It was worth a try.
Have you ever been to Denmark?
I made a pilgrimage to this small Scandinavian country in 1997.
One of the first things most men say about Denmark is they notice the many extraordinarily good looking women there. Not me. I was way too busy looking for my family.
My maternal grandfather (pictured above) came to the United States from Denmark in 1893 when he was just 14-years-old. His mother and two brothers were also aboard the ship. The foursome were among the early arrivals at Ellis Island, which had just opened that year.
My grandfather, who became a proud American citizen, was born and raised in Copenhagen, the most important city in Denmark. His name was Axel Valdimar Beeken.
Axel was an ambitious young man who took full advantage of the opportunities America presented. He set out to become a lawyer. In those days one didn’t have to go to law school. You would do what is referred to as “read for the bar.” The short explanation of that phrase is that if you learned enough through independent reading, you could take the bar exam. After passing the bar, Axel became a patent attorney in New York City, where his client list included Parker Brothers Company (developer of that very popular game Monopoly). Family lore has it that Grandfather Beeken actually filed the papers that patented Monopoly. Too bad he didn’t own the game.
In 1997, Karen and I were on a business trip to the Czech Republic and England, and figured - as long as we were in the neighborhood - we should drop into Denmark. Our goal was to see if we could connect with members of the Beeken family. We were very confident because we had always been led to believe that the Beeken family was one of Danish prominence.
We enlisted the help of a guy working the front desk at our hotel. We just knew we would be successful. He handed us a phone book and we went immediately to the Bs, as in Beeken. Alas, there was but one listing for anyone with the last name Beeken. One in the entire Copenhagen phone book.
So we bet all our chips on this person. There was no other option. The front desk guy dialed the number and gave it plenty of time to ring. He eventually hung up, having failed on his mission. You see, this Beeken’s phone was actually disconnected for non-payment of the monthly bill. There would be no message left or second phone call made. My Danish family was apparently not only NOT prominent, but broke…
So, that’s as close as we ever came to connecting with my Danish family. We spent our remaining three days wandering around the beautiful city of Copenhagen, especially Tivoli Gardens.
No trip to Copenhagen can ever be considered complete without seeing the mermaid statue that has become Denmark’s symbol. That’s the only pretty woman I paid attention to in Denmark - other than Karen, of course. Honest.
I’m done searching for my Danish family. But I recommend to all readers that Denmark is a fine country with lots to see and do. When you go, let me know if you happen to run into any members of the Beeken family. And if they ask you for money.
P.S. Recently, my good friend Bob Paulson sent me something that really fits my writing style. I pride myself in using everyday language and simple terms. This is a great example of that. Author unknown.
Don’t use a big word when a singularly unloquacious and diminutive linguistic expression will satisfactorily accomplish the contemporary necessity.
That pretty much sums up what I try to do for readers every Tuesday. Have a great rest of the week.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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