Hans Westermark and Lorraine Westermark

Recorded September 12, 2021 Archived September 12, 2021 37:57 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby021054


Spouses, Hans Westermark (72) and Lorraine Westermark [no age given], share a conversation about their childhoods and how they first met. Hans also talks about how he came to the United States from Sweden, and Lorraine talks about her career playing and teaching violin.

Subject Log / Time Code

LW describes her childhood in a farming community in upstate New York and talks about when she first began to learn the violin.
LW talks about her siblings and the friends she had while she was growing up. She also talks about when her family moved from upstate New York to Florida.
HW talks about his childhood in Sweden and about how his father originally came to live in Stockholm.
HW describes how his family came to the United States, with his father going first and he and his mother following by ship a year later.
HW tells the story of seeing the Statue of Liberty from the ship.
LW and HW talk about how they first met, at the library at the Florida Institute of technology.
LW talks about their children.
LW and HW talk about LW’s career playing and teaching violin and about her students.


  • Hans Westermark
  • Lorraine Westermark

Recording Locations

Harrelson Center


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00:03 I'm Hans vilhelm Herbert [email protected] sold. Today is Sunday, September 12th, 2021 and we're hearing Wilmington, North Carolina. I'm here with my wife.

00:19 Today. And we're going to talk about a story.

00:24 My name is Lorraine Greenfield [email protected]. And we were really looking forward to telling her story.

00:37 Not rain, I have been up in Upstate New York many, many times and I love the place where you grew up.

00:45 Could you tell me who, how it felt to grow up in a farming community?

00:51 A Vienna New York with on 3 acres of land with a cod-style home and a small Creek running through the property. It was just beautiful.

01:04 All I can tell you. All right, because it tell you so much, but I still missed it. I still miss Upstate New York and my small community and I know I still remember. I still invited back to my reunions in Camden New York. And now it's 51 years since I graduated from high school. But what I liked about my community is that we were taught a worth our work ethic because we grew up in a farming Community. We had a farm, we had jobs of weeding the garden, which was about half an acre just to begin with. I love the food and

01:47 The food was always fresh. It was always fresh, but a lot of people don't think of what a small community can do. I eat a, my element? My first Elementary School. We were the biggest class and there are only six of us only 6 and it was doing the polio epidemic and two of us wore braces be because my my friend Mark had Polio it was during the polio epidemic and my mother was really adamant about me running how to say cerebral palsy. So no one would think that I was contagious with polio thinking about what else was available to me. First of all with my Elementary School, my new elementary school. We had a music program. We had a music program and my first music, teacher was Joan Clayton and

02:46 I wanted to be just like her. We started out with music appreciation. So we going to all about composers and pipe some music. And then the second year. I think it was in fourth grade. She started an instrumental program and we could take an instrument. So because my mother played clarinet, I said, I'll play clarinet, but Mom said you can't play clarinet, and I don't understand why. And she said, because I couldn't be in marching band. I mean, I don't think of that, but she was right. I couldn't be in marching band because of your brace.

03:25 And so we got my grandfather's violin.

03:30 And that became the story of my life and I started with his filing which was an okay instrument and

03:41 I was the only one that practiced in my spa school. I took my violin home everyday and I practiced, and I practiced. And I was also taking piano lessons at the same time and I practice and I practice, and then

03:55 The organist at our Catholic Church, moved away that played piano and my piano teacher was the organist in the village of Camden. So the church paid her to teach me how to play the organ.

04:23 And also how to sing the Catholic Latin, Mass.

04:28 Damn, that pic even gets better. I got paid. It was a job. I had $3 every day to play masks in the school bus. Pick me up.

04:41 At the church. And then on the weekends, I got $5 The Mask because more people came in, the mess was longer and I had money, I had money. So what do I do?

04:57 I called up a music store in Rome, New York and asked if they knew any violin teachers.

05:07 And they gave your parents didn't know anything about that. They didn't know anything about it. I didn't know. I had to ask him either because I was paying for it to have somebody. Take me to the lessons, but I told my mom that I signed up for violin lessons and she said, what do you want? Why did you do that? And I just because I want to be a professional violinist and she said it's never going to happen. That's the only thing she ever had to say to me cuz I was going to prove her wrong.

05:40 And I did and I did and she loved me for it. She both of my parents loved. The fact that, you know, my disability was not a disability. It made me strong. It made me really strong bullheaded. And yes, I went when I went to college.

06:02 As your teacher it was in Rome, New York. How long did it take to drive from Vienna to Rome about 30 minutes and go get

06:17 Cottage cheese cuz we couldn't get cottage cheese at the farm, and always pick up some Italian bread in room, but he would always take me to my lessons. Teacher's name was Mister Joe, Mecca. Mecca, total love, and when he died, he left his violin to me.

06:44 Violin to me. I remember going up there and visiting with him as he was getting older and he wanted to take us out to eat lunch.

06:56 And we got in the car and as I'm driving getting directions from him, he said that, do you want to go to my favorite place or to McDonald's? And I said I want to go to your favorite place and I think because of his mental condition at the time, he would repeat that question for five times. Before we got his favorite place.

07:19 But we got to meet all his friends. It was a wonderful wonderful experience to meet him.

07:27 Amber having our daughter. Heidi play her violin for him and he was, it made him so happy, so happy that it continued and continued on more than with my daughter. Heidi my grandchildren with that, small Cape Cod style home. How how was it living at home with all those brothers and sisters?

08:02 When we first moved into the house, when my parents first moved in the house, the second floor wasn't finished. So they had that finished and my sisters.

08:15 Had one bedroom upstairs and my brother. Twin brothers had the other room and I think it was seven years later. Bobby came a lot and I can't remember what they did with her. So he slept some place.

08:42 So, if you feel like there were too many people in in in the home, you had the opportunity to run out in the field and not to the back far as right now. I don't have time and climbing trees and

09:00 Loving it.

09:02 And then, you know, and in the evening, you know, I would go get the cows with my best friend that were out in the fields, and we come in and it was that girl time too. And then I would help with the milking and we would carry buckets of milk to the milkhouse and put them through the strainers for the theory to come, pick it up that evening.

09:27 That sounds wonderful. It was wonderful, and I still missed it.

09:36 My best friend, Carol.

09:38 I moved away in 1965 and we made a promise to each other and I promise, we'll see each other. We have never missed a birthday. Even when we lived in San Francisco. I called her on her phone and gave her the phone number of the phone booth that we were in and she called me back, never never missed a birthday.

10:07 Yeah, she lives in Oneida New York. Now. We're just not that far away from Vienna, New York.

10:17 We've been up there several times and enjoy their company and the Beautiful backyard with a garden with vegetables, so that those have been good experiences for us.

10:32 We moved away, which we moved away from Vienna because my sister was, my youngest sister was very allergic to Maple trees and we had a lot of maple trees and maple syrup and when she was in the hospital a lot. So my father took a job at Patrick's Air Force Base in

10:55 I'll tell him Melbourne Florida. I could continue violin lessons, but the big shot was food when we move down there to swing by really disappointed me when I heard about the maple tree and Susan being.

11:19 Allergic to Maple trees, that beautiful route 49 which went right through Vienna on each side of the road where maple trees.

11:29 And a gorgeous, I'm sure.

11:32 And then someone decided to widen that road because of increased traffic, and they cut down the maple trees. I just know this a correct. And whenever I've been up there.

11:47 I look at the tree and I look at the time in the road and I look at the traffic and I noticed that maybe every five minutes will be one or two cars to drive. I what was the need to cut down those trees? I don't know. I was just a kid.

12:04 I don't know voice.

12:09 Well, so hot.

12:13 I moved to Florida and that was like, moving to a different country.

12:18 But you really did move to a different country and I know I know pretty much a lot about it, but I think it'd be nice if you talked about your mom, not wanting to fly. Right, right.

12:37 I was an only child and I grew up on a long extended cul-de-sac and was almost at the shape of Gibraltar. It was an upward Hill.

12:48 And the apartment building some both sides of the road and then another large apartment building at the end of the cul-de-sac.

12:57 And these apartments were built after World War II?

13:01 So there was a large movement of people coming in to live in their stock on where I was born.

13:09 Panda.

13:13 The.

13:16 Being the only child, it would seem like, you know, that would be a

13:21 So make me feel lonely, but with all the new young families living on in these apartments.

13:31 I was told by my best friend life who I still have contact with that the they're actually 42 children, living in that one that cul-de-sac. So there was always someone to play with.

13:43 Of course. I had my favorite friends and my absolute favorite friend is life.

13:52 That's correct.

13:55 Now, he's a very nice guy. He has retired now.

14:06 Well, before I tell you that, I will tell you that my father who moved from northern Sweden.

14:14 Stockholm. A 1946 man. Been a delivery boy at a bakery and so left. You.

14:24 Near the village, where he grew up. And when he moved to Stockholm, he got two jobs that were not related to a bakery, but then he found out that there was a bakery in in the area where he lived and he took a job at that Bakery.

14:47 What was interesting when the mood back in Sweden? Sweden had been divided into parishes a long time ago, especially when it turned and became Protestant. And each Parish have to make keep track of who was born there, who got married, who was occupation they had and when they died.

15:13 So records are very open as to the movement of people in and out of these different parishes, small villages and bigger towns, so, I wouldn't when he left so left you.

15:28 There's actually a document up in that pairs, that shows that he was leaving the date. He was leaving his name and the address that you was going to.

15:41 And I came across this piece of paper and was a

15:47 Magnifying glass. I was able to read this more scripts saying which address he was moving to in Stockholm.

15:54 And then I did a Google Street View.

15:58 And to my shock, I find this address 68.

16:03 Gunman's Gotham meaning. Young men Street.

16:07 And I took a picture of it, and that's where you live. And he first moved here. He had two jobs at two different restaurants.

16:17 When was the restaurant called patterns?

16:21 And that restaurant has some entertainment there along with food. So, but he only stayed there for like, 6 months.

16:28 And then he took another job at the opera house, that had the restaurant in the basement of the Opera House. And is it stayed there for a short. Of time, but then he found his job at a bakery, and I am quite certain that he had some experience. And so left you before I move to Stockholm.

16:47 Starting off as a delivery boy, at the bakery then but showing interest in making pastries and so forth. So you probably had some more experienced than you think.

16:57 But while he worked at that,

17:00 Bakery. He had this idea that he was going to start his own Bakery.

17:07 And somehow with the help of a friend, who found his Bakery in the basement of an old building in the old part of Stockholm, and that's Bakery, did not have a storefront.

17:22 And that was a really a detriment because,

17:25 He had to sell his products to other bakeries that are at a lower price, so they can make a profit on what they were selling.

17:33 And unfortunately, his his Bakery went bankrupt.

17:39 You cannot sustain it.

17:41 And to my surprise.

17:45 This couple flight they flying from from Sweden, having from u.s. To Sweden and convince my father to immigrate to the United States.

17:57 And initially, my dad was livid reluctant about that. And so my mother and I stayed behind.

18:07 And after a year, he gave us the green light.

18:11 And my mom being that you mention my mom being afraid of flying, we have to take a ship across the ocean.

18:20 So, we took a train down to Gothenburg.

18:25 And there we went on to a smaller ship called Ms. Comes home.

18:32 So we had packed up, what my mother thought were important things in a wooden crate.

18:41 And the crate was maybe 2 ft by 2 ft. It was a typical crate.

18:49 It was mostly dinnerware in there. That wasn't a very good condition, but that's all my mom. Really.

19:02 Yes, we didn't hit. We didn't have a lot to real. It had lived in a studio apartment. That didn't have a bedroom. So, I slept in, on a sofa bed in the living room and my parents left in the kitchen, but a trundle bed.

19:17 And,

19:20 So there was a kitchen in the living room and it was a call way and a place to hang your your coats and then it was a bathroom at the end of the hallway. Sort of like our studio apartment in San.

19:35 How much but it was a big difference with this apartment. I had a beautiful, beautiful large, large window in the living room. Looking out in the backyard.

19:47 Panda.

19:49 There was a window sill and met a marble window sill in my mother has had her plants in the window, and she got me interested in Plants. Just buy.

20:02 Having those plants in the window, and I, if I eat an orange, I would stick a seed into one of our parts. And then when the plan came up, I would transfer to another part. And I would take care of these plants and since I'm sorry, but I've always had an interest in collecting seeds and growing my own plans.

20:25 We get on the ship.

20:28 A cross, the Atlantic, and it's in late.

20:34 Late July.

20:36 And,

20:39 Normally the Atlantic can be quite rough, but that's usually in the winter time. So in the summer time, it was much easier easier to cross. And I do not remember any rough weather about there was one time that we were looking out from our cabin and you can see these sort of a sinusoidal waves. They were extended waves and someone told us that they were called Death waves.

21:08 And I think the reason for that was that if you have a long cargo ship that it, if if it got lifted by one of these waves, the front end or even the back end of the ship, may break off. So I think that's why they call it death ways.

21:25 But we arrived in New York on the evening of August, 4th, 1961.

21:35 And that evening there was a forever farewell dinner.

21:40 That we had.

21:41 The dinner that we would never have dreamed of having it Sweden.

21:46 My parents were not rich.

21:49 And we had this fantastic dinner. That sounds like a prime rib.

21:59 But the exciting thing was the next morning.

22:02 Dressed in a coat and tie, I ran up to the top deck of

22:15 I have pictures on the wall in the den with you upon the deck and you had your suit on. You look so sweet.

22:27 But right, when I first get up, there was quite an early and the whole city was.

22:34 There's just fog. The only thing I could see was parts of the ship. It wasn't covered by fog.

22:40 And I stood there, I was anxious to see what the New York City look like.

22:46 And then, the fog began to dissipate. And the first thing I saw.

22:54 The arm of the Statue of Liberty.

22:59 Cassette, welcome to America.

23:04 Then you were picked up.

23:07 What amazes?

23:08 The week later you for putting to school and the story. I mean, love the most is that you knew a little bit of English and was like, hello and goodbye and names of furniture. And I know your brain must been gone crazy. And the teacher knew that you were having a hard time, and she asked you or he asked you to bring up your chair to his desk and what happened in my desk.

23:47 The other day that was

23:49 Difficult time because I always such a short time before I had to start school and I was a little bit nervous about that a week.

24:03 It was a very good school, district in some extremely fantastic teachers.

24:11 It was the Lower Merion School District outside of Philadelphia. We lived we found my father. Had found an apartment in Ardmore.

24:23 Just a few blocks a block or two away from the bakery, where he had worked.

24:28 No, it might be cake. Got the New York. The person that came to pick us up was mr. Grey born. He was the owner of the bakeries in Sweden that where my father worked and he had been convinced by a friend in Philadelphia that he visited. Many times that you want to move to the United States. You would have better opportunity. So, mr. Warren had moved to to Ardmore but he opened up his own Bakery and when he heard my dad went bankrupt, that's when he flew over to convince my my parents to

25:05 To come.

25:07 Elizabeth fast forward to, you know, you and I were both in high school age and then

25:14 I'm here. I am in Florida and I'm going to Stetson University and you are at Florida Institute of Technology. And at that time I didn't want to come home. It was my spring break and my parents being very strict that I was coming home. I don't know what they thought. I keep thinking me thought it was going to Daytona. Get pregnant or something like that. I don't know. But growing up in the family. I don't even know why they worried about me, but my father came up and brought me home. Make sure I got home and I had a paper to work on and I had summer jobs. So I was going to make the most of my spring break. So I went over to Florida Institute of Technology.

26:03 And went to the physics department. Yeah, the music Major works, for the physics department during the summer to get my summer job back, and then I went to the library, the library, to work on my paper and I remember my sister dropped me off because I didn't have a car.

26:24 I worked. I was working working working and I remembered it was all these windows down the sidewall of of the library. And I saw this man, taking in back of Me, closing up his books, and I don't know, I'm going to turn around and see if he knows Dick, Portillo because he worked for me in the chemistry Department.

26:50 And I thought, well, maybe I have some fun to spring break in.

26:55 I turned around and I asked you, do you know Vic and you didn't know that. And then I listen to you and I said, where are you from? And you said Billy? And I said, they talked like that silly Billy told me he was, he was that you were from Sweden and right away. I get so excited because when I was in New York state, one of my favorite persons was an exchange student from Germany. Name, Clarksville, Indiana, and now I made a sweet and I was so excited about it because you with your cerebral palsy you you were not as agile on the dance floor. And remember you telling me that he asked you to dance and you felt like a million dollars.

27:55 About this Library Thing.

27:57 As a math major, I never had to go to the library to do research.

28:03 And why I went to the library that day. I do not know, and why you ended up sitting in front of me. I have no idea and turn it into. My greater. Surprise, is what changed our life? Altogether is my one of my fraternity, Brothers, sat behind me and I can't remember if he had any reason to go to library either.

28:26 And because we started talking.

28:29 You got a little bit jealous because the Florida Institute of Technology campus head like a thousand men and 25 women. So the chance of getting a date with rather Slim.

28:42 So when we started talking, he got jealous and they put his finger up to his lips and it went.

28:50 And at that point immediately, I thought I'm going to ask this beautiful woman in front of me to go outside library. We can talk.

29:00 And I think it was like 10 minutes after we get outside that. I had a date for that weekend at fraternity house.

29:07 Could you tell me what was your impression when I was talking to outside library? Well, I didn't eat you. Going to have a party and I ought to come. And I looked at you and I go, I would never go to a fraternity party without a date.

29:30 I'd ever been to a fraternity party. And you said, well, you're going to come with me like I am. And that was, I wasn't a person that dated your day. Yeah. Yeah, and then my sister drove up and then we went home. I said, I've got a date with a guy named, and then my sister said, what Hans? My sister was more worldly than me and she's younger than me. And she said, there's two houses I think at it, if I T and one's a real.

30:07 Real womanizer. Anyway, I drove a blue convertible Camaro. He drove a green convertible mg from a big family. Everybody was hanging their heads out, the wall, the door, seeing you know, what? Color was the car. That their big sister was going to go out with a guy in that car, but I worked out and Josh with a married 51 years.

30:37 And,

30:39 It's been good. It's been great. We've been all over the United States for the military. You were on submarines and we have 3 children once

30:52 Candito, or who does decorate cakes at the bakery, like your dad and he learned a lot from your dad too. And then when we have Heidi and lace and both Heidi and life are musicians, they is a singer and plays piano and Heidi is a violinist, a Suzuki teacher with two beautiful girls and they're all musicians, all musicians. And then like stings and yeah.

31:30 Live music in our family. A lot of music.

31:34 It's been a good life. I think that impressed me the most is that, you know, me being on nuclear submarines for a first be spent traveling together for training for almost 2 years.

31:50 All over the country. And then I spent over six and a half years on submarines with brakes as we changed Cruise.

32:00 But you were taking care of our children when they were small, you were going to College of Charleston to finish your degree.

32:09 You played in the Charleston Symphony, Orchestra?

32:14 You, you were. I didn't have any time to get in trouble. Like a lot of these young baby wipes. I had too much work to do.

32:26 That's what that was it. And yeah, and I think at that time because of your server policy. You may have been also sensitive to the rehearsal in in the evening. With the Charleston Symphony. You have problems driving back and cars driving toward you with her headlights on carpool.

32:52 And I would go down to Mary Mary, Ellen moons house, and she lives close by and that that worked out cuz I would ride with her. And then, once I got to her house, I could, I could make it back to mine at night medical services. And they gave you some medication, so that it would not be a problem and seeing those lights and the one of the doctors when you explain to him, that you played the violin, biggest shock in my life, and I'm still not over it. I had my first EEG ever in my life because when I was a kid, I didn't see neurologists, you saw orthopedic surgeons and stuff, and I never had to atg. So you feel about everything and put down, what, what you do for a living and stuff. And when I came back, he said, I have to ask you a question and I said what he says.

33:52 I have on here. You're a violinist, has a damn. He says you can't be a violinist. My said, Emma by Alanis, and I was so mad at him that I told him. Charleston, Symphony has rehearsal on Thursday night. And if you don't believe me, you come, he came. You sit next to me and

34:13 Then he delete.

34:15 Didn't know about neuroplasticity back in those days, but it's, it's wonderful that if you lose something, another part can take over and that's what happened to me. And that's why I play violin. I always thought that if you're right-handed or left-handed, don't work that that will

34:36 But I made it work. Well, the one thing that I think it's important to say is that I'm retired, but you're semi retired that over the years. He had almost 280 private student students in your studio.

34:53 And then you taught that to say, Mary's Catholic School in downtown Wilmington, and you start a program there at the request of some parents, talking to the principal at school. And

35:08 When the first year you taught violin at the school, you only had like five students. Five students in mind. I retired, I had to an invoice.

35:16 And that program grew very fast and you taught there for 17 years.

35:27 This half of North Carolina make Catholic schools.

35:33 And a wonderful thing that I know that for Lorraine being a teacher, there was one day I was walking out on my driveway and truck drove up and this man jumps out.

35:46 And it comes up and shakes, my hand and says his name. And I think he thought that I would recognize him by his name.

35:55 I didn't turn and he said, while I was a student of the reins.

36:00 And I said, well, you go ahead and go through the front door and ring the doorbell. I'm going to go in the back way because I didn't want to have to go to a back way into the house. And as I came into the house, I told her and I said that one of your students is, if it's at the front door and I didn't know it was an old student, and I'm still not even dressed yet, and he came to ask me to play for his wedding. So many times has met her students from the past, and many of them are no adults for their own children, and then they have some found memories of being

36:43 12 by the rain in a thing as the notices that many of the students did was start. She was start students as early as three years of age and some of them actually graduate from our studio when when they went off to college, that's remarkable things to

37:09 Good Luck hun.

37:12 Hope for many more years.

37:16 And we'll keep traveling and learning new things and watch our grandchildren grow.

37:24 And two wonderful people.

37:26 Yes, we look forward to it. Especially after the pandemic is over with difficult to.

37:36 About to travel and visit with family. And

37:39 I'm sure it's going to get better.