Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Sept. 17, 2001

Couple unpacks cake pans, icing because of terrorist attacks in NY

By Lynda Jensen

Measuring cups, cake pans, and the makings for icing were packed in Carol Sideen's suitcases about this time last week, to attend a special wedding in London Saturday.

She never got to make the wedding cake or attend the wedding.

Carol and her husband, Neil, of Howard Lake, looked forward to the trip, but their plans - and those of the nation - changed Tuesday morning when an apparent terrorist attack in New York on two towers of the World Trade Center caused the buildings to collapse, killing thousands of Americans.

Their future plans - and those of the nation - changed Tuesday morning when an apparent terrorist attack in New York on two towers of the World Trade Center caused the buildings to collapse, killing thousands of Americans.

In an unprecedented action, the federal government froze air travel across the nation for several days, stranding hundreds of thousands of people.

The Minneapolis international airport was closed, briefly re-opened, and then closed again, reflecting the government's effort to ensure traveler safety, as well as track related terroristic actions.

This left the Sideens watching, waiting, and worrying about their trip, and the four-tiered wedding cake and three sheet cakes that Carol promised to make.

The interruption in flights impacted the wedding of Per (pronounced "pear") Bjalkander, a former foreign exchange student from Sweden at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted high school in 1988-1989.

Bjalkander, who is 30 now, is one of eight exchange students who the Sideens opened their home to during the 1980s and 1990s, Carol said.

Another student the Sideens hosted was Rudiger Hansel from Germany. Hansel plans to attend Bjalkander's wedding as well, Carol said.

The bride's parents may not be so lucky, since they were both in New York before the weekend, she said.

For those who remember, Bjalkander looked very much like a Swede, with blue eyes and blonde hair, she said. He had a medium build, and took part in track, baseball, and choir at HLWW, she said. He also played guitar and taught some Swedish songs that were sung at Christmas, she said.

Bjalkander spoke about five different languages.

Six out of the eight exchange students keep in regular contact with the Sideens, via telephone and e-mail.

The Sideens also visited Europe, touching base with several exchange students over the years, she said.

One time, they visited Daniel Bohm, a student in the Czech Republic about two years ago, she said.

"That was a learning experience," Carol said wryly.

Bohm lived close to the borders of Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, very close to the actual location where the events depicted in Schindler's List took place, Carol said.

When they left, the Bohms escorted them back instead of trusting public transit, which was very risky in relation to personal safety, Sideen said.

Other students the Sideens hosted include Jan Roth from Germany in 1987, which is the same year that the German wall fell, Carol said.

The Sideens' plans began during Christmas, when Bjalkander visited them to introduce his fiance, Carol said. The couple met in France.

In fact, the Sideens also had special garments packed, made of English wax cotton - to match the rest of the wedding party - for the reception ceremony planned under a large pavilion, which is known as "Ashiobi," Neil said.

The plans for making cake with butter creme frosting in Europe required Carol to mastermind a plan to overcome many different kinds of problems - everything from figuring the oven temperature in celsius, to sending the right ingredients a month ahead of time, Carol said.

She sent her cake mixes last month. She wanted to send 24 pounds of powdered sugar ahead of time, but worried it might get hung up in customs because of its powdery white resemblance to drugs, Carol said.

The cake was supposed to be separate levels of chocolate, lemon, white, and marble, she said.

With heavy hearts, the Sideens canceled their plans Thursday. It would have been a 10-hour trip for them, first to Iceland, then to London.

The Sideens could have waited on stand-by for a flight, but decided to play it safe, since the United States may strike back and cause more travel hijinks, Neil said.

Both of the Sideens expressed deep disappointment over the missed wedding.

"Saturday was rough," Neil said.

Neither will forget the turn of events, they said. When Neil first heard news of the attack, he was working at the public access office located on the second floor of the city hall building, he said.

Carol was at school when it happened. Neil called her, she said. "Carol, you can't believe what's happening," he said.

"I remember when Kennedy died, too," she said. She was in a high school study hall, when she first heard the news, she said.

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