By Linda Kor
Elsie Rasmussen is a woman of ideas. As she sits in her small writing room in her Holbrook home littered with book manuscripts, short stories and poems, she has a seemingly unending well of thoughts and perceptions of life that have made it onto a page.
Her stories encompass everything from a fictional account of her life in Denmark during the tumultuous years of World War II to a story about shopping in a thrift store. Each story touches the familiarity of a moment passed, but now seen in a new light.
Rasmussen came to America in 1954, traveling by steamer from Denmark with her husband and childhood sweetheart, Kurt.
“We grew up together in a little town. I didn’t really want to come to America, but my husband wanted to very much so I agreed,” she explained.
As the steamer slipped away from the shore Rasmussen had mixed feelings about leaving her homeland.
“It was time to let go of the streamers in our hands that still connected us with the shore. The ship was moving, the streamers broke,” she wrote of leaving Denmark.
Although Rasmussen joined a writing club while living in Washington in the 1970s, it took her two years to put pen to paper. She began writing short stories and poems, some of which were published in local newspapers. She ventured into book writing and completed a story in 1984 of her life in Denmark just prior to the arrival of the Hitler’s army, Seven Months To April, which is both fact and fiction. “It’s a story of my life; my childhood and what took place at that time, but I created a fictional family that has those experiences,” Rasmussen explained.
After she completed her manuscript she continued with other stories, but when her husband, who was a jeweler and watchmaker, passed away in 2008, she no longer felt the desire to write.
“It took a long time for me to want to write again, but here I am, finally doing it again,” she said.
Rasmussen now has two other books in the making, one, 6.9 Richter, is about the earthquake that centered in Northridge, Calif., in 1994, close to where her daughter was living at the time. “We were so scared. We couldn’t get a hold of her by phone, and drove day and night to reach her,” recalled Rasmussen. Although her daughter was not physically harmed during the earthquake, the event left her traumatized. “I have a photo I took, one that I would like on the cover of the book when it is finished, of the broken freeway and cars just dangling from it. So many people died, it was so tragic,” she recalled.
Another manuscript, Shenanigans, received its title in a rather unusual way. “I sometimes get inspirations from just hearing a few words. I heard someone say ‘shenanigans’ and thought to myself what a strange word that was. From there I began writing,” she related. That story is another fictional tale drawn from Rasmussen’s childhood.
“I had a wonderful childhood. We didn’t have many toys, but we had our imaginations and that, I believe, is why I have so many stories today. Our home was right up against a nursing home, separated by a gate and shrubs. We would watch the old people over there and imagine all sorts of things. So that is where my story is based,” she said.
Rasmussen moved from Hollywood, Calif., to Holbrook seven months ago with the plan of moving on to Colorado, but she is thinking that she may stay in Holbrook after all. “It has everything I need here; it’s quiet and peaceful, and I have such wonderful landlords and friends,” she said.
She spends her days writing stories in long hand, not owning a computer or having the desire to figure one out. Instead she relies on friends and assistants to translate her work to the typewritten page.
She intends to submit her first book for consideration to a publishing company in the near future and in the meantime ponders more possibilities of tales and poems to put on a page.
By Linda Kor