Borghild Bergstedt Paulsen
When I told them I was going to leave and go out to Salt Lake, the old gentleman, Mr. Howell, then 83 years old, stayed in his room for three days. I asked Mrs. Howell what was the matter with the old gentleman. She said, "You must know." I said, "No, I don't. I took some food up to him but I didn't dare ask him." She said, "He's sick because you're leaving.'' I said, "Sick because I'm leaving?" She said, "Yes, that's what it is." So then I went up and talked with him. I told him not to take it that hard. I told him he would get a maid much better than I. He said, "Oh, we'll get a girl. There have been 17 already apply for the job. But I don't want any of them. It's not you. I feel bad to think that you've been sitting out there in the kitchen eating your meals after we've finished, when the food was cold. You could just as well have sat in the dining room with us." I told him that that was perfectly all right. I preferred doing it that way because I could get the pots and pans done "while you were eating one course and I could finish faster." He said, "Well, whenever my son and wife went away you always ate with me. The two of us always sat together didn't we?" I said, "Yes." They had asked me to do that so I could pour his coffee and his tea and get the things he wanted.
When I first came to La Grange I was unable to get to any of the Church meetings except Sacrament meeting on Sunday night in Chicago. It took about 1 1/2 hours for us to get to the church on the street car and elevated train. We met in an old Methodist Church which the Church had bought. Ingeborg and I were the only two members of the Church living in La Grange.
I didn't feel very good about the building; it was rather drab and I didn't understand any of the language, but we went anyway. Sometimes I wondered if I was in the right place. Even though the spirit was there, it's hard when you don't know the people or the language. We kept going and every week I learned a little more. I had not heard anyone mention Joseph Smith in any of the meetings. One time after I had been there several months, President German Ellsworth of the mission asked the LDS students from Northwestern University to bear their testimonies in one of the sacrament meetings. They did. It was the last speaker, President Ellsworth's brother, who bore his testimony in which he mentioned Joseph Smith. I have never had a name sound so good to me and so beautiful. The strange thing is that when I first heard it in Norway, it made me sick at heart, and I thought I could never go back to the Mormons because they had mentioned Joseph Smith. Now it worked just the opposite The reason for it was because I had the gift of the Holy Ghost given to me at the time of my confirmation. That is what had changed me and can change the heart of anyone. Now I think it is one of the most beautiful names I hear. Of course some people think it is the homeliest, but that is because they don't have the spirit.
In September, 1914, I left La Grange to come out to Salt Lake. I arrived on the 17th of September, a most beautiful fall day. There was new snow on the tops of the Wasatch mountains. Down in the valley it was warm and sunny. With those snow capped mountains, I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. Everywhere I went it smelled so good because everyone was making pickles. I loved the smell of them. I briefly stayed with the Fikstad family until I got a job. Brother Fikstad had been a missionary in Norway. Brother Fikstad delivered eggs and butter to the home of Andrew Christensen on 2nd North and Main Street and found out that they needed a maid. So I started working there.
I had never been homesick before, except one day, since coming to America. That was one day in La Grange; I so wanted to go down to my sister Magnhild. I told Mrs. Howell I wanted to go down and mail a letter. She said, "No, you don't need to go for that. I'll mail it for you." I said, "Well, I haven't got a stamp." She said, "Well, you give me the money and I'll get the stamp." I said, "I haven't got the money." She said, "Run down there and come right back because you know you are supposed to be here." So I ran down to visit my sister and she mailed the letter for me. That way I got out for a few minutes. And I never had that feeling of homesickness again until I came to Salt Lake. The first day I was in my job here I got a little homesick. But after that never again.
The Christensen family treated me royally. I took their boys (Lee age 9 and Allen 7) out ice skating at Heath's Park on 9th South and Main Street. We also went skiing and sleigh riding on Main Street from Second North to the Brigham Young monument, and they always enjoyed lt. They had a big house with much cooking to be done because they had big breakfasts and also a hot dinner at noon when the boys came home from school. Then a cold supper at night. I started working the last of September, 1914, and on the first of February, 1915, they took me with them to Santa Monica, California, where we stayed until May. There, we were able to enjoy the ocean and went swimming in Venice, a town just a few miles away. We rode what they called a Jitney (a taxi) that took us down there for 5¢ each. We went every day. Mrs. Christensen went with us. Whenever we wanted, we could run right across the beach and out in the ocean, which I loved. When we got home at noon I cooked the dinner. They had a private tutor come and teach the children. When I had dinner ready we all ate, including the tutor. She tutored the children while I did the dishes. When I was through with the dishes, she gave me a lesson which they paid for. I enjoyed these lessons and learned much from them. Before returning to Salt Lake we went to the World's Fair at San Francisco, California. That was a wonderful experience for me to be able to attend a World's fair, but I was happy to get back to Salt Lake. Salt Lake was my home. I stayed with these people until the fall of 1916, when I decided to go to school and get a little more education. I went to the LDS Business College for only about two months.
In Salt Lake City we used to go on our days off out to Lagoon and swim. One day on our way out on the train, there was a German fellow trying to flirt with us. We were a group of girls going out early and then the boys would come out after they got off work. This fellow was flirting with us all the way out, and we kidded him along. After we got in the water, I saw him holler for help and go under. At first I thought he was just fooling, because we had been cutting up. But then I could see by his face when he came up that he was in distress. I swam right over and held his head in both hands while swimming on my back with the frog kick. I swam to shore with him and thus saved his life. Of course he was too stunned to say much, but when I saw that he was all right I just left him on the bank and got back in the water. Nothing more was said about it. Several years later I was out at Lagoon and I still had my green bathing suit and green cap that I used. The manager came up to me and said, "Didn't you once save a man here at Lagoon?" I said, "Yes, I did." He said, "You know, we have been looking for the lady in the green 'bathing suit and the green cap all these years. We wanted to thank you for what you did that day." I hadn't thought anything of it. The German fellow must have told the manager, and they had been looking for me all those years.
When I first came to Salt Lake, skiing was a new sport here. There were only a handful of Norwegians that went skiing. On New Year's Day, 1915, we went skiing up on Ensign Peak. I was the only girl there with several boys. We got so cold we could hardly breathe. We tried every way to make a fire and just couldn't. But then one of the fellows discovered he had a printed program in his pocket and said, "Let's set fire to the Society." The program was from a Danish and Norwegian benefit social held the night before. This enabled us to get a fire going. We got really good and warm. While coming down on skis, we met President John A. Widtsoe. He was going to his mothers that day for dinner. When he saw us, I was just as red as my coat because of being so cold. He said to us, "Oh you hardy Norwegians. Just keep it up." He thought it was pretty wonderful for us to ski. We used to ski right down Main Street from Second North to the Brigham Young monument. People would stare at us and wonder where we came from. Skiing was new at the time.
We organized the Utah Ski Club. I was the first secretary of the Club. Our first ski jumping tournament was held on the hills up behind Fort Douglas. In those days no one had a car so we had to hold the tournament in a place we could get close to by streetcar. They put extra street cars on the schedule to accommodate the crowd. Many of the jumpers were falling in those days. It wasn't the art it is now. I remember not seeing some of the young kids out on skis and saying, "Some day this is going to be a ski resort. And we are going to see skiers born and raised here as good as any in the world." I feel like I was a prophetess at the time. I was reported to be the first girl to go over a "take-off" (ski jump) in Utah. It wasn't until the tournament was over and the hill was quite icy. I fell at the bottom. My picture in my ski outfit was in the newspaper, along with a write-up on the tournament. I still have the clipping. I also opened a tournament on Ecker's Hill by skiing down from below the jump. This was several years after I was married.
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