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- 1982-01-20 (Creation)
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This interview was conducted with Esther Nilsen on January 20, 1982 in Gig Harbor, Washington. It contains information on family background, schooling, emigration, work, and marriage, return to Norway, church involvement, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also contains a Norwegian children's songbook, various newspaper clippings, a drawing of Oslo, copies of the N.A.L NYTT (May/June 1939), the Call Bulletin of San Francisco (April 10, 1940), and photographs of Esther as a child, Esther at the Daughters of Norway (1980), and Esther and her husband Arvid at the time of the interview. Also see Arvid Nilsen. The interview was conducted in English.
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Esther Nilsen was born on March 5, 1902 in Oslo, Norway to Edvard Lund and Anne Kolstad. She had three brothers: Thorleif, Arthur, and Kåre, but Kaare died when he was one year and nine months old. Esther's father worked in a store, where he sold eggs and fruit, and the family lived in a modest home, which Edvard built. Esther attended grade school and high school in Oslo, in which she learned German and English. After high school, she went to telegraph school, where she learned the Morse code. From there, she advanced to a radio station, and in 1939, asked for a leave of absence to visit her aunt, Anna Hageness, in Gig Harbor, Washington. Esther was unaware of how close the war was to starting, and after the Germans came to Norway in April 1940, Esther was not permitted to return home. After staying with her aunt for a while, Esther went to Seattle, where she found housekeeping jobs. Esther already knew English, but at these jobs she did learn the American way of housekeeping and how to cook. She particularly enjoyed the fact that she was called by her first name in America. In 1939, Esther met her husband, Arvid Nilsen, at a Norwegian party in Seattle. Arvid was a sailor, and they were married four months later in San Pedro, CA. Arvid was away at work often, and Esther obtained a job at the Norwegian Consulate in California. Esther and Arvid have visited Norway in 1958, 1971, and 1981. In 1971, they had planned to live there permanently but missed the United States and returned after a year and a half. Upon this return, they settled in Tacoma, Washington. Esther is an avid churchgoer at the Assembly of God church in Gig Harbor, which her aunt and Pastor Gray built. She still speaks Norwegian and maintains some Norwegian customs, such as Norwegian cooking.
Full Name: Esther Alfrida Lund Nilsen. Maiden Name: Esther Alfrida Lund. Father: Edvard Martin Lund. Mother: Anne Kathrine Kolstad. Paternal Grandfather: Ingebrit Holand. Maternal Grandmother: Anne Johnsen. Brothers and Sisters: Thorleif Pedder Olaf Lund, Arthur Lund, Kåre Lund. Spouse: Arvid Jenloft Nilsen.