12 February 2010

Norwegian Commercial Club--"Promoting commerce, culture and social connections"

Last night, I attended a meeting of the Norwegian Commercial Club (NCC) with my fellow Nearby Norwegian and NCC member, Luci Baker Johnson. The meetings are held at the historic Son's of Norway Leif Erikson Lodge in the heart of Ballard. The Norwegian Commercial Club is currently the largest ethnic business club in Washington. Started in 1932, the club was attempt to broaden the base of prospective members of the former Odinian Society, made up of Norwegian Masons. It was determined that a larger membership base would make it possible for Norwegians to help one another during the depth of the Great Depression. The many purposes of the modern day NCC include the promotion and encouragement of local civic and commercial activity, fostering trade and commerce among its members, advocating good citizenship, and maintaining a social and business club for Norwegians and Norwegian Americans.

There are various businesses and professions represented within the membership of the NCC, everything from accountants to educators, fishermen to importers, as well as ministers, real estate agents, surveyors, and more; over 90 different vocations are listed in the Club brochure. Participants meet on the second and fourth Thursday of every month, excluding summers, and engage in a social and networking hour, dinner, and then a program/speaker, followed by general business. Dinner offerings are of a Scandinavian flavor. Last night the repertoire included drinks, coffee, an assortment of flat breads offered with butter, yellow pea soup, followed by a main course of breaded and stuffed cod, white potatoes, peas and carrots, and finally, applesauce topped with whipped cream. Ja, it was all very tasty, indeed!

Astrid Karlsen Scott

The guest speaker of the night was Astrid Karlsen Scott, who talked about her recent book, In the Shadow of the Gestapo. Astrid Karlsen Scott ws born in Oslo, Norway and currently lives in Olympia, Washington. She is considered an expert on Norway's culture, traditions, folklore and culinary customs and has conducted professional tours throughout Scandinavia. A free lance writer, Astrid has published about ten books on topics such as: WWII and the Norwegian underground, Norwegian cooking, and Christmas traditions in Norway. She has appeared on television and radio talk shows throughout the United States.

In the Shadow of the Gestapo is a true story about 21-year-old Gunvald Tomstad, a farmer from Flekkefjord, Norway. A pacifist at the beginning of World War II, Tomstad soon joined the Norwegian Nazi party, ascended to a trusted leadership position, and for two years sent radio transmissions revealing Nazi secrets to the Allies in London from his farm house. It is a story of patriotism and courage, and of the great personal sacrifice of Tomstad, his family, and friends.

Read more about Astrid Karlsen Scott, her publications, and activities at Nordic Adventures.

If the Norwegian Commercial Club continues to have such interesting guest speakers (as well as that wonderful Norwegian cooking), I will surely attend again. It was a warm and welcoming group of about a hundred people present last night, talking and joking, and relishing one another's company. Annual membership is $40, with a $10 initial application. Dinners are $25 each, or $23 for early registration, and guests are always welcome. Though, I have to warn that the inviting member is expected to introduce each guest, and following desert, just as you are settling in with a happy tummy to hear a wonderful lecture, you might just find yourself being handed a microphone!


Chery Kinnick

1 comment:

Luci J Baker Johnson said...


What a wonderful posting. I'm thrilled that you could accompany me to the meeting. I too thought the speaker was intriguing.