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Peter Nielsen’s Story

Peter Nielsen’s Story

Niels Thorpe
Copyright Date: 1949
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttswb5
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  • Book Info
    Peter Nielsen’s Story
    Book Description:

    Peter Nielsen is a boy American boys and their sisters and their cousins and their aunts will immediately like. He was a Danish peasant youngster who lived and worked on Denmark’s dairy farms, who came to know and love the animals in its barns and fields, who learned to swim and fish in its icy fjords. Peter’s story--one of fun and adventure, of like in a loving family, of doubts, disappointments, and at last, of a hope come true in a journey to America--is an authentic account of the author’s own experiences. Niels Thorpe today, thirty years after the events of this absorbing tale, is head swimming coach at the University of Minnesota.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3658-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. viii-2)
  3. A Boy of the Fjords
    (pp. 3-21)

    THE North Sea washes and pounds the shores of my native Denmark so loudly that the people who live many miles inland can hear the “Great Barker” growl like an angry dog several days after the wind subsides. An almost constant west wind, year in and year out, keeps the huge sandmill in motion grinding tons and tons of white, floury sand, which the same wind whips into dunes of gigantic size.

    Above the dunes, tall lighthouses flash their warnings to ships at sea, and back of the lighthouses, scattered among the dunes, are small, straw-thatched huts in which live...

  4. Abildgaard
    (pp. 22-37)

    AS COLDER nights heralded the approach of fall that year, Father said to Mother one evening, “I dread the coming of winter. Last winter remains in my head as an evil dream that may repeat itself. Maybe I should try to get a job on a farm as a laborer. That would at least ensure us our daily bread and a roof over our heads. The other day I saw an advertisement in the paper for a farm worker on a landed estate near the city of Horsens. What do you say? Shall I write for particulars?”

    “Yes, you can...

  5. Stoneberg Manor
    (pp. 38-56)

    IN PREPARATION for Father’s important conference with Engelsen, Mother busied herself sponging and pressing his suit—a coat, vest, and pair of trousers, none of which matched in color except that they had greened with age. I cleaned and shined his wooden shoes and lined them with fresh rye straw. Mother cut his hair, and he shaved himself, trimmed his mustache, and with the aid of a pocket knife cleaned his fingernails.

    When at last he was ready for his trip to Stoneberg Manor, Mother stooped and, with her fingers, squeezed the creases in his trousers. Then she handed him...

  6. Chore Boy
    (pp. 57-71)

    TWO happy years of play days and school days passed rapidly, and the day approached when Christian and I were to start to work as chore boys on small Danish farms. I was ten years old and Christian a year younger.

    It never occurred to us to ask our parents why we were sent out to work among strangers. It was taken for granted that all peasant boys and girls had to work and contribute to the income of their families. Even the school terms and vacations were arranged—by the landowners and farmers on school boards—to permit the...

  7. Father’s Mistake
    (pp. 72-87)

    SOREN JORGENSEN died during my second summer in his employ, and when I returned the third summer I found that Petra had changed her name to Pedersen by marrying Olaf.

    My thirteenth birthday fell on a Sunday in August, and Olaf agreed to do my chores so I could go home to celebrate the day with coffee and apple cake. Christian was waiting at home to wish me a happy birthday, and Karen came too. She was now almost ten years old and was tending children for a wealthy family that lived a couple of miles from Stoneberg Manor.

    Mother...

  8. Accursed Bo
    (pp. 88-101)

    DURING the winter after Aage left, conditions got worse and worse at Bo. The summer’s harvest had not been enough to fill the bins and the larders, and all too soon supplies began to run low. There was not enough food for either men or animals.

    As the winter progressed the animal noises became unbearable. The horses whinnied, the cows bawled, the pigs squealed, the hens cackled—they all wanted food. Night and day we heard them. Even the cats, perched high on the rafters in the storage barn, howled with hunger. The men, their tempers sharpened by their own...

  9. The Bessesens
    (pp. 102-121)

    NOTHING could be worse, my parents decided, than to spend the coming winter at Bo. Father began writing letters about other jobs, and he was so determined to make a change, any change at all, that he told Erik Menske we would be leaving Bo. Menske just grunted, but the look he gave Father was mean and spiteful.

    When November was only one month away and no new position had turned up, Father was frantic. Would we have to stay at Bo after all?

    Erik Menske settled that question. With fiendish pleasure he told Father he had engaged a new...

  10. Grisemor
    (pp. 122-135)

    ONE beautiful Saturday morning in mid-July during my second summer with the Bessesen family, Stefan and I rose ahead of the sun to try our luck at fishing. The weather was so warm that the cattle were left staked out all night. So we had to get up early in order to have our fishing done in time for me to couple the cows and bring them to the courtyard for the morning milking.

    A supple willow pole, a line, a beer bottle cork, and a homemade hook made up our fishing tackle. We walked slowly along the creek, the...

  11. First Boy
    (pp. 136-156)

    DURING the two more years I worked at the Bessesens’ it became clear that Lena’s children would bring her only heartache. As we had all expected, things went from bad to worse for Klara and Kran Jelsen, until, in spite of Lena’s help, they lost everything and were reduced to the status of peasants.

    Marg, with all her admirers, chose to marry a man who turned out to be hot-tempered and overbearing. He gave her little happiness. He squandered his inheritance and then wandered from job to job, making life hard for Marg and their two boys.

    After Marg’s marriage,...

  12. Fodermaster
    (pp. 157-174)

    FOLLOWING a political debate which I attended with Fransen one night a few weeks later, I returned to the farm to find a light burning in the room I shared with theFodermaster.

    “I guess Mikkel stayed home tonight,” said Fransen. “He has a pretty bad cold. I told him this afternoon he wasn’t getting enough rest. Taking care of sixty head of livestock and milking twelve cows, some of them three times a day, is a big job—without sitting up half the night playing cards.”

    Mikkel was still awake. “Why aren’t you asleep?” I asked him.

    “This cold’s...

  13. Stork Wings
    (pp. 175-196)

    IT WAS in the dawn of a late October day and I was standing on the edge of Fransens’ pasture. Storks filled the air, coming from all directions. Their broad, black-fringed wings whirred overhead like wind rushing through dry autumn reeds. Gracefully the big birds circled the field, searching for a landing spot. When they found it, they headed into the wind, set their wings, and their long, red, stiltlike legs dropped slowly earthward.

    One lone stork taxied along Fransens’ barn roof, glided off into the chilly October air, and joined its comrades in the pasture. The stork assembly was...

  14. Postscript
    (pp. 197-199)

    I HAVE been in America many years now, and this land has given me much that I dreamed of in those days long ago.

    The ship that brought me across the Atlantic landed me in Philadelphia. Sleeping on seat cushions and making my meals of sandwiches I bought from vendors who passed through the train, I traveled across the country and arrived three days later at Aunt Maren’s house in a Minnesota farming community. My second day in her home I earned my first American dollar by helping a neighboring farmer haul an automobile out of the road ditch.

    After...