"I remember how frustrating it was not to be able to understand what people were saying. I'll tell you, if somebody would have said, "I'll give you the money, and you can take the boat back to Denmark." (Garth Svenson)
Copenhagen circa 1930 courtesy
Garth Svenson grew up in Copenhagen where a quarter of Denmark's population lived. His father, a furrier by trade, was on a business trip to Sweden or Norway, he contracted double pneumonia. Even though he was a rugged man, he passed away, leaving Garth and his sister fatherless.
When Garth's sister grew up, she became a nurse while he became a gardener. Garth was fascinated with motorcycles and cars, but in order to own either, you had to be very wealthy in Denmark. That is what motivated him to immigrate to the United States. Garth purchased a trans-Atlantic ticket and packe dhis suitcase.
In 1923, he and a friend, who spoke English, travelled by ferry to Liverpool, England where they boarded a British ship. Travelling second class, they were told to wake up early on the last evening so that they could see the Statue of Liberty. At Ellis Island, they were detained for a few hours in which they were stripped by the doctors and examined.
Upon reaching New York Ciy, Garth took a train to Hartford, Connecticut to connect with a girl he had met in Denmark. He found lodging in a boarding house owend by a Danish woman. He tried to get work at Bushnell Park, but to no avail, but was successful at Cole's Park. The going was tough at first: "I remember how frustrating it was not to be able to understand what people were saying. I'll tell you, if somebody would have said, "I'll give you the money, and you can take the boat back to Denmark."
Later he got a job with Hoffman Wallpaper in Hartford. Garth's mother sailed across the Atlantic for a visit in 1929, after the Stock Market Crash and stayed for several months. She absolutely loved it in America, but struggled with the hot weather once spring arrived, forcing her to return to Denmark.