Woodward Middle School

The Strength of a Norwegian Woman:

The Life Story of my Grandmother

Olga Emelie Wells


Emelie Durfee

Ms. Schmit

March 21,2002


As Olga and her family were sitting around playing rummy in the hot summer sun she heard the screeching wheel of the old wagon pulling up from the long windy driveway. She jumped out of her chair as she ran to the back of the wagon and grabbed the slowly melting ice cube from the dirty ground of the trunk. She ran as fast as she could as the cold ice chunk melted in her hand. She ran as fast as she could to get started.

Her name is Olga Emelie and she was born on October 27,1921 in South Dakota. Her mother's name was Ingeborg Christina Homme, but her friends called her Emma. She was born in Norway in an old sod house that did not have any electricity. Her and her mother Emma had more than a mother daughter relationship. They were best friends. They always liked to help each other out. Everyday Olga would run into the kitchen to see what her mother was making, she was always full of surprises. Olgas mother Emma worked hard around the house and loved to help with her brothers and sister's school projects. She spent her time cooking, cleaning and farming. Her mother loved to go to the Ladies Club at night. It was one of her favorite places to be. During the war, her mother would send packages of food to the soldiers. She had little money but still enjoyed every bit of her life.

Olga's father Ole G. Homme was a lovely man. He loved to take Olga and her brothers and sisters to the local dances and always made sure they had a ride home. Two of Olga's favorite dances were the waltz and the fox trot. Later on, new dances came out, one of them was the jitterbug. In the winter, when it got cold enough, Olga and her family also used to cut out chunks of ice from the nearby ponds to make ice cream. Olgas dad Ole had many sheep, when it was time to sheer them Olga would go into town to tell everyone that he was going to sheer the sheep, then they would all come over to Olga's house to watch him.

In Olga's free time, she liked to play ball with her neighbors, the Heartmonds, Charmickles, Millers, Andersons and the Brisks. Olga also liked to catch and kill moles that were digging near the farm, skin them, and use their fur for our dolls. Olga loved to make paper dolls, and accessorize with their clothes. One of her Favorite dolls which she named Marry had a wooden head. Olga always loved to help out my mom when she knitted quilts and blankets they were so warm and soft.

Sometimes Olga and the neighbors would get on their horses and play hide and go seek, by hiding behind trees and bushes. The person who was "it" would try to find someone and tag them before they got back to the house which was base. One time, when Olga was eleven year old and in six grade, she was riding home from the store and she decided to stop at a friend's house. When it started to get dark she headed home. She was three miles away from her house when a storm came. It started to rain, thunder and lightening. Every time lightening struck, my horse Silver would shy. Olga was scared that he was going to buck her off. She arrived home her mom and dad were worried because she was soaking wet and dirty.

Olga had quite a big family, three brothers and three sisters. Gunder was the oldest. Then came Inga, Henry, Anna, myself and Carl. One day, Olga came in from playing with the neighbors and her mother told her Carl was sick and might die. He had a high fever and nobody knew what to do, so they just waited. Four days past and Carl died. Olga's mother told her that Carl died from a ruptured appendix.

One day, some new neighbors moved in across the street from Olga. She decided to go over and welcome them. A really nice girl lived their with her family her name was Gertrude. After a few months had passed Gertrude and Olga had become good friends. Olga decided to go over to Gertrude's house. Her brother was visiting. She ended up talking to Gertrudes brother Raymond for a couple of hours. Raymond was a very handsome man and they fell in love. Raymond purposed to Olga and they decided to get married in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 5, 1948, Olga was 27 years old and Raymond was 32. After Olga was married, she worked for Max Factors selling makeup until Olga became pregnant.

Raymond and Olga decided to move to Glendale , California where they had their fist child Madeline Christine Durfee. She was a beautiful baby girl and we love to have her around the house. I was able to find a job working for McDouglas as a lathe operator. Which paid minimum wage. Two years later Olga and Raymond moved to Los Angeles, California where Olga became pregnant again and had their second child Mark Tomas Durfee. He reminded Olga of her mother because he was always kind and polite. It was after Mark was born when we got our first TV. The kids loved it. Two years later, Olga and Ray decided to move again this time to Culver City, California. This was where they had their third and final child, a girl named Marline Susan Durfee. She was always a high achiever.

Every Friday Olga would invite some of her friends over to play rummy. Raymond and Olga were very happy together until Raymond had a heartattack and died on September 20, 1957. Olga was very upset and her mother had to take care of her for a few months. Two years after Raymond died, my sister Anna, who lived on Bainbridge Island, called me up and told me she had some free time and wanted to see the kids. Olga brought the kids to see her the following week. One day while Olga was visiting her Anna told her that she was having a friend over. He was a widower with two children in high school. His name was Herald Bennett Wells but his friends called him Bud. It started off just by talking but sooner or later Olga fell in love with him. He proposed to her and they were married in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 15, 1959.

A couple of years later, Bud was working on an electrical wire when a piece sprung up and hit him in the eye cutting it. Bud went to the doctor and he said that there was a bad infection and there was nothing that he could do about it. Bud later became blind in one eye. Eventually, the infection spread to the other eye and they were both infected and he lost his eye sight completely. Bud was blind and he was never able to see his grandchildren.

The job that Olga had on Bainbridge Island was Post Mistress of the Rolling Bay Post Office. Olga was in charge of the post office for 15 years. She had this job until she retired in 1987.

My grandmother, Olga Emelie Durfee Wells, summed up her life by saying, " I had good times and bad times but doesn't everyone. My life wasn't all riches but the point is I loved everything about it and loved everybody in it and I lived my life to the fullest."