There is a Scandinavian Club in Albuquerque! Young and older people whose forebears came to America from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the Faeroe Islands are members, of course, but so are some people who have Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Italian, French, and even Korean backgrounds. The club is devoted simply to the preservation and enhancement of Scandinavian Culture and lore in New Mexico. Some members are born to it , others admire traditional Scandinavian industry, honesty, inventions and support of democracy so much, they want to participate and learn more. If you are Scandinavian, or share Scandinavian values, read on!
Did you know that most of those marauding Vikings were peaceful farmer folk when they were at home (like Hägar, maybe?), and went raiding other lands only to supplement what they grew?
The History of the Club:
There was a meeting to form a Scandinavian Club at Whittier Elementary School, John and Mildred Breiland attended. The meeting was dominated by a person selling mountain land, probably in the Jemez Mountains, that the club should own. When we left the meeting which was attended by about 25 people, it was agreed that an organized club came before ownership of land. There was no follow up meeting.
On December 4, 1972, Ken and Sonia Lersten asked Action Line, of The Albuquerque Journal, “Is there a Scandinavian Club in Albuquerque?” It was answered on December 15, 1972: Dr. Atterbom was interested in reaching Scandinavians in Albuquerque and in forming a club and cleverly arranged the answer in Action Line for this purpose. “On December 15th a group of Scandinavians will meet at the Lamplighter Inn on North 14 for the purpose of organizing a Scandinavian Club. All interested persons of Scandinavian descent are welcome to attend”. It was signed Dr. Hemming Atterbom.
About 30 people attended, many of the were born in a Scandinavian country or first or second generation of Scandinavian descent, who were interested in preserving and continuing the cultural heritage through a club whose members shared these common interests and desires. Dr. Atterbom called the meeting to order and outlined his ideas about forming a club and programs that could be covered such as social programs, sports activities, and meetings where various subjects of interest to the members could be presented and discussed. Participation from those attending was very good. It was decided to meet again January 12, 1973. Mr. Bjork contacted Dr. Atterbom after the December meeting to discuss some of this ideas on the purpose of the club and its programs. Dr. Atterbom said he did not have extra time that such an organization would take. Would Mr. Bjork work out details and present them at the January meeting? Mr. Bjork said he would. About 25 people came to the January meeting, after cocktails and dinner, William Bjork presented his ideas. It was decided to elect officers. William Bjork was made President, Ken Lersten was Vice President, Harold Olson was Treasurer, and Miss Johnson was Secretary. They decided on monthly meetings. Regular meetings began in March 1973. June had a midsummer picnic with regular meetings beginning in September. The second midsummer picnic had a decorated maypole and the Northland Dancers did the maypole dance. Dance costumes were made by Eleanor Bjork and with the help of Catherine Lewis who taught the dances. The first Julfest was held December 7, 1973. Santa Lucia or Bride of Light, a Swedish custom, was introduced by Mildred Breiland. Scandinavian ornaments were on the tree and there was dancing around the tree, and folk dancing, which has happened every December since. The first meals were pot luck of Scandinavian Christmas cooking and some specialties furnished by the club. Bill and Eleanor Bjork had a lot to contribute to the club and worked hard to get meaningful cultural activities introduced. They set a wonderful example.
-by Mildred Breiland