Hans had been trained as a cobbler while he still lived in Denmark, but when he came to America he abandoned shoemaking and pursued his dream of becoming a farmer. Several years later my grandpa, who shared the same dream, also became a farmer. Here they are together in their adopted country.
|Great Uncle Hans is on the left, Grandpa Chris on the right|
Every person who ever met them held them in the highest regard. They were gentlemen. They were kind. They made you feel safe and loved. I have two memories of my Great Uncle Hans that stand out above the others. He loved to play the harmonica. I can still picture him smiling as he put the instrument up to his lips to play a tune. And he always had a roll of 5 Flavour Lifesavers he would pull out of his pocket and give to me when he came to our house for a visit.
When Jay and I were in Denmark back in 1980 we stayed in the small town my grandpa and Uncle Hans were from. Several of their siblings had opted to remain there, and the youngest was still alive. My Great Uncle Albert had followed in his dad's footsteps and had spent his life on the sea as a cargo ship captain. He told us a story about the time my Great Uncle Hans had gone back to the old country for a visit.
Hans went out on Albert's ship with him. A huge storm blew up on the North Sea. It was so bad that Albert couldn't leave the command in someone else's hands and go check up on his brother. He worried about him, knowing he would be scared and most likely very seasick. When he finally was able to steal away for a few minutes he hurried below decks to Hans's room and burst through the door, expecting the worst. What he didn't expect, what took him completely by surprise, was opening the door and being greeted by the sight of his brother, sitting on his bunk, playing his harmonica and looking like he was enjoying himself immensely.
This painting was done from an old photo of my grandpa harvesting wheat back in the 1920s. It is my grandpa, living out his dream.