Oswald (Ossi) Bushnell, now deceased, was a well-known author and respected professor at the University of Hawaii. He wrote several books, among them a novel about the first meeting between Hawaiians and Captain Cook, and also a well-researched book about the health of the native Hawaiians before and after 1778.
Bushnell was the grandson of John and Maren Johnson.
In the 1981 celebration of the first Norwegian immigration to Hawaii, Bushnell was interviewed in The Honolulu Advertiser. He said that his Grandmother Maren was perhaps an example of one who was not very happy in her new country. The following is an excerpt from Pierre Bowman’s interview with Professor Bushnell:
Grandma was a Valkerie sourpuss…
His grandmother was Mary Helena Martinson, who says she was sold in marriage at age 19 to John Johnson and as a new bride, shipped off on the Beta for a voyage of six miserable months, during which she became pregnant.
Bushnell says she wasn’t happy about the arrangement at the beginning – and never became happy. She found her husband ugly, because he had only one eye after his other eye had been gored by a bull in Norway. And she made no bones about speaking her mind.
“My grandmother was not only a sourpuss and a shrew,” says Bushnell. “She was very beautiful. Pictures of her show her sulking but standing erect, like a Valkerie. And all her children had to kowtow to her.”
The Johnsons arrived at Maui, and H.P. Baldwin, who became their employer, took one look at Mary – probably standing erect and Valkerie-like, albeit obviously pregnant – and became her mentor. She received favored treatment and became a domestic in the Baldwin household while her husband began working the fields.
Bushnell says that his grandmother responded ever after by casting Baldwin in a romantic, heroic light.
At the same time, she complained ceaselessly about her husband.
“Aloha from Forgotten Norwegians in Hawaii”
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