Immigrant Soderbergs

On Sunday I drove to Aunt Greta’s to do some background gathering for the upcoming trip to Sweden. She provided me with a copy of her journal of the time she spent in Sweden from 1938 to 1940. A lot of this trip will be to retrace some of those steps of that by gone time. To see the homeland of my Dad and Grandparents.

Seeing Greta’s scrap book made me regret not bringing a scanner a long on this visit. But when I got home I located one of Dad’s scrapbooks. I just finished scanning it and here’s one from the batch.


That’s Gunhild, Bill and Gustov Soderberg taking in Big Bear Lake. This was clearly a favorite recreational destination for the young family. Greta says Gunhild was an earthy woman who liked to get outside. Didn’t mind getting a little dirty along the way or roughing it. She eventually went by Margaret in the U.S.A.
Lack of jobs in the building trade and unpaid bills promted Gustav to immigrate once more. Gunhild chose not to go. “It was too hard the first time,” she said. He moved on, leaving behind his family, to live in Australia. There he became a member of the Communist Party and started another Soderberg family, unknown to us here. UPDATE: It is true Gustav was a Communist and started another family, but not in Australia – he returned to Sweden. More about this to come.

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.
  • danielsoderberg

    Note from Greta:

    Yes, your grandmother was indeed an out doors woman! When we went camping
    at Lake Strawberry when I was a teenager, she would conjure up the most
    fantastic dishes for a campout on the old campstove which came with out
    site. It was cement with a flat metal covering about 24 x 36 and had a
    chimney at the rear. On this she would even make puddings, cakes and
    biscuits to go along with our shish-ka-bobs which we cooked over the
    campfire. Of course, we made S’mores, too. It was unbelievable what she
    could cook on this thing. We had roast, chops, meatballs, etc. When we
    wanted ham we would wrap a ham in butcher paper, put it into the coals from
    last night’s campfire along with potatoes and after a long day of swimming
    dinner was ready when we came home. All we added was a can of vegetables.
    She became a Girls Scout leader when I was in elementary school and raised
    enough money to buy our own clubhouse. (Mostly holding rummage sales where
    I obtained a lot of my clothes, an embarrassment when one had to attend
    school with a lot of the donors.) For girlscout camping she had us make
    little stoves out of 12 inch cans with holes poked on the bottom sides for
    ventilation. Under the can was a tomato sauce can which had corrugated
    cardboard wound around inside it and then filled with parafin with a string
    for a wick. When lighted, it became hot enough to cook a couple of pieces
    of bacon cut in half and after that in the drippings, to place a piece of
    bread, with a hole in the middle into which one would crack an egg, and then
    proceed to cook until the desired doneness turning once or twice.

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