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Freda Isaksen's Stories


In 1986, my grandparents Freda and Micael Isaksen celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. At that time, some of my grandmother's writings were assembled into a volume that was printed and distributed throughout our family. The following stories were part of that volume.

Cover page of the 1986 volume
Foreword to the 1986 volume
Autobiography
The Isaksen Family History
The History of the Jews of Norway
The Trachtenberg Story (by Freda’s brother Jack Trenton)

In 2006, Freda translated a manuscript by her niece Liv Bakken from Norwegian into English.  It is entitled Where Did They Come From? Why Did They Leave? Who Are We?


The following stories are related to the above historical works. For the most part, they are inspired by or expand on specific historical incidents.

Being Reborn: A quick tour of the four nations in which Freda has lived.
The Chance of Opportunity: The origins of the family’s cardboard box business.
Dance to the Unknown: Meeting and marrying Micael.
Emily’s Kitchen: About the housekeeper in Freda’s childhood home, told from the housekeeper’s perspective.
Fit for a Prince: A story told from the perspective of a baby carriage.
Lost but Not Forgotten: About one of Freda’s few pre-war heirlooms.
Moving Day in Stockholm: Comical adventure of refugees moving to a new apartment.
A Reason for Panic: A story of the Nazi invasion of Norway.
The Sense of Belonging and Not Belonging: A story of an Englishwoman (not Freda) who moved to Norway.
A Small Tribe: A fictional light-hearted account of Rebekah Isaksen’s many pregnancies.
There Is a Secret Corner in My Heart: A true account of a young niece who was a victim of the Holocaust.
Turning Points in My Life: A story of the Nazi invasion of Norway.
An Unloved Ancestor: Background information on Freda’s father and grandfather.
What Happened to My Blackberry Jam?: About domestic life in Norway and its disruption by war.
Work and Play: About the housekeepers in Freda’s childhood home.


Some stories about life in Norway.

Bacalao: Norwegian cod served in Greece.
Frustrated Nostalgia: Freda visits her original home in Trondheim.
Is It Winter or Summer?: Experiences of Norwegian winter.
Lutefisk: An essay on the famous Norwegian food.
Making a Good Impression: Returning to Norway after many years of absence.
Meeting Old and New Friends: Freda is a celebrity in her old home town.
A Stranger Returns Home: Returning to Norway after many years of absence.
To Be Remembered Forever: A short note about a visit to Trondheim in 2006.
Youth Meets Old Age: A short story about Freda’s grandnephew.


Travelogues

A Fair Exchange: A semi-fictional account of souvenir sales in Russia.
A Fish Story: A Mexican fish restaurant.
I Survived Copper Canyon
Olaf’s Church: A Baltic legend.
Russia and the Baltic States


Isaksen family stories

And It Shall Come to Pass: Thank you, Leonard.
The Fateful Decision: The end of Micael’s life.
A Mother’s Folly: Baby Leonard gets lost.
Never to Be Left Alone: In memory of Micael Isaksen.
Sensible Solutions: How Sharon and Dan were toilet-trained.

Life in Los Angeles

God Bless this Home: That’s a cheap mezuzah!
Look for the Green—It’s Free: Paying respect to nature.
Lovely Homes and Good Neighbors: Criminals lurking in the suburbs!
Old Westdale: Historical perspective on a Los Angeles neighborhood.
A One Day Adventure: Oops, they missed the bus!
An Orphan’s Tale: About a famous orphan.
Public Transportation: Anecdotes from the public bus.
Two Conflicting Characters: An unpleasant neighbor.
Who Lives on the Other Side of the Railroad Tracks?: Discrimination in the 1950’s Cub Scouts.

Accumulating Memories: That explains the refrigerator door.
The All-Purpose Hat: Everything about hats.
Analyzing Myself: Freda gives her excuse for being late.
The Bag Lady: Sympathy for the homeless.
Beginning a New Day: About sleeplessness.
A Fall from Grace: A fairy tale with a sad ending.
Fulfillment of Life’s Long Line: Brightening the lives of senior citizens.
The Indian Brave: Wait for it—the payoff is at the end.
It’s That Time of Year: The signs of spring.
Mistaken Identity: A minor embarrassment.
Mom, Then and Now: Perspectives on parenting in different generations.
A Mother Stood Straight and Proud: A fictional account of the mistreatment of Jews in Czarist Russia.
The River Windrush: A story inspired by the home of Freda’s niece Patricia.
Sun in My Eyes: A ghost story.
Then and Now: An essay about food shopping across nations and generations.
What is the Meaning of Love?: Obviously, about the meaning of love.


The Happy Moments: A poem.
In Memory: A poem about the Holocaust.


A letter published in the Los Angeles Times about being a refugee.


A competing website


Email: isaksen at math.wayne.edu