Our daughter, Lisa Kvist, had an interesting idea for a booklet about our club, Lodge 342, and I thought it would also lend itself to the website. Following are the pieces that our members wrote to Lisa in answer to the question: How did you come to join Lodge 342?
We've had many responses, so I'll post this in two or three segments. Following is the second segment. I hope you enjoy it and do let me know!
CINDY BOBMAN KAHMAR:
My mother had always been very active in both the Danish Brotherhood and Sisterhood. She was always bringing me to meetings when I was growing up.
When my uncle, Geert Pedersen, helped establish the Bucks County Lodge, I believe I was "told" I was joining (I was 16 years old). He wanted to make sure I was included on the original charter. Plus when my uncle said to do something...you do it!
Since I was 16 years old, you can imagine that going to these meetings would not be on the top of my list, although they were always fun when I did attend. Jules Jensen and Arnold Jensen worked in the bar, which was usually quite busy at that time, and they let me "help". I liked being behind the bar, and they both were so funny they made me laugh.
I took a little sabbatical from attending meetings for a number of years, but now I'm back and it's so good to see the members that are still attending. My granddaughter enjoys coming to the Christmas party and the Fastelavn meeting.
I am proud to be a member for all these years and thankful there is a place where I can honor my Danish heritage.
TAGE & SHARON KVIST:
Around 1983, we went to a day-long event at the Old Swedes Church in Phila., where they were holding a Scandinavian Festival. In the basement, Lodge 342 was selling a delectable smorrebrod, and of course we had to sample that! I think I asked Ulla Pedersen while Tage approached Jules Jensen about the liverpostej. They quickly responded with a question "are you Danish?" So we explained that Tage had emigrated to Canada when he was nine, and that we were now living in Willingboro, NJ. Since the club is pretty close to us, we decided to attend a meeting. We were impressed with the friendliness and a sense of fun and welcome to newcomers. We met a lot people that we are still friends with, and have enjoyed over thirty-five years with this extended family of ours. The acitvities over the years have included humorous skits, parties, horse racing, games, crazy costumes for our annual fastelavn and attending plays together at the Burlington County Footlighters. Over time, we have both served as officers and presidents, and Tage is now the treasurer. Over the years, we also began attending the GCEL conventions, in various northeastern locations. In 2009, Lodge 342 and Lodge 172 (Phila) jointly hosted the festivities and we, together with Elin and Joe Jeantet, arranged the weekend events. The highlight was a ride on the Phila. Ride the Ducks (an activity that no longer exists). In recent years, Sharon has been part of the committee for the conventions that are now held at the Danish Home in Edison, NJ.
The big bonus is the outstanding food we enjoy on an ongoing basis together with the friendship of our fellow members, and staying in touch with Danish traditions.
In 1976, I met John, who was very involved with the Long Island Danish Lodge 325 and active with the GCEL. My first GCEL convention was in Long Island where I met Ulla and Geert who belonged to the Bucks County Lodge 342. After marrying John in 1981, I then joined Long Island Lodge 325. We were very good friends with Ulla and Geert, and we would attend all the parties and events Lodge 342 had. After years of going to 342 parties, we decided to join the Viking Lodge in 1999, because of the wonderful friendliness there. So for years we belonged to both lodges. After John passed, I continued going to both lodges. I was president of Lodge 342 in 2007/2008. Travelling from New Jersey to Long Island 325 became very difficult, so I stopped being an active member of 325, and currently I only belong to Lodge 342.
Growing up in a house with grandparents on my mother's side who had immigrated from Sweden was my prime experience with Scandinavian culture. They had both come to this land in 1920, where they met in English class and henceforth began our little family here. Just like all immigrants all over the world, they chose to seek out others of their own nationality and culture. On my father's side of the family, his mother was Danish and Norwegian, and his father was Polish, Russian and German. I guess that is one of the reasons that New York City is called a melting pot society. All cities are made up of ethnic neighborhoods and the neighborhood I grew up in had a large Scandinavian population although there were others as well, but of course primarily we were all Americans. There were a lot of Norwegians on 8th Avenue and they owned many businesses in the area. Norwegian Independence Day was May 17th and they would have their parade on 8th Avenue, right past 52nd Street where I lived. They were all dressed up in their native costumes and carried the Norwegian flag as they marched down 8th Ave. towards 60th St. where the Sons of Norway had their hall which they had converted from an old movie theatre. If you went further along 8th Ave. and made a right onto 65th St. you would come to the Danish Athletic Club. Across the street from the club was a ball field we called the dust bowl. The field was used so much that they could never grow grass and it was very dusty. The field was also used by the Danish American Club soccer team. The DAC in Brooklyn was a very active club back then. They have a large hall, bar and dining room with a full kitchen. They were open to the public and served great meals at a reasonable price. Being an athletic club, they had a full soccer team. This is where John Hjulmand comes in. John had emigrated from Denmark, married, divorced, and met my mother, Eleanor, also married and divorced in Brooklyn. They dated and eventually married. John was on the DAC soccer team. They played all the other clubs throughout the area. It was through John that my mother got involved in the Danish Brotherhood. Eventually, my mother and John moved to Metuchen and were involved with the Danish Home in Edison, Long Island Lodge 325, and the Viking Lodge 342. Through John and Eleanor I eventually got to meet a lot of members of the various lodges and the Home Board. So that is how I became involved with the organization.
Over the years I have met some very nice people through the Danish Brotherhood. When the Home hosted the Harvest Festivals, John and Eleanor were very busy sending out letters asking for donations from local businesses, coordinating vendors, conscripting volunteers, and advertising. Not only was I volunteered, but I was an enthusiastic participant in the festivities. Finally in 2005 I joined Lodge #46. I attended meetings regularly, became a delegate to the GCEL, and was asked by Kenny Nielsen to write the # 46 article for the bi-monthly newsletter for the Danish Beacon. I worked my way up the political ladder through the years, becoming vice-president and eventually president of Lodge 46. I am happy to say that I also served as vice-president and president of the GCEL. Through the years we have said good-bye to many of our friends. John has passed on and others have gone as well. Eleanor still wanted to remain active in the lodges and the drive to Long Island got long and the drive to Lodge 342 was a long journey itself for her all alone. I had been to a few gatherings at Lodge 342, and it's always been a great time with the folks down there. I enjoy being greeted with a hearty handshake and a cold Carlsberg before being treated to a fine meal. Ulla and Torben's cold table open faced sandwiches are really something to look forward to with shots of aquavit during the meal. I couldn't think of anything finer than feasting on Danish delicacies and shouts of "Skol!" throughout the evening. Then following up dinner with homebaked pastries by our own Danish Baker, Torben. It wouldn't be right to let mother travel by her lonesome all the way down to Bucks County as she calls it, so I put in my application and was initiated after a thorough investigation of my credentials. I am now a proud member of the Viking lodge. Not only am I a member, but I have been asked to fulfill the highest position that can be attained in any of the lodges anywhere. I have been honored to preside over the annual Christmas party as Santa Claus.
My husband and I immigrated to the United States in 1959.
We were always excited when we found other Danish people.
We joined the Philadelphis Lodge 172 and attended their meetings for many years. We made many new friends at these meetings. At some point the meeting hall became further away from where we lived, as well as other Philadelphians living outside of the city. George Jacobsen helped start the process of establishing a new Bucks County Lodge. We advertised in the local newspaper looking for Danish people interested in joining a fraternal club. After a lot of hard work by Niels Malmquist, Geert Pedersen, and many others, the Bucks County Lodge was established in 1975 as Lodge 342. I believe 50 people were initiated at our first meeting at the Sons of Norway Hall.
We have had many fun meetings and parties through the years.
Every year there is a GCEL convention which we always attended. We enjoyed travelling to different areas. It is so fun to get together with the neighboring lodges. I remember one time we hosted the convention in New Hope, Pa. We were taking a boat ride on the canal (pulled by a donkey) and were allowed to bring our own food and drink. Of course, much beer was drunk on this 2 hour ride. So much so that one of the attendees needed to use the bathroom very badly. (You can only hold in beer so long). Eventually he "fell" in the canal and did his business)😉
A highlight or the club was when we sponsored the National Convention in the early 1980's. It was a joint convention wih the Danish Sisterhood. This was a lot of work for the club, but it was a great time for all. Highlights included 4 busloads of people to Atlantic City, downtown dinners, sightseeing trips of Philadelphia, and of course a visit from the Mummers at a dinner.
As far as I remember, John Hinrichsen came to our house to sign us up for this new lodge. I have no idea how he got our names. Bill and I both liked the idea of this Danish group and bought the minimum insurance required at that time. We also told John to visit Bill's mother (Bea Madsen) and to look up Bente Ferguson. We knew her well since she was a friend of Bill's mother for several years at that time.
Later on, we had an organizational meeting at the home of Gyda Jensen (no relation to Betty and Buddy). John had picked Niels to be president because he had been a 172 president earlier in his life. Geert was VP, Betty was secretary and I was the treasurer (which I knew nothing about at the time).
To get new members, in the evenings I sat down with the Bucks Co. phone book and cold called anyone whose name sounded Danish to me! Found lots of people that way. I was also amazed how many people had no idea where Denmark was. Some even thought it was a part of another country!
I believe Geert secured the Sons of Norway meeting hall for us. We had met once or twice elsewhere, but this place was a good deal and we took it.
As I said, Niels had belonged to 172 and had been President, so it just seemed logical for him to be the 1st pres. of 342. Lorraine was also an assistant secretary I believe for a few years.
BENTE & ED BLADT: (Bente is president of the club)
We believe the first time Ed and I attended a Danish Brotherhood meeting was in the fall of 1980. There were probably about 35 - 45 people at the meeting. We had an enjoyable evening and later that night we were invited to attend the Christmas party that was going to be held a a hall near Philadelphia airport. That was a Christmas party to be remembered, with delicious food, dancing and a lot of participants. Some of the guests came from as far as North Jersey and New York.
During the following years we were busy raising our three girls, participating in the girls' school activities and both of us were working at demanding full time jobs. We simply did not have the energy to join the Danish Brotherhood. As our girls went off to college we found we had more time and decided to start participating in the Danish Brotherhood again. We always have a nice time catching up with our friends there and enjoying delicious food.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to increase our membershp very much. There are many reasons, one being that the Danes that come here to work for Danish companies do not have the same need to meet at a Danish club as there was 40 to 50 years ago. They speak English, have the internet, Facebook, Twitter, can call their friends and family in Denmark for free. They want to experience the USA, not seek out other Danes.
However, the Danish Brotherhood welcomes you if you would like to become a member. You do not have to be Danish to be a member, but just have a desire to learn more about the Danish culture, enjoy Danish food and meet a lot of nice people. We welcome you.
TO SEE THE THIRD SEGMENT OF THIS SERIES, GO TO .....STORY OF US P.2