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  • Barry Peterson

    Hello from the Class of 1984-1985! I have forgotten most of my Norwegian, despite having been one of the best utlanders in the earlier history of EFHS to learn and speak Norwegian with the local dialect, as a true Norwegian from Elverum would sound, as noted by both Terje and Berit Thronaes, our director and my language instructor, and former members of the U.S. Embassy in Oslo and the former Norwegian Consulate, which I believe is now in Dallas, Texas, but used to be housed in Minneapolis’ first skyscraper, The Foshay Tower — with greeting Terje and Berit and family, and tol Kjell Ingar and family and other staff from school from that period, if they are still living if you see them. The entire staff was so nice to me, even though I teased our cooks and Gerd Magnhild. I secretly had exceptionally high regard for them — and for all, despite being a trouble from time to time.

    I always enjoy receiving photos and stories, which are frequently translated into English; and I enjoy reading from former friends and foes alike, as I learned so much from everyone — even other troublemakers like myself, who didn’t feel comfortable speaking Norwegian during cooking and dinner plate setting classes.

    Many of my classmates commented, “Barry, du er saa gaern!.” NOTE: I do not know the key-positioning on MS Word 2010 to get the Norwegian vowels, so I have to use both gammle norske and existing vowel combinations used in English to write some of my Norwegian words. Back to the Program: Turned out I hadn’t been diagnosed with either bipolar disorder/manic-depression, and that wouldn’t come out until two years after I returned to the United States while I was a college student and driving my dormitory mates up the walls; and Asperger’s Syndrome/high functioning autism, which wouldn’t be diagnosed until 19-years following my return to Minneapolis — the home to the headquarters of the Sons of Norway fraternal and ethnic cultural and insurance company organization of that name.

    Despite being from an upper middle class and highly educated family, the toll that my medical condition took on my morale and reputation, including two years of frequent assaults on University of Minnesota campus by two men who only knew that I had the “tag” of mental illness associated with my name, reputation, and appearance, despite getting along well with thousands of students in classes and student organizations, and serving as an elected leader on various student organizations and boards of directors which involved administrators, faculty, staff, and other student directors, my grades fell to D’s and a F (five poor grades, and one failing grade) during two semesters, I never made it to graduate school and have lived in poverty in the United States, despite being well-educated (Bachelor’s of Arts in History) and from a very highly educated and professional and business family. At age fifty-five years, I work as a cashier and work on sweeping, mopping, and cleaning windows, tables and bathrooms at an otherwise fun restaurant chain. The staff, managers and franchise owners of this U.S. based corporation (www.jimmyjohns.com) are great fun; and while my family has enjoyed dinner with King Harald V and friends in 1982, when he was a crown prince; and are friends with members of an Swedish countess’ niece( her aunt may be deceased or in her 90s, and from the Stockholm area), I have taken the movie, “The Last Emperor of China” to heart, as the last emperor didn’t want the job as a young man, rose to great height heights, and was later dethroned and imprisoned by the late Mao Tse Tung , the Communist leader of China following World War II, and became a common gardener and very humble.

    Every week, I meet with my friend, 76-year old Axsel Bjorkland, a former high school teacher and then, following retirement, a metropolitan area Metro Transit bus driver in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, and surround areas from his mid-50’s until retirement. He has spoken about his dad, who was a regional administer before World War II, holding a position which in the U.S. would be called a county commissioner in the southern part of Norway. He also spoke of how his older cousin, who was part of the Resistance in the Oslo area, had a radio, and the Nazi Secret Police (the SS), was tracked down after being in hiding, and chased through his family’s home and was killed by machine gun fire by a member of the SS. A street in Oslo was named after him following the war.

    Another older friend of mine, who I haven’t seen in thirty years, was a Norwegian American, trained to be an RAF intelligence and fleet escort pilot working on behalf of the Norwegian Resistance through the British Royal Air Force. He flew wooden Mosquito fighters/air reconnaissance aircraft and bulged-window PBY aircraft over the sea and to air strips around Norway. He and Crown Prince Olav became great friends for life, until King Olav V’s passing in 1988. During the end of the war and beginning of reconstruction, Norm was Olav’s personal pilot, and flew the crown prince around Norway to make morale-raising and reconstruction activity speeches; and he waltzed with Princess Martha at parties, as the Crown Prince wasn’t big on dancing. They had a great time.

    My experiences with Grete Pettersen, my classmate and a second cousin of King Olav V; as with Bia, the niece of the Swedish countess, who leased her maritime property to the Swedish Royal Navy; helped me understand the very sociable nature of Scandinavians Scandinavian royals, and the simple and extravagant lives that they led. The year was very humanizing and enlightening for me, and I lost my image as an “Ugly American” who had the notion that the United States was inherently the greatest nation on Earth, and that Americans were far superior to any other national of any region on Earth.

    One of the things that I did to develop a family, while in poverty, was to respond to requests for financial help and mentoring by young adults and teenagers from West Africa (Kumasi, Ghana), having been part of our Class’ anti-apartheid movement and interest in Africa. I have taken eight, soon to be nine teenagers and young adults and their children under my wing, with four other family member is Kumasi, being considered as family, but not receiving financial aid or mentoring and emails from me on a regular basis.

    I give these adoptive family members, who I learned about through my late friend, Roman Catholic Archbishop Emeritus, Thomas K. Mensah, of the Kumasi Diocese, who passed away weeks after Easter 2016, about thirty percent of my disability pension. I put my son through two years of Catholic high school (the first two years were paid for my his biological mom and dad, who passed away in a common deadly auto accident n Ghana) and my first daughter, who was scamming me, but really just wanted another dad after her dad passed away in a car accident, through vocational school and bought her a motorcycle for her to use ride to teachers’ college and working in outlying African villages without electricity or plumbing as a student teacher. Her Adventist church, for which she was a teacher and babysitter for ten years, pays for her tuition and fees. I pay for her books and supplies, electricity and gas, and petrol for her, her brother and elderly and now blind grandmother. I also have a friendship with her cousin Yaw, who is called both Papa Yaw in the family, as he is the oldest living member of the extended family; and he is also a sub-chief in the Ashanti ethnic region, which was formerly a kingdom; and he is in charge of Ashante youth education, as well as for a business and his wife, Mary, and their young daughter. They are all Christians.

    I have paid for twelve people’s health insurance for nine years, as well as rent and business start-ups and purchase of farm animals and food for all members of my family until they have full-time work; my “sisters” from Darfur and Kumasi, and their brother and Grandmother put together a produce wholesaling business for two years, which expanded. Sadly, the family didn’t tell me of their need for medical insurance money soon enough, and Grandmother had to go into the hospital for malaria. They paid for her care with money I sent for their three-year rental lease, and when the new lease contract had to be signed, they didn’t have money for rent. They and all of their belongings were kicked onto the streets, and the city cleaning crew took their furniture and most of their belongings to the city dump. After the near rape and month of homelessness, they didn’t have their business sites to run, and are currently in poverty and sharing an apartment with their friend, Abigail.

    During their month of homelessness, I bought everyone warm raincoats; but they were soon attacked, and Janet, from Darfur, and Milicent, from Kumasi, had men trying to rape and steal their raincoats and blankets from them. During the fight, Janet’s right leg was broken and soon developed a horrible infection and has since been unable to walk since December 12, 2016. Her friends in the birth-city of the United States of America, Philadelphia, were able to send hundreds of dollars for a second operation and antibiotics to take down the swelling. I paid for the first operation and for antibiotics for a period of time.

    Her doctors thought they would have to amputate her leg, but Janet is knowledgeable about how women, missing limbs, are treated by society in much of Africa, and that they become beggars, and refused the amputation, and never marry.

    I have also helped my Darfurian refugee daughter in Kumasi have a splendid wedding banquet and wedding, and bought her a little land when she was younger and single, to grow tomatoes for home use and for income. My first purchase for her was a coffin for her grandmother, who witnessed the assassination of her dad and mom and brother and sister from bushes, with Felicia, on their huge tracts of land, which the terrorists stole from them for the natural resources. After about a year of speaking to Ofori, the carpenter and gifted woodworker who designed and decorated Grandma’s coffin, I learned that the two had emailed one another from time to time. Realizing that the two-year old Oppong needed a dad, and that Felicia wanted either a boyfriend or husband, I went to Ofori, who is now 31-years old, and asked him if he wanted a girlfriend or wife. Knowing that they both enjoyed one another, I told both of them of their mutual interest in one another; and after a year of dating, they got married, and ten months after they married, they had their first child, Jissica (sic), together. I now help Felicia and Ofori’s son with money for grade school books and supplies, as well as health insurance, and I ask Ofori to tell Oppong, who knows of me as his morfar, that I hope he does well in school, and that I am always thinking of him and believe that he will be a great student and adult man.

    If you are current students, or even older professionals or laborers who would like to read about economics and business and politics, and investment clubs, I encourage you to read any of the available free or paid for subscriptions from both http://www.stansberryresearch.com, a breakaway company from the great http://www.agorafinancial.com, which is one of the largest non-commercial news and economics publications in the world, by subscription. Both companies are based in Baltimore, Maryland on the East Coast of the United States. They are both written in English, and touch on business developments, investment opportunities, and political and military and economic news an all regions but Antarctica.

    I encourage youth who do not receive substantial money from wealthy parents and youth from middle class and lower financial class families, to use about 30% of their income for housing, 30% for retirement and future investing, and the rest for weekly and monthly needs and transportation. You may want to alter this to purchase transportation or other things, but in our nation, commercialization and the use of credit is so hyped up that fewer than 15% of our nation’s families have savings accounts to get them through an emergency, and most are thousands of US Dollars in debt to both credit cards, education loans, and mortgages. Norway is a far superior place to live, and the culture is more enlightened toward caring for its citizens and immigrants, as well as toward offering medical care, and having a peaceful society than the U.S., who has a larger percentage of people in private and government run prisons than any other nation on Earth..

    About 45% of U.S. workers of all levels of education and financial fortune, invest in the U.S. and international stock markets. I didn’t think about all of this when I was younger, but make a point of sharing this kind of information and mentoring to youth before they get into bad habits of using credit cards or spending their money on things of little intrinsic value or need for one’s later years — which comes up fast. If you cannot afford an ethical and highly reputable private financial advisor, use the publications I mentioned, and other blogs and government sites, as well as your bankers; and if you have credit unions in your country, their personnel for free financial advising.

    Regardless of how financially poor you are as students or adults of any age, you have fortunes in your character and talents and interests in life and people and creativity. Do not think that you are destined to remain financially poor in your adult life as you are as students, if this is the case. Please educate yourselves on as many things as possible, including personal and community or nation economics, politics, and world religions and cultures; and develop soundly ethical and moral characters, regardless of your religion or philophy.

    I hope you enjoyed this note. I am off on Tuesdays. As I write and finish this note, it is 198:21 (U.S. Central Standard Time — CST) on 23-01-2018

    With best wishes from your now humble and caring and interested friend and former classmate and student,

    Barry N. Peterson
    1600 South Sixth Street — 334
    Minneapolis, MN 55454-1615

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