Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 27th


A woman’s piercing screams ricocheted off the sterile, tiled walls of that 1918 hospital ward. In reaction to the cacophony of noise, there came the fast sounds of solid, low-heeled uniform shoes of many nurses. Their uniformed convergence added to the chaotic clatter of the excitement as they rushed towards and burst through the door that was the source of those screams. Before them lay a sweat-drenched, pregnant woman with her hands clenching feverishly to the linen sheets around her. This young girl was in the throes of an intense childbirth labor and reacting blindly to the immense, painful pressure that hardened her uterus with every rolling contraction.

Being her first child, the poor sweetheart, like many young women of that era, had not been properly educated and prepared for the natural process of becoming a new mother. Writhing in pain, the young woman thrashed from side to side as her resultant fear only made each contraction worse. The sweet girl upon that bed was experiencing what countless millions of women had endured since the beginning of time…and that was….LABOR was a very hard labor, indeed.

Elliott’s Great Aunt Olga Josephine Rogness from a family portrait around the year 1910. She was about 13 years old here.

Among those 1918 “angels of mercy” was Miss Olga Josephine Rogness. Although born in Thor, Iowa, as a young adult, Olga had temporarily taken up residence in the desert southwest and was one of those dedicated young nurses that invested their lives in trying to assuage the suffering of all patients in her care at that hospital within the hot State of Arizona.

Being the tender soul and kind-spirited young woman that she was, Olga did what she could to attend to this young woman’s needs as best as she was trained for in her nursing school days. Sadly, though, the medical profession, like any other human endeavor, had to go through their own paradigm shift when it came to finding better ways to approach and assist in bringing new life into this world. Many doctors of that era held an elitist attitude that childbirth was beneath them and that “any female of prudence could manage” to assist a woman in labor on her own.

Nursing truly was, and still IS, a “work of heart”!!! For young Olga, though, viewing the many recurring scenes of women in anguish during childbirth was doubly exacerbated when a young girl, on occasion, died during childbirth. Statistics for 1918 reveal that 22 or more maternal puerperal deaths occurred in every 100,000 patients. For some, that’s a low statistic, but to Olga, it had driven a searing, eyewitness image into her very psyche that would come back to haunt her later in life.

Elliott’s quiet, yet prankster Great Uncle Andrew Davidson is in back row wearing lady’s sun bonnet and sunglasses. His wife, Olga, is immediately in front of him and slightly to the left. This was one of many happy family “rebellions” (reunions) between the Rogness and Sletten families over the years.

With her nursing years now behind her, a new chapter blossomed in the young life of Olga Rogness. A quiet, yet fun-filled young man named Andrew Davidson came a-courting and won the heart of this mild-mannered Norwegian maiden. The Davidson and Rogness families came together for a grand celebration on October 15th of 1925 when these two fine Norwegians stood hand in hand at the altar and exchanged wedding rings.

True, Andrew was of a quiet nature, yet he knew how to have fun, too. He sure kept family “on their toes” in anticipation of what smile or prank he’d come up with next. For instance, there is a photo from one of the family “rebellions” (reunions…Hehehe) where there is this strange looking “woman” in the back row of the photo with an over-sized bonnet on and sunglasses. No other male of the families would’ve pulled a prank like that, but, Uncle Andrew sure would, and DID!!! 😉

Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Davidson. Circa late 1940’s.

Andrew sure kept Olga smiling, during their many years of marriage. On another prank, Andrew would team up with Olga’s brother-in-law (Oscar Bidne) to take a pipe and chink it into place underneath an old Ford Model A car so that the owner could get the car to start, but couldn’t figure out why the gas-pedal wouldn’t work when he’d push down for acceleration. Sure enough, Andrew and Oscar would be standing nearby choking with laughter.

The zenith of Andrew’s pranks, though, came when he would hook up a wire from his old car’s battery and run it to the metal door frame of that era’s type of cars. A flip-switch was then connected along the wiring line to actuate this silly system of “getting a jolt” from Andrew. It was just a matter of time before some unsuspecting “victim” would be leaning with his head inside the car window of Andrew’s vehicle and fully engaged in a conversation with this quiet Norwegian. The poor man in question was oblivious and unaware that the “spider was about to trap the fly”. During the chat, Andrew would flip his hidden switch and send a JOLT of DC electrical shock that would ignite that door frame AND the “victim” who usually went straight up in shock and slammed his head to the car frame as he was catapulted out and to the ground with the instigator, Andrew, howling with laughter.

Yes, Andrew and Olga were quite the team through life, yet, Olga’s nursing years came back to haunt her in that she was too filled with her own fears (from those nursing years) to give birth to any children of their own. Those years of witnessing many anguished childbirths had put a mark on Olga’s heart that kept her from ever being able to become a mother due to her intense fright from observing so much pain in those nursing years of her youth.

Andrew, in my humble opinion, garnered a place of sainthood, that few husbands attain, as he compassionately chose to accept the fact that the pitter patter of little feet were just not to be for he and his Olga. Instead, they lived a very peaceful existence on their pleasant farm near Lake Mills, Iowa and Andrew sought all kinds of ways to show love to nieces and nephews over their many decades of married life. For instance, Olga’s niece, Beverly, had come over to their farm one day to pick bushels of apples from the Davidson’s orchard to take back to their home in Austin, Minnesota. Poor Beverly was so engaged in pleasant conversation with Olga and Andrew that she had forgotten her car keys INSIDE the trunk when the lid came down KERCLICK!!! No car keys!!!

Elliott’s Great Uncle Andrew and his wife, Olga, are to the left in this photo. Their niece, Beverly (who had the key problems in this story) is in yellow on right. Olga’s sister and brother are in red dress and blue shirt. May of 1970.

How was Beverly to get home now!!?? It was loving Andrew that got on the old-fashioned farmhouse phone and called a tow truck to come out to their farm. With Bev and her children in his car, they followed that lovely, towed new Chevrolet all the way to the dealership to have that trunk opened up for his niece and her children.

So, even though children never came, biologically, to Andrew and Olga Davidson, they saw to it that their love FOR children and each other was a hallmark of their long marriage of 53 years. When his beloved Olga went home to Heaven, in September of 1978, Andrew must’ve missed her so much that he joined her in Glory the following year in August of 1979. These two dear ones were so special that, if we would have had another son, I was going to name him “Andrew” in tribute of the fun-loving Great Uncle of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.


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