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Judy Earle - Personal Communication
Judy Earle (nee Furro) of Seahurst, WA is a cousin of Sigurd Hall (born Sigurd Hoel in Furugrenda, Norway). Judy contacted me through my website in August 2002. Since then we have corresponded by e-mail and have met in person several times. These are excerpts from our correspondence, edited lightly.

E-mail, 25 August 2002
From Judy Earle to Lowell Skoog

Judy: "Hello! My grandfather was born in Furugrenda in the Sunndal valley of Norway. I believe he sponsored Sigurd Hoel (Sig Hall), a cousin, when he came to America. Sig was killed in the 1940 Silver Skis on Mt Rainier.

"Last month my husband and I finally had a chance to visit the valley and the Hoel farm, which remains in the family since the beginning of written records, at least 500 years. We learned a lot about our family. Sig's nephew showed us some of his trophies, still on display in their farmhouse. This was a fantastic experience, being in this little valley in Norway and reading PNSA trophies with Sig's name!!! Was the Silver Skis trophy ever actually named for him after his death? Does the race still happen? Is there any connection my cousin, Gunnar Rekdal Hoel, could make to add to your archives? Or could he visit a place, or see a race, called Silver Skis? He doesn't have e-mail, but I could contact him for you if you like. His English is excellent. And if you know any more about Sig Hall, I would be grateful for any information you have. Norway was occupied the month after his death, I believe, so communication at the time would have been interrupted. Thanks in advance for any information you could give me."

E-mail, 10 October 2002
From Judy Earle to Lowell Skoog

Judy: "My cousin Magnar was able to talk to Sig Hall's younger sister last weekend and learned that his birthdate was January 27, 1910."

E-mail, 28 October 2002
From Judy Earle to Lowell Skoog

Judy: "Hi, Lowell. We received an e-mail from our cousin Magnar today saying that Elthie Rekdal, Sig Hall's sister, passed away last weekend at age 90. We showed you pictures of the farm where she lived when we met you at the Mountaineers dinner. She was very sharp still when we met her last summer. It was she who was finally able to provide us with his birthdate.

"Her son Gunnar let us know that he showed her the copied films of her brother skiing when we sent them last month. She commented that it was just like bringing him to life again, after more than 60 years. So thanks again for making the film and letting us use it! I'm so glad Dick and I went to get acquainted with them last summer, and that we found your website 'in the nick of time.' Thanks again for your program at the dinner, too. We enjoyed it very much."

E-mail, 25 April 2006
From Judy Earle to Lowell Skoog

Judy forwarded to me an email from Odd Hals, a nephew of Sigurd Hall living in Norway. Since Odd's written English is a little rough, I've edited it below:
"And so to Lowell's questions: Sig was the eldest brother and a very brilliant sportsman in skiing and soccer. I think he was only 19 when he went to America. He had relatives in the Midwest and lived with them the first years. His younger brother Endre took over the farm [in Norway]. There were five sisters. My mother was the youngest. Sig sent letters to his family and wanted to qualify for the olympics in 1940 to get an opportunity to visit them, my mother has told me. The farm was not so small, but those were hard times in Norway. Sig was also an adventurer. He took some risks, my mother told me. For example, he swam the river Driva in spring high water, over and back. Under those conditions, the river is not small. When my mother told me about him when I was a boy it was with pride, but also with a warning to me that I should be careful. It was a little confusing to me, I remember. I heard when I was a boy that I was much like Sig from my mother and others who knew him."

E-mail, 25 May 2006
From Judy Earle to Lowell Skoog

Judy: "Sig had been in line to inherit the farm, which is one of the largest in the valley. Sig was the oldest son, but the fourth of six siblings. There was great joy at his birth! Hoel [the name of the farm] stretches from the Driva River all the way up the mountains to a glacier. He went to America in 1929 at age 19, with the intention of staying 5 years and earning money to help the farm financially. Helga [Sig's youngest sister] remembers the whole family walking with him to the bus stop, and all taking his hand with great sadness. He went to Wisconsin, first, and then came West.

"He found times hard in America, too, and couldn't afford to come home. He found his way in America in climbing and skiing. He had hoped for a spot on the 1940 Olympic team. He was a self-educated electrician. All this I think you know.

"After being gone 3-4 years, he sent a Christmas note and a special star for the tree. They used the star for many years, maybe still do. Helga recited the poem from memory. It was probably not written by Sig, but was a caption of a card. The poem goes:

Treet står pyntet med stas og med stjerne.
Snart kan jeg se det om enn fra det fjerne.
Kunne jeg komme
Kom jeg så gjerne.

The tree is decorated with finery and stars.
I can almost see it, although from afar.
If only I could come;
I so long to come.

[In an email on 4 June 2016, Kristen Rekdal wrote that the poem was sent by Sig in a telegram on Christmas Eve, 1939. He also wrote that the distance to town was 6km, corrected below.]

"Helga and the rest of the family remember him as a great athlete. There was a division between the 'town boys' in Sunndalsøra and the boys from Hoel, but Sig was so good at sports, and spent so much time with the Sunndalsøra boys he played an important role helping them see that Hoel guys were OK, too.

"He played on the Sunndalsøra soccer team. He would work all day on the farm, then run the 6 K to town (even though he probably had a bike), participate in practice or a game, then run back. If it was warm enough, he would then jump in the Driva River for a swim. The Driva is a dangerous river during flood stage, but they remember that Sig swam across it, and back again. All ashore were worried.

"Times were hard, and he was a farm boy without a lot of equipment. He was known to show up at ski competitions with poles made out of Hoel's curtain rods. Also, once there was a competition he had signed to enter, but a few days prior to it, he broke a ski. There was no money to buy skis, certainly, and no time to make another. There was a pall over the whole farm, knowing he wouldn't be able to participate. Then, he came in with a piece of metal, and repaired his ski himself! On the day of the race, the Sunndalsøra boys teased him a lot about the junk he was skiing with... BUT he won, and then there was a big article in the paper about him. He was 12 years old. He entered many ski competitions locally, and often won them, becoming the subject of several articles in the local newspaper.

"He loved life, at a time when married women in the valley still covered their hair. There were people with strong, fundamental religion who felt it was important to keep the youth conducting themselves properly. Helga told that the local youth had built a house for parties and gatherings, and one 17 May [Norway's Constitution Day] the fundamentalists tried to keep the youth from dancing. Sig said, 'It's a damned thing when we can't dance in our own house!' A number of the family members I have met still enjoy the traditional music, dancing and singing, thank goodness!

"All had earlier enjoyed seeing your film showing Sig skiing. And Odd had been able to pick out his uncle easily. Why? He had followed his own brother, Gunnar, and the body movement was the same. Also, Endre, Odd's son, was able to pick out Sig. Why? In turn, he had followed Odd.

"The tradition of mountain sports is alive and well in Sig's family. Endre is now designing and making custom skis. Odd, Endre and Gunnar, along with other Norwegian and Norwegian/American members of the family, look forward to meeting you at the barbecue in July. I hope these little anecdotes have been helpful to you. See you soon! -- Judy"

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Last Updated: Sun, Jun 05, 2016 10:37:05 PM