I got these questions off the internet. I’m not really into writing a biography and a two paragraph blub doesn’t really say much about me. These are some questions you can ask your parents, grandparents or any other person you would like to know more about. They are conversation starters. If you have kids, they are a way to let them know more about who you are and where you came from. Maybe they will fill in some blanks in your life for others who are interested.
- Do you share a name with someone else in the family?
My full name is Daniel Brandvold Wallander. The story of our family name that I have been able to put together is that my paternal grandfather’s name was Selmer Brandvold. His biological father died when grandpa was young. When his mother remarried, he took the surname of his stepfather and became Selmer (Sam) Brandvold Wallander. He passed on the Brandvold name to my father, his third child and second son, Jerome Brandvold Wallander. My father carried on by passing his middle name to me. I ended that tradition by not having any children.
- Did you have a nickname growing up? If so, what was it and why?
Nicknames seem to wash off me. None have really stuck. I have a couple of college friends who call me Danno – from the original Hawaii Five-0 – “Book ’em Danno!”. I was Daniel from the moment I was born (at my mother’s insistence) until college where my friends, having failed to make a nickname stick, started calling me Dan. Interesting that as I approach my 60’s people are tending to call me Daniel again, even though I introduce myself as Dan.
- When and where were you born?
I was born in 1965 in a hospital in the cold of the early spring in North Dakota.
My father had dropped Mom off that day at the hairdressers in the next town, 15 miles away and drove back to work. About halfway through the hair appointment, Mom called and asked Dad to take her home as she wasn’t feeling well, so 15 miles south and 15 more miles north and Dad went back to work. Mom felt better after awhile so called Dad to take her back to the hairdresser. 15 miles south and Dad left Mom at the hairdressers and went back to work. Shortly thereafter, Mom called Dad again and said it’s time! So Dad drove 15 miles south, picked Mom up and drove the remaining 45 miles to the Williston hospital. My birth was described as the doctor snapping his gloves on as he entered the room and catching me as I came out.
In those days, women stayed in the hospital for a day or two after a birth to make sure Mom and baby were doing well. My 5 year old sister (Karen) was very excited to have a new baby brother. Dad and Karen picked up Dad’s sister-in-law (Aunt)Lil and the three drove to Williston to pick up Mom and me. Aunt Lil was a bit confused as to why she was coming until my sister piped up with, “Well, someone has to hold the baby!” A wonderful start to life with the most caring and loving person I grew up with.
- What was your parents’ and grandparents’ religion?
My maternal Grandmother was Methodist, I believe. Neither she nor my Grandfather went to church after their kids grew up, though they did read the bible and Grandpa watched the TV ministers on Sunday. They didn’t talk about religion.
My paternal Grandmother belonged to the Congregational church as did my parents. My sister and I attended until we left home for college.
Religion was something we did on Sunday mornings and not really talked about much at home.
- Do you follow a religion?
- Where was your first house?
We lived in a small house across from the post office in Froid, Montana for the first four years of my life. I have some vague memories of the house which probably came from visiting the house later in life. I remember it being a very small house with a finished attic that you accessed by pulling down the stairs from the ceiling in the hallway. My sister slept upstairs.
We moved into the new house that Mom and Dad built in mid or late 1969 in Froid, Montana. This is the house I remember. My sister and I each had a room downstairs in the walk out half-basement and the master bedroom was upstairs
- What other houses did you live in?
After high school, I went to college for two years in Missoula, Montana and lived in the dorms on campus. I transferred to the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire and lived in the dorms for 1.5 years, then moved off campus and lived in two house apartments on Water street across from campus.
My first jobs after college were in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I lived in two apartments, then bought a house near 11th and Cleveland on the South side.
I then lived in Pocatello Idaho for a couple of years before moving to New Mexico. I have been in New Mexico since 1996.
- What are your earliest memories?
My first memories that can’t be attributed to anyone telling me the stories are both of my paternal Grandfather.
The first is Grandpa taking me for a ride in his new El Camino. I distinctly remember seeing him in his hat and trench coat while we talked and he drove out to take a look at my great aunt Nina’s house, or what was left of it. The El Camino, which I bought as my first car when I was 15, was a 1970 model and Grandpa died on Thanksgiving day in 1969, so I would have been 4-1/2 years old.
The second memory is of my paternal grandfather as well. My sister and I had either the chicken pox or the German measles so we weren’t going to be able to go to his funeral. I distinctly remember my father taking us to the new school gym where the funeral was to be held. He was holding me and my sister was holding his hand as we walked across the gym floor to the open casket. My Dad said it was OK to touch him. I was horrified that my sister was willing to do what I could not.
I do have some memories of events that could have happened prior to that, but could also have blended in with later events or people telling me stories about the events.
- What did your family do for leisure when you were a child?
My paternal grandfather had a cabin on a lake in Saskatchewan, Canada, about 3-4 hours drive. When I was very young, my mother would pack us up and take us to the cabin at the beginning of summer vacation and we would spend most of our summer there with Dad coming up for the weekends. We had Grandpa’s boat and would go out on the lake and fish. There was a nice sandy beach a short walk up the lakeshore.
The best part was an unbelievable candy store. It wasn’t very big, but it was positively crammed with every kind of candy that you could imagine. I especially liked the licorice strings, which were really long unwrapped strings of red or black licorice that were a couple cents each back then. Wagon Wheels were also one of my favorites – I think they were a nickle. Three soft graham cookies surrounding two pats of marshmallow covered by chocolate. We call them Moon Pies in the states.
My sister is 5 years older, so we stopped going to the beach, as we called it, for the entire summer as she got old enough to be involved in summer programs. We would go for a couple weeks just after school let out and then maybe a couple more times during the summer. I think the last time I went there was when I was about 13 or 14.
We also went on four trips with an RV for a couple weeks each. The first two were in a rented Winnebago motorhome each time to some week long business conference at Big Sky ski resort in Western Montana for one and to Banff in Alberta, Canada for the second one (during the summer) and then on visit with a childhood friend of my Mother’s near Olympia, Washington. Their house was on a large property near Puget Sound, so I got to play in the tides and dig up all kinds of sea life. The second two were in a borrowed Airstream trailer. I don’t remember where we went the first time. The last was a final family vacation when I was 18. We did a round trip from Froid, Montana to Minnesota and up into Canada, then home again.
My parents would often put my sister and/or me on Amtrak and send us to our Grandparent’s home in North Dakota. That was a lot of fun. We got to ride the train, watch the night sky in the dome car and eat the food in the dining car with real linen napkins – fancy. I remember arriving at their stop in the middle of the night, cars belching steam in the cold winter night, Grandma in her head scarf, Grandpa in his hat and long coat against a background of plowed up snow piles. Fun!
- Were there tasks you hated doing when you were a child?
I hated all chores. What kid wants to work. In retrospect, I didn’t have it bad at all. I had to take the trash out, put dishes in the dishwasher, make sure the trash cans got to the street on trash day, mow the lawn (1 acre), shovel snow, vacuum and a few other things. The farm kids had to work a lot harder than that, especially at planting and harvest times. Their daily chores when they had animals never stopped – every morning and night there were things to do.
- What types of books do you like to read?
I like horror stories – like Stephen King. I also read a lot of fantasy (Frank Herbert) and space opera. I do read a lot of history now, especially that about the formation of the US, slavery, politics, supreme court, constitution and the industrial revolution.
- Do you remember a favorite lullaby or song?
I have always liked listening to music. I don’t remember anyone singing to me when I was young. My mother didn’t sing, though Dad and my Sister were good singers. I got into Rock and Roll, Heavy Metal and Grunge as I’ve gone through my life. I like a wide variety of modern Blues based rock and roll. I especially like bass heavy, guitar riff styled music from AC/DC to Alice in Chains, to Judas Priest, to 80’s hair metal.
- When times were tough, do you remember having enough food?
There were times in my later college years when I ate a lot of ramen, but I’ve never been without food.
- What were your favorite toys?
I loved my Tonka Trucks. There was a large dirt space under the second story deck on our house where I could make roads, towns, factories. I could dig holes and make rivers and lakes. It was awesome. I spent a lot of time there when I was young.
My later childhood was being obsessed with bicycles. Small town Montana meant a lot of freedom for kids who had a bicycle. We could go anywhere without much parental supervision as long as we were home in time for dinner. The bicycles were forgotten when I got my driver’s license and the El Camino.
- What were your favorite games?
We played a lot of chess, Monopoly, Rummy (with cards), Scrabble, Clue, and a few other board games.
- Was there any fashion that you liked the most?
The big rage when I was in junior high were hip huggers with bell bottoms and patches. If you were really cool, you had a washed out mark in your rear pocket for your oversize comb that you used on your mullet hair.
Once I got to high school, I mostly just wore jeans and t-shirts with basketball sneakers (Adidas).
- What school did you go to and where was it?
Froid High School. Froid, Montana.
Our school stopped offering Kindergarten the year before I was to start. My mother and a former school teacher (Phyllis) did a half day kindergarten for those who would be my classmates the next year in the basement of the Catholic church. I don’t think it went on for that long, but it did give us time to bond and learn some before we all went to 1st grade the next year. I remember lunch time, nap time and the big appliance boxes someone brought us to play with. We made a grocery store and a bank, if I remember correctly. We had fun. I seem to remember them having kindergarten classes at the school again about 6 years later.
We all started 1st grade at the bottom of the T shaped building, progressing one room and one year at a time until middle school where we got to share some of the high school rooms. High school was in the top of the T.
For the most part, there were 9 on us who started kindergarten together and graduated together. There were some who came and went one or two years along the way. Two of the nine came in year 2 or 3, but it seems the 9 of us were always together. I was always the last in line, Darrin was always first in line. Mara and Tammy were always there as the only girls through all the years, but there was Alice early on and Stephanie in High school.
- How did you feel about going to school?
I was always bored. I learned how to endure what you must to get to the next stage in life. I’m not sure it was a good lesson for me. It taught me to be lazy. We weren’t encouraged to go beyond the lessons in front of us. If we knew what was being taught, we were expected to be still and quiet so the teacher could catch up those who weren’t quite there yet. Once I got to middle school, I never took work home. I never had to stretch to learn what was expected of me. I spent a lot of time staring out the window.
- What was your favorite subject at school and why?
I can’t say I really enjoyed any of the subjects. I struggled with math. I did well in History and English. I did OK in Science. I didn’t play sports. My extracurriculars were band, pep-band (got to play at all the basketball games), Drama (plays), Speech (debate, extemporaneous). I did enjoy Speech Club. We got to travel to lots of other schools for competition, some with overnights.
- Which subject was the most difficult?
Math. I struggled with math until I started 6th grade. Thanks to my Mom and Dad spending hours with me catching me up.
- Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Sixth grade, Seventh grade English and writing, Eight grade English: Mary Jane Crain. She had taught forever at that point, retiring with some 46 years on her resume. No nonsense teacher. My favorite story: First day of Sixth grade she is signing out the text books for the year. This is the first year for a new state mandated course called Social Studies. As I get my book (remember, I’m always last in line), she calls out to Darrin to open the the first chapter and start reading. He gets a few paragraphs and she calls out the next in line to take over reading. Tammy and Mara got a paragraph each and she cut me off halfway through my paragraph. At that point, she says, OK, pass in your books, you all got A’s for the year in Social Studies. You could feel the anger radiating off of her. Years later, I asked her about that. She just said it was an asinine subject, a shitty book and a stupid idea, but the school board said she had to teach it. That 15 minutes was all we heard about it at the time and we all got A’s. n The social studies books collected dust on the shelves for the rest of the year. Awesome!
- What is your favorite school memory?
- What were your grades like?
- What did you wear to school?
- What sports did you participate in at school?
- Was there a meeting place where you liked to spend time?
- Did you receive any special awards for studies or activities at school?
- How many years of education have you completed?
- Describe what you were like as a young adult.
- Do you have a technical diploma or degree?
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- What was your first job?
- How old were you when you retired?
- How did you decide on your profession?
- What jobs have you done over the years?
- If you were in the military, what were your duties and when and where did you serve?
- How old were you when you started going out at night?
- Do you remember your first date?
- When and where did you meet your current partner?
- How long did you know each other before getting married?
- How did you propose?
- When and where did you get married?
- Describe the ceremony.
- Who was present? (witnesses, bridesmaids, etc.)
- Did you have a honeymoon? Where?
- Have you been married more than once?
- How would you describe your spouse?
- What do you most admire about him or her?
- How long have you been married?
- When and where did your spouse die?
- What advice would you give to a child or grandchild for their wedding day?
- How did you find out you were going to be a parent for the first time?
- How many children do you have?
- What are their names, dates of birth and where do they currently live?
- Why did you give them those names?
- Do you remember things that your children did when they were little that really surprised you?
- What is one of the funniest things your children did when they were little?
- What was the most fun you had while raising your kids?
- If you had to do it again, what would you change about the way you raised your family?
- What was the most challenging part of raising children?
- Did you consider yourself as a strict parent?
- What was the most rewarding thing about parenting?
- Did any of your children break anything of yours?
- Did you have to treat any of your children differently? Why?
- How did you feel when your oldest child began school?
- What advice would you give your children and grandchildren about being a parent?
- Where did your in-laws live?
- When and where did your parents die? What do you remember about them?
- How did they die? Where were they hospitalized?
- Which cemetery are they buried in?
- What do you remember about the death of your in-laws?
- Do you remember listening to your grandparents talking about their lives? What did they say?
- Did you ever meet any of your great-grandparents?
- Who was the oldest person you remember from when you were a child?
- Did you suffer from any childhood illnesses?
- Do you have any genetic health problems?
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Have you ever had any bad habits?
- Have you ever been a victim of a crime?
- Have you had any major accidents?
- Has anyone ever saved your life?
- Have you ever been hospitalized? For what?
- Have you ever had surgery?
- What do you consider the most important inventions in your lifetime?
- Do you remember the first time you saw a car, a TV or a refrigerator?
- How different was the world when you were a child?
- Do you remember your family talking about politics?
- How would you define yourself politically?
- Did you live through any war?
- Have you admired any president or world leader that you’ve seen in power?
- How did you live the days of food shortages?
- Tell me the name of a good friend who has been your friend for many years.
- Has there been anyone in your life that you would consider a soul mate? Who was it and why do you feel that special bond?
- What are the hardest decisions you’ve had to make?
- Who has changed your life?
- If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
- What is the most difficult thing you have ever experienced?
- Have you ever played a musical instrument?
- Do you consider yourself creative?
- What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever known?
- What activities have you enjoyed as an adult?
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you like to do when you are not working?
- What is the most incredible thing that has happened to you?
- Have you ever met someone famous?
- Who were your grandparents?
- Where were they from?
- How do you feel about your major decisions in life, such as profession, studies, and spouse?
- What organizations or groups did you belong to?
- Have you ever won an award as an adult?
- What is the longest trip you’ve ever made?
- What has been your favorite vacation spot?
- What pets have you had?
- Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but have not done yet?