After dinner and a couple of Aquavits, Alfred looked me straight in the eye
and said, "You should get involved, we want
to keep this place!"
A week or two later, Alfred introduced me to Irving Highland, our longtime
former Torske Klub Boss, who had
arranged the sale of the Norske Klub to B.B. Lodge. He stated that the
bondholders were getting restless but….
he added, "If you take over B.B. Lodge and Alfred agrees to run the place, we'll
keep our money in!" Wow, what a
deal!! How could we refuse!! It was very difficult to say "no" to Irving
One of the first things we did was to change the B.B.Lodge meetings from
Wednesday evenings to Fridays, which
greatly increased attendance (read bar revenues). We aggressively pursued other
Norwegian organizations to use
and meet at Norway Center. An annual fundraising drive was started which brought
in thousands of dollars over
the years. We held Halloween costume parties, Christmas and Spring Bazaar's, New
Year's Eve and Valentine's Day
Parties. Cross country ski afternoons at Waveland Golf Course, then back
toNorway Center for Birgit Gusfre's
Lapskaus, were special treats.
In order to stop the cash flow hemorrhage, Alfred immediately put a sign on
Norway Center, "Hall for Rent." Within
a year Alfred was generating $25,000 a year from weddings, cotillions (!) and
other celebratory occasions. These
rentals came from the surrounding neighborhood and would occur mostly on
weekends and last until 2 or 3am.
Alfred would hire off-duty policeman and arrange Boulevard parking with the
Shakespeare Station. Afterward, he
and his son Bob, would clean up the mess left. Alfred did all this and was at
every one of these events for the next
10 years. The revenues from these rentals covered Norway Center's fixed
Things did not always run smoothly at these parties. On occasions the
surrounding neighbors became upset with the
disorderly conduct of some of the partygoers. This resulted in several meetings
with the local Aldermen that Alfred
finessed with considerable charm.
Alfred instituted the Sunday afternoon Smorgasbord's that became a huge
success and were profitable. He hired and
paid the kitchen staff, waitresses, bartenders, musicians and other personal as
needed. He bought all the food for
these events, picked it up and hauled it into Norway Center himself.
Often, Alfred would sleep at Norway Center for a few hours after cleaning up
from a "cotillion" the previous night,
before getting up early in the morning to buy the food for Torske Klub. On
Saturdays when Torske Klub met at Norway
Center, Alfred was down at the Randolph Street market at 5 am buying potatoes
and carrots. Then he would swing
by Ericsson's in Andersonville to pick up fresh Torsk and bring it all back to
Norway Center's kitchen. Barney Jacobsen
would then prepare and cook the fish, have it upstairs on platters, wrapped in
cloth napkins and ready to serve at 1pm.
Throughout all of this, Alfred somehow never forgot to start soaking the yellow
peas on Friday afternoons for our Ertesuppe!
Over the years, Alfred hosted many distinguished events at Norway Center and
often received compliments on both the
operations and food from his appreciative guests. The Norwegian Consul General's
Syttende Mai parties, Icelandic
Consul's events and a myriad of other functions under Alfred's direction all
contributed to the financial success of Norway
Center. By 1982, Norway Center's operations had become so successful that the
accumulative deficit had been eliminated
and the mortgage retired. In addition, building improvements had been made (the
oil- fired boiler was converted to gas) and
other maintenance and re-decorating had been accomplished.
Irving Gunderson painted the Peisestua ceiling; Reidar Rosenvinge painted the
downstairs and held Saturday morning
Rosemaling classes in the Ballroom.
It was a joyous Sunday afternoon indeed when at a Smorgesbrod, Alfred, Irving
and I held a mortgage burning ceremony.
The Champagne corks popped as Irv threw the burning mortgage papers into the
fireplace. The Lodge held an appreciation
party in honor of Alfred and recognized his many contributions. He retired
shortly thereafter and I, because of increased
work demands, retired as Lodge President and Board Chairman of Norway Center.
When we left in 1984, Norway Center
was free and clear.
Alfred, besides being a valued business partner became a warm and cherished
friend.He shared his enthusiasm for cross-country
skiing and his love for the outdoors. Golf was dear to his heart. When Torske
Klub moved to SAC'S because of increasing
problems with the new management of Norway Center, Alfred for years would drive
up to our house and then I would drive us |
both to Torske Klub. This was always fun because during these trips we were able
to solve all the world's problems and spend
most of the time laughing about it.
We were both deeply disappointed when we learned that by 1988 Norway Center
was again back in debt, this time so much
so that it forced the sale of the building. Alfred and I never stopped talking
about the fun we had had making it all work at Norway
Center. It was a great experience for both of us.
Alfred Newgard was a wonderful, hard-working man who loved his adopted
country but above all else loved his family, his
grandchildren, his friends and Torske Klub. He will be greatly missed.
Founding Torske Klub Members and good friends: Barney Jacobsen, Alfred Newgard
Norway Center Mortgage Burning Ceremony: Irving Highland, Inge Hansen, Rob