The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Music City Vikings 681
Nashville, Tennessee

A Short History of the Music City Vikings, 2009-2019 SN Lodge 5-681
On October 19, 2008, Arlene Christopherson (D.6/2/2015), a member of the Vikings of the Smokies SN Lodge 5-677 in east Tennessee, met with eleven industrious Viking descendants who were Sons of Norway members now living in middle Tennessee. Arlene inspired these Viking transplants to embark on a months-long journey to find other Scandinavians to help start a Sons of Norway lodge in middle Tennessee.

The first volunteer officers for the Music City Vikings were President Ken Sersland, Treasurer Margaret Kneer, Publicity Susan Collier, Cultural Director Sten Vermund, Membership Secretary Karen Kennedy. MCV officers added to the roster by the end of the year were Vice President Oscar Krosnes, Secretary , Auditor Don Pendlebury, Newsletter Editor Julianne Eriksen, and Sunshine Correspondent Gloria Kleve.

During its first year, MCV celebrated Syttende mai in May and Midsummer in June, when we were introduced to Trulls, a Norwegian Fjord horse, and learned about the art of Viking boat building from SN Golden Member Ken Sersland. Members and guests enjoyed eating Scandinavian food at these seminal events and have continued to do so at every meeting on this journey.

The MCV Installation Celebration Dinner was on October 31, 2009, at Hermitage House Smorgasbord. Country music singer-songwriter Joe Sun, aka James Joseph Paulsen, a Danish American born in Minnesota (D.10/25/2019), was joined by Norwegian friends Ottar “Big Hand” Johansen, Tore Anderson (D.12/26/2015), and Brent Moyer from Norwegian American music group NorVille. Together they sang songs, including NorVille’s “Take Me Back.” The members of NorVille all joined MCV, and Johansen is still a member. District 5 officer Burt Bittner was introduced. A letter of welcome from Governor Bredesen and an October 9th Proclamation Certificate to promote Leif Erikson Day in Tennessee were shared. This U.S. holiday honors Icelandic Norwegian explorer Leif Erikson, the first Scandinavian to set foot on American soil, and the accomplishments and contributions of all Nordic Americans in American history and culture.

At the first Julefest, members brought their favorite Scandinavian food or dessert to share! It was fun decorating the Jultree and sharing Scandinavian ornaments with MCV members families. Cultural Director Sten Vermund led the sing-along of Norwegian and English Christmas while dancing around the tree. God Jul.

MCV’s Charter Presentation was on January 24, 2010. District 5 Vice President Burt Bittner conducted the official duties, presented pins to all who joined MCV before the deadline, and introduced the MCV officers. President Ken Sersland announced that the first newsletter, compiled by Editor Julianne Eriksen, would be sent out soon. Cultural Director Sten Vermund announced plans to begin facilitating a Norwegian language class before each monthly meeting. A group photo was taken, and cake was served. MCV members Julianne Eriksen and J.C. Andersen provided special musical entertainment. The list of speakers for MCV meetings include Nashville historian Dr. Carole Bucy, professor at Volunteer State Community College, and Vanderbilt MD and professor Dr. Sten Vermund, who discussed DNA, music, and art. Author Irene Levin Berman shared her book, “We Are Going to Pick Potatoes”: Norway and the Holocaust, the Untold Story. Editor Timothy Boyce presented on Odd Nansen’s secret diary, written while Nansen was in a German prison during World War II and published as From Day to Day by Vanderbilt University Press. Boyce signed his book at an event in Nashville on May 2, 2016. MCV member Ed Pettersen, whose great-grandmother was Sami, read from his book, I Curse the River of Time: A Norwegian America Tale, and performed songs from the CD. We also heard from ranger Jim Lewis from Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro. In 2019, MCV President Oscar Krosnes presented a program on Whitwell Middle School Children’s Holocaust Memorial and the book Six Million Paper Clips. MTSU students Brittany Gardner, LeAnne Cannington, and Amber Selfe presented What is Scandinavian Design? with Dr. Deborah C. Sickler-Voight, director of the MTSU Scandinavia Abroad Program, professor of Art Education, and an MCV member. Past Co-President Matt Bjorke discussed the Scandinavian impact on modern popular music and played selections from a variety of musicians. MCV members have presented programs on trips to Norway and a variety of topics.

Julefest guest performers from 2010 to 2019 include Norwegians Solveig Leithaug and Tone Wattum, who both record and sing in Norwegian and English. Fiddle player Michelle Bailey played Norwegian music on a 113- year-old Hardanger Fele or fiddle. Other performers include the Nashvillebased J.C. Anderson Band, The Scandinavian Trollkretsen Dancers from the Vikings of the Smokies Lodge, Nermin Begovic on guitar and accordion, and luthier and award-winning fiddle player Brian Christenson. Brian’s wife, Nicole, daughter Else, and guitarist Jake Stargell played for the 2017 - 2019 Julefest. The Christenson family made delicious lefse for the last three Julefests. Sten Vermund, Karen and Larry Sizemore, Carol Fidler, and Evelyn McDaniel have shared the annual Julefest MC’s duties. MCV has been blessed to hear several traveling musical groups like Gospel Explosion Norway and Kine Fossheim in concert. (See photo number 1 on page 40 in the August 2019 Viking Magazine.)

Hard-working Past Presidents Karen Sizemore, Ken Sersland, Past Newsletter Editor Larry Sizemore, and Membership Secretary Karen Kennedy were diligent workers and helped make the Silent Auctions, Bake Sales, and Julefests enjoyable and successful. MCV Members continue to save used stamps for Tubfrim and collect food, clothing, and personal items for the homeless in Nashville. Members contribute to the Sons of Norway Foundation. A big Tusen takk to the hardworking MCV members who keep the Viking spirit alive in Middle Tennessee!