Friday, February 13, 2009

Carolyn Merritt


I grew up in Ballard, the heart of Scandinavian Seattle. Since three of my grandparents were born in Norway and my 4th grandparent was the child of Norwegian immigrants, it was the logical place for my parents to settle.
My grandparents came for dinner every Sunday. We usually had pot roast with potatoes, carrots and rolls. While my mother was preparing the food, there was often a game of Cribbage, Canasta or Whist taking place. Cribbage could be played with 2 people and Canasta was flexible but Whist took 4 and when Mom couldn’t play, I was the stand-in.
Both of my grandfathers were fishermen but I only knew one of them. While on the boat, Papa had many hours to learn how to play card games well and was a good teacher too.
We went to Norway Center for 17th of May Celebrations every year. I remember a large dark auditorium, speakers and music and parading around the surrounding neighborhood in our costumes, waving flags. In the evening, there was dinner, dancing and more music for the adults.
One of my grandmothers was a stitcher, a project in hand every time she sat down. She crotcheted, knitted, made items on her sewing machine and when she was younger, she did a lot of hand-stitching projects. I particularly enjoy cross stitch, quilting and machine sewing. I have been a member of Pacific Northwest Needle Arts Guild for almost 30 years and have enjoyed the exposure to many types of needlecrafts and the company of like-minded women.
I also love to read and am currently in two reading groups, one with a religious orientation.
Genealogy has been a favorite pastime since I was a teenager. About six years ago, I was able complete the Social History and Family Genealogy Program offered at the University of Washington. It offered me so many “next steps” to continue in my quest for ancestral family knowledge. As a result of the knowledge gained, I have been able to visit four ancestral places in Norway and the immediate vicinity of another in Sweden. I feel very fortunate.

  • Museum of History & Industry
  • Sons of Norway, Leif Erikson Lodge
  • Nordic Heritage Museum
  • Pacific Northwest Needle Arts Guild
Oluf and Britha, the Anderson Family of Lake Oswego, Oregon: A Swede, a
Norwegian and their eleven children

Current Projects

  • Immigrant Brothers – the story of 5 brothers’ lives after leaving Vesteraalen for America
    Early 1900s
  • Arentsen and Company at Big Port Walter, Alaska, a herring processing plant on Baranof Island
Contact Carolyn at