In search of the Espelands

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Friday, July 26, 2013

Thursday morning I went to see 'The Wyoming House for Historic Women' located on 2nd St. in Laramie.  One of 13 remarkable women highlighted in the museum is Louisa Swain:  'Early in the morning on September 6, 1870 in what is today today known as "historic downtown Laramie, Wyoming", Louisa Ann Gardner Swain, a seventy year old Quaker lady, became the first woman in the world to cast a ballot under laws granting women the right to vote with full civil equality with men.  This law was contained in the Wyoming Suffrage Act which was passed in 1869.'  I spoke with the lady supervising the exhibition, Bernadette, who said the museum was opened in 2005.  In the front yard is a statue of Louisa Swain.  Inside were displays about her and the other 12 women who came to prominence in Wyoming.
Afterwards I went for a walk in downtown Laramie.  I suddenly saw an old-fashioned barbershop and went inside to get a haircut.  I was number three in line, and we all got talking.  The barber, Larry, knew much about Laramie.  I told him that I was trying to locate Pennie and Gary Espeland who live in Laramie.  Gary is a second-cousin of Andy Engel, whose great-grandfather came to the US from Norway, when he was only 18 years old.  Andy had given me their phone number, and when I called I was referred to their cell phone number.  I got the last digit wrong and did not make the connection.  I then went back to Larry's shop and asked for precise instructions on how to get to their house:  'Two blocks down 5th St. and when you reach the post office you have gone too far.'  Their house was located on the opposite corner.  They were not in, but had left a message on the door with their cell phone number.  I had got the last digit wrong, now I had the right number which I called.  Pennie and Gary were travelling from western Wyoming and would be home in three-four hours.  They kindly invited me to stay at their house for the night.  I arrived at 6 pm just as they came in.  We had a delicious antelope meat appetizer and a cocktail and then walked to a restaurant for dinner.  Afterwards we strolled about town.  Pennie and Gary pointed out some of the interesting local sights.  When we came home, we continued talking and finally went to bed.  I had all of the upstairs floor to myself.  The house is absolutely charming, it is one of the oldest still existing houses in Laramie, built in 1905.  P. and G. have renovated it with great care.
This morning professor E.G. (Jerry) Meyer came to the house and all four of us had breakfast together.  E.G. had been at Los Alamos, N.M., after WWII and knew a number of the prominent physicist who had participated in the Manhattan project to develop the atomic bomb.  At 93, E.G. is still very active and goes to his office at the University of Wyoming every day.  We talked for more than two hours covering lots of subjects including local Wyoming politics and projects to promote Wyoming science and industry.  (Wyoming has a population of only half a million.  Like every other state is has two senators, but only one representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.)
In a short while I will part with Pennie and Gary after a delightful visit and head back to the Medicine Bow Mountains.  They have given me plenty of useful advice on what to do and see, while I'm in Wyoming, for which I'm very grateful.  They have a family reunion in Norway in two years.  Hopefully, they will also make it to Denmark, so I can reciprocate their hospitality a little bit.              
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Pennie Espeland on

Greetings Jens,
I wonder where you might be in Wyoming today? Thank you for your delightful description of Laramie and the photos and story of your time with us.
We are so grateful that Andy and Pam directed you our way.
Thank you for delightful conversations, the chocolates(!), your travel adventures, and listening to you and Dr. Meyer exchange memories of Los Alamos days.
Every happiness as you continue west. We will follow your path on the blog.
Looking forward to seeing you in a few years in your neck of the woods.
Happy Trails!!
Pennie and Gary

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