Royal Norwegian Visitors

Posted by Anita on July 26, 2017

(written by Anita Taylor Doering, Archives Staff)

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On the screen flickered a sleek Hiawatha train headed straight for the camera.  Soon a couple stepped off the train surrounded by a crowd of people.  A group of large vintage vehicles turned a sharp corner and I noticed flags on either side of the Cadillacs - one American and the other Norwegian.  I was starting to get the idea when we saw a parade with banners confirming what I suspected.  We were watching a film of the 1939 visit of Crown Prince Olav and his wife Crown Princess Martha of Norway to La Crosse!

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This film, donated to the Library by the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, was digitized with funds from the Madeline J. (Neprud) Anderson Memorial to the La Crosse Public Library Archives.  Madeline worked at the Library from the age of 16 until her retirement and was among other things an accomplished genealogist, specializing in Norwegian-American and Norwegian genealogy pursuits.  She also felt strongly about her Coulee Region roots and advocated for local history.  We felt this short Norwegian themed film from her hometown of La Crosse was a fitting tribute to Madeline.

About the film...

Dr. Gunnar Gundersen was the general chairman of the reception at La Crosse, Wisconsin, for the royal visit of Norway's Crown Prince and his wife on Saturday, May 6, 1939.  The short film, in color, has no sound.  It begins with the Hiawatha train's arrival from Chicago to the Burlington depot at 2nd and Pearl streets.  There Dagny Sivertson, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Martin Sivertson, presented flowers to the crown princess for the Normanna Ladies.  A caravan of Cadillacs escorted the Norwegian party from the depot to the home of Mrs. Helga Gundersen who entertained them for lunch.

After lunch, a parade began at 7th and Main streets at 2:30pm and marched west to Riverside Park.  Leading the parade were the Boy Scouts, followed by the Logan High School band, the La Crosse Plugs (a booster organization), the royal party.

Master of ceremonies of the reception at the Anderson Memorial Bandshell at Riverside Park was Louis F. Robinson, assisted by Roy C. Davidson.  Two members of the Normanna Sangerkor sang a verse each of the American and Norwegian national anthems.  Mayor Joseph J. Verchota welcomed the assembled and the Logan HS band played.  U. S. Senator Alexander Wiley of Chippewa Falls welcomed them on behalf of the State of Wisconsin.

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After a short speech in both Norwegian and English, the Crown Prince was honored by the La Crosse Plugs and Chief Plug William Freise made a presentation of a walking cane and a silk top hat, signifying his honorary membership.  Flowers were presented to the Crown Princess by Helen Rynning, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rolf S. Rynning (later Mrs. Helen Munson).

People seated at the platform in the bandshell included Hon. Wilhelm Morgenstierne, minister of Norway; Mrs. Ragni Ostgaard, lady-in-waiting to the princess; Major Nicolia Ramin Ostgaard, personal aide to the prince; Senor and Mrs. Wiley; Mayor J. J. Verchota; Ralph Budd, president of the Burlington Railroad; Louis F. Robinson, master of ceremonies; and Dr. and Mrs. Gunnar Gundersen.

The royal party then left La Crosse late that afternoon for Decorah, Iowa.