Jeff’s cousin, Audun Sjøstrand, lives in the house which was build by their grandfather, Olaf Martin, and in which both of their fathers (Olav Johannes & Frantz Johan) were born in Manger. Audun drove to Bergen, picked us up and took us to his and Ida’s home for a lovely traditional Norwegian dinner of trout in white sauce with asparagus and boiled potatoes. I learned that you are never supposed to serve cod in months with an R in it. He reviewed family history and old family photos with Jeff.
The home was lovely, situated on a large piece of property and located on a beautiful inlet. Audun showed us the current kitchen area of the house where Frantz was born. Spending the night in the house where Jeff’s dad was raised was one of the many highlights of our trip!
Four other family homes dot the property, one used by his cousin Ingunn in the summer, one rented out and one built by Jeff’s dad, now owned by Sølvi and Karin. We visited the graveyard where Jeff’s grandparents were buried (photo below provided by Ingunn – Thank you!!)
After a lovely afternoon touring the small town of Manger and visiting the church and graveyard, Jeff’s cousin, Karsten, took us out for an exciting boat ride to visit the memorial site where a brave young woman (17 years old) picked up refugees that came by boat to Manger and rowed them to her home, Skageneset, often five or six at a time – waving and smiling at German guards as if she was just a girl on a date. She and her family hid the young men and cared for them until someone else smuggled them over by boat to Shetland and to freedom on the other side of the North Sea. She helped many of her fellow countrymen escape to safety!
After a great cheesecake prepared by Ida, we headed home for a view of the sunset. On the night we stayed there, sunrise was at 4:54 a.m. and sunset at 10:37 p.m. (long days, short nights, with very little darkness!) I even shot a picture at 2:20 a.m. that was clear enough to see!
With Jeff’s cousin, Oddmund, we hiked to the top of Solendfjellet Mountain for an incredible 360 view of Manger and the sea beyond. Oddmund is a pastor in the Filadelphia Pentecostal church, which we visited. He and his family have a passion for mission work.
He and the other cousins told us stories about Jeff’s dad that we had not heard before. Apparently, while working at a nursing home, there was a non-compliant patient who wouldn’t get out of bed. Staff encouraged Frantz to don a white physician’s coat, visit the patient and “encourage” her to get out of bed. To which, she replied, “Yes, doctor” and got right up. Another time, he was transporting patients, and having taken one guest out of the van in a wheelchair, accidentally let her roll down a hill while he was helping another guest. When Frantz was in his 80’s one day, he decided to leave Bergen without telling anyone where he was going. He hopped a bus to Manger and then walked to visit his friend, Samuel, with whom he loved to play the accordion. It was late, so Frantz decided to spend the night. It wasn’t until he returned to Bergen the next day that he learned family had put out an APB on him to radio and TV stations to find him! Asked at one point how old he was, he responded, “somewhere over 70”. I like that attitude! By that account, I’m somewhere over 30!
We had a delightful lunch with Oddmund, Laila and more extended family.
Next stop was a visit to the Emigrant Church, a wooden Lutheran chapel built in Brampton township in North Dakota in the early 1900’s by Norwegian Americans, who gave it to Norwegian friends who systematically disassembled it, tagged each piece and shipped it to Radøy island (near Manger) to be rebuilt in 1997. As a former pastor, Jeff was right at home with Oddmund, and stepped into the pulpit for “old time’s sake”.
Norwegian farmers shrink wrap their hay bales in white plastic instead of using wire. Dotting the fields throughout Manger, they are called “troll eggs”. If they are wrapped in pink, this demonstrates that the farmer is contributing to breast cancer awareness/research for each “troll egg” harvested; blue shows donations to prostate cancer. Good for Norwegian farmers!!