Page 7 - Looking Back-sample-rev
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L OO K I N G B AC K 	9

the Depression as a Works Progress Administration artist who created
the famous hand carved directional signs in the shape of animals for
the Brookfield Zoo. He and Sonar must have jumped ship at Halifax,
it seems, and traveled by train across Canada together and entered the
United States, I suspect illegally, somewhere along the northwest bor-
der. He never spoke about his experiences coming to this country. But
I do remember, when I was about seven years old, my mother and fa-
ther made a trip to Canada; when they returned, my father entered the
United States legally and became a U.S. citizen.

My father and Alfred Sonar spent some time in San Francisco and then
traveled across country and settled in Chicago, where my father found
work at a small bakery on the city’s South Side. I never learned why my
father chose to set down roots in Chicago other than the fact that there
was a large Nordic community there. In 1924 he met my mother, Helen
Edith Goede, at a dance and the two were married on September 17,
1925, at ages nineteen and twenty. Judging by the stories and photos,
they didn’t have much in the way of material possessions.

I was born on December 29, 1925—yes, just three months after their
marriage. Although it was never acknowledged, I’m fairly certain the
families on both sides were aware of the situation. I always got the feel-
ing that my father’s family felt he had been entrapped as a young man
newly arrived in America. But again, nobody talked about it. Strangely,
my father never discussed his family or his early life in Denmark, thus
our family life revolved around my mother’s family. Later, after Nels
and I left home to go to college, we heard stories piecemeal. The few
early photos we have of him were sent by Steen, my cousin.

My mother’s parents, John and Emilia Goede, had come to this coun-
try from the Slevik–Holstein region of Germany during the great wave
of European emigration in the 1880s and settled in Wilmette, Illinois,
where my grandfather worked at a floral nursery. They had seven chil-
dren, four boys and three girls, and were, as they say, dirt poor. My
mother never got beyond the sixth grade and she and her siblings all had
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