December 19, 2013

I dag er det din fødselsdag – hurra, hurra, hurraaaa..
(Today it is your birthday – hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!)

The Danish Home had their December birthday celebration this week and Mormor tells me that The Bell Choir performed beautifully! The teacher of The Bell Choir is the daughter of a resident who started the beauty shop. The Home is such a family-oriented place, isn’t it?!

Well, The Home looked festive and beautiful when I visited so I snapped a few photos of the snow covered bushes and the tree, all brightly lit. Festive poinsettias (Julestjerne) – Christmas Stars – adorned the common room, generously donated to by cherished friends of The Home.

A view of The Home as the sun sets

There is such excitement in the air surrounding these last few days before Lillejuleaften (Little Christmas Eve) and Christmas itself! I can’t wait to tell you more about all of that next week!

But first, as I drove around the Norwood Park neighborhood where The Home sits I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like here 120 years ago? It is a beautiful place, now inhabited by many hard-working Chicago police officers, firefighters, construction workers and various other city and non-city workers, who (like many Chicagoans) take pride in their neighborhood home.

While searching through the chest for clues into Emma and the other Founding Women’s lives I often wonder what brought them to this area? It is steeped in such a rich history and I enjoyed learning about it so.

A view of The Norwood Park neighborhood

What I uncovered about Norwood Park was that English farmers settled in the area in the 1830’s, and in 1833 Mark Noble purchased land and built a house known today as the Noble-Seymour-Crippen house, the oldest extant house in the city of Chicago (just around the corner from The Danish Home!). It wasn’t until 1893 that the village of Norwood Park was annexed to Chicago (the city of Chicago was organized in 1833 and incorporated in 1837). Originally developed with hopes of a resort due to its beautiful scenery and landscape, in the 1940’s construction threatened this tight-knit community. A main artery was proposed (the “Avondale Superhighway”), but the residents banned together to thwart this effort, and their beloved neighborhood was kept intact. Phew! Although The Kennedy Expressway (completed in 1960) now runs parallel to Norwood Park, the neighborhood sits to the east and is as quaint and quiet as ever!

Fact: The Thorsen family arrived in Chicago in the late 1860’s to early 1870’s. The meeting of The 12 Founding Ladies was in 1891, and The Danish Old People’s Home (what later became The Danish Home of Chicago) opened in 1902! It’s exciting to think that Mormor’s home has such a wonderful story!

When I think about all of the history that has literally unfolded beneath my feet as I walk the halls and visit with Mormor and the other residents of The Home I am truly humbled. It is due to all of the hard work and dedication of those before us that we are here today. Not to mention, the current residents and staff are keeping the traditions alive by taking pride in The Home and sharing their stories about it.

Do you have an interesting story to tell or fact to share about Chicago, Norwood Park, the great snowstorms, or other historic events? I’d love for you to share!
In the meantime, here’s wishing you a wonderful holiday season!