At about the age of ten, I made an enlightening discovery: The world is populated with people other than Scandinavian Lutherans.
Surrounded as I was by typical Scandinavian surnames–Johnson, Anderson, Arneson, Carlson, Erikson, Swanson, and many variations of Leaf—how could I think otherwise? These names dotted the local mailboxes, filled our telephone book, and populated my classes at school. Many men and boys still had first names which also served as part of their last names—Arne Arneson, Erik Erikson, John Johnson, Knut Knutson, and Pete Peterson. These combinations were easy to remember and fun to say when using the inherent ethnic lilt.
As for Lutheranism, my father used to joke that there was a Lutheran church on every corner around our stretch of Illinois. First Lutheran, Faith Lutheran, Emmanual Lutheran, Calvary Lutheran, Trinity, St. John, St. Matthew, St. Paul, St. This, and St. That. These churches spouted even more surnames…
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