Monday, December 29, 2008

Next years presents

Often I began Christmas presents in January. A woman in Sweden whose name is, I think Inga Persson, designed a yearly Christmas wall hanging. It was cross stitched on an off white piece of linen material. No bigger than maybe 8 by 10 inches. The designs are priceless and so much fun to work. I remember a few that I sewed, a whole choir of people in church, one with a star shining on the shepherds in the desert. One of three horses in the stable where Jesus was born. I will ask one of my children to take pictures of the ones they were given. It was a quiet, warm kind of occupation after the hectic pre-Christmas work. I loved that kind of time. Soon, after Thirteenth Day, all signs of Christmas would be hidden away in the attic. And when School started I would be all alone with my own thoughts and plans for next year.

I think all the girls asked to sew these IP DESIGNS and they are hung in their homes when decorating the house begins. Usually after the Lucia Day. Sometimes after December 1.

When I moved out of the house where we had lived since 1983 I made many foolish decisions and sold much of the Christmas decor at the garage sale. I was moving into much smaller quarters and didn't want to be buried by all those belongings. The children were allowed to take whatever they wanted. Now that Christmas is over, I am glad not to be so laden down by things. And if there is something I would like to own again, I can always make it anew. I will let you know what develops.

My grand-daughter who is a Lt. in the US Navy is going skiing in Canada and on her way back to Ventura and is stopping by here. I am so eager to see her again and I will make one of her favorite meals, Swedish Meatballs. They must be eaten with Lingon Berries and mashed potatoes and gravy, and since her Mother is the worlds best salad maker I will have oven roasted vegetables. Maybe Tosca for desert.

Friday, December 26, 2008

in years past

Christmas always ended with me in bed. I was prone to getting a sore throat which usually turned into a strep throat and only penicillin would cure it. After a few years of this, I was told that it was not smart using penicillin and so I suffered through all the phases of the sickness. I knew I had used up too much energy getting ready for the Holidays and I knew I would do it again the following year, so what could I do to prevent getting sick. Maybe I was allergic to something I came in contact with, only during the Holidays.

I searched and searched trying to find something that happened only at Christmastime. During the Holidays we kept a bottle of Aquavit in the freezer. When we had a reason to skol we took a small sip of this freezing cold liquid and chased it with a small drink of beer. Could that be the reason? When I felt well again I would practice and have a little snort and it never gave me a sore throat. We used ginger in baking cookies. Hardly ever used during the rest of the year. I did some research in this area also. No certain outcome. Could it be that using the two together caused the trouble. But I could not go on with the research for I might become an alcoholic if this went on too long.

Someone told me about a cold preventative. Take one generous amount of Listerine into your mouth, hold it in your mouth for 30 seconds, spit it out. I have done that for 6 years and Voila! I have had no cold for that length of time. I am not being paid by Listerine and it might be all in my mind, but for me it works. I use a clock in the bathroom and I time the treatment.

This is a very boring blog and the only thing I can do to lure you into continue reading this, I can make a promise to do better. I began blogging by telling you that I am a name dropper, and I have not dropped anything for a long time. So I will promise you that there are some interesting names in the near future. Examples? Diane Sawyer and Ron Ziegler, Nixon's Press secretary and Chihuli the giant glass artist. Wait and see.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

We here in Western Washington have been inundated with snow and it has been going on for quite a while. More is expected for the rest of the year. I was invited to spend Christmas with my daughter's household about two hours away from where I live. That was cancelled this morning when freezing temperatures were predicted, and unsafe conditions were a sure thing.

So I decided to make our usual standby, Cardamon Sweet Rolls. When the children were growing up and even after they had flown the coop and created our empty nest, I would have our freezer full of lengths of this delicious breakfast food around Christmas time. I used to send it to the child who could not come home for the Holidays. It seemed essential.

This morning, early, I decided this is how I would spend Christmas Eve. I have never made one recipe. I multiply the recipe found on a yellowing page out of an old cook book. It calls for one cup of milk. I used four cups, forgetting that I no longer own a freezer. It took virtually all day. At four p.m. I wandered around this place where I live, knocking on doors, giving my fellow inmates rolls for breakfast and wishing them Merry Christmas. It was a lovely day and the house still smells like our old Christmases.

1 cup milk
1/4-cup sugar (I usually add two or three Tbsp sugar)
1-tsp salt
1 tsp crushed cardamon
1 env or 1 Tbsp yeast
1 egg
1/4-cup softened butter (or more if you are wealthy)
31/2 cps all purpose flour

Pour milk in bowl cook in microwave for 1min. check that milk is luke warm before adding yeast. Stir in sugar and salt and cardamon add softened butter yeast and egg slightly beaten.
Add half of the flour, beat with wooden spoon until smooth. Add some of the other flour and work the dough on floured board. Add and work dough until smooth and firm. Keep dough covered with damp cloth in warm place until it is double in size. If you have not doubled the amount of the milk, cut dough in two and roll it out. Spread butter and sugar and cinnamon on dough roll it and cut it to look like a braid, put it on buttered cookie sheet cover with towel and let it grow once more. Paint it with egg liquid and sprinkle sugar on top and
bake in 350* for thirty min
I have a note in the corner of the page which states, if you use 8-cups of milk, you'll need a little more than alb of flour

Please let me know f anyone makes this. Cardamon should be bought in a health-food store and then crushed in a coffee grinder. Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No parties

Our traditions, way back then, allowed nothing but work before Christmas. We cooked and we cleaned and we made presents. No matter how good our intentions were, we never were ready, and we had to sit up half the nights to finish the embroidery on a table cloth, or knitting the last sleeve on a sweater, If it was something that was noisy, like sawing on a project or hammering, that had to wait till the house was empty. Painting the project could be done somewhere provided the smell didn't wake up the sleepers. My youngest reminded me that I would become 'stressed' and no wonder. I was not very smart when I decided I could make all my own Christmas cards. And all the gifts for friends and neighbors were homemade goodies.

And then came Christmas and we spent the days with family. Sam's brother and family came for the big dinner. His mother and step father, his brothers in-laws and the three little cousins. The Wilsons were fun and helpful, Sam's sister-in-law gave our girls the neatest presents. Good GIRL things. Things I would never think of. And our girls treasured her.

Second Day Christmas in Sweden was a real holiday. Stores were closed. And no work would be done. That's when all the parties began. The period between Second Day Christmas (we called that day Annan Dagen) and Epiphany was a time of continuous parties. On Epiphany (we called it Thirteenth Day) was usually a huge children's party somewhere. They came to the house to strip the tree of all decorations. Many of the decorations were edible, such as ginger bread cookies and nuts and candy canes. They got to keep whatever they took off the tree. We had only real candles in the tree, and in many cases the tree would be hauled out of the corner of the room so we could dance around the tree. With the candles burning. Even for our School Party the giant tree in the gym would be aglow with candles and we would dance till long into the night. Our trees were probably fresher than the average tree in this country, but I never heard of a tree catching fire.

At our house, if it was our turn to have the party for the children, after the tree was denuded we would pull it through the house and out the front door and next day it would be moved to the back of the wood shed were it would linger until the evening before May 1. when it would be used for the fire down at the beach. I have mentioned it before but that was called Valborg's Masso Afton and I will tell you more about that when we get closer to May1

Meanwhile, I hope all of you will have a wonderful, blessed Christmas. I feel as though all you readers now belong to my family and I feel much enriched by your well wishes. Gertrud

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More of my own memories

Before I was born my father was home for one Christmas. My sister who was four years older remembered it . I always felt jealous of her having that memory. I have been told that he came home so seldom that he was home on leave only five or six times during my first ten years. I remember drawing pictures for him for Christmas.

Then one year we were all sitting in the living-room. My paternal grandmother was there. And suddenly there was a rumble in the front hall. Loud rumble. And then a knock on the door and before anyone said : "Come in", there was Santa Claus, or Jul Tomten, as we called him. He came into the the living room with a large sack, and asked which of us children had been Good Children. Three of us responded Me, Me. I couldn't for I had been told so often that I was bad. (my Grandmother died when I was eight years old, so this happened when I was younger than eight.) But it is burnt into my mind. Tomten sounded like a nice guy and he even smelled good. As a grown up, on my first visit home from America I found out that Santa was played by my favorite relative. She and her husband was my children's favorite couple, they spent time with in Sweden, even though they didn't speak a word of English. That was the only time that Tomten came into the house. All other years there was a rumble outside and we would rush out to find the sack of presents outside the front door.

We usually got clothing as presents. Socks or PJs. Many years I wanted a grocery store. I don't now how I knew there was such a thing. I pictured it as rows of boxes made into a counter, and then flour and sugar and salt and maybe some goodies and I would pretend to weigh the items and put them in tiny little paper-bags for anyone who wanted to play with me. I never got one. All this happened before there were prepackaged foods. In my next life I may be a grocer.

I can't remember if I wrote about the Dipping day. It happened to come three days before Christmas Eve. Mother bought a leg of pork. She would put it in a giant soup-pot. Add pepper corns and whole All Spice and Bay leaves. It would simmer for hours. Then the meat was carefully removed from the pot. The liquid would be reheated and put on the middle of the dining room table and we had home made bread and we could either serve ourselves into a soup plate or dip the bread into the pot in the center of the table. It was the most delicious meal of all year. We all looked forward to the dipping day. If you were making a date for any day around this time you'd say "I'll see you at the windmill at 12 noon, the day before the dipping day.

The ham would then be baked with mustard and pineapple marinade. We would eat from this delicious meat all through the holidays.

Christmas eve we had boiled Lut Fisk. With it we had mustard sauce made with the seeds from the mustard that grows along the highways in the summers. We had a special bowl for crushing the seeds. It was smooth on the outside but rough on the inside. We had a canon ball that would go around and around as you swung the bowl to propel the ball. A few drops of water were added slowly It would be a long tiresome chore and a child was usually the one doing it. There was one other really tiresome job. Boiling the milk for the Christmas Rice pudding. It had to be stirred from beginning to end. After the milk boiled it usually took more than an hour to slowly let it cook until the rice disappeared into a thick pudding. One blanched almond would then be dropped into this huge pot. Then the rice pudding would be separated into eight serving dishes and then put in the cellar. We would use one of these for dessert on Christmas Eve, one for Christmas Day and one for Second Day Christmas, one for new years Eve and one for New Years Day, one for Epiphany eve and one for Epiphany day. In one of these lay an almond and all of us wanted to be lucky enough to find it. Various things might befall the lucky one, such as he might get rich or he might get married first. In all those years, I found it once and if that was the reason I found Sam, then I thank the almond deighty.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Jodie asked me to remember Christmas memories from the time the children were little. I remember being tired and needing more sleep. I still worked under the impression that all gifts had to be handmade. In Sweden people did a super extra house cleaning before Dec. 1. Then all preparations were about baking and sewing and presents. I still have wonderful things that the children made for us. All secret even from each other. I have asked all four of them to write to me about a good or bad memory they have from long ago. As soon as I get a couple I will post them.

We let the children pick out one present on Christmas eve. We tried to get them to bed at a decent hour so the presents that arrived knocked down could be assembled before midnight. Early in the girls lives they sang in our church choir and that meant an early attendance. Gilbert was an altar boy and when he stood near the altar he looked angelic.

I have received some memories. Nr. 1 daughter said: "I remember that you were always knitting. When we asked what I was working on, you told us that I was making covers for Dad's golf-clubs but when the right moment came it turned out to be sweaters for everybody." She also said that the big bake was a wonderful memory. She used to sneak a few little bits of dough. She makes the same bread for their Christmas and the result is better than what I ever made. Nr. 2 daughter said her biggest memory was the advent calendars. They all had a calendar with 24 curtain rings sewn on. On each I would hang a wrapped present. The rings were marked with the dates from Dec 1 to the 24th The items were simple and inexpensive and I would pick them up during the year. One might be as simple as an eraser and could be as large as a small tube of tooth-paste. It was a huge job tying them up after they were wrapped. It was fun to hear them talk about who got the better one that day, for they all got the same eventually. I am so happy that all the girls carried on that tradition. When people went to college they pled to have them sent to school. Nr. 2 also remembered one year when we made handmade little Santas for the tree. We strung red yarn from the back of one chair to another as far away as possible. We went back and forth stringing the yarn until we reached a suitable thickness. Then with red thread we tied of certain lengths, a long one for the body, a shorter one for the arms, a little red felt triangle for hat. A few stitches for face and beard and a loop to hang it with. We made hundreds and the tree looked great with the little red figures.

Nr.3 daughter remembered another decoration for the tree. We saved hundred of walnut shells from the Christmas baking. A little hole was drilled in the shell, they were sprayed gold, filled with cotton (from drugstore cotton balls), and a little half an inch nude baby doll. This daughter also remembers how I used to get stressed out and I would shout at everybody. I remember all of us being blissfully happy and calm. (kidding) She also remembers getting a bike one year and since it rained on Christmas Day she was allowed to ride it indoors, in that long hall in the back of the house.

Nr.2 remembers learning how to make cardamon coffee cake. We had orange juice and coffee and coffee cake during opening presents.

Haven't heard from our Nr.1 and only son, yet.

Los Angeles

We were met at the Los Angeles Flyg Station by an anxious father and husband. It was wonderful for all of us being united again. He had unwelcome news for us. We had to go to a friend and furniture plant owner of his, for lunch. His wife was a famous cook. I had met them several times during the SF Market. And we all liked them a lot. It was just that the thought of food was unbearable. That early morning Coffee still revolved in more than our thoughts. And this was a new morning where it was unseemly to think of Gourmet food. We all wanted to get home as soon as possible.

The food turned out to be what had been predicted. Absolutely fabulous. We tried to be hungry and we ate all we could, but we lacked the acting ability to give it what it deserved. We did not dawdle and soon we were on our way back to the airport to fly back to Oakland and then home. We all had questions for Sam. Did the renters leave the house the way they found it? Was anything missing? How had the guesthouse worked out for Sam. He said he would never let us leave without him. He had been so lonesome. We all promised to spoil him, now that we were back. Even Jane promised to help rake leaves when they began to fall. I had other unspoken promises.

The first thing that happened when we got home was that we all fell in bed and slept till next morning. The children checked on their belongings and the only thing missing was the Christmas record of the Kingston Trio. (I found one before the following Christmas in a junk-store) I could not find anything missing but I did discover that their children had set off fire crackers against the green walls in the living-room. Each one left a white spot and the repainting cost was taken off their cleaning deposit.

It was wonderful being back and I felt I would never want to leave again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

End of vacation

I saw an old friend the day before we were to leave, and she complained that 'here you are leaving and you have never been to my home' I said ' why don't I come tomorrow morning, before I leave, and you and I can have a cup of coffee together.' She insisted the children come too. Little did I know what this little cup of coffee would become. We were seated in the dining room and never have I seen a table so full of goodies. It was 9-am. There was a mountain of what we call here Danish. In Sweden they are called Wienerbrod. The children were served Coke. Then came the loaf type cake, sockercaka, and spice cake. And then cookies, probably five different kinds. And then a CAKE. with whipped cream. The looks of these riches were enough to make you feel sick. The children even resisted. and I was thinking of what all this sugar would do to their patience as we waited in lines here and there at the Air-port in Kopenhavn. We tried to hurry, but that was difficult, when one considered the labor this woman had gone to to gather all this food. We did, however, hurry.

The night before I had packed and put all the suitcases on top of the car. And I had lashed everything to a fair-thee-well. The rope I used looked almost like some kind of pre-historic embroidery. My father was a sea-man but I had never learned about knots and such. My friend, Tora, gave all the children gifts and all I could think was "where will I put them". When we returned down the lane to Mother's house, there were all the children's friends, all bearing farewell gifts. And my thought was the same. WHERE WILL I PUT THEM. I still had all their wooden shoes and my wooden shoes that did not fit in any suitcase. The packages were all over the back of the car when we drove out of our yard and up the lane. When we passed Grandfather's house, the house he had owned, I drew my first relaxed breath of the day. I had decided what to do about all our unpacked stuff. When we got into Helsingborg our first stop was at a Ship-chandler store. I bought the largest sea bag they had. The kind of bag that you see a sailor have slung over his shoulder as he leaves home in his 'boot cut' pants. I told the children they could keep one gift or one book out. The rest goes into the bag.

We took the ferry to Helsingor. Then drove South to the air port. When we came to the environs I told them I had a couple of stops before we got to the Flyg Station. I found a building that was named BAD. None of us had had a BAD, translated bath, except for the swimming in Oresund and what happened with our ewers and such. We had an enjoyable couple of hours and all of us managed to shampoo our heads. Gilbert had not been able to swim and came out of there a different color. After a wonderful lunch at three in the afternoon, we checked in. I returned the rental car, and we all felt as if we were practically at home. Little did we know we had another eating frenzy when we arrived in Los Angeles.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Before beginning on the next chapter= Anon asked about Mother''s mental health. She was one of the most intelligent people I have ever known. She was up on world history, and the state of the world. She was strong physically and into her late eighties could work circles around an average human. I began writing her memoir from the time she knew she was pregnant with me and the first days after she came home from the hospital. (things she told me and things others told me) Anon also asked about my relationship with my father. He died at sea when I was ten or eleven. He was a captain in the Merchant Marine and came home for vacation every other year or year and a half.

The reason my mother gave for having nailed the cellar door was that it wasn't safe to go down there for there was a broken bearing beam holding up the kitchen. I asked her why she had not told me, never got an answer.

The whole trip was not miserable. We all made friends and the children were honestly happy and were surprised when I related some of the worst stories to Sam when we got home. At one time I was about five minutes away from deciding to go to Norway, to finish our trip there. But Sam said when I called him: Keep a stiff upper lip, and stay as planned.

One day the children and I were returning from the harbor when we ran into a tripod in the middle of the street, with a Hasselblad Camera ready for taking a picture of the church spire which looked denuded. The Cross was down for repair. Along came a man who told us he was there for the summer, on vacation from being a teacher at Lund University. We talked and I told him the Cathedral in Lund was one of our future visits. He said the Cathedral is being restored and the public can not see it. What a disappointment. But then he said: In exchange for a ride to Lund, I will take you and the children for a tour.

So the following week, he in the passenger seat, I in the driver's seat, and three children in the back,(Jane was too young) took off for a fabulous history lesson. He knew every bend in the road. Look to the left. Do you see that farm house? There the Danes killed fourteen Swedes on June 12 in the war of so and so. Next corner the Swedes got even and so it went the whole way. The children were bored ( his English was hard for me to understand even, and with the children making noises, I missed a lot.) I wish it could have been filmed an taped. He was fabulous.

He told me the reason he had to go to Lund was so he could buy his ration of liquor. He had to have his Motbook in order to buy snaps. I don't quite understand. If you did not have money in the bank, you could not have a Motbook. It was a very undemocratic way of rationing. Meant that if you had money, you could afford to get drunk. This system has been changed. But I remember when Sam came to Sweden in 1945 he borrowed my uncles Motbook.

When we got to Lund he took us to his favorite Conditorie. There he told us all to have what we would like and the children (and I ) were in 7th Heaven. It was a fabulous day. When the children got noisy in the car and I tried to shuss them, he said: Don't do that. Don't kill that wonderful American lust for life.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Cellar

We, my children and I are still in Sweden. Lucia just happened yesterday and I thought people would be interested in hearing about it. But there is another reason I was so happy to diverge from our daily life in Viken.

My mother. She still had problems with me. She loved the children and she was a wonderful grandmother. With me it was another story. I will give you one example and then try to forget it.

Sunday we had dinner, all six of us. And I tried to have a Sunday dinner like the ones we had when I was growing up. I bought a beautiful veal roast. With that we had boiled potatoes and string-beans. I forget what we had for dessert.

An aside before I go on. There was no running water in the kitchen. There was no refrigerator.

We ate and all went well. I had hot water ready for washing dishes and after the children had cleared the table I told them they could go out and play, while I washed the dishes. Mother said she was going to visit a friend. Before I could wash the dishes I had to decide how to preserve the leftovers. I decided to cover the serving dishes with foil and to put them down in the cellar. We had enough for a good supper the following day. When I opened the cellar door, I thought there were too many spider-webs down there.

Well, next evening when I went to get our leftovers, the cellar door was nailed shut. That meant the food would sit there and rot and the serving dishes were lost for us for the duration. It wasn't just a little brad used by my mother, those were huge nails pounded in totally. The people who bought the house many years later must have been surprised when they tore the kitchen down to modernize it. Two beautiful dishes with green stuff growing under the foil. There was some sort of adventure like this for me on a daily basis.

I will try to tell you about the fun times we had.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Before I talk about Lucia, I must tell you why I have been unable to blog the last few days. The other day, while waiting for yet another generous comment from you, my public, I noticed that I had KGO on my 'bookmarks'. So I hit on it to see what would happen. I have listened to KGO since we lived in Diablo and I can't function without listening to Ray Tailjafero (Wrong spelling) from 1 to 5-am. I have heard him way down South in Mexico and I have heard him way up North in Canada. But he does not do so well in Port Angeles Wa. So I thought I could fix up with him on the computer maybe. I checked around and said to myself, I'll do it later. And so I turned off the computer, and when I got back to do a blog I opened the laptop and here was KGO broadcasting. While I was reading the comments on the King, I had to listen to the ads from SF. This morning I finally got rid of KGO.

And so to Lucia. Pre Christians in Scandinavia believed that their Gods had forsaken them when in December, the night lasted longer than ever. They were smart enough to figure out which was the longest night. Which is around the 22nd of December.
And people would celebrate the fact that light would return to them and there were parties in the dark. Later the merchants felt that the 22nd was too close to Christmas and they changed the holiday to the 13th of December. When I was a child in Sweden, we celebrated in every house in our village by putting candles in every window on the route to the church. I remember one year we had enough snow to have a horse-drawn carriage driving from the upland farm area with lighted flares through the village to the church. The church was heated with free-standing round tall stoves, one on each side of the building. People who were forced to sit near the stoves would die from over heating, and we children who sang with the choir would almost perish in the choir loft.

In each house the family celebrated with breakfast in bed. Baking had been done the day before and the blondest girl of the house would take a tray with coffee and Lucia Buns to each person in the house, singing the Lucia song all the while. It was a lovely custom and the year when I met Sam in Sweden I discovered how it had become very commercialized. It was a beauty pageant and The Lucia chosen by the public, rode a white horse through the dark streets of Stockholm. followed by the nine girls who had not won the contest and by boy-scouts carrying lighted flares. It is still a lovely custom but I can see why the merchants changed the date.

In our house, while the children were growing up we celebrated Lucia. We invited the families we were close to and their children to breakfast. Since we all had four children (not true) the number of people who came filled several tables. Martha was the blondest of the girls and she most often wold be our Lucia. She was dressed in white and wore a crown of lighted candles on her blond curls. Only one mother refused to come. Guests had to arrive at six, and she felt it was too early. Her husband and four children came. We would tell the story of the early Scandinavians and their fear of eternal darkness, and we would sing the song. Then the fathers went to work and the children went to catch the school-bus and the mothers could sit and talk about what just happened. I may make myself a Lucia-bun for breakfast tomorrow.

Happy Lucia, every one

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dear King

We were eating breakfast the next morning when Anna came rushing in, announcing 'I did it. I did it'. I asked 'What did you do? ''I wrote a letter to the King.' I said 'May we read it before you send it? She said 'Of course.'

I do not have a copy of her actual letter. This is what I remember of it. Dear King, My family and I came from America yesterday. I was surprised to hear that you are a neighbor of ours. I have never met a real live King. Could you come to our house and have Tea or Coca Cola.

I thought the letter was so to the point, and so child like, I put it in an envelope and mailed it for her.

Three days later there was a letter in the mailbox. So official and so important looking, the mailman must have bowed as he put it in my mother's mailbox. Anna still has it in her memory box from that trip. This is what the letter said.

My Dear Anna, I am desired by His Majesty the King to acknowledge the receipt of your lines of July 5th. The King had pleasure in reading your letter and asks me to inform you that the gardens of Sofiero are daily open to the public between one and two p.m. So if you and your mother and brother and sisters come here during that hour any day next week and about two o'clock ask the policeman stationed in the park to phone me, I will tell his Majesty, who will then come out and have a chat with you and yours. C.F. Palmsteirna, private secretary to H M the King

Well we had a nervous week-end and rehearsed how to make a curtsey, how to take a picture and what should we wear and what should we talk about and rememeber not to turn around until he has turned around. The children asked me not to speak Swedish with him so they would know what was going on. How do you know he knows how to speak English, they asked. I know, because he was married to an English Princess.

Everything worked like magic. All the females in the group forgot to curtsey. We were waiting by the back stairs of the Castle when HM the King came down the stairs. He was gracious and kindly and actually a handsome man. I forget what we talked about. He asked each child a pertinent questions and they answered without any ers and ers. He even gave me a question and I do not remember in detail but something about why had I emigrated. Then he told us he was going to Bastad to watch a tennis match.

The children, especially the younger ones were very disappointed. He did not wear ermine or red velvet robes and no crown. He was actually wearing Pat Boone shoes. I prayed that the one picture I took of the event would turn out to be a success.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2nd day

The girls' whispering woke me up. I looked at my watch and it was 4.15. I tip-toed into their room and hushed them so they wouldn't wake their grandmother. I woke up Gilbert and we snuck out of the house and began a two hour walk. I had promised them I would take them to every significant place from my past. We began by going North, out on the heath. There I showed them where we had played house in the mountains of timber that my uncle had gathered from the boats that had foundered on the reef between Viken and Lerberget. And then we talked about the Pavilion, the one remaining of the two that were there when I was growing up. As a young teenager I had been allowed to sell soft drinks and candy when there were dances in the summer. And then we came to the sorry little stream, or rivulet that we called The Mississippi. There we turned around and went South.

We called this Svangen, which means the turn around. Once, on our way home from school a man stood in the trees exposing himself. He had pulled his pants down and was clapping on his stomach to draw attention to himself. Pretty stupid. And his rhythm was poor. We ran home and told our mothers who really got upset and began a search for him. We did not understand what the hysteria was about. But now I know, I said, there is danger from people like that and that they should do what we did. Tell a grown up if you ever happen into something like that.

And the rest of the two hours went on like that. this is where I fell off my bicycle and and here is where a man lived who was scary for he looked as if he never took a bath. And here is the wind mill, built by my great grandfather. And this large house was his and while we grew up the Anderssons lived there. Inga Andersson was my best friend and her sister was Birgit's best friend. We got to go there to help with their Christmas baking and it was so much fun. This later was made into a hotel. If you want to I will arrange to have you see the inside of the wind mill and see how they grind the flour from the seeds brought in by the farmers. In front of this place is where we had huge snowball fights. Always the girls against the boys.

And then we ran down the hill that had seemed so gigantic when we were little. The hill that went down to the harbor. Way over to the south was where the ship building took place. My great grandfather who came from Denmark and who had also built the windmill and surrounding houses had been a rich man and when his youngest daughter wanted to marry the poorest boy in Viken, he showed her the door and told her not to come back. Luckily his wife used to smuggle food for them. They had lots of children who all went to America. I only met one of them, Aunt Hilda. There was an uncle who became a Coast Guard officer and according to the rules at the time, he had to take his mother's maiden name, Lindberg in order to work for the government.

I was at this time stalling for time. I wanted to finish our trip at the same time as the sweet rolls were coming out of the oven at Vibo, the local Conditory. We were going down to the beach in front of our house to eat them and then go home to see if Grandma was up. When we walked in the front door we heard her on the pone saying. 'No they are still sleeping. Not a sound from upstairs.'

Friday, December 5, 2008

our trip to Sweden

I forget what year it was when I decided the children had to meet their grandmother before it was too late. I asked Sam if this was the summer we could afford to go. he informed me that the two most important weeks in the furniture business happened during the summer. He had to attend the furniture week in Chicago and one in San Francisco, and I would have to go without him. And yes, we could afford it. I got in touch with my mother and she said 'Yes, she would love it if we came.'

I spoke to my friend, the realtor, and asked if she could rent our house for three months. She said maybe. then I asked if Sam would agree to live in the largest of our guest houses. He said 'what a great idea.' It would then be much easier to afford the trip. And he said he would travel a lot farther in his territory and business would grow and improve. I had three months to get the house ready for strangers, I would get the guest house ready for Sam to live in, and I would pack for our trip. Little did I expect that to be so difficult.

There were private things that would be locked into one of the little guest houses. And Sam had to have a bed with bedclothes, he had to have cooking equipment, he had to have one of our TVs. When I think of all the hard labor I wonder how I survived. I was tired but felt I could revive on the long flight. We left on a Monday morning and on Sunday afternoon before leaving, Gilbert broke his wrist while swinging on a rope over the creek. We drove to Kaiser in Walnut Creek and they set the askew bones and said for him to try to hold the arm elevated till the next day when he should be seen by an orthopede to check that there was not too much swelling in the arm.

So we got aboard a SAS plane in Los Angeles after having flown from Oakland to LA. I was so exhausted I thought I would not be able to hold myself together much longer. The girls slept most of the way across the Atlantic and Gilbert and I tried to. When we arrived in Kopenhamn we rented a volkswagen and since I had never driven a car with a stick-shift we jumped through the city. Gilbert was so embarrassed. We drove to Elsinore and got on a ferry and then headed North to Viken where I grew up. We drove past a beautiful spot and saw spires and flags and Anna said: What's that. I said that was the King's summer Palace and when the flags were flying, it meant the King was in residence. Anna said, 'I have never met a real live King. I would like to meet him.' I said, because I was exhausted, 'write him a letter'. And then I forgot it. We got to Viken and I unloaded the car and the children and then turned around to go back to the city, Helsingborg where the hospital was. There we waited and waited and when we finally saw the doctor he said the arm was OK but come back tomorrow and we will take an X-ray. And so we drove out to Viken again and both Gilbert and I fell into bed and slept until 4.30 am. to be continued

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The bells are ringing

There was a long hall running in the back of the house, running from the didning room to the bedroom area. In it were three cuboards with a counter top covering all three plus two knee holes. We had taken the children to see a movie, I think the name was 'The Bells are Ringing.' It was about a girl working for a telephone messaging company. Our three girls instantly became that girl. All three of them sat in that hall taking orders for a furniture company. They had discontinued order books, they had pictures of discontinued furniture, and they had a telephone they answered, (one they were allowed to disconnect from the bedroom) sounding just like the person in the movie. They took orders that were written in some foreign language. This game lasted for months. They invited all their friends to learn the things you have to know if you want to be a Bells are ringing kind of girl.

It was amazing how much language they had learned from the movie, but also how much they had learned from listening to their father talking to his customers. They knew about the range of the fabric and the difference in price. It was as much fun to listen to them 'working' as it was seeing the movie.

In the cupboards we kept all drawing and painting and craft supplies and it was constantly in use by some one of them. When our youngest, Jane, was sitting there one day, I saw a drawing of hers that was really fascinating. There were two girls, consisting of heads, and legs coming out of the heads. One girl had longer legs than the other, and those legs were folded up sideways at what was probably the knees. When I saw it I said tell, me about this drawing. Jane said 'that is me and that is Anna. Why are her legs looking like that? 'She is tired'

In the San Francisco Chronicle, on the comic page, was a Jr Art Contest. I sent in the drawing. Jane was three at the time. I didn't want Anna to be teased by her friends, so I titled the drawing 'Me and my tired sister. About a week later there was Janes drawing in the paper. She had won two dollars and her name in print. We waited and waited for her price money to arrive in the mail. Finally one day there it was. I said Jane your money has arrived and I gave her the envelope. She tore it open. And then she cried. 'I wanted pennies' I tried my best to assure her that I could change the check into pennies.

Friday, November 28, 2008


When we were first married I saw an adorable kitten in front of our grocery store. It was free. I said to Sam that I would like to get the animal. He said: OK you can have the kitten or you can have me. It only took seconds for me to decide. But for fifty plus years we joked about my cat-less life and I told Sam that if he died before I did, I would go to the pound and get a cat on my way home from the funeral. Well, he did die, and I did get a kitten a few days later. The first Saturday Farmer's market after Sam died I saw a woman sitting spinning yarn. She had a basket at her feet, and in the basket were three kittens. One was black and white and when I held him I was at first so amazed at the heat I felt in my hand. He was so small that he fit perfectly into my hand. When I turned him a bit, I discovered that there were hundreds of black fleas on his white stomach. I could not put him back in his basket. After visiting the pet store I took him home where he met Cap our two year old Brittany. The fur stood up on the back of the cat and he made a treathening sound and so he was named. He was an Edgar Allen Poe cat. He and Cap saved me from years of misery of missing Sam.

Smoke Signals

Our son ran away from home before he was five. I helped him pack a going away bag. He was gone for a few hours. He never told what irked him. Probably too many females in the house. After we moved to Diablo he had three of the cutest playmates across the street. And three of the naughtiest boys, you will ever want to meet. They and their new play mate committed arson. They raided peoples garages looking for a chicken in the freezers. They somehow knew which package contained a chicken and were not careful about returning the steaks and lamb-chops to the freezer. After finding what they were looking for they lit a fire in a culvert on the golf course and tried to barbecue their catch. Our son was in his indian suit as he came home, rushing into the house, through the living room, into his room. I had a few friends for afternoon coffee and they all laughed and said 'he's in a hurry'

And then we heard the fire engine. And then a thin whiff of smoke reached my nostrils. And then I knew. I ran into the Indian's room, grabbed his arm and ran to where the firemen were working. Everybody thought, How cute! The talking to of the four boys was much to easy and as far as I could see had no consequences for the three neighbors. Ours was forbidden to play with them and was campused for a week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Orange-juice cans and macaroni

A few people asked about our hydrotherapy time. I found with our first child that the hour between five and six was the most difficult hour of the day. Especially the two year old time. And since I liked to cook I was forced to spend that hour in the kitchen. If we walked to Mrs Murphy's house, I was sure to have our potatoes baking in the oven or our casserole was getting warmed. Then I fed the children when we returned.

But if Sam were working nearby, then we would wait for him and then we had an extra hour of entertaining the brood. The older ones liked to read or play with crayons but the little ones were restless and had to be entertained. It might not have been the safest, but the two little ones stood on chairs and immersed themselves as far as they could go into warm sudsy water. All they did with the macaroni was pour it in one can and then poured it into another. Occasionally they would put a piece of macaroni in the mouth and I figured it could not hurt them. They could have pushed each other off the chairs, but they never did. If they got too wet they metamorphed into their pajamas before eating. It was cheap and it worked. The amount of macaroni was minimal.

The orange juice cans have a story. We could afford one can of juice each morning. You young people don't know about frozen orange juice. There were six of us and we shared the content of of one small can. The children were so happy if one of them got invited to spend the night elsewhere. The one who was invited, because she would probably get more in the house where she spent the night, but her siblings because the little cheese glasses would be filled to the brim next morning. You might say: why didn't you buy bigger cans? We were extremely poor and If I had to buy a tube of toothpaste, we probably had baked beans that night. I even drove in to Walnut Creek to buy concentrated milk which saved a couple of cents. Safeway was in Walnut Creek and the groceries were cheaper than in our family owned stores in Danville.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My little Indian

Gilbert, our first child, had just had his fourth birthday before we moved to Diablo. His favorite present was an indian suit. He might have received a head dress and a hatchet but I only remember the suit. There was plastic fringe on the sleeves and on the side of his pants. He wore it every day and sat by the dryer when it had to be washed. After we moved in he escaped and ran up the street. The front door at the neighbors house was open and he ran into the living room where several adults were peacefully having a post breakfast conversation. He circled the coffee table and exited the room and returned home. Not a word had been spoken during his attack. It was the house of the Greers where Mike Bray spent his teenage years. Harriet Greer was the first one to ask me if we were Catholics. The three tiny children and me being very pregnant made people suspect that the church had been guilty of some pressure. It was difficult convincing people that it was because we got such a late start.

We were quite a conversation stopper when we would go for our evening walk. About five in the afternoon, when little people usually get cranky or restless, we would all walk up the street to Mrs Murphy's house to see the ducks in her front-yard. Early on we had one child in the stroller and two walking along-side. It would usually take half an hour or 45 min. and by the time we got home supper would be ready. If Sam were in the neighborhood, we would wait for him so we could have dinner together. Then there would be Hydrotherapy for the two younger children. I would fill the kitchen sink with warm bubbly water and get out all the orange juice cans and the macaroni and nothing soothed tired toddlers better than that. After Jane was born, a month later the stroller was exchanged for the baby buggy and then Martha would sit at the foot of the buggy and Gilbert and Anna would hold onto the buggy as we wandered up the street. And then the Hydrotherapy still consisted of the two youngest. It worked well for a long time. I wish they could all have remained under five, for I felt so secure as a mother. Then they got smarter than their mother. But we were very lucky. They were all healthy and grew p to be wonderful people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More of Herb Caen and the Gordons

Herb Caen was a very powerful man in Northern California. We heard the owner of Danville Hotel say that when his place was mentioned in Herb's column he rushed to the phone and hired three extra waiters for a week or ten days. And still people had to wait to be seated.

Once there was an art show that asked me to enter something. I really had nothing available. As a joke I found a portrait of a beautiful girl, the sister of a friend. I changed her eyes, and painted small raisin size dark eyes. And then I signed it
NEAK RETLAW. When it was accepted I told Herb what I had done. Naek Retlaw is Walter Kean backward. He mentioned it in his column. The story does not tell if Walter Keane knew about it.

The first time I heard about Walter Keane was early in my career. We were both exhibitors at the Berkley Sidewalk show. We were sitting across the street from each other. I set up early and then waited for my first victim. A lovely elderly woman came by and wanted to know what I was doing. I told her I was there to do quick sketches of anyone who wanted to see themselves in charcoal. I said 'Why don't you sit down and I will do a quick sketch of you. I won't charge you, I will just use you, to get my fingers charged up. She sat down and she was easy to catch. When I was pleased with what I had caught and there were only details to finish I told her she did not have to sit any longer. While I was working on a little lace on the brim of her hat she stood behind me and studied her likeness. Suddenly I realized that she was crying. What's the matter? I asked. She put her hand on my shoulder and said 'It looks exactly like my father.' Do you look like your father? No, not at all.

Across the street Walter Keane and his wife were busy. It was the first time I had seen his large eyed portraits and my first feeling was How cute! But it did not take long for it to seem old hat.

It was a fun time for me and I was lucky it happened on a weekend. Sam was home and I knew the children were in good hands.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


There was so much work to be done. Our house had been uninhabited for several years. It was sold by the estate of Hockenbiemers and our realtor bought it as an investment. There were cigarettes on the hardwood floors telling us that it had been a hangout for teens. And the plumbing was old and antique looking. The two showers were lined with white, tiny ceramic tiles. The kitchen again was old-fashioned and no one had thought about how many steps were wasted there. But beneath all the ugly parts there was such beauty in nature surrounding the house. The backyard was bordered by the highway going up to Mount Diablo. On the other side of that road were green hills where cattle were grazing. A bull lumbered up and down these hills. The bull became famous, which we did not know for several years. I have to consult with the Gordons, for I forget the name of the bull and I forget the name of the owner who used to drive around the country side with the bull in his convertible.

The Gordons came later, but I just spoke to them on the phone and so they are invading my memory at the moment. They moved to Danville when their early children were tiny. Semmes started a news paper called the Blue Paper. It was mimeographed and Semmes referred to his wife as 'His cute little stencil cutter' It made us think of Herb Caen's type of writing and I think he was popular from the very beginning. They later bought The Valley Pioneer and he was then in the high Media world. The way we met was my idea of using the weekly grocery adds with recipes containing the specials. I invited Semmes to come to the house to discuss my idea and he at once poured cold water on the whole thing. He said the grocers wanted customers to come buy specials but more than anything they wanted customers to buy the steaks and the other expensive groceries. I was no home-ec educated person and I was trying to tell people how to live on specials and how to save their money. And I was going to get rich in the meantime. One of my early failures.

After a couple of years of painting I asked Herb Caen if he would sit for a portrait. I would drive in to San Francisco and paint him in his office at the San Francisco Chronicle. He agreed. I painted and tried my best and when I had to do the back ground I asked if he would ask a photographer from the paper to take a picture. He agreed to do so for I am sure I had become an awful nuisance. The photographer was the man who took the photo of raising the American flag on Iwo Jima.

And Herb promised I would get huge rewards if I made his nose shorter.

Soon after, there was some kind of contest at The de Young Museum and I entered the painting of Herb. It was accepted. Preview night Sam and I invited Semmes and his cute little stencil cutter to join us for the festivities. Sam and Semmes had never met before and neither Sam nor I had ever met Peggy. (tclsc). And so began a friendship that lasts to this day. We met Walter Keane, who painted children with enormous eyes, who invited us to go to Sausalito for dinner at Sally Stanford's Valhalla and we refused, for we had come into the city and did not want to go back to the country. He said I want you to have dinner on me. Here is a blank check for dinner at Trader Vick's


Monday, November 17, 2008


Fire Fox, I would like to read your blog. Is Sharon is Sharing your blog? Please advice. And Melissa Weishard, the reason for the initials. At first I wanted to remain anonymous. I soon realized it is impossible. Did you read the blog comment from the person who knew how to figure out the names of the fellow passengers on the Argentina. That really shocked me. In a later one, when I spoke of the doctor who said 'If my wife's hands looked like yours, I would divorce her' I feel I have to be careful about naming names. They had three children and I am so fearful that I could cause pain. The most interesting part of that story could not be told for that reason.

I promise I will call S. Sam from now on. He died ten years ago after a short illness. I miss him, and I treasure every memory of him, and even though I have moved into a Senior Living place, I feel his presence, and I treasure that too. I know he would approve of Shreve making me a blogger.

I will get back to Diablo next time. Those were my most inspired years. We had our fourth baby. She was an RH baby. All of them were cesarians but she was especially pink and beautiful when she was born. Sam was in Denver and my best friend took me to the hospital when the critical time arrived. She had never seen a newborn, who had not gone through the birth-canal and she named her rosebud. As you know, her birth made me begin painting for I had for the first time realized we were going to have four children in college at the same time. I began taking lessons. I owned an art school in Danville. I rented the upstairs of an abandoned railroad station, remodeled and gave art lessons there. This all took about 20 years. And I hope to tell you my best memories from that time. Since I began this tale claiming to be a name dropper I will promise to tell you talk about some big ones.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our home for the next 18 years.

We lived in this house an eternity and still it was called the Hockenbiemer house till the day we left. It was not built by the Hockenbiemers I found out one day when I peeled off all the sheet-rock in the kitchen. The original owner's name was written on the beams that became exposed. I forget the name now. The H.s bought the house and used it for a summer house since 1920 something. At that time there was a railroad running out from Oakland. The families would spend the weeks in the country and the fathers would arrive on Fridays. There was a lake at one time where the families would swim and picnic. There was a race course. And there was a swimming pool and a golf course near the club house. The post office was located near the clubhouse. We had no mail delivery, but had to go to pick up at the PO.

The Hs. needed more and more room to entertain. They added more and more rooms to the house. When we bought it, there were three bedrooms. A master bedroom, a small bedroom for our son and one for the three girls we would eventually have. But there were rooms that we could not understand why they were there. All of them became bedrooms for the girls as time passed.

We had a two car tandem garage and two guest houses behind that. The space between the guesthouses became a horse-port for our eldest daughter, when she became a horse owner. It had a roof above and an old bathtub for water. The hay was stored in one of the guest houses. The largest of the guesthouses became my studio when I developed into a serious painter.

It was the most beautiful place to live and we all loved it there. And even if the house was aging faster than we did, and even though we were poor as church mice, we loved it. A creek ran through our property. Mr. Hockenbiemer had poured lots of cement where the creek had a slight bend, and with a baffle he had arranged a fishing spot for himself and his guests. For us it was just a nice surface where the children could play in the summer time when the creek was dry.

The kitchen was a disaster. The walls were peeling, the floor was not safe to work in. S. told me there was no way we could afford to remodel. I was patient for a while and then one day S. left to drive to Denver I decided to test the ban on remodel. When the car was out of sight, I began peeling the broken, ugly sheet rock off the walls. There was a breakfast nook with a door to the outdoors in the corner. There was an extra room where we had to keep the refrigerator, beyond that was the laundry room where we had to keep our freezer. It was not a well planned kitchen. Poor S. when he returned tired and hoping to relax from having had a strenuous drive and a hard ten days, he was met by a mountain of broken up sheet rock. And also lumber, for I had knocked down a couple of walls. I left one 4 by 4 standing for I did not know if it was a bearing beam.

S. had not lied to me. It was over a year before we could afford to have the work done. Wind blew in all winter. I had no oven to bake our usual Christmas delicacies. I had an electrical oven that I bought at a garage sale and a hot plate. To me it was all worth it for when we were finally done we had the most beautiful kitchen. We had a fireplace, a white tiled floor, and lots of good feelings. That kitchen, when I look back, seems like the best room I ever lived in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Buying a new house

One day when our cleaning woman was coming, S said: Why don't you come with me today. I have to deliver a catalogue to a store in Danville. The country side is beautiful and you will love the walnut landscape. We drove over the San Mateo Bridge, through Crow Canyon and before long we were in Danville. S. stopped in front of what once was the Bank of America, (maybe it was still the Bank of America). He picked up a catalogue and dashed across the street to the furniture store. There was a grocery-store on the opposite corner and I thought I would amble over and get something to nibble on. I tried to open my door of the car and found it was impossible for the sidewalk was so high that it reached half way up my door. There were signs on the building where once you had tied up your horse while banking. I deduced that the side walk was so high for ease of getting back on your horse. I found it utterly charming. By this time, I had lived on the Peninsula since 1945, in Hillsborough, in San Mateo, and in Burlingame and I had decided (since I arrived in Danville) that I would like to live in a place that was a real place and not a long string of towns merged on the El Camino Real. When S. returned I said I would like to live in a town like Danville. S. picked up a different catalogue and returned to the furniture store. There he told the owner what I had said. The owner said:Let's go next door and tell Mr. Imbry, the realtor, what I said.

Sam came back to the car and said we are going to look at a house that is a real find. So we drove East I think, to a little community called Diablo. There were small beautiful houses, a post office and a country club. But the trees as you drove through were truly magnificent. Huge oak trees that met above our heads. I knew I had arrived at something close to Paradise. We looked at the house and the bridge we had to drive over to get to the house, and the many guest houses in the back of the house. What a place to bring up a family. We made an offer of 20.000 (down from 22.000) and our offer was accepted. It was subject to our selling our house. We had not checked for termites of which there were billions. We did not have the roof checked. And we knew we were on the brink of being penniless with much repair and much remodeling in our future.

When we returned home Flourine said all had gone well. She said our son had asked a really funny question while she was feeding him lunch. She said he looked perplexed and said' Flourine what color carrots do you eat? I laughed and said that I had told him the day before: Come on G. eat your carrots and you'll get red hair. Since he already had red hair, I didn't think I was lying.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Barbara wrote that she would like to have a current photo in my blog. One of my favorite daughters and husband are coming for Thanksgiving and I will ask my son-in-law to take a picture. Hope it will be flattering. I have one photo that I have saved for my obituary. It is now about ten years old.

When we lived in North Burlingame, we had a rich social life. An old friend of S.s was married to a doctor. He was going to become associated with a new internist, who had bought a house a block from us. There were many parties welcoming them to California and we were invited. They became good friends. One time we were having dinner at our house. There were ten people around the table. Suddenly this new friend took my hand, held it up and said 'If my wife had hands like these, I would divorce her. Total silence... S, My wonderful husband was the first to speak. He said: Come here so I can see your hands. I want everyone to know that the brown around the nails is caused by the painting that we all celebrated with a glass of champagne. And the large scab on this knuckle was caused by dropping a brick, when she was laying the patio in the back yard. And the infection in her hand was caused by a splinter from moving our firewood into the garage. I treasure these hands. It made me cry a little. But I learned to wear gloves for protection and use hand lotion more liberally.

The wife who was the woman I had been compared to, was the most gorgeous woman I had ever met. She looked like a classical painting. Her hair was strawberry blond and her skin looked like a babies' skin. And she had the most alluring Southern accent. She was a perfect example of a Virginia lady. She and I were pregnant at the same time and her baby boy was two days older than our baby boy. She was allowed to eat nothing but watermelon until she had returned to her original weight. It had drastic consequences.

Another old friend of S.s lived within several blocks. She had three little boys and before I had a child I spent a lot of time at their house. I learned a lot of what to do and what not to do when we finally were parents. She died early from a sickness called lupus.

And friends that we met from attending the Episcopal church who had two daughters that I often borrowed lived nearby also. The older one became an Episcopal minister. Haven't met her since the family moved away.

We had three children living in that house. And I was four months pregnant with our fourth one when we moved to the East Bay. I will tell you how that came about next time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

moving again

Anne, first a thank you for your comment. I wish we were sitting together with our tea and our stories. I would like to hear yours.

We had lived next to the Bayshore Freeway for over a year when the idea cropped up in S.s mind that we should buy a house instead of wasting money on rent. We had listened to our elders who said housing would come down and we discovered that things were going up. (And I guess this year is the first time housing has gone down since then.) We found a house in North Burlingame and it was not the Taj Majal. Maybe it was because I was pregnant that the move was advisable. We found the house through a friend of S. It had three bedroom, it was on a corner lot, and it had a bus stop nearby. We paid 16.000 for it and our monthly payment was 66.66 which included insurance and I think some kind of tax. The people who sold it had built it when they were young and it was now time for them to retire. It was not exactly the best time for me to move, for I had been allowed to borrow a corner of a neighbors lot where I had planted a garden. The tomatoes were huge and plentiful when we left. Our neighbor said 'come back and harvest them as long as you like.'

On the North end of the living-room wall was the fire place. Centered, with a window on either side. There was room to build book shelves on either side of the fireplace. I made draperies with an upholstered valance going the whole length of the wall. That made it look as though there had to be a painting covering the whole wall above the fireplace. I knew exactly what I wanted that painting to depict. and it had to be an oil painting. I searched many museums and libraries for a photo of what I wanted. It had to be a historical sight of a fleet of sailing ships. One day I was looking through a Swedish History book that I had brought from Sweden. And there was a perfect picture of the Vasa sailing out of the harbor, before it heeled over and sank. I had some oil-paints that were used for porcelain painting. I bought a piece of parchment paper to fit into that space and began with a pencil drawing in all the details. I was lying on my knees on the floor doing this. And then, since I didn't know how to accomplish what I wanted, I took a wide flat brush, a brush a house painter would have been proud of, and in wide swathes covered the parchment paper with a wash of sepia colored terpentine. It worked swell as an eraser for every line I had drawn disappeared.

So I enrolled in the Junior College in San Mateo. I visited the art class once and found out what kind of material I had to use. Then I went to the hardware store and ordered a piece of masonite the correct size and to the art store for two tubes of paint, a large white and a small burnt umber. And so began the painting again. I had to put the masonite on the mantle place and stand on a step stool to do the painting. It took so long that our baby son was teething when I was working on my masterpiece and the way to keep him quiet was to hold him in one arm while I was painting with the other.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Manufacturer's Representative

I love all the comments on my blogs and it makes me eager to write some more. So many of them are encouraging and it means a lot to me. I have to thank all of you for being so generous in your comments.

Anonymous wrote 'strange that I should be home making a sofa while S. was working in a furniture store' or words to that effect. S. had become a Rep. and sold furniture to furniture stores. He was one of four reps working for a company that covered the Western States. He covered all the factories that had signed up with L. Associates. This meant he had to go to Furniture Week sales in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Later Chicago was eliminated and High Point North Carolina added. In the beginning they went by train but soon flying was substituted. The cost by air was higher but speed made up for for the lost days of selling. When S. became a partner in the firm, his travel costs were taken over by the L Associates. But the only benefits he had as far as getting furniture were: he could get it wholesale, or he could get discontinued floor samples off wholesale minus 5%. Our house looked like early Salvation Army and discontinued floor-samples for years. Pretty drab, until our fourth child was born and I began painting. I may not have been Leonardy but I was colorful.

I have to tell you a funny story about Furniture Week. We moved to the East Bay before our fourth child was born. Summers there were fierce, often well over 100'. One Sunday I had to join S. in the city. There were many factory owners and wives who were present and we local wives had to help entertain. My baby sitter was late arriving and I left forgetting to take into account the difference in the temperature in the city and in our area. It was 104 on our side of the mountains and it was 52 in SF. I was wearing a sleeveless dress and had no sweater or coat. What could I do. All the people were already in our hotel room when I arrived. I looked at the bedspread in our room and the color was impossible. I asked if I could check out our Southern California rep's room. There were beautiful pale Aqua covers on their twin beds. So now I could relax and charm our guests.

After several drinks it was time to get going to Johnny Kahn's Chinese restaurant. I dashed into the room next door and helped myself to one of the bedspreads. Folded properly it was a charming scarf and felt great when I got out into the foggy, chilly evening. The funniest moment came when I checked it at the door. The poor, young chinese woman took forever before she had it hanging with all the other garments.

Now that I have finished the story I feel as though I have already told you about the bedspread. Sorry. Hope it turned out to be the same a before.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our new sofa.

The thing I remember most clearly is how poor we were. We had spent what was available on my trip to Sweden, on a new (used) car, on a wardrobe for S. and first and last months rent for our apartment. But we were as happy as clams just to be together again. But we needed something to sit on. I visited every yard sale and second hand store in the South Bay area. The only sofa I had seen was the kind that looked like an unmade bed. Bulging in all directions.

Finally I went to a yardage and upholstery store in North Burlingame. I asked if they ever sold sofas that were neat and skinny looking. The owner of the store said: Why don't you make the sofa from scratch. I said there was no way I could accomplished that kind of work, all I wanted to do was try to upholster one. He said, I will help you. I will deliver to your house the frame of the type of sofa you like. And I will deliver the straps to which you will later tie the springs. If you don't do it right I will make you start over. I asked how much the sofa would cost and he said with an average cover the sofa would cost less than $150.

And so began the hardest work I ever enjoyed. The cross stretched interwoven straps had to be so tight that if you dropped a 50-cent coin on one of them, the coin had to jump to a considerable hight. My fingers were actually bleeding from using the tool my teacher had lent me. But it was nothing compared to the blisters I got when I began the next step, tying the springs in four or five directions. Here I failed and my torturer made me untie four or five because they did not stand up at attention. I remember it was finally completed the day we had big family dinner, Auntie Aggie played the piano and we asked the husband of S.s cousin Jane if he would be kind enough to bring a piano. He arrived with a standup piano on the back of a pick up truck. He was sitting at the piano playing ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS,in Jazz tempo, as they drove up our street.

This happened in 1946 and we used the sofa with a new cover until we moved to Laguna Beach in 1964. I saw it ten years after that in the home of a good friend who bought it at our garage sale. I have heard that one of her children is still using it.

Meanwhile S. was learning how to build, finish and sell modern Swedish type furniture. The factory was in the shipyards in Saucalito, Marin County, Ca. Fridays he spent in the Furniture Mart in San Francisco, and the rest of the week he spent trying to make his three thumbs work properly. But Fridays at market he learned how to sell and he was offered other lines and so his career had begun.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


S. before leaving for the war, as a Lt, in 1944. He returned a captain.

Civilian Life

There were so many chores for S. He had left a good looking set of clothes at the house when he joined the Army and his brother, who was ten years younger than S, had pretty well shot them to rags. Before getting a job, he had to get a new wardrobe. He had been attending Lehigh University in Pennsylvania (his father's school) before getting drafted and he had no clear idea of where to start looking. The friend who had convinced him that the future was in Bat Guano had tried it in Lima, and changed his mind.

S.s father was an engineer in Maine, when he died suddenly in the 1918 Flue epidemic. Sam was then two years old. He and his mother moved back with her family who lived in Hillsborough. In 1920 or there about, she fell in love with a British Army Officer who had friends in San Francisco. After a couple of years they moved to England, where S. who was eight, was sent to boarding school. There, the favorite disciplining was done with a cane. Luckily S. was a great runner and won many silver cups, and became popular with his fellow schoolmates. The family returned to America after the crash, when his stepfather had lost his job and all his investments. A cousin of S.s mother paid for their trip back to the USA and formed a partnership with S.s stepfather and had an office on Montgomery Street where they recouped some of the lost money. S. was a Jr in High School when they returned.

S had an English accent when he began his Jr Year at San Mateo High School. His Track and Field prowess and his accent made him popular with his fellow students who elected him Student Body President. He was also courted by Stanford University. And then he got mumps and never ran again. What a blow.

When I was working at Dibble General Hospital I got to know an elderly man who spent a lot of time working with all the patients. He owned a plant, manufacturing Model Airplanes and Model War Ships, etc. He would give his wares to any wounded soldier and come back and help him assemble the parts. He was a fine man. I spent a lot of time telling him how fine S was. Since he had no children he bewailed the fact that he had no one to leave his company to when he had to retire. He made me promise that S. would get in contact with him, when he returned to civilian life. S. who had too many left thumbs was loath to call him. He finally did, but only because I had promised. S. liked the man and agreed to work with him. He met the man who was the book keeper there, and when a few months later this man told S that he was also the book keeper for a furniture Co in dire need of a salesman, S went to work for them, and he was in the furniture business until he retired forty years later.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Phone cqll from NYC

I think it was two days after i returned that the call came from S. He did not have time to talk long for his flight to Sacramento was leaving in minutes. I had to arrange to get hold of a car and drive to the air force place in Sacramento. S tried to convince me that he could hitch hike. I said wait for me.

I asked Mr S, S.s stepfather if I could borrow their car with assurances that I would fill the car with gas before I returned it. He said NO. AND FROM NOW ON WHEN YOU ENTER THIS HOUSE YOU HAVE TO RING THE DOORBELL. I was shocked. Throughout the war he had been my best friend. He had been generous and jovial. Everyone remarked about the change in him. And now because S. was returning he had become an ogre and the two had not even seen each other. I was devastated. I felt I had lost a good friend. I called the Aunts and Uncle and asked if I could borrow their old old Ford. They said Of course. But our tires are not very solid. Uncle P drove over and I took him home and continued on my way. It was a scary drive for me for I was not that well versed with the traffic around San Francisco. And I did not know where that Air Field was once I got to Sacramento. I had been scared before, but I knew I could make it.

I had a flat tire before I left the Peninsula. That was lucky for I knew my way around there and I called the garage that I had used when I worked at the hospital. They were about to close, but I convinced them it was a national emergency and so they came. When the repair truck arrived the man said: Where is the spare? I said: I don't know. He found it and it was flat. "I may have one this size in the truck. But you really should not drive anywhere on these old tires, I told him how important it was that I get to Sacramento soon and he understood. If you were my daughter I would forbid it. But I will wish you Good Luck and you will need it.

I think the Air Base was on my side of Sacramento. I made it in fairly good time and I had to wait till S. was disenrolled in the War Effort. And then he finally had time to to talk to me. He was starving and we stopped at a fast food someplace on the way to the Peninsula. When I told him about his stepfather he was not at all surprised. He felt it was typical behavior for him. We got home late and someone had seen to it that we did not have to ring the doorbell. S. went in to give his mother a hug and a kiss. Luckily his parents slept in different bedrooms. Next morning we decided that we would return the car to his Aunt and Uncle with a full tank of Gas and a gift card for new tires. And then look for an apartment.

We looked at the classified ads. We called an old friend of the family's and found out that rentals were hard to come by. Several people told us not to buy anything at this time for prices were predicted to come down soon. We were in a unique situation and felt we had to get out as soon as possible. I said let's call Tom, the patient who so wanted to walk. And so we went to an Auto place and bought a car, went to see Tom, who had the perfect apartment for us to rent right alongside the
Bay Shore Freeway. And by 10.30 am we were all set to move into our new abode. All we needed was furniture and cooking equipment etc.

Someone gave us an old black double bed with all the bedclothes and linens. And so we were all set for camping in our new headquarters. That night we went to sleep early and at 2.30 some one was knocking on the door asking if they could use our pone for they had been involved in an accident. We told them we had no phone. We wondered if this was going to be a nightly occurrence, but it never happened again in the year and half we lived there

Monday, November 3, 2008

Los Angeles

We were met by a crew of news paper reporters and photographers. The headline about me was that I was the first army wife who had seen her husband in Europe. I have a copy of the story but I have no idea of what happened to it when I moved. I will search. It seems as though we were in Los Angeles a short while. Probably because their unloading and loading was more modern in it's efficiency.

Before long we sailed below the Golden Gate Bridge and that was enough to bring a tear to many eyes. My father in law met me again and he was invited to have lunch with us at the Captain's table. The two men hit it off. I think they were about the same age. Captain Renke looked like Jimmy Durante, and like him he was constantly fiddling with his nose. I had to wait for a freight company, for I had quite a lot of luggage. I had a coffee table with painted troll tiles, and I had the Soup tureen that S. had told me he did not like and many other items I had painted. And there was the big pillow like thing on which you made pillow lace. And there were several things I had bought on farm auctions, such as Hoganas crocks and Dala horses and a fabulous Painting by a famous painter we saw in Dalarna. It is hanging in front of me at this moment and when I look at it my spirits soar. It is a landscape depicting the church in Viken. It was first built in the eleven hundreds and later destroyed by a thunderstorm. When it was rebuilt my grandfather was the strongest boy in the village and he put the cross on the spire. The last couple of sentences could be wrong, but that is the story I have always heard.

The freight man arrived and I rode with him in his truck to S.s family house on the Peninsula.

S.s mother met us when we arrived in Hillsborough, and she was welcoming and I was so glad to see her. I asked what she knew about S.s whereabouts and she did not know any more than I did. He should be on his way home for he had enough points. She watched me open crates with the painted items and when we came to the soup tureen I gave it to her and she immediately put it on the dining room table and it made it look very important. She was very happy about it and I as so glad I had something to show how grateful I was for having lived there so long.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aboard The Argentina, 1946

The Long Journey

First I would like to send a message to Anonymous. I was stunned to read the list of passengers. I am so glad that I try to write carefully and sticking to facts. The list of people you found were the passengers who got on the ship in Columbia. We had many people disembark in Venezuela and in Columbia. I'm a novice in the computer world and am so surprised to learn what you can do when you learn to speak computerese. Thank you for showing me this startling ability one can learn by getting more education.

Later I will go back and learn the names of the people who began their trip in Sweden. One was a German woman, elderly but much younger than I am now. She became a good friend. She should have been sitting at the captains table instead of me. I had read about her family in Time Magazine during the war. They settled in Venezuela and became successful in dealing with oil and steel and manufacturing. USA dealt with them, but suddenly it was discovered that they supported the German war effort and they were declared tabu for American businesses. They had built an empire of sorts in Venezuela. When she left the ship, she said she would send her chauffeur the next day to pick up another passenger and me to come to Caracas for lunch. She lived in a Castle-like home and it was an unbelievable day. We kept in touch for years.

The reason this trip took 45 days was stored in the hold of the ship. Cranes would bring up the freight from the hold and the freight could only leave if there were trucks to haul it away when it was produced. It was slow going by todays standards. And what we learned from the young engineer in Stockholm lent promise that it would change in the near future. Since we were one of the first freighters there since the war, a lot of port dignitaries came to visit the proceedings. Many of these were invited onboard for lunch and the next day the towns people would reciprocate and invite the Captain and his entourage for lunch ashore. I was lucky to sit at the captain's table, for we saw things tourists were not generally able to see.

When we got to Columbia, we lost some of our friends. But their berths were filled with new people who wanted to get to Los Angeles. One was the man who had been Consul in Paraguay. He was Columbian and we called him the tobacco king. He brought lots of cigarettes onboard. He also brought a huge entourage onboard. His doctor, his wife, his secretary. reading the names from anonymous, it appears to be a gang fleeing Columbia. But some of us were lucky to have him on board. Every morning, around 11, he invited a group of people to share his supply of Aquavit and beer and rye-crisp and Russian Caviar. Each day, it was a short interlude before lunch.

The Panama Canal was a sensational experience. I stayed on deck through the entire delivery. I felt I had filled every stall with water and helped the ship up and down. I suffered for days with a terrible sun burn but it was worth all the pain. I consider that day one of the best days of my life. I have been through the Canal twice since then and it affected me as monumental but nothing like the first time.

Then we stopped at all the pacific countries of Central America. We did not go into any harbours but were ferried in to ports in small dinghies. We saw tons of bananas and we saw a mountain bulging with lava and towns without sidewalks and beautiful basketry. I bought a beautiful basket that I sold a couple of months ago at my garage sale prior to moving here.

Next stop Los Angeles.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Embassy

Writing these blogs have a very severe affect on my psyche. I feel, while writing about my mother that I am loosing all my enthusiasm and joy. I am with S, the man I love, but I don't think he realizes what is happening to me. Even getting over to the computer gives me a huge knot in my stomach. I think, as self protection I will make this part of my story as short as possible.

While we were in Goteborg we had to go to the American embassy to see what I had to do to get my re-enntry permit. It worried me. I had a reservation to return to USA on a Moor & Mc Chormac freighter but I had to cancel. We visited the Consulate the day after the cocktail party. And since I am famous for name dropping, I have to tell you the name of the consul. A young, very likable man. His name was SWINDLE. He not only got my re-entry permit delivered to me, he also got a reservation on a Johnson Liner for me, when there was no possible way I could have accomplished this on my own. The Swedish American Line had nothing available for a year. I was told that the Swedes had been caged in too long during the war and everyone was ready to sail away.

We made the best of S.s 30 days. When we returnd to my home area we were invited to stay with my sister and by this time most of my class mates wanted to have us for dinner. A special friend whose parents owned a hotel, Hogvakten, invited us to spend the night. She had visited me in 1939 and together we saw Niagara Falls and the NY Worlds Fair. And much too soon it was time to go back to Kopenhamn where S would be picked up by the same jeep and drivers. It was hard saying Goodby again but we knew that the next time we saw each other would be the beginning of the rest of our lives. Luckily we had not yet heard that all of Sweden was planning to travel or we would have worried about that.

Then came Martin Luther's birthday and the goose and the blood sausage. And then came the day of Santa Lucia, the 13th of december. And Christmas of course was filled with surprises and a lot of fun work. I had finished all my lessons before Christmas and that was fortunate for the day after Annan Dag Jul, The 27th, there was a call from Mr Swindle saying he had a reservation for me on a Johnson Line ship, sailing on the 2nd of January. the only berth available was the owners cabin, which was not the cheapest way to get to the US. And then he told me it was going through the Panama Canal. I said Yes, Yes. I will take it. And again, How do I get back to Goteborg, How do I get clothes fitting for the tropics. I had one day to it all the stores in Helsingborg, but since it was mid-winter there was nothing.

I remember the name of the ship, Argentina. And I remember the Captain's name, Renke. But I do not remember the names of my fellow passengers, and that is a pity, for there were a couple who would be erfect to drop here. There were about 30 of us. The journey to San Francisco took 45 days. And it as filled with adventures.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


The sign on the Grand Hotel said WARMT VATTEN and even though we had reserved a room in a cheaper hotel we could not pass up the warm water one. And Grand Hotel sounded so fascinating and so Greta Garbo. I had told S about a young engineer I had met on board the Gripsholm, who had promised dinner whenever S and I reached Stockholm. We called him and he invited us for dinner and the opera. We saw Madame Butterfly, sung in Swedish. The music was great but the language was startling.

Our first bath and shower was wonderful. We spent hours getting ready for our dinner. What do you suppose we will have for dinner, asked S. Meat was very heavily rationed. But fish was available so maybe we would have some fancy fish dish. I told S not to ask for seconds for that often was tomorrows lunch for the family. I remembered that one fairly small roast of veal on Sundays when I was young, was enough for two or three meals and maybe even a sandwich toward the weekend. A lot depended on carving skills and several paper thin slices arranged properly on the plate made you think you were given a huge meal.

The cocktail hour was spent by our host telling S about his research in the freight business. He had spent his senior year creating systems that seems much like freight is handled today. The container and marine shipping on paper looked like our systems now. And the was so excited about his future we were both convinced he would go far. For dinner we had wild meat shot by our host, and the amount was fabulous and we ate till we groaned.

Next day we spent almost entirely in our room. I can't remember how many baths and showers we had but at the end of the day we were clean and happy. We were back to being ourselves, and the world was again on an even keel. And I was especially happy getting rid of the sense of inferiority that my mother always managed to give me. After a couple of days sightseeing in Stockholm we departed for Gothenburg. There we were invited to a cocktail party by the family of the man who owned the beauty shops on the Swedish Liners. We were invited to come at eight o'clock and we knew some of our friends ate continentally late. We arrived at the appointed time and the house was full of people and we were served drink after drink and there was no sign of people getting hungry. I asked someone in the ladies room and she said 'we all ate dinner before we came'

I don't remember if I told about our host's stuttering in a previous blog. His stuttering was nonexistent. I will tell you in a following blog about my discussion about the rapid cure.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No warm water

In Scandinavia there were still many reminders of the war and in Sweden which had been neutral throughout was no exception. One strange reminder were the piles of fire wood, neatly stacked, in parks and places where one would not expect to see them. They had something to do with saving power. I never asked if a person who was in dire need of a bath could help himself to a couple of logs then go home, light a fire, heat up some water and then wash. Personally, it was not so unusual, for I grew up without warm water, as a matter of fact no water except from the well, was standard for us.

And if you did not own a couple of chickens you might have to forego the standard American breakfast of fried eggs and bacon.

This is all a way to delay telling you about our re-union. It is so difficult to write about, and in a way it was so difficult to live through. Both of us were acting like we had to get to know each other first. S was a totally different person from the one who had left me at the George Washington Bridge. He looked the same, which for me was handsome. He had lived through things so horrible he could never talk about them. I did not know what to talk about, for what subjects were taboo? I wanted to be close and I wanted to be held, but what was OK, and what was too much. We acted like a couple of strangers. And in a way we were.

When the taxi delivered me to the hotel, S was not there. Management let me into the room. What could I do while waiting. I did not have to worry about that for long, for I sat in a chair and fell asleep. He did not tell me that the reason he was not there was because he had gone to the RR station to meet me. The subject came up a a couple of months later and I told him I was in a way grateful for the short sleep I had. Next morning when the jeep came to pick us up to drive us to the ferry in Helsingor we stashed the little luggage we had and were driving away, when he clerk came running after us waving my nightgown that I had left behind the bathroom door. Snicker Snicker from the two drivers.

All of you expected more, but you have to wait till we get to Stockholm where The Grand Hotel had warm water.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The adventures of S

Before I talk about the joy we both felt at being together again, I will describe how S got to Kopenhagen.

He went to his commanding officer (by the way he was now Captain S.) and asked for leave to go to Sweden. "I agree with your request, but since we have not had this request before you will have to take it up the channels of command. He went all the steps up, finally got to SHEAF headquarters, General Eisenhower's site of ruling. And then he waited and waited.

When he finally asked his CO what had happened to his request, he was told that when a person doesn't know exactly what to do he files it in a slot in his desk. So go back exactly the way you went the last time and check on where it got caught. And when S finally got back to SHEAF Headquarters the big-shot there told him "Just yesterday we got news that our soldiers can have R&R time in Scandinavia. The next question S had was "how do I get there?" (Northern Europe was divided into three sections, the British, The Russian and the US. It would be difficult to maneuver around the Russian sector but he was advised to do that. And since the war was so recently finished there were no buses, no trains so his CO told him to take a jeep and two drivers. After checked into the embassy in Kopenhagen, he would have 30 days leave. They were not given any money and the Europeans did no accept the occupation Marks. So how would they buy petrol for the jeep, How would they pay for the rooms they would need? How would they pay for the ferries they were forced to take in Denmark? The CO said "take lots of cigarettes.

The Brits were very helpful and fed them occasionally and let them spend the night in their housing. But when it came to the two ferries they had to take, they approached the check-in spot for the ferry and showed a package of CAMELS and the gruff man at the ticket booth said with a Danish accent, Sieben, holding up seven fingers. Did this mean seven packages or seven cigarettes? S put seven cigarettes on the counter, and lo and behold, the gate rose letting the jeep and the three occupants on board. Grateful for small blessings, S put two cigarettes into the hand of the gruff gatekeeper.

After S made the call to my mothers house, he went out on the town and had the best dinner he had eaten since leaving home. Who knows what the two drivers did. They had to return to Nuremberg as soon as they had delivered S to the Embassy. They seemed just like boys from next door but when they returned to Germany both were in need of treatment for a sexually transmitted disease.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

more ennui

I promised you some excitement. But there was very little of excitement until S arrived. I was invited to a ship naming event and watched the champagne bottle explode on the third attempt. I remember the man who asked me to go, but I do not remember his name nor the name of the ship. Selective memory. I do remember how I wore my hair. On the ship from America were about a dozen war-brides, young Canadian women who had married RAF pilots. Their husbands were Scandinavians who were eager to get into the war and managed to get to Canada before war was declared. There they met and married and the war brides were on the way to meet their in-laws in some cases and some of them were lucky enough to join up with their husbands again. What has this to do with my hairstyle?

One of the war brides wore her hair as a tiara. I have tried all morning to draw a picture of it, but my skills on the computer are below 'almost good'. Think of drawing a part in your hair strait down the center of the head. Bend down and get the hair to be trained up from the roots. Make a braid on each side of your head. Lay one braid on top of the other and with bobby pins holding them in place Viola, you have a tiara. Nobody in Sweden had seen such a sight. One handsome cousin who had always cut me dead said: if she has enough nerve to be seen with a 'nackbena' (a part on the back of the head) she must be OK.' I knew the Norwegian who wore her hair like that and I wanted to thank her for letting me copy her, for it was very flattering, but I lost her address.

Every one must realize that there will be no excitement until S. comes to Sweden. So I will cut the waiting time and jump forward.

One evening I was invited to have diner with a class mate from school. She had been a Nazi when she first came into our lives. She had a Swedish mother and a German father. Her mother died early and the father, I guess, realizing that she might be left alone if he had to go to war, sent her to Sweden to live with her grandmother. When she arrived she wore the uniform of the German (Jugent) Youth Party and she clicked her heels and raised her arm in the Nazi fashion at the least provocation. I did not know if she still felt the same about Hitler and I did not know if her father had survived the war, but I accepted her invitation. When I arrived she had decorated her apartment with American flags and red white and blue streamers. I looked around and saw I was going to be the sole guest that evening. We had a pleasant evening, but shared very few personal thoughts. I did not know any more about her personal feelings. And then the phone rang. It was my mother saying Sam had just called from Copenhagen and he would like to meet me there tomorrow.

Need less to say,I left without further ado. I had to wash my hair and bathe and leave early the next morning to catch the first ferry to Helsingor and the train to Copenhagen. Did I have enough money to get there and then for the Taxi to the hotel S had mentioned. I borrowed a little here and a little there and everything worked out as planned except I had no money to tip the cabdriver. I gave him an almost full pack of cigarettes. The man began crying and kept on shaking my hand. I had no Idea what a single cigarette could buy in the occupied countries.

But wait until you hear what cigarettes bought for S and his two drivers.