Private | Louise Jensen Life Chronicle
Louise Jensen | Audio Life Chronicle
02 Card Party Thief
When Louise was an infant, a thief snuck into the room where she was sleeping while her parents hosted a card party in another room in their home in Chicago. The thief stole a number of purses while little Louise slept soundly. When the robbery was discovered, her parents moved the bassinet into the room with them and the party continued!
03 Moving from Chicago to Wisconsin
When Louise was two years old, her parents moved to a farm that they rented on the outskirts of Dellwood, Wisconsin, just a half-mile from Louise’s Uncle Alvin’s farm. Soon after, they moved to another small farm-house nearby. Louise’s father Nels Hansen later bought the original farm-house and surrounding land during the Depression for a mere $2,000. Louise describes the layout of the home; her room was the only one upstairs.
04 Getting the Measles in High School
When Louise came down with the measles in high school, she needed to spend a lot of time in her bedroom upstairs. Even though she wasn’t supposed to read, she snuck a book into her room to occupy herself. The book’s subject matter, adolescence and maturity in girls, was of great interest to her at the time.
05 Never Marry a Farmer
The farm-house Louise grew up in was situated on top of a hill. The garage was at the base of the hill, in between the house and the road. Louise was tasked with gathering the family’s cattle in the evenings. One night the bull of the herd went after Louise. She went under the fence, and the bull luckily got caught in the crook of a tree. Louise’s parents got rid of the bull after that incident. It was very early in life when Louise decided she didn’t want to live on a farm, and therefore, was never going to marry a farmer (a common occupation for men of that day).
06 John and Henrietta Linquist’s Divorce
Cousin Roger Linquist and Louise would visit each other’s homes every summer. Roger lived in Chicago. Louise has a distinct memory of the summer when Roger’s parents, John Linquist and Henrietta (Hank) were going through a divorce. John, paranoid that his wife was seeing other men, wanted to take Roger with him when he left. Roger was kept safe while staying at Louise’s house.
07 Friendship with Janice Fallos
Louise and her best friend Janice Fallos once played by the train depot when they were young girls. For a thrill, they decided to stand in the small space between the depot wall and the train tracks so that when the train rushed by, they had to push their bodies against the wall to keep from being sucked into the train by the wind. It was scary.
08 Learning to Ride a Bike
Learning to ride a bike on a farm was nearly impossible, because her house was on a hill in a corner of the town of Dellwood. Louise only learned to ride a bike because her friend Janice later lived in town where the roads were flat and smooth. Louise’s husband Bill later bought her a bike, which she never rode except one trial.
10 Elementary School Memories
Louise attended the same schoolhouse that her father and his family attended. Louise describes a photo of her father, Uncle Alvin, Aunt Gertie and Aunt Hilda sitting inside the one-room schoolhouse. The school was heated by a potbelly stove which the teacher would come in early to light. Because the school had no indoor restroom, there was always the threat that the boys would play tricks on the girls when they went out back to use the outhouse.
11 Christmas Program in Elementary School
Every year of Louise’s elementary schooling, local men came to the schoolhouse to build a stage for the Christmas program. It was a great time, because not much schoolwork was done during the construction period. One year, after Louise had begun to play the piano, she was asked to play in the pageant. She refused.
12 Describing the One-Room Schoolhouse
Louise describes the layout of her one-room schoolhouse. She was the only child in her class until the seventh grade, when Alvin Marti moved to the area. It was a big open room that the teacher warmed by lighting a big pot-belly stove. There was no indoor plumbing, and the few library books sat on a shelf in the front.
13 Mother’s Hospitalization
When Louise was six or seven years old, her mother Aletta was hospitalized. Louise isn’t sure why her mother was in the hospital but knows that it had to do with the fact that her mother never had any other children. During this time, Louise stayed with her aunts, Gertie and Hilda. The women insisted that she wear long dresses, which she hated. When her mother returned, Aletta promptly cut the long dresses to knee-length, which delighted Louise.
14 Mother’s Family Genealogy
Louise’s mother’s full name was Aletta Catherine Hansen (née Olson) and Aletta’s father’s full name was Nels Richard Hansen. Her mother Aletta had two half–siblings, Alice Olson and Harry Royal, and two full sisters, Lilah Olson (who married Earl Hayward) and Henrietta (known as Hank) Olson (who married John Linquist). Aletta and her siblings lived in Chicago and shared an apartment. All of Louise’s aunts had jobs as young women, except for Hank, who was the only child Hank’s sisters could afford to send to school. Aletta played the piano and her siblings would sing together when she played. Louise still has much of the sheet music that her mother used.
15 Parents’ Courtship and Marriage
Louise’s parents were married on February 17, 1930 (March 1st stated in recording) in Chicago. Louise remembers a day, probably twenty years into her parents’ marriage, when a man came to the farm and asked to speak with her mother. She remembers that her father was very upset at the time; Louise believes the man was one of her mother’s former boyfriends.
16 Meeting Husband Bill Jensen
Louise’s high school, Adams-Friendship, was a big brick building that accommodated children from the surrounding towns. Bill Jensen, Louise’s husband, went to the same high school seven years before she attended. The first time she saw Bill was as a freshman, well after he had graduated.
17 Danish and Norwegian Ancestry
The Hansen family immigrated to America from Denmark and the Olson family came from Norway. Louise’s father Nels spoke Danish as a child and he and his brother Alvin would try to fool their teachers by speaking in Danish. They were good at playing tricks! Aunt Hilda spoke Danish as well, and Louise picked up a few words from her.
19 Last Memory of Father Making Lefse
Louise was in her forties when her parents passed away. Her last memory of her father was of them making lefse together as a family. Nels loved lefse. Louise had four sons by that time and felt torn between needing to visit her parents and needing to be with her children.
20 Mother’s Second Husband and Her Death
Louise’s mother Aletta married a man named Marvin Bredeson about four years after Nels, her first husband, died. Louise, Bill and their children were in Texas when Aletta became ill. Louise flew home for the funeral, but the rest of the family could not make it. Marvin began seeing another woman when Aletta was moved from her home to a nursing home. Louise remembers the funeral and the people who attended. Because Aletta had played the organ in the church for many years, the funeral was well–attended.
21 Childhood Food Memories
Louise’s mother was a wonderful cook. She did all of her own canning and baking. She was known for her cakes, pies and breads. After they retired, they spent winters in Palm Springs, California. Louise’s father Nels cleaned swimming pools during the winters and Aletta worked as a baker.* The family didn’t eat fish often, but when they vacationed at Lake Kabetogama in northern Minnesota they would eat the fish they caught.
*After retiring from farming, Nels built small houses on land they owned and sold them. He built Emma Jensen’s home, near Arkdale, and Earl and Lilah’s home in Dellwood.
22 Moving to Milwaukee with Ruth Ann Jensen
Louise and her friend Ruth Ann Jensen, Bill Jensen’s cousin, moved to Milwaukee together in 1950. They shared an apartment at the YWCA before they moved in with one of Ruth Ann’s relatives. Louise eventually moved to an all-girls (working girls) residence called Grannex, near Grant Hall, and Ruth Ann married Wilbur Fritz, which Louise felt responsible for facilitating.
23 Employment and Education History
While living in Milwaukee, Louise worked for Weinberger Shoes. She was soon promoted to a position that she didn’t much enjoy, so she quit and went to work at Standard Electric. Feeling it was time to attend college, she began taking classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The following year, she moved to Whitewater and attended UW–Whitewater. For three years, she worked half days at Rogers & Rogers Law Office in the mornings and took business classes in the afternoons.
24 Courtship with Husband Bill Jensen
Louise and Bill began dating when Louise was working in Milwaukee. Their first real interaction was while she was home visiting her parents for the weekend. After attending church, she saw Bill on the church steps and said something to him. She doesn’t remember what she said, just that when she arrived home she had a phone call from him. The two began taking rides together in his car. Bill would pick her up when she came home on the train from Milwaukee. They were married just before Louise finished college at UW–Whitewater.
25 Wedding Day and Honeymoon (Photo Vignette)
Louise and Bill were married on August 20, 1955, at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Arkdale, Wisconsin. The summer’s heat was remarkable; it had been in the 90s for days. Louise dressed in her childhood bedroom, located on the second floor of her parents’ house. It was so hot in church that their wedding guests were sticking to the pews. The pastor had a fan that was pointed in his direction, but at one point during the ceremony, Louise looked as if to faint. The pastor quickly turned the fan in her direction to bring relief.
All of the baked goods served at the reception were homemade. Louise’s mother Aletta requested that her sister, Lilah, who lived in Chicago, bring something for the occasion. However, Lilah showed up empty-handed, exclaiming: “It’s too hot!” Louise remembers, “Oh, Mother was mad!”
Louise and Bill were married at 7:30 in the evening. Marge Foley (née Ellefson) was the maid–of–honor. Lorraine Hoyer was a bridesmaid. Roger Linquist stood up, as well as Bill’s friend Wilbur.
Louise and Bill took wedding photos after the service and then joined their guests in eating the wedding cake and other homemade baked goods brought by family and friends. Lastly, they opened their presents. “We didn’t get out of there until — in that hot basement!”
The newlyweds drove to Wisconsin Rapids that evening, and then around Lake Michigan for their honeymoon.
26 Bill Jensen’s Platoon During World War II
Bill fought in World War II and had a very close brush with death. During combat, he was sent off to get ammunition. He came back to a devastating scene. His entire platoon had been killed, every last solider. He never wanted to talk about the war.
27 Bill’s Transition from Farming to Teaching
Louise didn’t know right away that she wanted to marry Bill. When they started dating, Bill was helping his mother on the family farm and also going to college at UW–Stevens Point, finishing his degree at UW–River Falls. Louise had always promised to herself that she wasn’t going to marry a farmer. Thomas Jalmar Jensen, Bill’s father, who was as a veterinarian, passed away while Bill was in military training in Texas, just before he was to head off to fight in WWII. Bill couldn’t make it home for his father’s funeral. Once back from fighting in the war, Bill and Louise drove with Louise’s father Nels out to Montana so Bill could buy a herd of cattle. Bill’s stint as a farmer didn’t last long and he was teaching by the time he and Louise were married. Bill started studying at River Falls and finished his degree at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
28 Memories of Virginia
Louise’s first son, Kurt William Jensen, was born on March 12, 1958 in Radford, Virginia, where Bill taught seventh grade at Radford College. Louise remembers the beautiful campus and how Bill taught the college president’s son, who had some learning difficulties. Louise loved living in Virginia.
29 First Pregnancy, Kurt’s Birth
Louise’s first birth was difficult, both long and arduous. She remembers having to walk down the hall to the bathroom, an added stress at the time. There was one nurse whom Louise particularly liked, but when her shift was up, Louise’s care wasn’t as good. Her first child, Kurt, wasn’t given to Louise until twenty-four hours after he was born. They chose the name Kurt so that his name wouldn’t be shortened later in his life.
30 Kurt’s Temperament as a Baby
Louise considers herself the luckiest mother in the world because Kurt was a heavy sleeper and a good baby. He was so quiet that Bill’s mother Emma would comment on how she thought a baby should cry before bed, thinking something must be wrong.
31 Moving to Walla Walla
When Bill and Louise moved to Walla Walla, Washington, they placed Kurt in a bassinet in the backseat of the car. Before long, he was crawling around and looking out the windows. They rented a house in Walla Walla, a town which Louise found very friendly. Pregnant with her second child, Louise visited the doctor after she hadn’t felt the baby move in a while. The doctor sent her home without examining her. Learning of the doctor’s response, Bill became furious. That night Louise started bleeding. They went to the hospital where they learned that the baby wasn’t alive. The baby hadn’t been named yet and there wasn’t a funeral. Louise later found out that her miscarriage was probably due to her contracting German measles soon after Kurt’s birth. She found solace in writing long letters to her mother and friends about the experience.
32 Bill Chooses to Teach Psychology
The family moved again when Bill started his Doctorate in Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They lived in Lincoln for two years before moving to Platteville, Wisconsin, in 1961, where their second child, Eric, was born.
33 Why Bill Chose to Teach in Platteville
Bill was a terrific teacher; Louise still gets compliments on his teaching twenty-five years after his retirement. After he received his Doctorate in Psychology, Bill chose to teach in Platteville instead of Plattsburgh, New York, a decision which Louise was a little disappointed by, but eventually accepted. She thought that teaching in New York would have been a better choice because he would have been teaching under an excellent instructor, but the job came with a few stipulations that Bill wasn’t excited about, so he chose Platteville. After they left Silver City, New Mexico, he could have taken a position in Oregon, but again, he chose Platteville. The job in Wisconsin was near his mother, and due to her age, he felt it was important to live close by and care for her.
34 Locations of Children’s Births
Louise recalls the locations of her children’s births. Her first child, Kurt, was born in Radford, Virginia, on March 12, 1958. Her second child, Eric, was born in Platteville, Wisconsin, on September 29, 1961. Her third child, Scott, was born in Silver City, New Mexico, on December 24, 1963, and her youngest, David, was born in Platteville on January 25, 1966. She was happy to go back to her doctor in Platteville, whom she really liked, but had disagreements over breast-feeding. The doctor was against it, but Louise held her ground and all of her children were breast-fed before going to the cup. None of them were ever fed by bottle.
35 Golfing Tournament Story
One day Bill’s cousin Shirley Johnston found a framed shadow–box which held a golfer made out of plaster. Shirley, Bill and their friend Jake Hoyer decided that they needed to have a tournament to decide who in the group would get to keep it. They played together for several years, and their wives had a tournament of their own. Jake, Lorraine’s husband, had a particularly bad temper when it came to losing and would throw his golf clubs, luckily never hitting anyone! One night after playing, the group went out dancing. Bill tore up the dance floor with his cousin Lorraine.
36 Trip to and Denmark (Photo Vignette)
In 1963*, Bill, his mother Emma, and Louise took a trip to Norway and Denmark. Bill wanted his mother to see the land of her ancestors before she died. She was getting older and was not sure about the idea, but despite some strong reservations, he talked her into it. Emma thoroughly enjoyed herself, and what’s more, she enjoyed telling everyone about the trip when she returned home. In the airport, Louise fell in love with a Nordic ship replica and purchased it on her way back to the U.S. The keepsake stays on her mantle and has always been very special to her. On the flight to Europe, they served drinks. Emma had a few too many, and as a result, took a tumble straight into the hotel tub when they arrived in their room. Thankfully she was not hurt.
They traveled to Odense, Denmark, where they were all surprised at how close the houses were to each other. Emma felt sorry for the families living in what seemed like cramped conditions, but Louise believes that it was just their culture. Bill and Louise spent New Year’s Eve at a very nice restaurant in Copenhagen. They were delighted when, at midnight, the city celebrated by setting off fireworks.
At one of the first hotels in Norway they were surprised to find a spectacular smorgasbord laid out for the guests. It was the custom to celebrate the holidays with terrific amounts of food. Later in the trip, the three traveled to a ski resort where Emma ordered lutefisk, which was absolutely delicious and not at all like the lutefisk they were accustomed to eating in America. They also visited Hans Christian Andersen’s house, a treat for Louise who loved his stories as a child.
*Stated as 1962 in the recording and vignette.
37 Sleeping in a Redwood Tree
Kurt remembers a childhood vacation to a redwood forest. The family came upon a plaque mounted on a big, hollowed-out redwood tree that stated how a military officer had slept in the tree once. They went inside the tree, which was smooth because so many people had walked through it. Kurt and Louise came up with a plan to sneak back into the park and sleep in the tree that night. Mother and son snuck in successfully and stayed the night in the redwood tree. In the morning, they met Bill at a pre-arranged spot near the railroad tracks so he could pick them up. Pure magic.
38 Remembering Nels and Aletta Hansen
Louise and her son Kurt share their memories of her mother and father, Aletta and Nels Hansen. Kurt remembers the lefse (potato pancakes) that his grandmother made. One time he ate so many of them that he threw up, which Aletta took as a compliment to her lefse-making skills. Louise recalls a photo of her dad sitting with Kurt and showing him how a fishing reel works. Kurt also remembers his grandfather showing him a book about different kinds of cars and trucks. Louise tells Kurt how her dad lost his eye while driving a Nelson Brothers sugar truck in Chicago.
39 The Red House
Kurt and Louise talk about “the red house,” a home where the family lived for four years just a couple of miles outside of Platteville. Louise describes the interior and exterior of the home, “I loved it and I hated it both,” she says. There was an outdoor pool and outdoor fireplace. They planted many trees near the large garden on the side of the house. During one snowy winter, Louise’s husband Bill took a metal sled and launched himself down the hill near their house. “You could see sparks.”
40 Sons’ Births and Family Food
Louise’s son David was born in Platteville and was twenty-seven inches long at birth. His length was so incredible that the doctor put twenty-one inches on his certificate. Scott was born in New Mexico on Christmas Eve. Louise went to the hospital on the 23rd of December. During Scott’s childhood, the family would celebrate his birthday during the morning of Christmas Eve, and once it turned noon, they would begin Christmas celebrations. Eric was born in Platteville, delivered by the same doctor as David. Louise describes the way she prepared liver and onions and mashed potatoes for her husband and four sons. David’s favorite meal was chicken, mashed potatoes and corn. Scott always wanted pumpkin pie instead of birthday cake.
41 Teaching Career
Louise attended UW–Whitewater. She worked for Rogers & Rogers law firm throughout college. Louise describes her first classroom in Plymouth as a room located in the basement that was previously used for storage. Louise was praised by the superintendent for the change she wrought on the room, creating a nice teaching environment. Her favorite student from that first year was a girl named Janice.
The couple moved to St. Paul in 1956 so that Bill could attend school at the University of Minnesota, where Bill received his doctorate in psychology. Louise taught second grade while they were in St. Paul. She believes that this was the best opportunity for her teaching career, and regrets being unable to stay there. “It was a beautiful situation.” Louise continued teaching when the family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. During the first year there, Kurt stayed with the upstairs neighbors. The next year he went to a nursery school. They described him as “too trusting,” a trait that Louise and Bill appreciated. After Lincoln the family moved around a lot, finally settling in Platteville, Wisconsin.
Louise began teaching again after her youngest son, David, entered fifth grade. During Louise’s second year in Belmont, both the second and third grade teachers retired, so Louise moved over to teaching second grade. That year, she had twenty-nine pupils. “It was a struggle.” She continued to teach second grade for many years. Both the faculty and staff were excellent. The retired teachers still get together to eat, either at a restaurant or in different people’s homes. While teaching in Belmont, Louise was offered a teaching position in Platteville, the town in which she lived. She declined, because she didn’t want to live in the same town that she taught in, and she is very happy she made that decision.
Louise remembers how the death of her husband Bill was eased because she had such a great support system at school, and just the act of teaching became cathartic for her. “It was a relief, you know, to need to pay attention to the students and need to do a good job there. It was a very good thing, that I kept on teaching.” Louise taught for twenty-four years, twenty of which were spent in Belmont. She retired in 1996.
43 Relationship with Ed Colby
Ed Colby and Louise went to high school together, but were not great friends during those years. At the school’s 45th reunion, they met again. After the reunion, Ed and Louise got together for “an unofficial drink,” and after that they began seeing each other. After a year, the two went on a month–long trip to visit Ed’s cousin who had gotten remarried. After the trip, Louise was reconsidering her relationship with Ed, but after talking with David about it, decided to stick with it. They took many other trips together in the following years. Ed and Louise have been together for sixteen or seventeen years, through good times and bad.
44 Lifetime Friend, Marge Foley
Louise and Marge Foley have been good friends since they were roommates in college. After Bill died, they went on a two-week vacation to Hawaii, and then made a tradition of traveling together every few years.