LISTENING PROJECT: From the Fjords of Norway to the Fjords of Alaska

Tora Thynes was born in Norway and emigrated to the U.S. as a young girl, sponsored by her aunt. In this interview, she tells Heidi Lee about life in Norway during the German Occupation of WW II, and watching warships from both sides of the conflict come into the fjord near her village. She tells about watching the enemy planes bomb a Norwegian ship and waking up to Nazis in the front yard when the damaged German ship Bismarck limped into the fjord for repairs.

Tora had many adventures when she first came to this country, visiting New York, meeting the famous author John Steinbeck in Greenwich Village, and flying across the country when cross country  air travel was still uncommon.

She came to Petersburg to work and was hired by her husband- to- be, Pete Thynes, who ran the Pastime Café with Ernie Haugen at the time. Pete was another Norwegian immigrant who came over on the same ship, the “Starvangerfjord” some years earlier.

Tora also tells about fishing with her husband Pete on the sailboat/troller he named after her and about her many trips to Norway with her  family. Below is a photo of Tora and her twin sister as children.

Heidi is the Norwegian dancing instructor in town and Tora was her teacher. They talked about the tradition of teaching local children the songs and dances from Norway, and the Alaskan modifications to both music and costumes.