Posts Categorized: Probits

Charlotte (Christopherson) Strinmoen

CharlotteStrinmoenInterview and photo by Ketel Paulsen

Charlotte (Christopherson) Strinmoen is as delightful a woman as they come. She met her first husband, American Carmen Christopherson, at a USO club after World War II and went through the difficulties of getting the permit to marry a foreigner and leave Germany’s tremendous devastation behind. Born in a village near Berlin, her father, a cooper and builder of all items of wood decided she would leave for more opportunities in the capital. Traveling across the ocean by a long, awful boat ride – and then across the US to Northeast Iowa (and a large waiting family!) couldn’t come quick enough. Born an only child who lost her mother when she was only one, Charlotte came to be among a very large Highlandville family, the Christophersons. When Carmen died in a car accident in 1960 she remarried Lloyd Strinmoen 3 years later, also of Highlandville. The most impressive aspect our talk was the depth of the despair from the war and the lack of materials to rebuild. Charlotte is a testament to loss, love and survival.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Take one day at a time. Without that I wouldn’t be here.

What did you want to be when you grew up and what did you want to do?

When I was small I wanted to be a teacher. At 16, I worked for an interior decorator who ended up accepting the job of camouflaging roofs against the enemy during the war. The job abruptly ended when his trucks were confiscated by the army for the war and his business was bombed twice. I ended up having a very interesting life anyway. My daughter was a teacher and my two granddaughters are now teachers.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence:

I’m a survivor. In 1945, by post-war agreement, the Russians were given Berlin. I’ll never forget when the Russians came to our house, our air raid shelter. We had no lights down there. Hitler’s bunker was not so very far from where I lived.

Tell us about: Your wedding:

I met my first husband in Berlin because he was stationed there. We were both invited to the USO club in Berlin. He was with the constabulary. It was very difficult to get the permit to marry an American. I was loaned a veil and I bought shoes from a secondhand store –we were married in December of 1947 and left Berlin to join an army troop transport ship for war brides. It was a trip that was supposed to take 9 days but instead the seas were so rough it took thirteen. All the men were abovedeck and the women down below were separated by nationality. Everyone was tossed and piled up on one another by the waves. I never want to go on a cruise. It was bad.

Your favorite memory:

Being able to be married in a half bombed out church in a dress made from the silk of an American parachute. It was even hard to find a church to get married in, one that wasn’t destroyed.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?


Lasting Memories:

There is one possession Charlotte is most proud of, a vase she won as a gift from her hometown’s land baron.

I carried that vase with me in every air raid. The vase was for a time lost in a suitcase when she and her husband also were separated but luckily it had the address in Highlandville on it. I still can see that suitcase, it was lost a week or more before it finally came. It stands high and beautiful in her home now. In Highlandville I learned very fast to live off the land. I had a big garden. We sold cucumbers to be able to buy baby clothes. Carmen worked for other farmers while Charlotte raised their 4 children.

Her German friends in Decorah are war survivors as well and they get together regularly. It’s a lasting joy of her life.

Probituary: A Notice of Life – Stephen Lensing

Intro and interview by granddaughter, Lisa Tupy
Originally published in the July/August 2008 Inspire(d)

The first memory I have of my grandpa is me sitting on his lap, in amazement, as he told me tall tales of how Pocahontas was his girlfriend, before he met Grandma of course! Still, even now, I can always count on my grandpa to make me laugh. I can sit and goof around with him like I would with my closest friends. He’s battled so many health issues and still he refuses to give into the bitterness of growing older. He continues to posses the spirit and determination of an adolescent!
(Photo below of Lensing with granddaughter, Lisa Tupy)

Best Advice?
Watch your spending. Save your money.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew I would be a farmer. I really just went on what fate handed me.

What do/did you do?
I was a Farmer. We raised crops, hogs, and had a dairy farm. After I graduated High School in 1946 I went to school in Omaha for a year for electronics. Then I was drafted into the Army for 2 years. I went through 16 weeks of infantry training and then another 8 weeks of advanced infantry school. I took air-born training for three weeks then was stationed with the 82nd air-born division in Fort, Bragg NC.

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you want with you?
Water, food, and a sweet red-head! – my wife Arlene haha

If you could eat anything everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Date Pudding

Name one thing you could not live without?
It used to be fishing… some of my favorite memories are from trips to Northern Minnesota and Canada to fish. But now it would be the time that I get to spend and laugh with my grandkids

Mulitiple Choice…Wedding Day:
We got married at 8:30 in the morning! It had been a nice fall until that day and it was cold, rainy, and even snowed a little. It was October 6, 1953. We served dinner and supper then we had beer, whiskey, and pop for our guests. That night we had a dance at the Inwood with a country music band.

Tell us a little bit about your family life…
After the army, I came back to Northeast Iowa and Married my red-head sweetheart Arlene. We raised ten children together—6 girls and 4 boys. And we found out the girls were easier to raise than the boys! Both my wife Arlene and I came from a family of 10 so we couldn’t stop till we hit that magic number! I could write a book on all the crazy and funny things the kids have tried to get away with growing up!

What are some hardships you’ve faced in your life?
The worst thing that I ever happened to me was having open-heart surgery a couple weeks ago. They replaced my aorta valve. It’s been a hard time to overcome and recover. About 4 years ago I became one of the first people to use a stimulator for chest pain.

I went to school in Festina as a kid. In second grade my whole family came down with Scarlet Fever. We had to bring a nurse into the house to take care of us all. I will always remember how scary it was since I was just a little kid.

Probituary: A Notice of Life! Paul Hexom

Paul Hexom lives a life of service, laughter, and passion.

Interview and foreword by Sondra Carver

I’ve lived in Decorah long enough to know that everywhere I go, Paul is there volunteering. He is still a cowboy at heart and farms a 40 acre tree farm.

I thought he was an excellent person for this honor

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

My father said,”don’t worry, but be concerned.” Trust in God and take one day at a time. You can’t change yesterday, tomorrow will be whatever, and we can do our best today.

How about the worst?
Somebody said get a new car for better mileage. I did and the mileage was the same as before.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Because of Roy Rogers, I wanted to be a cowboy. I also wanted to be a farmer. My first job was selling garden seeds door-to-door in elementary school for which I earned a guitar. After graduating from high school in 1957, I graduated from Luther College in 1961, then I spent 21/2 years in seminary. After hearing Bob Hope talk about the Peace Corps, I joined and spent 1964-1966 in India.

What was your career?
I was in sales and management for World Book Encyclopedia for 46 years. I’ve also been president of Nordic Fest, chairman of the United Way, president and vice-president of the Winneshiek County Historical Society, and president of Decorah JayCees. Presently I am vice-president of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Board, vice-chairman of the Decorah Historic Preservation Commission, and chairman of the Locust School Museum. I also volunteer at the the food pantry.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
I am well-organized, honest, calm, thoughtful, can work with all ages, and have a “long fuse.”

Do you have some favorite quotes?
Yes, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people,” by Victor Borge, and “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face,” by Victor Hugo. If everyone would hug someone everyday, it would be a more peaceful world.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Name one thing you could not live without?

What is your favorite memory?
A trip to Norway in 2005