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Real Estate Developer Writes Serious Work

   Ralph Christian Dramstad, born and raised in rent controlled Queens, N.Y. tenements, remembers a peaceful life among mixed cultures with none of the gang warfare depicted in the musical “West Side Story.” The local retired general contractor adds, “We enjoyed living close together with our white, black, and Puerto Rican friends.” Ralph has created familiar surroundings in Washington where he restored the historic 1906 Hackney Buggy Building on West Third Street. He and wife Joanne feel at home in their loft retirement apartment.

Ralph’s parents emigrated from Norway just before World War Two and raised four kids in New York City. Ralph worked in construction when he married Joanne, yet found time to build a 37-foot trimaran sailboat, “Valkyrie Maiden.” The couple lived aboard for a year of pleasant floating memories while managing their five-family tenement, populated at various times by Spaniards, Dutch, German, Chinese, and Norwegians. Feeling the itch to start a family and his own construction business, Ralph sold the boat and apartment building to move closer to Joanne’s family in Washington, NC.

Over the past 40 years, Ralph’s general construction company has built many local projects, including: Grace Lutheran church’s new building; The Willows at the west end of 2nd Street; The Candy Kitchen downtown (presently Edward Jones Investments); an addition to Beaufort Community College; Yankee Hall Plantation’s restoration and its new adjoining building; and Fitness Unlimited in the old K-Mart building. He currently operates a restoration consultation business.

When asked what he does with his time, Ralph says, “We enjoy traveling. We have been to weddings in Medellin, Colombia; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Oslo, Norway. We both prefer colder climates. Alaska was enjoyable, but my favorite locales are geothermally active Norway and Iceland.” Ralph adds, “Norway is affordable as we have lots of family to stay with from Oslo to Stavanger. We always take bathing suits as Islanders enjoy swimming and meeting friends in their naturally heated pools!”

Ralph and Joanne also find time to visit their daughter, husband, and three grandchildren in their High Point, N.C. home.  “It’s nice to have two doctors in the house,” Ralph adds, “but only if we need tooth repairs or more knowledge about the sciences.” Their daughter is a pediatric dentist in private practice while her husband is a High Point College professor.

Ralph remembers his Norwegian father, Alf, telling unforgettable horror stories of fighting with the U.S. Army during WWII. Alf was among the first troops to reach the infamous prison at Buchenwald and remembered one rescued survivor, Romanian-born Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel, who later became a Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor, and author of 57 books.

In June 2009, a Norwegian Army Captain, Knut Klovik Thoresen, contacted Ralph for help in obtaining pictures and information about his father, Alf Dramstad. Thoresen had just finished a book about Ralph’s 92 year-old Uncle Bjarne and now wanted to tell Alf’s story. Bjarne had chosen to fight with Hitler’s Norwegian Legion SS while brother Alf chose to fight with the U.S. Army. Thoresen wanted to tell how eight siblings were divided by the horrors of war and examine the lifelong effect on their families.

Ralph became a PWG member to add polish to his biographical essay about his father, a work that became a chapter in the Norwegian book, “A Soldier on the Western Front, A history of Alf Dramstad.” Ralph delivered his work to Norway during a 2009 visit and recently enjoyed showing PWG members the newly published Norwegian language tome.

Ralph currently has two writing projects. His short story “Free Nights at the Hedges Inn” tells the story of renovation of the Inn. Another project, “Saving the Candy Kitchen” is a story of the renovation of an historic building at West Main and Gladden Streets. You may read excerpts of these works at the PWG website, www.pamlicowritersgroup.org.


About Pamlico Writers Group

This is a publication of the Pamlico Writers Group, created to help promote and advance writers skills along with expanding our groups membership and reach. Our aim on this site is to keep you our readers and participants aware of upcoming events. Topics covered during the year will be news regarding our annual Pamlico Writers Conference and Competition, co-sponsored with Arts of the Pamlico, discussion of and from our conferences, participants and group news. PWG's Steering Committee has finalized details for our 5th Annual Pamlico Writers Conference on March 17 & 18th, 2017 at The Turnage Theatre, 150 W. Main St., Washington, NC. This year's theme is "Words," Image and Story". Our Friday night keynote speaker this year will be Author, Teacher, Speaker, and Director of Lavenson Studios, Zelda Lockhart. For more information on Ms. Lockhart visit her website at: http://www.zeldalockhart.com/. For a complete schedule of Friday night and Saturday events, go to our website at: https://www.pamlicowritersgroup.wildapricot.org/. Be sure to check back often for more details of this and other events we have planned. The companion juried writing competition submissions opened on January 1, 2017. Winners are announced and an awards ceremony will be held during our Friday night Kick-Off Event. If you'd like more information on guidelines for entries, please go to our website: https://www.pamlicowritersgroup.wildapricot.org/ All registrations for both conference and/or entry into the competition will be made through our web site: https://www.pamlicowritersgroup.wildapricot.org/. Again, see site for complete details. Thank you for visiting! We hope to see you again soon. **If you are a writer interested in finding a critique group or other writers, we encourage you to come and join us. If you life at a distance please don't let that diswade you, we have several members who participate predominately on-line. Our meetings are the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 7:00 pm here in Washington, NC at the Turnage Theatre. We would love to hear from you regarding comments or ideas you have for the group. This blog is authored by members of our writer's group. Thank you for stopping by. See you soon, Kaylene Wilson Program Coordinator


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