My Parents Have Lived the American Dream

What is your definition of the American Dream?  Mine would be as follows:

Accomplishing your personal and professional goals while making a contribution to others in a wider community and achieving financial independence.

My parents were both born in the small town of Jamestown, North Dakota.  When you mention North Dakota, it requires a discussion of the weather, and a climate of hot dusty summers and bitter cold windy winters. That creates a mental and physical toughness that was proven in 1997.  That year the Red River of the North flooded Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Water up to 5 feet deep covered the city, caused electrical and gas fires, and resulted in the evacuation of 90% of the 50,000 residents.  Due to a combination of preparedness and resourcefulness there was not even one direct fatality from this disaster.  Within a year of rolling up their sleeves, the city was almost back to normal!

This same kind of perseverance was a key characteristic of my parent’s generation in North Dakota.  Based mainly upon a Scandinavian population, some often characterized it as stubbornness.  But it worked to build a life and wealth on the harsh northern prairie.

Although my father was several years older, my Mom (Loretta Pederson) admits to barely knowing of my Dad in high school.  Mom came from a broken home with two brothers (older Bob & younger Chuck) and her Mom often had to work several jobs to support this family.  There is no question that they like many during the depression experienced true poverty.  Nevertheless, all graduated from high school.  Mother’s Mom, Amanda was born in 1900 and lived to the ripe old age of 88.  My Dad’s mother Hilda emigrated as a teenager from Sweden to Jamestown barely knowing a word of English.  Neither of my Grandmothers ever learned to drive a car.

My parents met several years after high school and married in 1944.  Although my Dad’s Dad, Carl, had only an eighth  grade education he had the skills and vision to build his own house in Jamestown and start a small construction firm using mainly hand tools and a few employees.  He also had the good sense to marry my grandmother, Hilda, who fully appreciated and marveled at the opportunity of America.  My Dad had two brothers (older brother Cliff & Dad’s twin brother Doug) overseas in WWII and a much younger brother (Herb) and sister (Ollie) still at home when he married Mom and continued working for his father.  By 1950, my parents were building their own brick house (from savings) in a new subdivision on a hill overlooking Jamestown, ND where my sister Susan and I grew up.

Mom was an optimist maintaining that “everything happens for the better”. She could throw a party for a dozen, and we have the home movies of the neighborhood birthdays to prove it. In spite of school, scouts, the Methodist church, the delicious multi course dinners didn’t interfere with an immaculate house. On Mondays, I counted on a leftover roast beef sandwich for lunch during those ND winters.  While Dad was building bridges, Mom mixed volunteer work such as “meals on wheels” with a passion for duplicated bridge eventually achieving a Silver Master.  For the last 25 years, my parents have owned a 2nd home in Arizona and have never borrowed a dime or paid any interest.  As America began to rebuild from the war and depression, the modern conveniences of the 50’s created a quality of life in North Dakota the previous generations could not have imagined.  That construction company of hand tools became a modern company with redi-mix trucks, and heavy equipment when I graduated from high school in 1965.

That stubborn perseverance, a lot of hard work, and the principle of always saving part of an annual income (with the miracle of compound interest) allowed Don and Loretta Lindberg to achieve the American Dream.

No wonder North Dakota has the highest percentage of millionaires in all these United States.  Thank-you Mom, and Dad, & HAPPY 60th ANNIVERSARY!!!     Love, Mark