Archives West Finding Aid
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Harold Jarle Beck Oral History Interview, 1981
- Beck, Harold Jarle
- Harold Jarle Beck Oral History Interview
- 1981 (inclusive)19811981
2 file folders
1 sound cassette
2 compact discs
- Collection Number
- An oral history interview with Harold Jarle Beck, a Norwegian immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
- Access Restrictions
The oral history collection is open to all users.
- Additional Reference Guides
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Harold Beck was born Harold Jarle Bech on June 25, 1910 in Bjerka, Norway. His parents were Jens Martin Bech, a tanner and farmer, and Kristine Jonette Skjefstad, a dressmaker. Harold was the sixth of seven children, which included Øyvind, Ottar, Gunnar, Asmund, Solveig, and Ruth. Harold's brother Gunnar originally had the idea to immigrate to America, but when their uncle, Peter Strand, sent a ticket; Harold was the one who went in April 1929. Peter was a fisherman in Tofte, Minnesota. In Minnesota, Harold worked in various towns as a hired hand and store clerk. He then moved to Wisconsin, where he again worked as a store clerk, worked in a factory, and owned his own grocery store. He was also active at the church in Muskego, Wisconsin, singing in the choir and teaching Sunday school. During WWII, Harold was drafted and joined the Navy. He had his training at the Bremerton shipyards, but was stationed in southern California during the war. In 1941, he married Ruth Hildegard Kjendalen, a teacher. Ruth and Harold had two sons: John Harold and Paul Phillip, both of whom attended PLU and speak Norwegian. The family settled in the Pacific Northwest, where Harold got involved with the fishing industry. Due to the restrictions it imposed on his family life, he later gave up fishing and went into construction work in Marysville, Washington. There, Harold became involved with the Bethlehem Lutheran Church and worked with the Sunday School as well as being the president of Marysville PTA, a member of the Sons of Norway, and participating in the Everett Male Chorus. When he retired, Ruth and Harold moved to Tacoma, where he served as the vice-president of Nordlandslaget. Through the years, Harold kept in touch with his relatives in Norway and continued to celebrate the 17th of May.
Full Name: Harold Jarle Beck. Father: Jens Martin Bech. Mother: Kristine Jonette Skjefstad. Paternal Grandfather: Gulle Bech. Paternal Grandmother: Karen Oldsdatter. Maternal Grandfather: Ole Christianson Skjefstad. Maternal Grandmother: Anne Gurine Skjefstad. Brothers and Sisters: Øyvind Bech, Ottar Bech, Gunnar Bech, Asmund Bech, Solveig Beck Neverdal, Spouse: Ruth Hildegard Kjendalen. Children: John Harold Beck, Paul Phillip Beck.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
This interview was conducted with Harold Beck on March 9, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. It contains information on family background, emigration, work experiences, marriage, church, and community organizations. The interview was conducted in English.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
The Oral History collection project was started during an experimental course on Scandinavian Women in the Pacific Northwest. Students in the course were encouraged to interview women and learn about their experiences as immigrants to the United States. The project was continued and expanded with support from the president's office and by grants from the L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, from the Joel E. Ferris Foundation and the Norwegian Emigration Fund of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project was directed by Dr. Janet E. Rasmussen. The collection was transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Department.
To search and view Pacific Lutheran University's digitized images, visit our Digital Assets Website
The interview was conducted by Unknown using a cassette recorder. A research copy was also prepared from the original. To further preserve the content of the interview, it is now being transferred to compact disc. We deliberately did not transcribe the entire interview because we want the researchers to listen to the interviewee's own voice. The transcription index highlights important aspects of the interview and the tape counter numbers noted on the Partial Interview Transcription are meant as approximate finding guides and refer to the location of a subject on the cassette/CD. The recording quality is good
The collection was transcribed by Mary Sue Gee, Julie Peterson and Becky Husby.
Rasmussen, Janet Elaine. New Land New Lives: Scandinavian Immigrants to the Pacific Northwest Tacoma, Washington University of Washington Press 1993
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.
|46, side 1||004/09: PERSONAL
Born June 25, 1910 in Bjerka, Norway, which is near Mo I Rana.
|46, side 1||017: PARENTS
Kristine Jonette Skjefstad. Jens Martin Bech, tanner and farmer. He met his wife in Bodø she was a dressmaker.
|46, side 1||034: BROTHERS AND
Five (see lineage). The home farm is still in the family.
|46, side 1||049/10: TANNERY
How it worked. Later phased out.
|46, side 1||061: FARMING
Sold cattle and grain. Also did some logging.
|46, side 1||074: FJORDS
Froze in the winter. Good skating.
|46, side 1||082: FATHER'S
County work. Chairman of the County Relief Society. He talks about socialized medicine in those days.
|46, side 1||100: GRANDPARENTS
Paternal, Gulle Bech was a schoolmaster and Karen. Maternal, Ole Christianson and Anne Gurine.
|46, side 1||117: HISTORY ON FAMILY
He changed his name on his citizenship papers.
|46, side 1||156/11: ARRIVED U.S. CA. APRIL
Knew no words of English. Train trip to Duluth, Minnesota. Met by uncle, Peter Strand who was a fisherman in Tofte, Minnesota.
|46, side 1||177: EMPLOYMENT FARM
Only work available if you wanted to immigrate.
|46, side 1||184: REASONS FOR LEAVING
Times dreadfully bad. Talks about boat building in the area. Uncle loaned him the money, three years to pay it back.
|46, side 1||207: FEELINGS ABOUT LEAVING
Not real good.
|46, side 1||215:
Brother, Gunnar talked about wanting to come to U.S. His uncle sent the ticket and Harold came instead.
|46, side 1||238/12: BOAT TRIP
Crossed the Atlantic on the Stavangerfjord. Funeral on the ship. He traveled from Oslo to Halifax, Canada. Came to New York. Big storm.
|46, side 1||298:
What he brought with him to the U.S., his trunk.
|46, side 1||314/13: IMPRESSIONS OF NEW
Went directly to the train.
|46, side 1||326: IMPRESSIONS OF NEW
Went directly to the train.
|46, side 1||353: ON TO MUSKEGO,
Home of the first Norwegian Church. He milked cows, but times got too bad and he was let go.
|46, side 1||384: GOING INTO ICE
Bought a truck. Made $18 a month as a store clerk in the Township of Norway in a town called Northscape.
|46, side 1||399: LANGUAGE
Absolutely lost. Learned from a 14 year old. Part time at high school. (See counter II-103)
|46, side 1||448: NORMANNA MALE
Long time member.
|46, side 1||454:
Worried about getting citizenship, 1936.
|46, side 1||468/02: MEETING
Met eight years prior. She did housework. She was from Iola, Wisconsin. She went to Stephens Point College and became a teacher.
|46, side 1||478: EMPLOYED AT VARIOUS
Store clerking, factory in Burlington, Wisconsin got laid off and owned a grocery store.
|46, side 1||529: DRAFTED
Went into the Navy. Later settled in the Pacific Northwest. Married in 1941, had his training at the Bremerton Shipyard. He was in Southern California during the war.
|46, side 1||592/03: EMPLOYED
Safeway and salmon fishing.
|46, side 1||600: BACK TO NORWAY
Mother died. (See counter I-478, II-394)
|46, side 1||618:
Gave up fishing as employment, no family life.
|46, side 2||307/04: COMMUNITY LIFE IN
Story behind the first Muskego church founded in 1843. Sang in the choir. Taught Sunday school. Talks about the different synods and Norwegian Lutheran Church in America.
|46, side 2||103: WORKED HARD LEARNING
Always felt free to ask (see counter I-399).
|46, side 2||127/05:
Attraction to the Pacific Northwest area. Talks about fishing and the life.
|46, side 2||142:
Settled in the Seattle area later on to Marysville. (see counter II-217)
|46, side 2||149: CHILDREN'S
(see lineage) Both attended Pacific Lutheran University. John Harold has published some things. Paul Phillip works for Tower Records.
|46, side 2||171: HOW HE HEARD ABOUT
from the Choir of the West.
|46, side 2||183: EMPLOYED
Building boats. Later fiberglass came.
|46, side 2||217/06:
Went into construction. Why he moved to Marysville. Active in Bethlehem Lutheran Church (see counter II-142). Worked with the Sunday school.
|46, side 2||261: CONSTRUCTION
Had to give it up because of health reasons, angina pectoris.
|46, side 2||279: BOUGHT
Bum Deal. Presently retired.
|46, side 2||296:
Wife, Ruth taught school on the Indian Reservation. He was employed as a teacher's aide.
|46, side 2||311/07:
Former president of Marysville PTA. Member of Sons of Norway and Everett Male Chorus. Presently, vice-president of Nordlandslaget.
|46, side 2||394/08: SEVERAL TRIPS TO
Norway has changed a lot. Talks about the saeter and changes in the Church. (See also counters I-478 and I-600).
|46, side 2||447:
Keeping in touch with Norwegian relatives.
|46, side 2||488/09: IMPORTANCE OF NORWEGIAN
Hard to measure. Recites Norwegian poem.
|46, side 2||505: UNION STORY
|46, side 2||540: KEEPING SCANDINAVIAN
17th of May and Christmas in a Christian manner.
|46, side 2|| 567: TALKS ABOUT
Who is a rich man? He who has a good wife.
|46, side 2||579: WHAT BROUGHT HIM TO
Good place to retire. Talks about living on the Indian Reservation.
|46, side 2||616/10:
Children speak and understand Norwegian.
|46, side 2||639:
Would not like to Norway, very glad he's here. Mentions dislike for their socialized medicine.
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Armed Forces
- Emigration and immigration
- Navy yards & naval stations--Bremerton (Wash.)
- Norway--Social conditions--1945-
- Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
- Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
- Scandinavian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
- Bech, Gulle
- Bech, Jens Martin
- Oldsdatter, Karen
- Skjefstad, Anne Gurine
- Strand, Peter
- Beck, Harold Jarle--Interviews (creator)
- Beck, John Harold
- Beck, Paul Phillip
- Kjendalen, Ruth Hildegard
- Skjefstad, Kristine Jonette
- Skjefstad, Ole Christianson
- Bethlehem Lutheran Church (Marysville, Wash.)
- Everett Male Chorus
- Nordlandslaget Nordlyset (Tacoma, Wash.)
- Stavangerfjord (Steamship)
- Bech family
- Beck family
- Kjendalen family
- Skjefstad family
- Bjerka (Norway)
- Marysville (Wash.)
- Muskego (Wis
- Tacoma (Wash.)
Form or Genre Terms
- Oral histories
- Construction workers