Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Ed and Lee Sworsky: Twins?!

The post-war population explosion impacted families across the country. Having a baby could be economically challenging to any young couple, but having two when only one was expected presented its own set of trials. Edmond Sworsky and his English war bride, Lee, were faced with this dilemma when their twins arrived. Mr. Sworsky remembered that event in a 2006 interview with historian Douglas Bekke.

Edmond A. Sworsky grew up during the 1920s and entered the Civilian Conservation Corps right out of high school. He joined the Army in 1942 and was assigned to the armored division. In 1943 he volunteered for the 2nd Ranger Battalion, took part in the D-Day invasion the following June, and fought his way across France and Luxembourg.

Mr. Sworsky was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, and was evacuated back to England. While working on an airbase there, he met his future wife, Selena (Lee) Eccles, and the two were married just after the war ended. He returned to the United States in November 1945, and sorted out Lee's immigration papers so that she could join him in Minnesota the following spring. The couple set up housekeeping in the Twin Cities, where Mr. Sworsky was employed by the Minneapolis Gas Company.


Edmond A. Sworsky Oral History Interview


ES: When the children were born we were still with my sister. ...Well, the thing is, I was working ten days on, four days off. She got pregnant and she was getting pretty big. She weighed about two hundred pounds. When we thought it was time to go...I know at that time I had finished that place out at my brother’s.

DB: You had a surprise with the first delivery, too.

ES: Yes. Twins.

DB: In New Brighton.

ES: When the babies were born I was sitting there waiting and a very strange thing happened. Some guy was sitting there opposite me and then he says, “Hey, I think I know you.” And I said, “Yes, but I don’t know if I know you or not.” Then he gave me his name and it was some guy I’d been in the CCC with and we talked and then we heard . . . talk about the twins being born. I didn’t pay no attention to that. Then when I got up and I went in there, when I checked with them, they told me, “You’re the father of twins.” That was a big surprise.

DB: This is in the hospital. So what kind of expenses did they have for delivering a baby in those days?

ES: We went to Dr. Spannau and I remembered . . . she just reminded me . . . it wasn’t thirty dollars. It was sixty-five dollars for one baby, which is a lot of money that we didn’t have. Because when the gas company put my hospitalization in, it had to go in a quarter, and our babies were born before the quarter was up. So I was stuck with that. It was sixty-five dollars for that. I said to the doctor, “You know, it’s sixty-five dollars. I don’t have it.” I said, “I just went for one child here and I got two.” He said, “Don’t worry about it.” So I didn’t worry about it. I got presented with a bill of a hundred and sixty . . . what was it?

DB: A hundred and thirty dollars.

ES: A hundred and thirty dollars. Well, we managed to get through that and then there was the hospital bill. I forget what it was. It was only a couple hundred dollars because she was in [the hospital] ten days.

DB: And you had medication charges, too.

ES: Yes. And then they gave her . . .

DB: She was in the hospital and you told me earlier she had to get penicillin and that cost money, too.

ES: Yes. Penicillin was ten dollars a shot and she was getting one every day. I told her, “We can’t afford that.” Well, anyway, my good friend, Monte, come through and loaned me the money.

DB: So that’s how you were able to pay the bill.

ES: Yes. I think it was about a total of four hundred dollars all together that we paid him. Then we had to pay [Monte] back. Then that was about it for the finances.


Sworsky, Edmond; Douglas Bekke, Interviewer, Edmond Sworsky Oral History Interview, 2006. Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Collection.