from "Dadda" by Alexander Lee
Mormor was born in 1852 at Drammen, Norway. She died in 1924 at Hempstead Gardens. She had a full, happy life.

We haven’t much information on Mormor’s early days, or how she got to America. We knew her as a strong, soft, and loyal woman who loved her family, her garden, and her church.

There were three beautiful sisters Maren Wold, Sophie, and Bertha. They became Maren Wold Lee, Sophie Wold Larsen, and Bertha Wold Lundeby. They all came to America and lived in the New York area.

They spent their summers at Ronnehode, where as children they learned something about the forests and fjords of Norway.

I remember Mormor best for the many Christmasses we as a family spent with her at Hempstead Gardens. My family (on the Lee side) and my uncles and aunt and their families always went:

"Over the river and through the woods to Gandma’s house."Christmas 1920?

Top row l - r: Aunt Helen (Lee) Youngman, 1st Cousin Alexander Munson, Uncle Lawrence Munson, Uncle Herman Lee, Father Harry Lee, Mother Pansy (Smith) Lee, and Uncle Oscar Youngman
Middle row l - r: Cousin Marion Munson Pasquet, Cousin Henry Munson
Front row l - r: Cousin Burton Youngman, Grandmother Maren Lee (seated) with my mother (Maren Lee later Quinn) in her lap, Cousin Louise Munson, Grandfather Henry Lee with my Aunty Betty Lee in his lap along with Cousin Virginia Lee, Aunt Anne Lee Munson with possibly Cousin Lawrence in her lap, and Aunt Theo Lee on the far right.
Thanks to John Lee Quinn for identifying everyone (via his mother's writing on the back)


Those Christmas dinners were memorable with lot’s of turkey and special stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, with a large variety of vegetables – then desserts. Always mince, and pumpkin pies, and some special cakes.

There was such warmth and love in that group. It was a joy to be there.

   I do remember one time when Mormor came up to Cragsmoor one summer, without letting us know that she was coming. She got off the train at Spring Glen, the station before Ellenville. She planned to walk up from there. There are several switchbacks in the road – Horseshoe and Hairpin turns. There were shortcuts that cut across the middle of each. But thinking she was on a short-cut, she followed a berry-pickers path up the mountain. It was quite dark by the time she reached the top, torn and exhausted. Undaunted, she started walking along the first road she came upon.

   She stopped at the first cottage she came to and asked directions to the Lee or the Munson place.

   Seeing how scratched and weary she was they harnessed their horse to a rig, and drove her to the other side of the mountain which was our part of Cragsmoor. She explained to them how she had gotten lost, and expressed her gratitude, for the ride. She was made of rugged individualism. That mountain laurel is rough to walk through, especially up a steep mountain side.

   She was very religious. I remember one time that I was visiting in Hempstead gardens for a long week-end. I kept a dozen or so homing pigeons in the top of the chicken house. That week-end I built larger and better facilities for them, so they had a little more room. I worked hard to finish before leaving on Sunday, but got up early Sunday morning to finish. Mormor came out to get some eggs for breakfast.

picture of Mormor

   "No good will come of working on Sunday," she told me.

   "But I have to finish before we drive in to church. I won’t be back for 3 weeks," I said. "I just have one more board to put on the side."

   When I returned 3 weeks later, the pigeons were gone. I was heartbroken. And I have often wondered whether or not she let them loose, as a lesson to me not to work on Sunday. She wouldn’t even tolerate whistling on Sunday. She and Dadda had ‘devotions’ every morning, after Dadda had his very soft boiled eggs and oatmeal and coffee. I remember how Mormor would pour some of the very hot coffee into her saucer, blow on the coffee to cool it, then pop a sugar lump into her mouth and sip the still hot coffee.

   Once on April Fool's day, I played a mean trick. I put salt into the sugar bowl. Dadda complained to Mormor that she had too much salt in the oatmeal, and he added the white crystals from the sugar bowl to his coffee several times before giving up in disgust and going off to catch the morning train for New York.

   Another time I got the end of my finger caught somehow while working on the Model "T." The nail on my middle finger hung by a thread. The pain was severe. I ran to Mormor in the Kitchen. There was some breakfast oatmeal left, and she quickly made a warm poultice and wrapped it with bandages. It apparently was an old Norwegian recipe for crushed fingers. Anyway it worked, and it eased the pain considerably.

   She loved gardening. I often saw her on her knees in her various gardens, weeding, or putting in bulbs, or picking flowers for a bouquet.

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