Chapter E - Leif Salvesen
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 January 2023
It was a cool November day in 1947 and I had just turned seven-years old. It was the first time in my life I felt out-of-touch. What was I to do now, I wondered? To this day I can still picture myself in Crooks’ drive-way playing basketball with my neighborhood pals, some of my age, others older and bigger. It was the first time in over six months that I had seen my friends, but it felt so odd. I could understand what they were saying but they couldn't understand me.
My mother, older brother and I had just gotten back from a six-months stay in Norway. In my eagerness to play with Norwegian boys of my age, who of course couldn't speak English (I bet they could today), I had to learn to speak Norwegian, and in so doing, I had forgotten my English. We hadn't intended to stay that long in Norway but passenger ship availability was quite uncertain in those times right after WW II. So here I was speechless with my old friends. Fortunately, it didn't take very long for all my spoken English to return and I was back to being a regular kid once again. (Note: if this country is interested in teaching foreign language skills—this is another example why instruction should begin at an early age.)
Yes, it was but a small piece in the puzzle of one's life that you put together as the years and decades pass. But, it was significant in that it was the first time I felt alone facing a problem on my own. Up to then, I, as most other boys and girls, relied on their mothers and fathers to look out for us. The first “fright” remained with me. The second time I felt such a foreboding was when after finishing graduate school my draft status changed from “student deferment” (2S) to “available, fit for general military service” (1A).
Ah—But Let Me Begin at the Beginning
I was born on November 2, 1940, in Wausau, Wisconsin. I was the second son, my brother, Arne, having been born two and one-half years before me. Our parents were both born in Norway; my father in Bergen, my mother in Oslo. My father, a chemist, was educated at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
- Military MemoriesDraft Era Veterans Recall their Service, pp. 87 - 98Publisher: Anthem PressPrint publication year: 2022