by Eric Dregni
In this book, Dregni attempts to answer, “Who are these rather odd Scandinavians in our midst”, “What does it actually mean to grow up Scandinavian-American”, and what’s the deeper side of living amongst Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, Danes, and Icelanders”? To answer these questions, Dregni tracked down and explored both the significant and the bizarre by looking at the historic sites, tales, foods, and traditions of Scandinavian-Americans in the Midwest.
In his younger days, the author considered it normal to collect silver spoons, be suspicious of flashy clothing, and take shots of turpentine to cure the common cold. Growing up with Swedish and Norwegian grandparents with a dash of Danish thrown in, Dregni assumed everyone had these habits and that they also enjoyed a good, healthy salad (Jell-O packed with canned fruit, colored marshmallows, or pretzels) or cod soaked in drain cleaner. Only later did it dawn on him that perhaps these habits were a little strange. By then it was too late: he too was hooked.
As his research progressed, Dregni learned some of the things less spoken about: poor immigrants living in sod houses while their children attended college, the births of the co-op movement and the Farmer–Labor party, and about government agents spying on Scandinavian meetings hoping to nab a socialist. And he was able to both flesh out and flush out new tales and ideas his ancestors had neglected to tell him.