Column: A Norwegian-American comedic episode with fun at the ball game

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 25, 2002

This column is a sequel to the article about Ethel and Eleonora Olson which was featured in the Oct. 6, 2002, issue of the Tribune, Also, it’s only proper to have a sample of the humorous material presented by those sisters for several decades here in the Midwest.

A good portion of that article and what’s to follow comes from the booklet, &uot;Yust for Fun,&uot; furnished by a relative of the sisters, Elinor Stotts of Albert Lea.

This really different dialogue in dialect about our national game originally appeared about 1920 under the title of &uot;Basebalspillet (The Baseball Game)&uot; on Victor record No. 77251. It was also recorded by Ethel Olson again a few years later on a Brunswick record.

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Now, let’s go to this baseball game with the Norwegian-American wife ….

&uot;Oh, Mary, I’m glad you come because I got saa much to talking to you about. Do you know ver I vas yesterday, Mary? I bet you can’t guess. I vas on a ballgame. Dat’s de krasiest ting I ever vas to. I remember vun time ven before me and Ole vas married, you know &045; ve vas yust venting togedder &045; he asked me on de telephone if I vant to go and see de Tigers play de Cubs. I said sure, and I vent. And I vas vaiting all afternoon in front of de zoo at Lincoln Park (Chicago), and Ole never come at all.

&uot;But yesterday Ole came home, and he vas all execisa. He said ve vas going on a baseball game and see de Vite Sox play. I vas on de downtown in de morning, and I bought a nice pair of dose cute little vite half-socks. Dere so nice and cool. Saa I tot if I vas going to a baseball game I vould put dem on.

&uot;My, men dere vas plenty people on dat ballgame. Goodness, saa mange folk har jeg aldri sett i mitt liv. Ve vas sitting dere real nice, and puddy soon, you know, dere vas an awful screaming. And I said, ‘Ole, vat’s de matter now?’

And vat do you tink he said, Mary – dat somevun had struck a fowl. Dat means a chicken, don’t it. Yust tink, saa mean as to hit a poor little chicken.

&uot;And den dey started to yell and holler some more, and I said, ‘For de love of Mike, Ole, vat is it now?’ And he said, somevun had caught a fly. Can you tink anyting saa dumb, Mary, as to stop and catch a fly ven you’re playing baseball. Oh, I tot it vas de krasiest ting.

&uot;But puddy soon Ole vas looking in de back of de grandstand, and he said a friend of his up dere had given him de high sign. I said, ‘Ole, vat do you mean by high sign?’ He said, ‘I meant a high ball.’ Oh, I didn’t know vat he meant, but den he vent up to see his friend, and he said, ‘You sit here and look on de game.’

&uot;And I vas sitting dere, and saa I didn’t enyoy it at all. But you know dat man dat has de stick, Mary, you know dat vun dat has de stick. He hit de ball awfully hard, and it yust flew over my vay. I turned around to look for Ole, and dere he vas up dere standing and yelling, ‘Come on home, you fool, come on home!’ Vell, I vent up to him saa fast as I could, and ven I got up dere he yelled, ‘Go on back, you simp, go on back!’ Oh, Mary, to tink dat Ole skud ever talk to me like dat. Oh, I felt saa bad.

&uot;I turned to go back, and yust den I slipped. And vould you believe it, Mary, dat Ole yelled, ‘Slide!’ and every man in de grandstand vas yelling slide on me until dey vas purple in de face. And I slid until I

come to a post.

&uot;Vell, puddy soon Ole come down to help me. Oh, I vas mad. I said, ‘Ole, vy are all dose men yelling on me?’ Oh, he vas saa execisa. He said, ‘De Vite Sox has got a run in!’ I says, ‘Vat do I care. I got anodder pair home, and you skud shame yourself to let all dose men yell on your vife.'”

Based on what I now know about the history of the Olson Sisters, a statement made in my column in the Sept. 13, 2002, issue needs correction. Skipper Berg and the Viking Accordion Band was actually the first area musical group to make phonograph records back in 1933.

Tribune feature writer Ed Shannon’s column appears Fridays in the Tribune.