John Ostborg (age 74)
Leif Nashe (age 76)

Interview undated (ca. 1977)

Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer

John Ostborg and Leif Nashe met on the boat coming to the United States. John was born in Verdal, and Leif was born in Trondheim. John relates the beginning of his life in this country.

As I remember the day, we were met by my father at the pier in Boston, and then we went to Gettner's store, which was a big grocery store in Boston. He bought groceries that we took back to Concord with us. He bought a lot of spaghetti and macaroni which we had around for years because my mother hadn't become acquainted with that type of cookery. Anyway, we came out on the train to the depot in Concord. It was wet and rainy and dark. We walked down Sudbury Road down through the center of town. One thing I distinctly remember is passing the Chinese laundry, which was at that time on the other side of Towle's Market which later became Lars Anderson's store. We walked out Bedford Street to the Dee house or half of the Dee house that my father had rented, which was about 3/4 mile from the center of town. The people on the other side of the house were the Pat McBreens.

It was about two or three weeks later that I started school with my brother in the kindergarten at the old Emerson School which is now the youth center. I was too old for the kindergarten so they sent me over to the first grade. I was 8 years old going on 9 and this was December, 1912. I didn't like first grade so I went back to kindergarten. Of course, at that time I was learning English faster than the teachers were learning Norwegian but I still couldn't communicate. There happened to be a Norwegian woman working upstairs in the cooking school-cafeteria arrangement that they had up there, and she was brought down to speak with me and talk me into going back to the first grade. One reason why I came back to the kindergarten was that I didn't have anybody to talk with in the first grade where at least I could speak with my brother in the kindergarten. So, I went back to the first grade and then I started to learn English reading "Chicken Little" and all that kind of stuff.

We went to two churches. There was a Scandinavian group operating in the vestry of the Congregational Church led by a lay minister, who had a shoe store on Main Street right beside where the Boyd Agency is now. We celebrated all the holidays with them and was sent to Sunday School at the Congregational Church. We also went to the Norwegian-Danish Methodist Church up on Thoreau Street almost on the corner of Hubbard Street, which is now an apartment house. We were associated with them all the time we were in Concord. We celebrated holidays with them and went to Sunday School too so we had it double. The third church was an offshoot of the Congregational Church down on Lang Street called the Free Church. This was about 1920-21.

How and when were skis introduced to Concord? Leif Nashe remembers being told by Lars Petersen before he died that skis came to this country in 1873. In 1876 there was a lot of snow and Lars made a pair of skis. He hadn't seen skis in Concord before that, they were all snowshoes. So skiing became very popular. Ski bindings became Leif Nashe's business. Leif was a leading skier in Concord forming an informal ski jumping group that met in Concord, Lincoln, and Belmont.

The Scandavians in Concord were quite well defined, John explains. That was brought about because of the first generation, who had a somewhat different culture from the New England culture and from the English culture. As those people began to die off, the second and third generations melded into the mean Anglo-Saxon group because racially they were quite the same.

Text mounted 8 May 2013. RCWH.