[Day 23 & 24, Sunday & Monday, July 16 & 17, 2000]
Peg & Keith Wheeler's Norway trip report, Summer 2000
Leaving Jørpeland & 2nd Visit to Stavanger - Archaeological museum, Emigration Center, Printing Museum, around the City
-- (Keith's birthday -- "When . . he's . . sixty-four . .")
At the very nice relaxing Sunday morning breakfast, we were savoring our last moments with Kristian and Aud Marit. They would be returning to normal living without houseguests -- Aud Marit was to return to her kindergarten teaching job the next day and Kristian was called back to the platform a day early and would have to leave the next day as well.
< Kristian enjoys Sunday morning on his deck.
Helping us with our luggage, they both drove us to Tau. The ferry left at 11:00 from Tau, and it was a gorgeously sunny day. This was the larger car ferry -- the only one that ran from here on Sundays. We said our good-byes and boarded the ferry. We had a very pleasant ferry trip south west to Stavanger.
Arriving at Stavanger we had to hail our own taxi this time, but memories of Hanne flooded the event -- same town, same taxi stand, same hotel. Having been here before, it was a little like coming home and it was nice to be in such a special town on such a fine day. Not wasting any time, we headed for the Archaeological Museum being a little surprised that it was open on Sunday and feeling a little urgency since it was NOT open on Monday. We were here at Rotraud's recommendation. She thought we would be able to find out some information about the Slogvik farm and archaeological finds that had been recorded.
Not only did we find what we were looking for, we found a different kind of treasure in the person of a staff member. She was referred to us when we inquired about the records -- probably because she spoke English -- or because we were obviously so American. She was particularly interested in the Tysvær area because of its Quaker history. She had done her thesis on Quakers in Norway. Additionally, she had been born in Montana and spent the first half of her life there. The last half (25 years) she had lived in Norway, having married a Norwegian. She was not the least surprised that Keith's Jacob had not stayed in one place long, nor that he did not even stay a Quaker. She also did not find it unusual that at least one of his descendants had done such a radical thing as "dropping out" of a professional career in the 70's to become back-to-the-land homesteader for 15 years.
This lively conversation jumped in many diverse directions after we went down into the basement where the archives were kept. After initially finding the file on the Slogvik farm and explaining the type and age of records kept here, she shared some of her views on religion in Norway, past and present. It turned out she was also a friend of Martin Nag. She said he stayed at her house when he was in Stavanger and her perceptions of Martin were interesting. She told us of the history of Quakers in Stavanger to the present day, of all the phases and stages it went through, of the persecution in the early days, and that today they have a meeting place on the quay. She spoke of a part of town that was a "hot bed" of radicalism. She discussed being a Buddhist and an ex-pate in this Lutheran country. Of particular interest to us because of Keith's professional background in the addiction field, she also talked about such things as the current drug alcohol problem in Norway, treatment programs, the schism between medical professionals and the AA/12 Step people.
At some point we asked her about the apparent lack of poverty we have been noticing during our travels here. She reminded us that this was a socialistic system so that poverty as we know it in the States does not exist. But further, she indicated that if one knew the areas where the government was spending extra amounts of money, this could indicate "poverty areas." We are not sure we fully understood her on this point and might not have accurately represented here what she was saying. Another observation she made was particularly interesting to us. In responding to our curiosity regarding poverty in Norway, she said that the only way one could tell social class differences was by how one chose to use leisure time here. Needless to say, we lost all awareness of time and 2 hours passed quickly; it was time for the museum to close. Someone came to get her and she quickly disappeared. We waited a moment thinking so much had been left unsaid and that she would surely return. She didn't. The lights were being turned off as we went out the door. We had failed to get her name (If someone knows this person, we would love to make contact with her again). Then we realized we had totally forgotten to get the copies of the archaeological records for the Slogvik farm. The Museum would not open again until after we scheduled to leave on Tuesday.
We walked around quite a bit of the town. It was getting late and most of the stores were closed because it was Sunday.
Silent Sunday summer street scene in Stavanger. >
We had stopped by our hotel briefly and while there Keith asked the receptionist if there was an Internet "cyber café" in town. He was given directions to one across town. This was a "quest" that Peg was not too excited about. Our friends Ted and Susan who travel a great deal internationally are always talking about finding cyber cafes wherever they travel. Keith, never having been in one, wanted to find what it would be like. The hotel clerk's directions led us into some interesting parts of the city, but we never found the place. Keith chose a nice restaurant for a good fish dinner. We were letting ourselves enjoy Norwegian beer by now too, but in strict moderation due to the very high price of beer here. We were learning to stay away from the coffee at night. Norway does not do decaf, nor does it do weak coffee.
Day 24 - Monday, July 17, 2000
The next morning, we decided our quest would be to find the Quaker meeting place. First we stopped by the Emigration Center to make some copies about Skiftun from a bygdebok. Here we met an interesting couple from Oregon doing research in the Slooper book. The woman of this couple had distant ancestral connections to Lars Helland who was captain of the sloop Restoration from his first marriage. Lars' second marriage was to Rachel Madland who was an older sister of Keith's Serene. Again, small world!
We then walked down the quay, past Gamle Stavanger (old town) and the terminal for the ferry to England. Going a little farther we found where the Quakers met in the International Culture Center, but it was closed that day. Of course, they meet on Sunday. However, we stumbled on to a watercolor painting class put on by a visiting teacher from (guess where . . .) Calistoga, California.
Once outside, we looked around and saw a museum! There are no shortages of museums in Norway and there are all kinds. This one was a printing museum, and it was FASCINATING! We got a personal guided tour in English by the director of the museum and it lasted nearly an hour and a half. The guide clearly was a skilled graphic artist and loved his subject. The display began with Gutenberg and the development of early printing presses. When we got to the displays of more modern presses and the linotype machine, Keith was flooded with memories from his youth when he was a paperboy with the Corning Observer. Much of this equipment was very similar to what was used in the pressroom in those days and in the other small printing company in his hometown next to the old Wheeler Plumbing Shop. The lithographic process using stone was extremely interesting (and useful) for Peg as she prepares to teach printmaking in her Arts and Cultures class at Southern Trinity High School.
The printing machinery and processes were historically important to Stavanger's sardine industry because when sardine labels could be printed cheaply, marketing of this product was greatly enhanced. As the printing technology advanced, a great variety of custom labels could be produced enabling small, obscure companies to sell sardines with their own labels. Eventually, the labels themselves became collectors' items and the 4-color designs, a focus of attention. Several thousand different designs were made during the heyday of the industry. Interestingly, when the sardine label business started to fade, the printing of comic books became an important source of business.
The skilled printing processes demonstrated at the museum had obviously been eclipsed dramatically with the advent of the computer. However, the old skills will not be forgotten, thanks to the people who support the Norsk Grafisk Museum. Peg came away with a gift of some very useful demonstration materials to use in her art classes -- and, yes, another book to pack in the big suitcase. The folks at the printing museum still take special orders for jobs from people who want small quantities the old fashioned way. They also do custom bookbinding and repair.
< The Grafisk Museum director points to a label for "Peggy Sardines"
Of course, before we could leave the Museum we had to be seated in their little cafeteria where the Director quickly changed roles and served us coffee and cake.
Retracing our steps back down the quay towards the fish market and the center of town, our next quest was to buy Keith a birthday (day late) cap and belt. This was quickly and easily done in one of the nice men's stores located near the old Stavanger Cathedral. We would have liked to have gone to some of the other of Stavanger's interesting museums, but they all seemed to be closed on Mondays. So, we decided to continue to explore the streets and shops of Stavanger. Peg found some interesting glass plates and bought two despite Keith's warnings regarding breakage. (Well, at least one could be glued back together upon returning home.)
Keith was still obsessing on finding the cyber café, so back to that part of town we went. Again, it was an interesting walk but the closest we came was finding a State liquor store. Giving up on the cyber café idea, Keith then turned his attention to all of the statues scattered around this older commercial part of Stavanger. He was particularly interested in taking photos of the many life size bronze statues of people and animals that were placed along walkways throughout the city.
Keith with bronze friends. >
He was curious about one figure that appeared in several parts of the town. This was a statue of a uniformed man from some earlier time. Wearing big boots and a floppy eared hat, he was carrying a staff that ended with a ball of spikes. Leading the parade on the 4th of July were two men dressed like this in long red coats and carrying such a staff. Keith started asking anyone who spoke English, and a few who didn't, about this statue and what was this person's role. No one we asked seemed to know. One girl who spoke excellent English and worked in a shop right next to one of these statues indicated that she had no idea what the statue was about. One person thought it was a fireman, another thought it had something to do with an insurance company. Our best guess was that these were guards, patrolmen or something like early police and are now used as a logo for an insurance company. (I am sure we will eventually find out the answer to this mystery from our Norwegian friends and we will update you when we find out for sure.)***
< One of the mystery statues - this one in front of a building that also seemed to have this image as a logo - maybe the insurance company…?***
Peg had gotten a recommendation for a good sea food restaurant. Walking up and down several streets, we just couldn't seem to locate it. In desperation we settled for one called Phileas Fogg. The décor and menu was definitely "Around the World in 80 Days" theme. Not only that, but our tab came in a passport. Peg had a shell fish soup and grilled vegetables from some place in the world. Keith ended up with a spicy Bengal Bay fish that was delicious once he covered the staring fish eye with a piece of parsley. This really was a good and unique meal --- it just wasn't very Norwegian for our last evening meal in Rogaland county. We were also enjoying the window seat, sipping one last shared beer, watching the tourists walk by, when Keith noticed across the bay a large white building with very large signing which was the restaurant we had been looking for. Oh, well….
Now it was time for a leisurely stroll back to the hotel. Keith had been able to contact cousin Ernst Torkelson earlier. He would be able to stop by the hotel that evening for one last visit before we left. We were able to exchange more family information. We said our good-byes agreeing to keep in contact. Now all that was left was for the last minute packing for an early departure from Stavanger by train the next day.
*** Mystery solved thanks to our friends on the Slogvik farm who wrote and said: "I just phoned the tourist information in Stavanger for explanation of the statue you are wondering about. It is called a 'vekter.' There is no translation in my dictionary, but translated it means 'weighter.' Today it is a symbol for peace and order in the town. In former times a 'vekter' patrolled the town in the night, looking for fire, people disturbing the night and sat the lamps on." We have also been told that it is used as a logo for an insurance company.
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