This article was was written in the Sunday Oregonian Newspaper in Portland, Oregon by Milly Wohler of The Oregonian Staff, dated June 1, 1975, and was given by the Strandberg family. Since the article is hard to read it has been retyped.
Travel Agent delights in second career at age 83
Harley K. Hallgren says he doesn't
sell Travel. "I'm a consultant. I help my friends," he
Hallgren is probably the oldest travel salesman in the Portland area. He celebrated his 83rd birthday on May 22.
Bookings for the last few weeks indicate the range of his work. One client had been routed on a trip around the world, ending in Hong Kong. Tickets were cleared for an interim pastor and his wife, coming from Boston. Arrangements were being made to fly a Swedish girl back to her homeland and he had booked other individuals to Oklahoma City, Louisville and Indianapolis.
Hallgren is classified as an "outside" salesman for National-International Travel and does most of his work from home. It isn't a matter of just making the sales, however. Roger Adams, president of the agency, says Hallgren follows each trip through from the reservations to the ticketing.
The friendly octogenarian is into the 14th year of travel work. His first career, as a railroad man, lasted 50 years He was district passenger agent for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway when he retired in 1958.
"Later that fall
the Northern Pacific people asked if I'd be available to conduct a tour from
Chicago to Skagway by way of the Inside Passage. I thought I'd like to try
it and I enjoyed it. I've made the trip six times now."
Later, Hallgren approached Dorothy Van Nuys about planning a trip to the Baptist World Congress being held in Rio ("We didn't get a nibble; it was too late") and worked with her until her agency was sold two years ago.
Attempts to "retire" a second time just didn't work. Though he decided he was "too old and too tired to keep a regular daily schedule, Hallgren finally began his association with National International Travel to accommodate old customers. Many of those he booked are friends from church groups. He's been a member of Temple Baptist Church for 64 years, is on the board of directors of Oregon Baptist Retirement Home and Multnomah School of the Bible and is one of the founders of Union Gospel Mission and Western Conservative Theological Seminary.
Hallgren doesn't do much personal traveling now but he remembers past journeys with pleasure.
"You don't need to go any where as far as scenery is concerned, we have it all in Oregon, but there are certain other things. In Sweden, I visited a little church that my mother had attended and walked on the same streets that my ancestors had walked."
That trip, in 1963, lasted seven weeks and included a group of 30.
"We were trying to save money and traveled by railroad to Montreal -- three days and three nights by coach. Everyone enjoyed it. We had a most congenial group."
Hallgren has a quirky sense of humor which obviously contributes to congeniality.
"I didn't go with a girl until I was 25. Just think of all the girls I didn't annoy. Then I married the first one I went with. Of course I found the best one in the world."
His wife Louie died in 1956.
It was 12 years ago that Hallgren sold his Northeast Portland home and combined household with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. David Carlson.
"We've had a three-generation family --my daughter, husband and their three children, my sister, my wife's sister and me. There are separate living quarters so, though we have dinner together, we can still get away from each other."
Hallgren's sister, Helen Hallgren, and his sister-in-law, Helen Tjernlund, both born the same year, made up the senior generation living in the Alameda area home. Miss Tjernlund died recently.
The grandchildren are Anne Louise and Peter John, both Grant High School students, and Mary Beth Carlson, attending Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn. Mary Beth is the only fourth-generation student at Bethel. Her paternal great-grandfather was one of the first students.
Although he has dealt in some form of transportation since his first railroad job at age 16, Hallgren may be one of the few Oregon men who has never owned an automobile.
"I never had to change a tire, look under a hood, find parking places or filling stations. But when I get to heaven I'll see a lot of people who have given me rides. One will say to the other, 'The old moocher did get here.'"
Hallgren's mother lived to be almost 97 and his father was 91 when he died.
"I figure if I split the difference it gives me 94 years to aim at. I might as well stay in the travel business. It gives me a few shekels and I enjoy figuring out the trips."
Copy write © 1975, Oregonian Publishing Company, Reprinted with Permission.
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