to Cameron Store and get some "appelsin" (oranges). The girls there laughed at him.
144, side 2 483:
Tells about a friend who got a lot of money when he sold his fishing boat on Bodø. Bought shoes in Trondheim. Gave them to Andy. Hurt Andy's feet.
144, side 2 518:
Cousin was longshoring in Superior. They needed a water boy. Andy got that job. Earned 55 cents per hour. Good money. 35 cents to 45 cents per hour was average. Longshoremen earned 65 cents per hour. Andy earned $5.50 for a ten-hour day. He'd often work in the evening and make $3.00 for three hours.
144, side 2 548:
Worked with Swedes and Norwegians for the most part.
144, side 2 578:
Worked in the woods in Minnesota with his cousin. Earned about $10 per day. Superior, WI is close to Duluth, MN. Bigger trees in Minnesota than in Wisconsin. Andy and John would do this work for about six weeks when there wasn't much longshoring. While Andy and John were working in the woods, "the rest of the longshoremen were laying around drinking up their money. They were broke."
144, side 2 620:
Andy made cedar posts and John was cutting tamarack to make railroad tire. Andy got 10 cents for each post he cut. Cut 100 every day. Did this work in the wood for 30 years.
144, side 2 648:
Tells about working in a lumber camp. Lots of Finnish people there. Andy and John went into a small town for dinner. Got lost on the way back. 10-mile walk to the camp. Walked too far. Came to a farm. Spent the night there. Walked back to towards the camp the next day. Missed the road to the camp. Finally got back to the camp in the evening. Good food at the camp.
144, side 2 727:
Worked as a longshoreman, a cooper and sewed flour sacks while in Wisconsin. Good job. Wasn't doing any hard work.
144, side 2 740:
Went to Chicago to stay with friends one winter. Cousin was in Cleveland. Friends in Chicago were just drinking. Andy went to Cleveland. Made a bad deal on a watch on the train. Worked in Cleveland for about three months. Worked in a place where they made furnaces.
Cold climate in the Great Lakes region. Brother was in Bremerton. Came in 1947. Thought it rained too much here. Got a job in a lumber mill in Tacoma. Later started working at a plywood plant on north Pacific. Worked there for twenty years.
144, side 2 873: MEETING SPOUSE
Was downtown having coffee with a friend. She and her sister were in the same restaurant. They could see that they'd been to Minneapolis. Andy and his friend waited until they came out of the Minneapolis. The girls asked if they wanted to go out for ice cream. Andy and Jean (Kingsley) started going to dances at the Valhalla. Got married three years later on November 10, 1950.
144, side 2 912:
Had been married before in Superior, Wisconsin. Had a daughter there. Audrey Mae Langvad Danielson. She lives in Neenah, WI. Her husband is a building contractor. They have four children.
144, side 2 943: CHILDREN
Audrey (See also II-912), Andy married Jean who had one girl and two boys. He adopted them. Peter Langvad drives for a distributing company in Tacoma, Washington. Has three boys. Carol Jean is deceased. She left two children. Danny P. is a career army man. Married and has two boys and one girl. Lives in Germany. Andy and Jean have five great-grandchildren in Wisconsin and ten grandchildren.
144, side 2 977:
Retired from the plywood plant in 1967.
Waldemar Lind had the store before. He was working at the plywood plant. His wife worked in the travel bureau. His sister worked in the store. Andy had a store when he was in Wisconsin. He was asked if he was interested in buying this store. He bought it. They had imported gifts and food. Had a bakery. Jean did the baking. Andy helped with the lutefisk and herring. The store was on 84th and Pacific. It was too much work and Jean and her partner both got sick so they sold it. The business wasn't too profitable. Jean baked 100 loaves of bread each day. Baked cookies. Made lutefisk, pickled herring, sausage (sylte, potato sausage). Lots of work in December. Slow business in the summer. Bought imported goods from Scandinavia from Floyd Peterson in Seattle. Names some customers: Inger Gregersen, and Nesvig
144, side 2 1113: NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS
Wife can cook Norwegian food. She is not Norwegian but has picked up on the Norwegian traditions. Their children are also carrying on the traditions.
Belongs to the Sons of Norway and Nordlandslaget.
145, side 1 005: CHURCH
They belonged to a church but then he started working every Sunday. They go to church now, but don't belong to one. Went to Bethlehem Lutheran on A Street.
145, side 1 030: TRIPS BACK TO NORWAY
Two trips one in 1965 and 1972. Traveled by ship in 1965. "United States" ship. Went to England and France. Traveled the rest of Europe except for Greece and Russia. Went to Sweden. Took a Swedish ship home.
145, side 1 067: CHANGES IN NORWAY
Land had moved a little on the home place. Some of the buildings had been torn down. Hadn't been in Norway for 45 years. Nobody was living on the home place. Father had died when young. Mother moved in with her oldest daughter when all of her children had moved away from home. Times are better now. "Norway is the richest country in the world."
145, side 1 143: EFFECTS OF WWII ON NORWAY
Fighting very hard in Nordland. Only two buildings were left in Bodø after the war. Germans warned the people that they were going to bomb the city so nobody was killed. Andy's mother was in Fauske. They were chased up in the hills. Cold and no food. She didn't live long after the war.
145, side 1 189: SECOND TRIP
Not much change in eight years. Changes from when he first left Norway. Rognan had the same café as it has when he was a boy. They used to go there on Saturdays. People would come ten Norwegian miles to get groceries. Went into a grocery store in Rognan where they used to trade. Met Alex Forbotn (?) a childhood friend. He said "Andreas, Vi har ventet paa deg!" (We've been waiting for you!) They skied together as kids.
145, side 1 288: NORWEGIAN HERITAGE
Proud of any good people. Proud of being Norwegian. It's an honor. Doesn't have anything against Swedes.
145, side 1 314: SPEAKS NORWEGIAN
Jeg elsker deg! (I love you!) Du er en fin jente! (You're a nice woman.) Table prayer - "I Jesus navn til bords vi gaa…"

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Economic aspects--Norway
  • Family--Norway
  • Fishing--Norway
  • Marriage service
  • Norwegian language
  • Norwegian-Americans--Ethnic identity
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Ocean travel
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Personal Names :
  • Danielson, Audrey Mae Langvad
  • Fordel, Anna
  • Langvad, Carol
  • Langvad, Danny
  • Langvad, Jean Kingsley
  • Langvad, Peter
  • Fordel, Hans
  • Hansen, Christian
  • Hansen, Josefine
  • Hansen, Ole
  • Langvad, Johan
  • Langvad, Andreas (Andy) Olia--Interviews (creator)
  • Olsen, Gjertene
  • Corporate Names :
  • Bergensfjord (Steamship)
  • Bethlehem Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Nordlandslaget Nordlyset (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Sons of Norway (U.S.) Norden Lodge No. 2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Fordel family
  • Hansen family
  • Kingsley family
  • Langvad family
  • Olsen family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Rognan (Norway)
  • Bremerton (Wash.)
  • Cleveland (Ohio)
  • Fargo (N.D.)
  • Minneapolis (Minn.)
  • Stavanger (Norway)
  • Sundnes (Norway)
  • Superior (Wis.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Loggers
  • Miners