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Waldemar Ager and son Trygve, at the 1929 commencement at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. St. Olaf, renowned for its Norwegian studies, bestowed an honorary doctorate (of letters) on the elder Ager when son Trygve earned his bachelor's degree. Ager later claimed that the "Litt. D." stood him in good stead, making up for "lack of dignity, weight, height and looks."
Trygve went on to have an interesting career in journalism, and critics see his translation of Sons of the Old Country as a skillful one.
Agers in Chetek on opening day of fishing season, in the late 1930s: Left to right: Waldemar; Trygve; Gurolle; Magne; Valborg.
Fishing culture was very important to Ager and his family. In 1939, when the Crown Prince of Norway and his wife visited Eau Claire, Ager was 50 miles away, in Chetek, casting for fish. Gurolle wrote, "At the depot [ . . .] the Crown Prince had come out on the platform and asked for Waldemar Ager. Papa is quite put out about it. Too bad, but if the Crown Prince Olaf knew how much the fish up at Chetek tempt Papa, he would be willing to excuse his neglect." (Mrs. Ager to son Booky, 6/22/39)
The Agers dine later that day at their cottage, Huldrestua. Left to right: Gurolle, Solveig, Waldemar, Trygve, Valborg.
Ager family circa 1935: Back, left to right: Magne, Solveig, Valborg, Roald, Eyvind Front, left to right: Gudrun, Hildur, Waldemar, Gurolle and Borghild. Son Trygve missing from picture.
Twenty years after he spoke with Bryan in Brooklyn, Ager still traveled the stump circuit. Here he speaks to a Syttende Mai group in Los Angeles about preserving one's cultural identity. 1936
May, 1941. The Agers gather together. back, l. to r.: Roald Ager, Milo Bergh, Inga Pederson Ager holding Frederik Ager, Gudrun Ager Bergh, Valborg Ager Oyen, Borghild Ager Derge, Johndine Blestren Gabrielsen, Alfred Gabrielsen, Gurolle Blestren Ager, Magne Ager, Waldemar Ager. Front, l. to r. Karren Bergh, Barbara Bergh, Borgny Ager and John Best, Jr. Waldemar Ager died of bowel cancer approximately two and a half months after posing for this photo.
Ager's grave as it appeared in the 1940s. Lakeview Cemetery, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
After viewing Munkáczy’s "Christ before Pilate" in fin-de-siècle Liverpool, Ager hung his own print on his study wall. It served as a source of inspiration for Kristus for Pilatus, Ager’s second novel. Penned in 1910, when the author was forty-one, it was a landmark novel for Norwegian-American literature, firing the first shot in a volley of quality works by many stateside authors, including O. E. Rølvaag.
Within a year, the novel was published again in Norway, by Aschehoug publishing house—the first novel by a Norwegian-American to be so honored. The title in Norway was changed to Presten Conrad Walther Welde, apparently in order to avoid confusion of the novel with a religious tract.
"Christ before Pilate" is seen here as it hangs today in the restored study of the Ager House in Eau Claire, along with some of Ager's possessions, including bookcase, pipe and portraits of three of his nine children—daughters Valborg and Solveig, and son Magne.