Work; and full life of Experience

Work and life full of experience:

This is not a resume for any job application – I am retired now ! But this is a recording of my work and life experiences, that have made me to the one I am.

As a kid I remembered helping with cleaning and drying cod fish on the rocks along the shoreline, cod fishing with my Grandfather Lars Tomren at Borgundfjord. I was privileged to crew with Einar and Knut Øren, on their herring skiff, and set the last of the large herring sets, using large shore nets. I made my first real money that time.

At home we all assembled metal items for Spilka  where my father was foreman all his life. This was a good extra income. Odd Vedø, my father, had learned stone work from his father, and he build a new house himself  at “Brutun”.  Here my little sister Hildegunn ca 1962 ? Odd was very good with cement work, learned from his father. Everything at Brutun was made of stone and cement. See more later. I had to help, but unfortunately, I did not learn that type of work when I had the opportunity . I was lucky to get piecework after school at Spilka, a very progressive metal works factory.

1962 – 1966 Leto Møbelfabrikk, Eidsvoll, Norway – A small factory at the time, developed in to a large furniture dealership.  This funny front wheel drive truck was called “Ormen Lange” here at Råholdt. Pictures about 1961. (Owner my uncle Leif Tomren)  As the youngest, helping where needed, office, sales and delivery, including driving large furniture delivery trucks.   Very good experience for a young man.  VW pick loaded at Austefjord.

Ormen Lange was strange to drive. Front wheel drive, and the deck and rear wheels were connected by a long round steel pipe.

* * * * *

1964 – 1965 Military, Norwegian Kings Guard, trained in communication, Corporal, degraded to Vice Corporal, (funny story !).

65 duties at the King Olav 5th. Palace and King’s summer residence Skaugum. Honorguard/Military Tattoo for dignitaries, including The USSR prime Minister Nikita Krutschew.  I let the then Crown Prince, now King Harald, out the “stall port” gate, and back in again, while he was secretly courting His now, Queen Sonja.  Achievement: 2nd. Place in Military Games, a French Officer beat me. Of the 10 areas, running obstruction course was my best, swimming obstruction my least. Concert with Jim Reeves, Njårdhallen, 1964 Adios Amigo – one of my favorites.

See Army trip to Hell ! under posts

Thanks to my sister Kari for these pictures !

1966 – Emigrated to Canada Oct. 1966. Welcomed, and stayed the first night with Bjarne (Bernie) Hauknes and his vife Hansine. They introduced me the next day to an older Norwegian carpenter, funny enough named; Leif Eriksen at 1066 Kingsvay, Vancouver B.C. Rented a room from him, and he took me to Simpson Sears, a very large department store at Kingsway in Burnaby.  I got a job the same day in the delivery department. $ 1,75 pr. hour ? The first working day I was transferred to the receiving department, because I did not know the towns and villages around B.C. where all the mail order parcels was going to, but I learned soon.  The receiving department consisted of a rail at the back side of the huge warehouse. Every morning there would be about 5 – 6 railroad cars lined up. We had to record and break the seals, unload the cars according to the manifest, controlling the number of parcels, whole or broken. We had a Swede as foreman, he was always curious of the contents of each parcel. Often he would have to throw and crush a parcel onto the deck, to see what it contained. I remember things like; live small turtles, one ended up in my pocket, and I had it the whole summer. Other items like small TV’s, radios etc. we had to mark: “Crushed”, on the manifest. Every lunch hour the Swede’s wife came rolling by with the largest, whitest Cadillac you ever saw, convertible of course, then with a touch button, she  could open the huge trunk. Into the trunk went all the parcels the Swede had inspected and found right, and we marked them “missing” and “short”. Booby Bare – 500 miles away from home

Later, when I played soccer with the Son’s of Norway and we had dressing room in the basement of the ?? hotel at East Hastings street, and we had a few beer in the beerparlor after  a game or training, then first;  I saw how the Swede and other people working at the waterfront, got rid of their bounty; sold at the waterfront beerparlours. Most popular in 1966 was ladies nylon stockings and LP records.  At this time everything was shipped on pallets, easy to break open. Later when the container transport took over, this “loss” disappeared.

See: Sports – Soccer teams

1966 – winter, Dominion Construction, Head Office, Honolulu, Hawaii. Member of the Laborers Union for half a year. A Norwegian Engineer, sorry, can not remember your name, (he later went to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to build high buildings, and called me ones to come south and help; one of my stupid mistakes; I did not), one of the first to work with sliding concrete forms. He was in charge of erecting the Sascatchewan Grain Elevators in North Vancouver.

He said; Oddvin, come and work with me, the pay is really good. It was, $ 2,50 plus an extra 10 cent for using a chainsaw, balancing at high levels. At this time a friend from Ålesund was there, Dagfinn Leira , a fair forward soccer player, good artist; and we ended up working together at this project. Dagfinn

made the first logo for my furniture business. We also made a trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles at Christmas 1966,  My first car, Corvair Monza, engine in the raer, like a Porshe. needed lots og weight in the front trunk, or it would flip over at high speeds, and it was capable of high speeds. A fun small sports car, but a dangerous one, you had to know how to handle it.140 HP, 1966 Monza convertible

a good story I will tell later.

The work went 24 – 7, until Christmas, and started up again after New Year. We worked day and night, as the concrete was poured, and the sliding form ascended up to 280′. Then the next silos started, all the same. When all the silos were up, we had to take the forms off, balancing at 6′ wide cement, 280′ in the air, in the Vancouver winter storms. I worked with two Yugoslavs, none of us had fear of heights. The older one, must have been over 25; could not learn tie a knot on a rope ! We all tried to teach him, but he could not get it. One day I was waiting for him to tie some 4×4’s with nails etc., so that I could hoist them up to the top, and from there lower them safely to the ground, where a lot of workers walked around doing their thing. It was too high, too windy, to yell, so we used arm movements to talk to each other. I never trusted his knots, and could foresee trouble when I started hoisting. Sure enough, the 4×4’s started to slide out of his rope. I thought as far as if I yelled, he would look up and get the load in his face. I just pulled as carefully as I could, and when lumber slid out of his tangled knots, one hit his shoulder. He never returned to the job, and nobody on the ground was hurt, but it could have been really bad, we used no safety straps, just balanced around. When you drive by them at the harbour front, see how high they are.

My first car was a Corvair Monza

1967 – summer, Muchalat Inlet, Thasis Logging,  owned by a Danish firm, the Far East India Company, building a new  pulp mill at Gold River, West coast of  Vancouver Island, B.C.

Through Son’s of Norway I had met a nice boy from Svolver. Nils Skulbru;

he worked at the downtown office, but had ambitions as a cross-country skier. Somehow he was already Canadian Citizen, and was competing for the Canadian National Team, at that time it was small group and organization. (See: Scandia Ski Shop).

Nils wanted to work in the bush, and it was not hard to talk me into it. We went down to East Hastings, to where they sold lumberjacks booths, with spikes,  and clothing. Took a ferry to Vancouver Island and drove to Gold River. Gravel roads from Campbell River and across. unbelievable country for any body, especially a norwegian that loved the outdoors.

The foreman in Golf River was Dick Kossick ? The “town” at that time consisted of a mobile trailer that had the co. office, sheriff, barber and a small store. Later in the summer more trailers came, including a library !

Nils and me got a job up Jacklah River, out the Muchalat Inlet   from Gold River. We got a 14′  aluminum boat with a small outboard engine, power saws, a tent, gas and oil, some foods, and a map where to thin the trees that had grown up since it was logged about 15 years ago. I will include some pictures as I find them. We found the area, pulled the boat up the river as far as we could, so that nobody would see it, and thinking that we were in trouble. We had to blaze a trail, falling large trees over the river to use as bridges, and found the old trail up the valley. We established camp about an hour’s hike up, but had to make two trips to carry everything. The camp was established at a river crossing, about half an hour to the work site. The river was clear as a bell! The salmon and rainbow trout was everywhere. Every second day one of us  got up an hour earlier and made a fire, boiled water for tea and porridge, made lunch, and prepared for the days work. The work consisted of falling , thinning trees , and leaving the best and nicest at a 8 foot radius. Some large old trees had to be cut down , if they shaded too much, or otherways in the way. This was the most dangerous part of the job.

See: Choker man for a week – and still alive

We had no communication with Gold River. Every month a helicopter flew over and took pictures, they had no place to land, that was the basis of our cleared area that we got paid for.

See wildlife encounters; for black bear and cougar stories. Fishing; for fishing stories.

But I must tell one here; when I made the fire, preparing for dinner, I would have a look into the river, and find the fish I wanted for dinner. When the coals were ready, I would take the fishing rod, with a fly or a lure, depending where in the stream the salmon was, and let it slide down to the open mouth. The fish I covered in skunk cabbage, a large-leaved plant, as we had no aluminium foil. I learned later that this was how the natives often grilled their salmon.

Every second day one of us had to hike down to the boat and carry gas and oil back to the camp. My first encounter with a black bear happened this way, on a narrow trail, with a load in each hand, and no cover.

See: Wildlife stories. Bear no. one.

We saw signs, and often heard the bears, but they were very cautious. We had canvas bags filled with drinking water, often we hang them on branches on the trail to and from the work site. The bears would bend the branches down, and chew on the red screw caps of the containers, thinking it was a berry.

See also: Bear eating tooth paste. Bear opening tin cans. Cougar killing deer. Too many salmon. Fishing with a racoon.

The bears would take the food in the camp. To protect the food, we would hang the rucksack’s in a rope from a log felled across the river. Hanging them so low the bears could not reach them from the log, or from below.

The bears would use the same logs to cross the river, and one day I observed one trying to pull the rucksack up by the rope. After a perfect first grip and pull, the sack was almost within reach. The poor fellow, could not figure out how to change the grip, from one paw to the other. I got the message right there. The difference between us and them; we can change grip and pull something up !

I am convinced, that if one of them had seen how we did it, they would just repeat the manoeuvre, and be equal. We never killed a bear there, they were friendly and not offensive at all. The next crew killed 6 in a few days.

Fishing story: Nils was sick one day and I caught too many.

Racoon fishing next to me.

Singing to the Devil in a storm.

17 wasp stings in the neck, and a bottle of vodka.

1967 – fall. Coming back from the summer at Jacklah River (See: Speeding in Comox), I had no work lined up. Nils went back to the office, and on to competing in Oslo at the World Ski Championship, and the following year to the Winter Olympic Games. I was in the same good shape as him, but he had cross-country talents. After the daily hard work in Jacklah River, we trained running up the steepest hill on the trail, almost every evening.

Back in Vancouver, the captain on our soccer team, Chris Boe,

born in Bergen, Norway, needed some furniture to the lobby of his plumbing business. B&B Plumbing was a large Vancouver company started by his grandfather, Bernie Boe, (Bjarne Bø, from Bergen), who was then living in Williams Lake, retired and over 90. Bernie had one of the first cars in B.C., the first one to drive up to the Caribou, and one of the first air planes. His plane is now hanging in the Provincial Museum in Victoria B.C. Bernie is famous for many things, landing his plane in a snowstorm and saving a badly wounded logger; when they took his pilot license away, he got a snowmobile and went through the ice at Williams Lake, in his 90′ tis, lived to 106, outliving his last few “nurses”.

Anyway, Chris needed some furniture, and I had nothing to do. I had seen furniture being made at Leto, but I had never actually made anything my self, I was never into the production. I rented a place, later 1804 West Fourth Street, the corner of 4th. and Burrard in Vancouver.

See: Scandinavian Furniture Co. and Scandia Ski Shop Ltd.

found wholesalers of fabrics and all I needed to produce some sofa’s and chairs. Many years later they were still in the B&B Plumbing and Heating Ltd.’s offices, well made as they were.

As a true Sunnmoring, furniture was in my blood. A saying; you can put a Sunnmoring on a desert island, and he starts a furniture factory.” I was busy from the first day.

4th. and Burrard was then as now a real good corner. Out of downtowns hustle and bustle, downtown just a bridge away, on the crossway to UBC and west, the fine residential properties and the airport to south. Scandinavian Furniture co. was a reality. I started importing som furniture from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, but for the next 15 years I still produced a few models.

See: Scandinavian Furniture Co.

My friend Nils Skulbru was on the Canadian National ski team. He had no skies, so I started a ski shop next door at 4th. & Burrard.

See: Scandia Ski Shop Ltd.

Nils was a silent partner, so was another friend, Harry Bekke,

an interior designer, fun skier, party man of the world, and some connection to the southern part of Norway. Business was good, until I had to say stop in 1979. But it was quite a ride while it lasted.

1968 – 1979 Gastown. The old town of Vancouver was called Gastown.

See: Gastown – 157 Water Street.

In ’68 I rented an eight stories old warehouse at 157 Water Street in Gastown. I rented equipment and personally used 5 ton of sand to sand blast the basement, main and second stories. I have had sand in my face ever since. The red brick walls and heavy timber came out just beautiful. You can visit the place now and see.

See: Scandinavian Imports Ltd.

The Gastown area was becoming the in place to be in Vancouver, the best restaurants, stores and fashionable offices, but at a price.

See: Restaurant friends.

The steam clock in Gastown,  is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Vancouver, and B.C. We had a hard time getting enough finances together to get an old steam engineer to build a clock; it makes clouds of steam and is very popular, but runs on electricity. Every tourist in town have a picture beside the clock.

1979 – 1982 Burns Lake.,_British_Columbia

See also Burns Lake, Uncha Lake road, farming and some more. Importing and selling Scandinavian furniture in the USA and Canada got some serious blows. First when  the US dollar was freed from the gold prices in ’74. Scandinavian currencies fluctuated. Then an untimely long shoremans strike in the US. Following with a long shoremans strike in Canada, that lasted for almost a year. Ships came only to San Francisco, and the trucking from there cost more than the ocean freight. I had five stores by then (see: Scandinavian Imports Ltd.) and over 25 employes. I had to close down. Like it or not.

I was 33 years old. Got married to Gila. ( Gisela Hartges) My stepson Tim (Timothy Horseman) was 7, my son Hans two, and I took a job with The Provincial Government, as Economic Development Commissioner at Bulkley-Nechako Regional District with office in Burns Lake.  The area is over 78 .000 sq. km. Larger than Ireland, or Holland and Belgium together. Total population then about 35.000, located in 7 villages and some rural areas. We all moved to the great Canadian North. To Uncha Lake Road, on Southbank, B.C.

See: Uncha Lake liv ing, Burns Lake, Economic Development commissioner.

I then attended University of Waterloo in Kitchener, Ontario. The only Canadian university with degree courses on Industrial Development, later changed to Economic Development. The three-year summer programs,  lead to a Degree; Ec.Dev. I was only 40 pages away, with an approved title: One industry Town, based on Kitimat B.C.,_British_Columbia

1982 – 1985 Economic Development commissioner, Sunshine Coast Regional District, Sechelt, B.C. Canada.  We all moved to Sechelt , bought a nice house at Chapman Creek  on Mission Point. On a salmon river, on the beach, view over Georgia Straight , Cruise ships and Beachcombers , room for a horse or two, some sheep, chickens, trout in the pond, grapes and kiwis covering the house; a dream house and place, a place to live until death. What could go wrong ? Divorce ?

Many important aspect of my working life came about in Sechelt.  I was responsible for getting the Canadian Salmon farming industry established.

See: Aqua West ’86, World Expo ’86,  B.C. Salmon Farmers association. etc. 

1986 World Expo ’86. 

1987 – 1988 Master Marine Canada Ltd.

1988 – 1989 Exxon Valdez.

1989 – 1992 Master Marine, Sechelt, B.C.

1992 – 1996 Economic Development Commissioner, Okanagan Indian Band, Vernon, B.C.

1992 – ’98 Playing for The National Hotel Old Timer’s in Vernon B.C.  We had a over 35 and a over 45 league. I played on both teams until I was 54. I also coached a ladies team, “The Ryuzan Trench Qeens” over 33,

Form for the referee, for each game to record who played, all in the Okanagan soccer league.

(Please contact me, I love you all.)

1996 – 1997 Canadian Wilderness at Sugar Lake B.C.

1998 – 1999  Manager Aalesund Golfklubb, Aalesund, Norway.

2000 – 2010 Founding Manager, Moa Golf Klubb, Aalesund , Norway.

2010 – now – unemployable pensioner – lots of working experience – looking for something meaningful to do !

9 Responses to Work; and full life of Experience

  1. Bill Copping says:

    Hello there Oddvin! Came across your BLOG. I ran into and rode Harley’s with your childhood girlfriend in Norway!! You were in the Army, she, and you were teenagers!! It is so funny how this came about!! She was a neighbour of mine in Arizona and from Seattle!! A hairdresser! Her name is Anna Lisa!! Very independent Biker Babe!! There was a Picture hanging on her wall!! I stared at it, and, said to her I know that Face??!! She said to me, “He was my sweetie years ago in Norway”!!! Oddvin Vedo!!!! I said I know Oddvin!! She was stunned!! I was stunned!! I told her I heard you were in the Okanagon raising some kind animals!! Since then, she moved to Lake Havusu City. I lost touch with you!! So, now I see you are back in Norway!! Tim and my son Brad Copping played hockey together!! He is 38 on July 3rd!! Time flies!! It looks like you are 70? I just turned 65!! Still have South Coast Ford in Sechelt. But, we moved to West Kelowna, and live here now!! Give me an email when you have time. Regards, Bill Copping..

  2. Murray Prattley says:

    Read your blog and realise what an interesting life you have had.I do not have such an interesting repoitoire as you. I am also a pensioner but keep myself busy on my son in law’s farm and the local Lions Club. Good to hear from you. Murray Prattley

  3. Terry KIrby says:

    Hello Odvin
    I am Terry Kirby, Rudy Riepe’s friend and partner. I did some work with you during Expo 86. I was Director of Corporate Sponsors and Official Suppliers, in any event I have a Boat in Sechelt that was built for a pioneering spirit. Call me if you wish when you look at the boat. Best wishes, TK

  4. Yvonne says:

    Hi Odvin, I came across your blog, don’t really know how that happened!!! So great to read about all you have done since we last met. I moved back to Ontario in1998 to be close to my family. I learned so much about myself and the world during those early fish farming years, still remember you introducing us to the idea.
    Hope you are well, Yvonne Kraft

  5. Hei Oddvar. Fant tilfeldigvis sidene dine på nettet. Gøy å se bildene jeg tok i Vancouver 1971. Jeg har de samme i mitt album fra den tiden. Jeg reiste til CA og Mexico, senere hjem. Så jordomseiling, hjem blakk.I 1999 første til å seile med lystbåt nord om 81 grN – N for Spitsbergen, senre rundt Island og til Sibir med seilbåt. Nå pensjonist i Oslo. Siste reise i fjor til Irak 2,5 uker som turist. Intressant.
    Masse hilsner
    Per Steffensen

  6. Hei Oddvin!
    I found your homepage to late last night. Therefore I wrote in Norwegian. By “accident” I stumbled across the blog. For me this is fun. My black and white photos form 1971 at PNE and Scandia Ski Shop at 1804W. 4th street is history for both of us.
    Nice to see pictures of both Lidvar and Kari too.
    Early January 1972 I left Vancouver by bus. Went to CA and later to Mexico were I travelled on a very low budget. Came back to Norway with NOK 100,- in my pocket.
    Later I sailed round the world in the days of sextant, nautical tables and watch. Came home broke.
    In 1999 two friends and I were the first to sail north of 81 °N and round all the islands of Svalbard. Lots if ice, walrus, seals and some polar bears. The best sailing trip ever.
    Later we sailed north of Russia and to the White Sea were we visited Gulag No. 1.
    The sailing boat and we were taken into custody when sailing back.
    We also cruised round Island together, and to other interesting places.
    Some friends and I often charter a bareboat yacht in Caribbean during the winter time.
    Lots of fun and good sailing.
    I am now retired and live in Oslo near the forest of Nordmarka were I do lots of x-country skiing and biking.
    Last fall I travelled for 2.5 weeks all over Iraq. Very interesting – lots of history.
    Next trip this fall might be the ultimate trip of my lifetime.

    Masse hilsner

  7. Ken Collins says:

    Hi Odvin,
    Good to see you are still around. Thanks for a most fascinating read.

  8. Lars Simonsen says:

    Hei Odvin ! Nils Skulbru som du har bilde av i albumet ditt, er i fra Leknes i Lofoten (der jeg bor). Han bor nå i Battle Ground, Wa. Usa. og er 80 år i år.

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