Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Erling Breda Arctander Lange 1896-1976

Erling Breda Arctander Lange, (called Earl) was born February 20, 1896 in Oslo, Norway and was christened in Uranienborg Church May 3, 1896 by Reverend Arnesen. Godparents were Mrs. Thora Hansteen, Ms. Nielsine Breda, Ms. Lul Klem, Bachelor of Law O. E. Kjoss, storage chief Gløer Thv. Mejdell and post exporter A. N. Corneliussen. He was first schooled at home at Eidsvold Works. He was in 1910 accepted at Vestheim School and in 1911 at Christiania Commercial College. He was due for confirmation October 1, 1911 in Fagerborg Church. For about a year and a half, he worked at Steen & Strøm in Christiania.

Earl left Norway on July 1, 1913 on the Kristianiafjord and arrived at Ellis Island, New York, on July 16, 1913. Erling moved to Rugby, North Dakota, where he met and married Ruth Finnerud and where their first child, Edith, was born. In 1916 Erling and his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he got a position in the same company as his brother Øjvind and where their second child, Ruth, was born.

Erling and his family moved to northern Minnesota and lived in various homes south of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where three of their five children were born. The family then moved to Coleraine, Minnesota, around 1924. Times were hard for the family during the depression years (1931 to 1938) some of the jobs Erling had were delivering groceries, construction, and meat cutting. Also, sons Paul and Bud got paper routes to help out financially. Erling and Ruth built a retirement home in 1956 on the southern shore of Pokegama Lake, south of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. They were very proud when they paid off their mortgage in the early 1970’s and had a mortgage burning party to celebrate with friends and family.

In 1944 Earl Lange applied for U. S. Citizenship and received a Certificate of Naturalization number 5799880 on May 8, 1944.

Both Earl & Ruth Lange participated in The Ground Observer Corps.

Before electronic sensors guarded the approaches to North America, before satellite-warning systems peered down from space, before air defense aircraft carried identification equipment, the US had the Ground Observer Corps. In World War II, and then again during the early years of the Cold War, the nation’s air warning system lay largely in the hands of the Ground Observer Corps, a U.S. Military adjunct composed almost entirely of volunteers, intently studying wall charts and model airplanes to memorize the characteristics of “ours” and “theirs.” They were men and women, manning search towers and bare rooftops, equipped only with binoculars. Through the war years and most of the 1950s, Ground Observer Corp members spotted and plotted the movements of potentially hostile aircraft. These almost always turned out to be friendly, but they might well have been intruders bent on mounting a surprise attack. The observers worked from any site that offered a clear and unobstructed view of the sky. “We had a set of binoculars and a small space heater, because it did get cold in the wintertime,” recalled Ruth Lange. “We also had a telephone line to the center in Canton, Ohio, where they plotted the aircraft by direction and numbers.” Over the years of the Cold War, more than 800,000 volunteers stood alternating shifts at 16,000 observation posts and 73 filter centers.

A newspaper article written by Ken Hickman in the Grand Rapids Herald stated that Erling’s father, Albert Lange, was in charge of the Eidsvolds buildings in Oslo (Christiania), Norway, and a museum, which had been used for meetings of congress in the 1800’s. Erling’s childhood home was less than two blocks from the palace park where Erling played with the future King Olav V in 1910 to 1911. When the King visited Minnesota on two occasions, Erling was invited to renew his acquaintance with the King.

Erling (Earl) Lange died on March 23, 1976 in Grand Rapids, Itasca, Minnesota. He is buried with his wife Ruth Lange at Harris Cemetery, Harris Township, Itasca, Minnesota. The plot number is

My Sources are from my database, ship passenger records, ship manifest records, Lange Book 1917, birth, marriage, and death certificates.

Copyright © 2009 by Gus J. Marsh

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