July 1 was a long travel day on a hot train from Trondheim to Hamar; then a very nice train (cooler and more up-to-date train) from Hamar to Drammen (a town of approx. 60,000 people south-west of Oslo). Drammen is, of course, where it all began.
On July 1, 1959 my mother Berit (from Drammen) married my father David (from Brooklyn) here in Drammen in the Bragernes Kirke. My mother had to adjust quickly to a different life when she moved to Brooklyn. Growing up on Long Island, I was taught to write thank you letters to my grandparents in Norwegian, so I learned the language this way and by being lucky enough to travel to Norway several times as a kid.
As a teenager, I began to be interested in my family history and started to ask my Norwegian grandmother Aase and great-aunt Randi (who I am named after) a ton of questions. What was it like to live during the occupation of Norway? How did you manage when my grandfather was taken to German concentration camp in the far north of Norway (Kirkenes)? What did you do for fun? Did you like to cook? (no, she hated it).
This is how I began my love for learning about my family history and what eventually led me to being the person that collected all the family history photos, documents, letters and ephemera. I have many bins and file cabinets full of these important artifacts.
Several years ago I rediscovered Thor's Finnmark hiking trip journal and asked my mother for her help in translating it. It took a long time - due to the quirky typing skills of my great-uncle - all the words seem to blend together in one long sentence.
I have been very lucky so far to have had so much help from everyone - family and friends - archive and museum staff - as I search for clues to what really happened to Thor. It is clear he most likely moved to Hammerfest for the increase in salary. However, questions still remain as to his cause of death. I still have a hard time thinking he would commit suicide when he had so many things going for him in his favor; a bank manager position with a good salary, a fiancé, a supportive family in Drammen and Oslo, as well as being a gifted artist and outdoorsman. I would like to final pieces to fall into place with information from the Hammerfest church books, but if not, I will just have to use my imagination as well as impressions from my visits to most of the places he lived during his short life.