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1943: Thor Berg fished for a living

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on Nov. 4, 1943.
         One of Luverne’s oldest residents, Thor Berg, who will be 90 years of age next January 3, is the only Diamond Club member thus far who at one time fished for a living. Although Norway and fishing are synonymous, as fishing at one time was one of its greatest, if not its greatest industry, no previous Diamond Club  member, and there have been a number who were born and reared in Norway, has ever claimed to be a professional fisherman.
Mr. Berg, only brother of Nels Berg, last week’s member of the Diamond Club, was born near Drammen, Norway, the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Ingebreckt Berg. As soon as he completed his common school education, he became interested in fishing, and he was about 14 when he first put to sea.
Bulk of the fish caught were cod or herring. Cod, Mr. Berg explained, was used mainly in preparation of “lutefisk,” a favorite food of virtually every Norwegian.
“We’d get about five or six cents each for the cod,” Mr. Berg said, “and about $1 per barrel for the herring. That’s not very much now when you consider the price of fish when you have to buy it, but in those days, it provided a living for many.”
Many times, he and a companion went out 25 or 30 miles to set their nets. Sometimes, when they had extremely good luck, their haul would be four or five tons. Rowing a boat that heavily loaded through choppy and sometimes extremely rough waters provided the men with plenty of work and plenty of scares. However, he never had any serious accidents during the time he was a fisherman.
He served in the Norwegian army one summer, he reports, and he enjoyed it very much. Forty-two days were spent in war games in a wooded part of the country, and this life in the open was enjoyed greatly by the Luverne man.
An uncle, Ole Berg, who had come to the United States, induced Mr. Berg to come to Rock county. He came directly to Luverne from Trondheim, Norway, in 1876, and at that time, Luverne was a small frontier town trying to get a start in life. Philo Hawes’ log cabin was still standing on the bank of the river near where the city power plant now stands, and much of the residential district was then in wheat, or was still virgin prairie.
“When I got off the train and came up town,” Mr. Berg recalls, “I saw a man playing croquet at the place where Backer’s hardware store is now located.”
Mr. Berg was employed on a farm in Mound township, and has walked behind many a plow drawn by ox-team. He has stood on a Marsh harvester and bound grain by hand, and remembers the days when wheat was the county’s chief crop, and the farmers didn’t believe that corn would ever become a paying crop north of the Iowa line.
Roads were wherever a person’s team chose to go, Mr. Berg stated. Wagon tracks led everywhere, and a stranger could easily pick the wrong one and become lost.
He well remembers the famous wind storm that moved the Blue Mound Lutheran church from its former location, west of the Rock Island railroad tracks, to its present site. “The wind just picked it up, carried it 35 or 40 rods, and set it down again,” Mr. Berg said. “Although it was not completely wrecked, it had to be torn down and completely repaired.
(Continued next week.)

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