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Aina Carlson lives in two worlds

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Picture courtesy GSF
Aina Carlson, nee Norrback, is a 96-year-old seasoned commuter between Närpes and Florida. Each year since 1972 she has traveled over the Atlantic. She has been a widow since 1974 when her husband Alfons Konn (Carlsson) died. Their only child, Bertel, died in 1956 in an airplane accident. She will be 97 in October and is sprightly and in good health.

Her parents were Jacob and Edla Norrback who were farmers and had many children. In 1929 they moved from Palimyron in Övermark. Her younger sister Hildegard left when she was about 18-19 years old and Aina left at age 22.

Her father worked as a lumberjack in the woods at Fraser Mill in British Columbia, Canada. Earlier he had worked a while in America. He had also completed Russian military service because Finland was part of Russia at that time. His second trip to America was 1924-29. On his way back to Finland he stopped in New York to visit his daughters.

In the spring of 1929 Aina traveled to Hamilton, Canada and got a household job with a rich family for $25 a month. After a month she moved back to New York and lived with Hulda and Axel Nygård until she got a job with a rich family who paid $50 a month. Everything went well until the Depression came along. In the 1920s there were many people from Övermark and Närpes in New York – Bronx and other parts of the city. Later they scattered to New Jersey and Connecticut.

Now Aina’s sister Hildegard is in Long Island and brother Levi is in Sweden. Among noted relatives of the younger generation are Finland’s ambassador Ole Norrback – Oslo and Stefan Träskvik, Närpes.

Aina married Alfons Konn from Övermark, a carpenter, in the New York area. They had a son Bertel who was in the Army and wanted to be a flier. But his career was cut short. He was among 3 young men whose plane hit a treetop and crashed in Savannah, Georgia. All the men died. The year was 1956.

The couple eventually moved to Dundee in central Florida where they grew citrus trees for 16-17 years. In 1972 they visited their homeland and it whet their appetite. In 1974 they bought a place in Näsby, Närpes. But it rained and was damp and chilly that year. Alfons became sick and died that autumn. Since 1972 Aina has traveled between Närpes and Florida.

She said winters are cold in Närpes. In her childhood she skied to school in Räfsbäck. In the summer when there wasn’t much water in the river they would take a shortcut over the stream at Granfors to “Dalarna.”


By Bjarne Smeds. Norden 7 Aug 2003

Translated by June Pelo


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