Tora Thynes, A Norwegian Immigrant’s Story

Tora Thynes was born in Norway and emigrated to the U.S. as a young girl, sponsored by her aunt. In this interview, she tells Heidi Lee about life in Norway during the German Occupation of WW II, and watching warships from both sides of the conflict come into the fjord near her village. She tells about watching the enemy planes bomb a Norwegian ship and waking up to Nazis in the front yard when the damaged German ship Bismarck limped into the fjord for repairs.

Tora and Heidi

Tora had many adventures when she first came to this country, visiting New York, meeting the famous author John Steinbeck in Greenwich Village, and flying across the country when cross country  air travel was still uncommon.

She came to Petersburg to work and was hired by her husband-to-be, Pete Thynes.

Tora also tells about fishing with her husband Pete on the sailboat/troller he named after her and about her many trips to Norway with her family. Heidi is the Norwegian dancing instructor in town and Tora was her teacher. They talked about the tradition of teaching local children the songs and dances from Norway, and the Alaskan modifications to both music and costumes.

Click here to listen:

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Petersburg Public Library’s Listening Project gathers stories from Petersburg residents ranging from the sobering experience of one local resident from Cambodia who escaped the Khmer Rouge, to the charming tales of the Short brothers sharing their experiences growing up in Petersburg. The Listening Project seeks out community members from all backgrounds to gather and share their stories. It preserves our history, expresses our diversity, and promotes understanding. It is produced in partnership with KFSK Public Radio and made possible by funding from the Alaska State Library, the Alaska Community Foundation, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.