Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Olympic Memories

Tonight the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics will take place in London.  It has been thrilling to watch all of the athletes compete after they trained so very hard for so many years.

For years the Olympics have a running thread in my life.  In grade school I was able to ice skate every winter at the park a block from our house.  As I skated in circles around the rink, I would pretend that I was Sonja Henie participating in the Olympics.  In the summers as I took a water ballet class, I would dream of being Esther Williams.  I also remember hearing all the talk of Roger Bannister's 4 minute mile.

In 1980 we watched the United States Ice Hockey Team make a miracle happen by winning the gold medal in Lake Placid.  It was a very cold Sunday afternoon when our neighborhood gathered in one house to watch the game together on a big screen TV.  I think maybe it was a 24 inch screen!  There was lots of yelling and cheering involved. A few adult beverages too.

In 1987 the company I worked for won a trip for 2 to the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  3M was the vendor that awarded the trip to my company.  To award the prize, my company based entry into the contest on attendance.  To enter the contest one had to have perfect and on time attendance for the previous three months.  When the drawing was held and my name was announced, I was amazed!  The irony is that the day after the drawing I was late to work due to snow on the roads!  It was a first class trip all the way.  We were flown from Chicago to Minneapolis and spent the night in a hotel with all of the 3M guests.  Our plane to Calgary was entirely 3M personnel and guests.  I still have the jackets we received on arrival in Calgary.  Since 3M had leased the use of a country club for their guests I was able to borrow a pair of  ice skates and finally skate at the Olympics.  (at not in an important distinction)  Some of the events we attended were the opening ceremony, ski jumping, luge, downhill skiing, and ice hockey.

During the 2010 Olympics I began writing this blog after being inspired by Thomas MacEntee's Winter Genealogy Games.  Overall I would have to say that the Olympics has played a recurring part in my life and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, August 3, 2012

SNGF 2012 Genealympics Ancestry Flag

For these 2012 SNGF Genealympics, the motto is "Research, Cite, Analyze, Resolve, Conclude!" 

Competitors can:

a)  Design your own Genealympics flag to represent your ancestry, heritage or personal expression. 

I have chosen to create a personalized flag reflecting my children's heritage. Germany is represented twice since my husband and I both have German heritage. The left side shows my heritage, Norwegian, German, and Irish.  The right side represents my husband's heritage of Scottish, German, and Swedish.
The flags of Ireland and Sweden are a bit larger that the others to reflect a larger percentage of those ancestries.  Of course the American Flag is the central focus since we are both at least 2nd generation Americans.

My blog began during the 2010 Winter Olympics so I definitely want to participate in these Genealympics.  I'll be back!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - 2nd Cousin Once Removed

Week #31 – Cousins

Thorolf and Kari about 1949
Week 31: Cousins. One of the best experiences in family history is meeting with new cousins found through your research. Tell us about your favorite cousin meet-up. How did you discover each other? Where did you meet? What type of information was exchanged and how did it benefit your research?
There were several names running through the background of my childhood.  Names like Munger, Dvorak, and Gist.  When I began researching my ancestry these names came back to me but I could not relate them to my genealogy.  One day when I was looking around on, I came across a tree for the Dvorak family.  As I looked at the tree and read the associated stories, I realized this was the Dvorak family of my childhood memories.  Betty Jane and I were playmates until the family moved away in the mid 1950s.  I never knew her mother Lily was my dad's first cousin.  My dad's father immigrated from Norway in 1892 with his sister and brother.  Another brother followed them later and the third brother Thorolf Hansen remained in Norway to raise a family.  Thorolf's daughter Lily immigrated to the United States in 1939 and met and married Otto (Bud) Dvorak.  Their daughter Betty Jane was two months older than I.
After losing touch for about fifty years, Betty and I have been back in touch via e-mail.  The best part is that Betty told me about her Norwegian cousins and gave me her cousin Kari's e-mail address.  This spring my daughter and I flew to Norway for the Legacy Family Tree Cruise.  At the end of the cruise we planned a couple of days in Norway in the hope of meeting Kari.  The day the ship returned to Norway, Kari and her husband picked us up at our hotel and took us to their home for a typical Norwegian meal.  Two of their daughters and three of their grandchildren also came to meet us.  It was a wonderful visit and there were lots of pictures to take.  I even got to hold and take photos of the medals Thorolf received from the Kings of Denmark, Sweden and Norway for his efforts as a resistance fighter during WWII.  
Meeting Kari and her family, seeing Thorolf's medals, and visiting her childhood home have truly brought my Norwegian heritage to life and filled in the missing branches of my family tree.