The Corner

Of Ski Jumps and Easter-Egg Rolls

In today’s installment of my journal “Up in Norway” — Part III — I have a little meditation on nanny-statism: which is not necessarily prevalent in the socialist states of Scandinavia. Nanny-statism is something that America, for one, perfects. (This is a little clearer in my journal — I think.)

I’d like to share a letter with you, just because it’s interesting. There’s not a better reason to share a letter, right? An American working in Moscow writes,



Your story of walking along the cliffs reminded me of the time my family visited Lahti, Finland. We bought a ticket and took the elevator to the top of one of the large ski jumps there. When we got to the top I was surprised to see no one there. The door was unlocked and you could walk right out onto the top of the ski ramp where the ski jumpers take off. This was in the winter so the ramp was icy and ready to use. My first thought was, This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I can relate to being wussified by our culture!


I guess in Finland they expect you to be smart enough not to do something stupid at the top of a ski jump. From what you say, there are similar expectations to the west.

Feel like another letter? This is pretty good. Again in Part III, I talk about the informality of Norway — how you can walk up practically to the front door of the royal palace, how you can frolic on its grounds. And I say that the White House used to be like this, generations ago. (One reason I know this is that I’m from an old Washington family and have heard tales.)

Anyway, that letter:

Mr. Nordlinger,


An old family story of my own: Time, 1925. My pop’s family lived in Washington. Coolidge was president and not a friend of my family’s. My grandfather had publicly supported Billy Mitchell at his court martial . . . You may recall that Coolidge had personally signed the order against Mitchell. There is much more to this story, but I am writing about something else now.


The scene was the annual Easter-Egg Roll at the White House. In those days, any kid in D.C. was welcome. Pop’s aunt, a staunch DAR and not a favorite of the kids, insisted on taking them down for the Roll.


These kids, being their usual selves, got bored with the whole thing and started an egg fight with the other kids. This culminated in young Lois’s nailing Mrs. Coolidge in the back with an egg. Thankfully, the Secret Service was not trigger-happy and the kids were merely whisked out by my great-aunt. Despite all the threats that “your father will deal with this later,” my grandfather thought this was really funny, much to his sister’s dismay.


My late father loved telling this story.

I loved hearing it.


The Latest