Laura Jensen, a member of Ruyneberg Lodge 106 (Tacoma, WA) wrote the following poem, In The Summer Weather, that is published ot the blog by the Washington state poet laureate Kathleen Flennike
InThe Summer Weather is a middle section to a poem in progress
In The Summer Weather
At the grave on Memorial Day they remembered Albert. My mother said to me, one relative of ours died in an accident down on the waterfront.
For August, Labor Day Weekend 1924 - the Order of Runeberg planned a songfest, Swedish-Finnish Runeberg Choirs from Tacoma, and Olympia, and Hoquiam and Aberdeen, would sing, and their rehearsals began.
I took Swedish at the University of Washington. Older, a Swedish class at First Lutheran Church a song about the fox, how the fox crept over the ice. Räven raskar över isen. For vi löv? May I have permission?
Can I be in the choir? Linnea said to Auntie.
Auntie came up from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, where the choir first began in 1913 – their Swedish-Finnish choir, next door and they rehearsed.
Elmer and Carl bases, Al a tenor, Linnea, Ma and Auntie, singing.
June 1924 THE READING CERTIFICATE
At the address on Commerce where the American Legion Assembly Room once was, there now is a Hookah Smoking Caterpillar, the Cobra Lounge.
It is a Hookah Lounge where once Linnea Gorde played A La Bien Aimee. and the Cobra must change the caterpillar’s Hookah Hose Stems and leaves into a stinging snake. And is it about the stigma of things of the East?
In 1924 although experiencing English Only Laws, the Catholics, Jews, and the Lutherans were to lay aside differences and Initiative 49, brought forward by the Ku Klux Klan to abolish private schools, was to be defeated.
There was a list of appropriate books for her grade level, because by June she had read ten. She could sit on her bed she could sit at the table she could sit with her feet up on the sofa.
Can one of these books have been Alice in Wonderland? She pasted into the scrapbook her reading certificate from Tacoma Public Library and Tacoma Public Schools.
Although the news held stories of Ku Klux Klan rallies, of robes and hoods, of crosses burning, Initiative 49 was to go down to defeat.
July 1924 – Kingfisher Lodge
Elmer, Al, Carl and Ray, Linnea and Gilbert camped on the beach where Birger and Eric lived. Birger and Eric were brothers of their father and Uncle Albert. Birger and Eric worked at an island quarry and they lived in a house on the beach.
Linnea’s piano teacher’s studio was downtown at the Bernice building, down the street from the Assembly Room. Auntie waited while Linnea had her lesson. Her teacher said to Linnea with happiness, you are very good Linnea. Or, you are very good, so you must practice with diligence, because you have talent.
August 1924 THE SONGFEST IN HOQUIAM
We rode the train through the forest, Linnea might well have said. Linnea might well have said this to her daughters. However, she was a talented piano player, and the sound was more likely to be Sommardansen.
Or, we rode in cars through the forest. Or, we rode in the hired bus through the forest to Aberdeen, we rode in the hired bus, an arm at the open window, in our everyday dresses, and we rode on beyond Aberdeen to Hoquiam. We were there two nights, the songfest was all Labor Day Weekend.
The grand chorus sang, and the piano soloists Linnea had to notice, were very pleasant to listen to, and Linnea could believe that she could do as well herself.
In the Aberdeen Electrical Park nearby those people, with the fires and the white hoods were gathered, and all the women exclaimed about this, nervously, then quieted themselves and said something about not letting it bother us.
The grand chorus sits for the photograph, ladies in shades of white men in black suits with neckties in front of the B Street Finnish Hall, Al on one side. Elmer and Carl on the other.
Al had been in soccer in the Stadium Annual. Jones Photography, Gray’s Harbor .
In the paper from the area, The American, a column on the front page describes the KKK Labor Day Celebration at the Electric Park, an amusement park, in Aberdeen and a column on the front page describes the Songfest, the Order of Runeberg Songfest.
One could attend one, or one could attend the other.
In the paper the KKK was to have fireworks. The Lodge was at The Hoquiam Masonic Hall a new hall built the year before in 1923. I wonder if the Lodge took everyone to the ocean beach.
In November the election results for Initiative 49 in Hoquiam and Aberdeen were almost 50 – 50, but Initiative 49 was defeated.
Slumrande toner fjärran ur tiden toner i från stugor, från fält och vänen lid. sang the choir. They sang in Swedish, it was a foreign language. Songs can lie sleeping, distant, far from time. Songs from the cabins, from fields and times so sweet.
There is a saved letter and its envelope that came one September day. I find it is hard to interpret all of it. But Faster Emelie father’s sister, thanks them and says she would have written sooner about her brother Albert. But every time she tried she began to cry instead.
Notes from Laura Jensen relating to the above poem:
As I wrote this poem I referred to, among other sources, Thomas R. Pegram's One Hundred Percent American The Rebirth and Decline of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; The American, a newspaper from the 1920s in the Gray’s Harbor area; and to the Photo Archives at the Northwest Room of the Tacoma Public Library for references to the 1920s American Legion Assembly Room.