On March 30, members and guests gathered at the Green Hills Valley Golf Club in Millbrae, CA to celebrate the Swedish Club’s centennial. Such longevity is a reason for pride in any of our Swedish communities. The celebration was produced by two of the most indefatigable members of the club, Ernst and Gunn Jensen. More than ten dozen men and women gathered for an evening of reminiscing, dining and dancing.

Reminiscing on wonderful times...
As the Simoni Trio played intermittently throughout the evening, MC Ernst Jensen invited President Anders DeJounge to officially welcome everyone. The president recalled the wonderful times when his parents introduced him to their favorite club for newly immigrated Swedes. He was grateful for all present who continued the traditions of good fellowship that had culminated in this day’s festivities. He concluded with a hearty "Helan Går," that rang throughout the hall.
After a delicious salad, the MC called upon Consul General Barbro Osher. She brought best wishes from Ambassador Hafström, and then as such an accomplished woman herself, she reminded all that whereas the club began as a professional men’s club to welcome all Swedish visitors, encouraging them to emigrate, it was the women, admitted belatedly, who supported the club to survive to this prestigious day. It was that achievement, as much as the longevity, which she saluted to great applause.
Later Consul General emerita Siri Eliason was introduced. All fondly remembered how she brought the club and all local organizations together to celebrate New Sweden ’88. She brought greetings from the president and members of the Swedish Club of Los Angeles. Still later, SAPL Secretary Sandy Watts congratulated the club and thanked its members for their support of our local congress of Swedish clubs but particularly for supporting the league’s Midsummer festival in Sveadal. Appropriately this centennial year, the Swedish Club selects the woman to represent Svea.

A bond among Swedes
After dinner Ted Olsson was introduced to review the club's history, as he had done a decade earlier. The founding and early years were easy to recall because they had been well recorded and oft repeated. Olsson began by quoting his farfar’s speech at the 15th anniversary, stating the club’s purposes: to form a bond between Swedes here and at home, having fun while welcoming visitors to a cordial home-away-from-home in Swedish or English.
At the invitation of Dr. Axel Lindström, a naturopathic physician, seven men met on March 15, 1913 to establish and write the bylaws for the club. Those attending were Emil Högberg (the masonry contractor), Erik Olaf Lindblom (the lucky goldminer who built the Claremont Hotel), Knut A. Lundström (the famous hat manufacturer), Alexander Olsson (publisher/editor of Vestkusten and secretary of the Swedish American Patriotic League for 54 years), Gottfried T. Petterson (furniture manufacturer and building contractor), and Carl Olaf Swanberg (owner of the Portal-Louvre Café where they often met). While Lindblom was given the pride of place as first president, Linström, the second president, was affectionately remembered as “Klubbens papa.”
The evolution was slow. Still in 1970 were “honorary Swedes” invited to join, and not until 1986 did the first of these, George Taylor, become president. The women of the auxiliary, formed in 1962, didn't become full members until 1975. Gradually the board was opened to women—among them Siv Elwing, Irene Dunton, Ruby Hendrickson, Eva Person and others—but it was not until a decade ago that Gunn Jensen broke the glass ceiling to become president, demonstrating how badly the club had been missing a woman’s finesse and collaborative achievements.

At 100, Club challenged to recover history
After introducing the attending past presidents—Bengt Sandberg, Harold Carlson, Ernst Jensen, Anders deJounge, George Sundquist, Lars Lenck, Gunn Jensen and Lars Ortenblad—the historian noted that seven past presidents had served for three years or more, Art Elwing for a total of nine years! Next all board members were applauded as they were recognized. All members of the Midsummer Queens courts were introduced. Then decreasing waves of the audience stood when recognized: visitors, first generation members, second and third generations, as well as Carol Talbot, a fourth generation descendant of the founder Alexander Olsson.
In conclusion, the historian remarked on the difficulty he had in collecting memories and photos from the last quarter century. So, he challenged all members to use this centennial year to update the club’s history in a centennial festschrift and to renew the club’s vitality. This Nordstjernan article similarly documents this centennial occasion for the record: “If it ain’t printed, it didn’t happen.”

The evening concluded with everyone dancing to a great variety of music. Photographer Jonathan Costello captured the occasion for all to remember (see below). Many memories were exchanged and more made late into the evening before everyone departed, some with table floral arrangements, and all with memorial centennial wine glasses for future skåls recalling this occasion.

By Ted Olsson
Photos can be seen and purchased at www.sendtoprint.net/proofbook with the event code: swedish100. All photos: © 2013 Jonathan Costello, photographer / Cosmophoto@mindspring.com