Visiting relatives in Wisconsin
(Donald's paternal uncles, aunts and cousins)
Top left: George and Nina Johnson (left), Albert and Bertha Johnson (middle) and Bennie and Amelia Johnson (right), Ardelle Antonia Johnson and Donald Benjamin Johnson in front, circa 1915. Albert Johnson was a friend who happened to have the same last name. His wife, Bertha, was Lars Borreson's sister's daughter. She was raised by Lars's brother Simon and his wife.
Top right: Anna Johnson Langley, Lena Johnson, George Johnson. Lena had a hard life. She had back trouble in her later years and was very stooped over. She also suffered from Alzheimer's disease in old age.
Bottom left: The Johnson brothers, left to right: John, George, and Bennie, circa 1932.
Bottom right: George Johnson with tame squirrel, circa 1950. This photo was made when we visited him in LaCrosse. We watched him feed tame gray and black squirrels and he gave each of us a handmade dancing doll: hula girls for Jerri and Kathy and a boy doll in a painted tuxedo for Bobby.
Bertha Peterson Borreson Johnson was Lars Borreson's sister's child. She changed her name to Borreson when she came to live with Simon Borreson (Lars Borreson's brother) and his wife, Ingaborg. When Bertha was grown, she married Albert Johnson. Albert Johnson was the son of Lars Borreson's first wife's sister. (Per Carl Borreson.)
Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:
When we first had the 1946 Dodge car, we took a trip to Wisconsin to visit Pa's relatives, going to the Wisconsin Dells on the way there. We took the boat trips both ways.
Uncle George, in LaCrosse, was a real kid entertainer and fed the squirrels in his back yard. He had at least one that would sit on his shoulder and eat out of his hand. That was when he gave each of the three kids one of those dancing dolls that you hold by a long wire, which he made himself. [285-7]
I had a country cousin who knew we were coming and he met us at Uncle George's as soon as we got there. We soon found out why. He had gotten hold of a turning lathe and was making ash trays and toothpick holders, etc. out of native walnut. He unpacked a big boxful of the stuff before we had time to visit at all. He thought he could sell a lot of them to us "rich relatives" from Minnesota. [285-8]
I did buy a few things, because he looked like he expected us to, including his latest pride and joy that he had finished that day and the glue wasn't even dry. We weren't as rich as he thought and I really gave him a bad time, bargaining the prices down. I was sort of burned up because he was in such a hurry to cash in on us. [286-1]
One of the kids heard two of the relatives talking about us and they agreed that they thought we were pretty well fixed. Something like what the people in Norway used to think about everyone in America. [285-9]
We stayed in a motel in La Crosse and Uncle George went with us around the country, as we would never have found the relatives in those hills and winding roads. [286-2]
We came back from that trip through the Root River Valley by Lanesboro and the scenery through there is terrific, even though it was cloudy and misting and all three kids were tired and owly and just like boils. [286-3]