Saturday, August 30, 2008


Becky wrote 'you left NY for the South even though you knew he was married.... If you read back, it will tell you somewhere that we are at this time speaking of what happened in 1941. When I found out he was married was in 1998 when I read his memoir. In 1943 when I met the man who became my husband I was still saying, 'No, I cannot marry you because I am spoken for.' even though the correspondence was dwindling to almost nothing. But I thought IT IS THE WAR.

TMWBMH (The man who became my husband) said 'Give me his address and I will find out what his intentions are.' Luckily M's response came two months after we were married so there was no idea of marrying because of M's answer. Telling him that it would take a long time to set up private practice and be able to marry. He said Marry her. And by now I really knew what love was. Our marriage lasted 55 years.

This shows that it is better to stay on track and move forward in a linear fasion. Will try to be more linear in the future. I couldn't let anyone think that I chased this man even though I knew he was married.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hot Packs

The Home for Crippled Children, which had hired me, was located out in the country about twenty minutes from a large city. The countryside was idyllic and could have been the setting for Tara. It was sitting on the top of a knoll and the view was breathtaking.

When I arrived I was taken to my quarters in the attic of the building. The paitients were housed on the main floor, the kitchen and dining room were housed in an addition. First thing to get through was meeting with the doctors and then with the hot pack girls and then with the patients. The main MD was an elderly man who had retired before the war. He was a fine man who took such tender care of his young patients. He was interested in the new treatment and was very willing to try it. Everyone knew that the old treatment was in parts deterrent to success. They had already purchased old washing machines with manual wringers. And they had hired young girls to do the hotpacking. The doctors were relieved to have me there, for they had spent a lot of time assuring the parents that their children were going to get the best treatment.

When the patients were finished with napping I got to meet them and the hotpack girls at the same time. It was time for the fourth hot pack of the day. I was so glad that I had arrived when I did, for watching the young hot pack girls was a shock. I decided not to correct anybody until I had watched for a while, but that fell by the first time I saw the first application.

The woolen packs were taken out of the nearly boiling water with metal thongs. They shook the pack so it cooled, and then slapped it on the affected limb on the patient. I was shocked and had to speak up at once. So I said: May I show you how to do this. I took the pack, quickly put it through the wringer and immediately put it on the thigh. The poor child cried out and began sobbing. I stroked her brow and asked her, it isn't too hot now, is it. She smiled through her tears and said no, it's OK.
I said to let the hot packing stop for the rest of the day. And told the hot pack girls that I needed to talk with them.

We met in the basement in the photographer's office. When I told them that the packing would be totally useless unless they were put on as hot as possible. The reason we use wool is that it wont burn them. but if you want these cute children to go home soon, then we have to give them the correct treatment. Now I want to pretend that you are all having polio and need a hotpack. To make it easy for you and for me let's only use your fore arm for the demonstration. If you don't want to learn you don't have to.

The fist one, about sixteen years old was brave. She stuck her arm out and only flinched a little when the hot wool was wrapped around her arm. Part of a rubber sheet covered the wool and another piece of wool covered the whole arm. Who's next. Both of the others said they did not want to do it, claiming they knew it hurt. I asked hp girl number one if it hurt. She said no. Now I would like to have hpgirl nr2 do it the way I saw you do it upsairs. will you volunteer, I asked hpgirl nr 3. She agreed. So I let hpgirl nr 2 wave the hot pack in the air as long as she wanted to before touching it to the arm of her victim.

We set the timer on 20 min. I removed the packing of my victim. I let the other two hpgirls feel it. It was still very warm. Then the other two removed the other pack and were surprised at how cool it was. Do you want the children to recover as soon as possible or do you want to make their stay longer? You have to promise to give HOT packs. And if you can't do it we will have to find people who can do it. Practice on each other. make sure all the water is squeesed out or it could be uncomfortable. Spend the rest of the afternoon on this. Before you go home be sure to tell me if you can do it. At the end of the day all three girls said they would do it right.

I spent the rest of the day reading the charts of the patients. Then it was time for our supper. I was doomed to remain skinny. The supper consisted of grits and mustard greens and a plum.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Free of charge

One fun thing to do in NY was walk down Second Ave and hit every Second Hand Store. (long before Barbra Streisand did it) We usually decided first what accent we would use. Doris was so fabulous doing accents that when we had picked a Swedish one, people believed her and thought I as a fraud. Neither one of us had any money but we managed to buy some little trinkets once in a while.

Another free thing was attending radio broadcasts. NBC had their broadcasting studios on Fifth Ave across from where I used to go to church. (I was a Lutheran but found the sevices in the Cathedral such uplifting theater) So we would go to ask for tickets to any broadcast programmed for that evening. If there was a new page 'boy' who didn't know us we were told to write to the program and our tickets would arrive in a few weeks. So we would go back the following evening and there we were greeted with open arms and we would be led in to Eddie Cantors or the Monday night symphony with Albert Wallenstein and his orchestra.We saw Fraank Sinatra before he was famous and we saw Dinah Shore. (Are you sick of all this n d yet. I can promise you more and bigger later, like Kings and Presidents)

I know you want to hear more about M. He had told me about his homestate and lo, and behold, one morning when I arrived at the hospital, there was a huge sign on the bulletin board. Big Polio Epidemic in guess where. They were in critical need of nurses and physical therapists. I was of course, madly in love, and I felt the sign was meant especially for me. I went immidiately to ask Dr Hansson what he thought I should do. He said that he had heard that I had just begun modelling on my free time, and did I want to give it up so soon. I said that being in charge of eighteen patients and their treatments would be a greater point in my career than working in front of cameras. He said: if you really want to go, you have my blessings.

Within a week I was on a train heading South.

Monday, August 25, 2008

To Barbara

No Barbara, he did not trick me. (not telling me he was married was inexcusable). I was so in love I was probably momentarily insane. And I was green enough to think that making love was something you could only do if you loved someone. And so I felt he could not have made love with me unless he felt the same. As his excuse he had to face death very soon. The troops that were sent over sailed in big armadas and the German U-boats were waiting for them in the Atlantic. His group was going over to England to build Hospitals for US troops once they were part of the fighting forces. This I Learned from his book in 1998. FDR was getting ready for War before Dec 7. What does that remind you of.

And what did I gain from this experience? From having been a shrinking violet I suddenly became a femme fatale. When I met people who asked me out, I answered, Yes, I would like to go out, but please don't think of me as a date. I am spoken for. That shows how seriously I felt about M. And war time had made all young men wanting to have someone waiting for them when they returned from war. I had as an example a very good friend that I had seen since I moved to the city. He would often call on a Sunday morning and ask if I wanted to go to church with him. And I think I always said yes for he wanted to go to the Catholic Cathedral on 5th Ave. But as his draft number was getting more serious he began asking me to marry him. We had never even held hands walking to church. and there were many examples of this funny game. Some men thought it was a game and were trying to make me forget their unseen rival.

Another thing I gained was Baseball. I became a fanatic. Before tv I listened to radio broadcasts of the Yankee games. When the Dodgers came to California they became MY team. I am now totally involved with the team closest to my hometown.
(even though they are near extinction.) But I consider that insanity as a gift from M.

The last thing M said to me as our taxis were getting ready to go was: If you ever get the chance to go to my home state, be sure to go. It is the best state in the Union.

Now back to a little name dropping. Errol Flynn came to our hospital The Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled. It was some kind of PR for a movie just finished. He was a handsome man but vain. The other name I can drop is Sister Kenny. She was the nurse from Australia who had invented a new treatment for Polio, or Infantile Paralysist, as we called it then. She had fought all the male people who worked with the disease. She gave numerous demonstrations and the old way of treating the horrible sickness was changed.

With Doris Davenport I had found a new adventure that was totally free of charge. I will tell you next time

End of the Cliffhanger

The telephone rang as soon as I got home that evening and it was the Captain, whom I will call M from now on. He asked if I would go to a baseball game the following day. It was a Saturday afternoon game. He did not have to say any more. I did not know what baseball was except for what I had deduced from headlines in the paper. I had read and cried over Lou Gehrig and I had heard about Babe Ruth. But if he had asked me to go observe how the city cleaned out their garbage trucks, I would have said yes.

It was the New York Yankees we were going to see. The stadium was impressive. The crowds were loud and even booed when the center fielder got up to hit. (I'll remember his name in a sec) We were sitting high up. It was a gorgeous day and poor M had to tell me what the heck was going on. I tried not to be intrusive, for he obviously was so happy to be there. So I slowly leaned about three outs and four balls and all that. I told him I would change the rules and give the hitter some credit for a long ball even if the outfielder caught it. He laughed and it made my stomach hurt. He was so cute when he laughed.

He told me they were not allowed to talk about their orders. But I got the impression their departure was imminent. We had supper in a delicatessen on our way home. He gave me wonderful gift before he left. A kiss.

A week went by.

I was devastated. I knew they must have left USA and I wondered if I would ever see him again. And then the phone rang. It was M. He said he and a few other officers were told they could have leave overnight. Could I meet him for dinner.

We had dinner. He and his chums from Ft Dix were staying at the Biltmore. We joined them. There were a few minutes of dancing. Then M said: Let's go to my room. There we talked into the night. We cuddled. We made love. At five am he put me in a cab and he joined his fellow officers in another cab and that was the end.

Until 1998.. My husband had died earlier in the year. We Friends of the Library were standing waiting for art projects to be delivered. We waited and waited. I looked down to see what section we were more or less leaning on. Turned out to be a bank of Telephone books. My knee was practicly touching the one devoted to the state were M had lived before the War. I said, once I knew someone who came from this area. I took it out. Turned the pages and there in full print was M's full name, address, rank and an md attached.

As soon as I got home I called him. He vaguely remembered me. Didn't know if I came from Switzerland or Sweden. He did say he had saved all the pictures I had sent him while he was overseas. He was in the midst of finishing his memoirs and the book was coming out in a few months. He was a great man and he had accomplished a lot. He had three daughters with his wife whom he had married before he dallied with me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The School year was over and there was one job available at the Hospital where our schooling took place. Many of us applied. Some had promises of jobs from their own home tracts. We were all on pins and needles waiting for the the decision. The take home pay from the job was $112.00 a month. I was the winner. It was good for my feeling of accomplishment and good for my diet.

About this time I met a young woman who was looking for a room mate. She asked me to go looking for something affordable. We found an apartment on the East side directly across the street from the UNITED NATIONS BUILDING property. The war was not over and there was no United Nation Building yet.

Her name was Doris Davenport and she had been the star in a movie with Gary Cooper. The movie was THE WESTERNER and I see it occationally on TV. I never miss it when I see it announced. She had been discovered when the studios were looking for Scarlet O'Hara. She got a contract for other films but there was some wording about her weight. The studio sent her back to NY to continue modeling and to lose weight.

We had so much fun together and for the first time I felt young and free and unencumbered. My rent was too high for my meager salary and Doris convinced me I could make twice as much money working one job of modeling as I earned for a whole month in the hospital. So I went to a modeling school. Learned how to walk and how to apply make up. And I did get a few jobs and they did pay well but my job as Physical Therapist filled me with pride.

One day Dr Hansson asked me if I would substitute for his secretary who was also the receptionist in the clinic. I agreed. My work was mostly signing in the patients and taking their 1 dollar fee, and later taking the money to the front reception. It was easy but boring. All the PTs went home about 4 PM and I had to sit at my desk until 5. We were at the end of a long long corridor. It was a little scary, for there was nobody around.

One day while waiting for the clock to move, I heard footsteps aproaching. It was some one who did not have rubber heels. It was someone who was not in a hurry. I waited without taking a normal breath. And suddenly the foot steps had reached my door. And there stood the most handsome Army Captain. I was so relieved to see him, I smiled and said: May I help you. He claimed those were the first friendly words he had heard in NY. I saw from his insignia that he was a doctor and he told me he was an orthopedic surgeon. He asked for my phone number. I am getting rapid heart activity just telling this. I think I have to pour myself a glass of wine.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Just a few words about the mangle. I promise never to mention one again. The mangle I mentioned was huge. Each polished slab of 'marble' was the size of a twin bed and as thick as a large fist. It was the rolling back and forth of this ton like smooth weight that made the sheets perfect. A lot depended on how well the items were 'laid' the day before.

And then to end this talk forever. We did not have a car, needless to say. There were only two cars in our village. One was a car you could rent. It was not called a taxi, but worked like one. The other one was owned by a business man whose office was in the city nearby. So how did my mother get her hundreds of sheets from our house at the north end of the village to the harbor where the building with the mangle was located. She put the rolled up sheets in a huge tote and put that in our wheelbarrow and with her four children tagging along wound her way.

Thank you

Katherine sent me the name of the socialist candidate for president. Norman Thomas. Did you know this, or did you google it? He was what seemed an elderly man when I massaged his knees but then anybody over forty seemed elderly in those days.

boardguri asked 'what's mangling' A mangle is a substitute for an iron. It is a huge machine. There are two slabs of polished stone. They weigh tons. You put, for example, a sheeet on a hardwood role (about three or four times as large as the rolling pin in the kitchen). On one of these you roll the folded sheet that two women had stretched into shape for the mangle. A lever on the machine is pulled and the stone on one side is raised enough to put this roll between the two (maybe marble) slabs.Then you do the same on the other side and then cheap labor (one of us four children) roll this machine back and forth until the person putting the sheets on the roles is ready to do two more sheets. Does any one understand a word of this. When I have learned how to include a line drawing in my blog I will try to illustrate it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A promise

I finished too early yesterday. The washing story had just begun and there was so much more labor. It was a whole week of hard work and as soon as we children were old enough to help, we were enlisted. I won't bore you with the details but there was the rinse period (three rinse waters) the hanging on the field between our house and the beach. Then one whole day of 'laying the wash.' Two women had to grab a folded sheet and pull it in opposite directions. Then the mangling, done downtown at a mangle for hire. Then my mother's favorite moment. Time to put everything into a huge chest in the attic. She would almost fondle the sheets and pillow cases as she put them in the chest that was decorated with flowers and initials and the year1727.

Now we move forward to 1940.

I promised you some more name dropping. I think Dr hansson suspected that I was very poor. Even though I did not yet have my diploma, he gave me several patients. One regular one that I treated once a week was a very wealthy woman who lived on
Park Ave. She was suffering from a horrible case of imprisoning arthritis. She was sitting in a wheelchair. She could not straigten her legs and was doomed to spend the rest of her life in that chair. Her problem when I saw her was stiffening of wrist and fingers. Dr. Hansson had prescribed hot wax baths for her hands. The servants had turned on the wax, I had to check the temperature before immersing her hands, one at a time. They were then wrapped in woolen cloth. When the comforting heat was exhausted, she recieved a mild massage. Dr Hansson once told me that if she had been fortunate enough to have been born an Italian immigrant she might have been a washer woman whose hands might have cured themselves from the hot water and the excercise. She had two teenage daughters who were always going dancing somewhere. I saw them in the most gorgeous gowns and I felt like Cinderella. I was paid $10.oo each time I went there. And I knew I could eat breakfast the next morning.

One day Dr.Hansson asked me if I would like to go to Waldorf Astoria to give a back massage. I said yes of course. Turned out to be Fay Wray, King Kong's playmate. I never saw her face for I was told to walk in. She was lying prone on her bed. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands. Then pulled the sheet down and began massaging her back. I never heard a groan or an oh, that feels good. I worked for half an hour. Her head in the pillow said 'your money is on the night stand,' She had no idea if I were a human or King Kong working on her back. But I felt very lucky for the money she paid me was more than the usual.

This is getting too long so I have to continue later. I have to look up the name of the Socialist who ran for President at least five times. He had painful knees. Can't remember his name.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


This blog is aimed to tell you about my beautiful daughter Jane. Today is her birthday. I remember so clearly how thrilled I was the first time I saw her. She was tiny and pink and smiled when I looked into her eyes. She was born by Ceserean Section. There were dangers connected to her birth. The doctor had doubts about her safe delivery. The Rh factor affected her heart beat and we were all nervous.

She was healthy and we all said Thank You for tnis blessing. When my best friend saw her the first time she exclaimed Oh my. She looks exactly like a little rose bud.

She was a happy baby and a happy toddler. She had many friends in school. She became a librarian att the University of Oregon. She became the happy wife of her happy husband and their two children are happy to be included in this happy family.

Jane, Happy Birthday and thank you for being such a good friend.



Since writing my first blog I have been trying to remember how I washed my clothes. I do not remember any dealings with a dry-cleaner. After school began I could not have afforded one. I do not remember public laundries. I do not remember how the wealthy houses handled bedding and other large items. The very first washing machine I ever saw was after we were married and living in Texas. I went to something called a Washeteria. Mud floors. Used soapy water and rinsewater flowing down a little furrow. All of us house wives scrubbing our dirty laundry on washboards. The wringers were manual. Toward the end of the year we lived in Texas there was a single Bendix front loading washing machine in the Washeteria. That's all I remember.

My laundry memories from Sweden are rich and adventuresome. My mother would hire two washer women four times a year. All of us would pray for dry weather. It was a lot of work for my mother for she would have to fill many barrells with water from our well. Here cleaning women say' we don't do windows. In Sweden in those days washer women said 'We don't haul water.' All the sheets and towels (we each got one sheet a week and one pillow case and towel) were soaked overnight. The big boiler tub was filled with water and the wood fire laid to get lit early next morning.

The older woman was called Mor Zerman.(Mother Zerman) Her age was probaly close to what I am now. The second woman was her daughter-in-law and we called her Fru Zerman. When they arrived the coffee had to be ready. They 'drack det pa bit.' (drank it on lump) They poured the hot coffee onto their saucers, put a lump of sugar in the mouth and inhaled the coffee through the sugar. We four children found this tradition fascinating. The saucer had to be placed on three fingers, the thumb, the pointer and the little finger.

They began by wringing out the soaked items and putting them into the cauldron with boiling soapy water. Our soap was actually called sopa and it was green semi liquid ooze. I always asked if I could help, for it was warrm and steamy and the women told funny stories. and sometimes I got to help. A, little barrell with a small wash board was there for me to use. Strange items that I had never seen before. White knitted items. I asked and asked 'what are these and what are they for. When I found out they were for spelial days of the month for women, I never ssked to help again.

I heard the first 'dirty story' of my life. This is how I remember it

Eric told his father that he wanted to marry Tora. The father hemmed and hawed and said 'Son I don't think you can marry her for I think I am her father too. Time passed and again Eric went to his father and said 'I have fallen in love with Luisa and I am going to ask her to marry me. Agin the fater turned red and cleared his throat and finally said 'Son, I am so sorry. But I think I am Luisas father too. Eric became angry and went to his mother to get some sympathy. His Mother said, Eric, you marry who ever you want. He is not your Father.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How to lose weight

I lived in my little room with a bed, a wooden chair, an armoir and the bathroom down the hall. It was better than my first place in that it was more quiet, but worse in that it was several blocks farther up Manhattan. The days when I felt rich enough to ride the bus, it was OK. But often I had to walk, both down town and then in the afternoon back uptown. Let me tell you, in the afternoon it really felt like UP town. I think Manhattan Island is flat, but those two letters made it seem so much harder.

One day toward the end of my year in school, I forgot my wash cloth and didn't discover it until I was in the tub. I washed with soap on my hand, and when soaping one of my breasts I felt a good size lump. It was a scary situation. When Dr. Hansson arrived at his usual time, I asked to see him. I told him what I had discovered. He told me to go into one of the treatment rooms. He felt my lump and said: Wait here. I will go fetch the Cancer Specialist. I had of course thought about cancer but to hear it spoken aloud was a super chock.

He returned with the specialist who also felt the lump. Then the two of them stood outside the curtain and discussed my case. She is too young to worry about cancer. said S. Dr H said: I wouldn't worry about it either, but she has lost so much weight. I felt it rude to interrupt or to show I was eaves dropping. I could have said, I have been hungry a long time. And I have to walk for miles to get here. And so I had a lumpectomy the next morning. Thank God, it was not cancer.

There was a woman who lived on Staten Island who probably saved my life. I forget how we met. She said 'You are the kind of girl I would want my son to marry. Can you come for dinner on Sunday. I was asked repeatedly and every time I returned to Manhattan I had a shoe box filled with wonderful food. Without those treats I would have gotten sick.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My year in School

I had to look behind one of my paintings, where I hide my Diploma, for the date of my graduation. It said June 1941. looking up that date surprised me for so much had already happened. And 1940-1941 was a year full of exciting occurenses. I will begin with the first test we had to take. There were 16 or 17 people (all females) in our class. About evenly divided between nurses and phys eds. One of the latter was a Canadian girl whose name ws Jetta Hedin. I asked if I could study with her since I had never taken a test in anatomy nor anatomy in English. I was scared. We went over the material we had covered. Over and over again. Finally it was the day of the test. It did not seem very dificult and I relaxed. Our papers were not returned to us for what seemed ages. And then the day arrived.

We were sitting in an amphi-theatre when the tests were returned to us. I could see the tests in front of me as they were passed back. And I could see Jetta's who was sitting next to me. And they were all decent grades and Jetta's was marked 98. And then I saw my test. It was corrected and covered with red ink. All through this period I kept telling myself I should have worked harder, why didn't I work harder etc, When my test reached me I dreaded to look at it. And then Jetta said: 'Look, look, you got 100.'
All the red ink was there because of mis-spellings. Needless to say, I felt I could celebrate. I went to a White Castle where one could get Lamb Stew and an Enlish Muffin for forty cents. I was hungry in those days.

If you think I have been bad as a Name Dropper before, just wait and see how many people came to the Hospital during my time there.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

NY City

The return to the city was the easiest move I had made so far. I checked into a hotel for women way up on the East side of Manhattan. The rent was either seven or eight dollars a week. I had made the decision to go to the University of Minnesota. I wanted to begin studying to become a nurse. I had already filled in my application and needed only a letter of recommendation. I should have asked my dentist in Princeton before I left there. It seemed that I would be more apt to get accepted if the letter came from a medical sort of person.

First morning I had breakfast in the coffee shop near the hotel. A woman came by with a tray with a cup of coffee and a donut. She looked over all the filled tables and I asked her to sit at my table. She happened to be Swedish and we were soon embroiled in a long conversatiion where did you grow up? and when did you come? and what are your plans now? We were very democratic and took turns asking and answering. But now we had arrived at a vital point for me. Did she knnow anyone whose name was big anough to carry weight in Minnesota.

She did. She said: I certainly do. Go down to 42nd street at one o'clock, go East and there you will find THE HOSPITAL FOR THE RUPTURED AND CRIPPLED, ask for Dr. Hansson. He is Swedish and he is a very nice person. He will help you. I put on my best togs and rode the bus down Lexington Ave.

At one o'clock Dr Hansson strode into the waiting room where all his paients were waiting to see him. His secretary arranged for me to go ahead of all of them and soon I was at his desk at the end of the room. I asked him if he would be kind enough to write a rcommendation. I want to go to the School of Nursing at the Univercity of Minnesota. I know you don't know me but I have my school records with me. He read them and he seemed to know the School I had attended.

And then he said 'Why do you want to become a nurse? Why don't you become a Physical Therapist. I said I had heard that his School of Physichal Therapy required two years of Physical Education or you had to be a Registered Nurse. He said 'you have the equivalent of two years of college and even though it was not the same as Phys Ed, you look smart enough to catch on.

I asked how much it would cost. He told me. In my head I quickly figured out that I had enough for the tuition and ten dollars a week for room, bus fare and stockings for the ensuing year. We shook hands. My near future was decided.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

moving again

I loved 'my family' at Mrs B's house. There was harmony in the lower levels and wonderful appreciation from the upper one. But word reached me through the grapevine that there was a job available that would fit my future better. So on my day off I traveled to Long Island That was an endless trek and I hardly remember how I got there. I know I began from Princeton Junction,and then it was train and subway and even a bus. When I got to the house I was aiming for I was hired in the first five minutes.

My days as kitchen maid were over. I became in those minutes a practical nurse.

The lady of the house had a sister who was crippled by 'thinning of the bones' We now call it 'osteoporosis'. There were fractures in her vertebrae. She could not walk. My job would be to bring her breakfast from the kitchen. I would dress her and help her in the bathroom and take her to a lovely space in the garden where she could have her lunch or listen to me read with my Swedish accent or she could take a nap. I would be her ladie's maid or her constant shadow. My pay would now be more than doubled.

Their chauffeur picked me up in Princeton. The new household consisted of Mr.and Mrs W, the sister Mrs.T and the usual number of servants. This time there was a butler. It was a pleasant job for me and Mrs T and I got along very well. I was totally out of touch with the servants, since I ate with Mrs T and spent 99% of my time with her. When she slept there was washing and other chores. The chaimber maid changed her bed and cleaned her room. This lasted for nearly a year. Mrs T died in her sleep. It was autumn. The days were gray and our feelings were gray. I had grown to love Mrs T. The MD finally told all of us that it was a stroke that killed her. At least she did not have additional pain.

A few days later Mrs W told me that her sister had asked her to give me $2.000 and her knitting needles when she died. I shed a tear of gratitude for now I had enough money to really think about my future. And I still have some of the knitting needles.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Name dropper

Since some of you have already discovered that I am a namedropper and since the Olympics are happpening at this time, I have to tell you about a HUGE NAME.

In 1936 the Olympics were happpening in Germany. Hitler was very insulting regarding USA's black athletes. Jesse Owens was America's hero and he succeeded beyond all hopes. We in Sweden were glued to our radios. We had some Scandinavian athletes we were rooting for, but most of all we were cheering for Jesse Owens. After the Olympics, Jesse Owens and a discus thrower named Carpenter or Carpentier came to Sweden and our School and another school for girls were assigned the hostessing duties for the two of them. We arranged a 'tea dansant' and Mr. Owens was kind enough to dance with each of the hostesses. I don't remember any details -- I was in ecstasy!

While looking through a stack of old papers, I came across my favorite poem. I like it because I feel it was written about me!

THREE TAME DUCKS (author unknown)

There are three tame ducks in our backyard,
dabbling in mud and trying hard
to get their share and maybe more
of the overflowing barnyard store,
satisfied with the task they are at
of eating and sleeping and getting fat.
But whenever the free wild ducks go by
in a long line streaming down the sky
they cock a quizzical, puzzled eye
and flap their wings and try to fly.

I think my soul is a tame old duck
dabbling around in barnyard muck,
fat and lazy with useless wings.
But sometimes when the northwind sings
and the wild ones hurtle overhead,
it remembers something lost and dead
and cocks a wary bewildered eye
and makes a febble attempt to fly.
It's fairly content with the state it's in
but it isn't the duck it might have been.

What an interesting connection! The Olympics are on TV and I find this long lost poem. Hmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I mentioned yesterday that I was reading the book review in the N.Y. Times. My employers were all rich and probably read the NY Tribune And since I was reading their day old news paper that was probably it. The only way I can make certain is that I remember a comic strip called Them days is gone forever. If there is someone as old as I am, and lived in New York let me know.

Zandra, the physical therapist, took me under her wing and convinced me to join the class she was teaching in horseman ship. She had a large class and most of the people in her class were teenagers. I had to order a pair of jodpurs from Abercrombie and Fitz (it seems denim was not yet invented) and she also insisted on low riding boots. That took care of all my savings.

The second time we met and rode around in a huge arena, she put on a hair raising show of horseman ship and rode bareback and circled around the arena standing on one hand, and several other dare-devil tricks. Her public was open mouthed. And then she told us all to go back and un-dress our horses and then she, sitting bare back on her horse slipped quietly off her horse. It looked like a normal finale to her show. But she had actually fallen off the horse. She went to the hospital and after x-rays found out she had a fracture somewhere in her spine.

She was in the hospital for a long long time. I had no money and no health insurance so I decided to pack away my expensive riding clothes. They did come in handy when in Texas my husband said: Let's go horseback riding.

There is much history between the accident and the Let's go horseback riding. Be Patient.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dentist II

I arrived downtown earlier than my appointment and decided to go to the book store first. I read every week the New York Time Book Review and there were a couple of books I wanted to see. I did not at that time know where the public Library was. In the book store it was easy to forget that time was passing. But luckily I roused myself from my reveries and tried to hurry out of the store. But coming into the store was a cute little old man, smiling and friendly looking. It was Albert Einstein. It was like running into George Washington. I wished I did not have to hurry away. But I left and hurried to the dentist office and I made it with one minute to spare.

I was out of breath when the dentist entered my cubicle. He said 'Why such a rush?' I told him whom I had nearly run over. He asked' did you see his feet.? I said no, why? He said Einstein never wears socks. I made a mental note to look at his feet if I ever saw him again.

After a check up of all my teeth I got the verdict. The repair of the front tooth and filling of four or five cavities, I would owe him $125.00. By todays standards that was practically a gift. He told me I could pay it in as small increments as I wished. I feel it was such a good decision I made that day. Seventy years later, I still have my pearly whites. About fifty years later my dentist and I had tracks that crossed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

good news

This is a letter to all who are reading my blogs.

Dear commenters

I saw my eye surgon for my yearly check-up this morning. I have macular degeneration, was told about it in 1983 when we moved here. It's has been like Domocle's sword hanging over my head. I would have been smart if I had learned Brail then.

The news this morning was Golden. She said: your eyes are so little changed since last year. What do you think you are doing that might be the cause of that?

I told her I eat blue berries almost every morning, either fresh or frozen. I take two I+CAPS, eye vitamins every day, and when I eat out, I always ask for a touch of spinach added.

The doctor said, I don't think your eyes willl get much worse, because there is literature out there telling us your kind of Diet can retard the development any further. My eyes were dilated, so kept me from celebrating on the way home. I did stop at Safeway to buy a huge container of fresh blue berries.

The reason for writing this? If you have relatives who have the beginnings of eithher Macular Degeneration, or Altsheimer my diet can't hurt them and I am living proof it could possibly be very advantageous. I am so happy I want to share my good news.

Grandma Svensto

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Last night I had trouble going to sleep. Too many activities during the day. 4/30 am Walking my dog, 5/30 shower and shampoo, 8/00 breakfast and 9/00 meet my yardman at the house I just moved from. Everything looked desolate and lonely. There were some Items left and they had to go to the dump. Most of the junk was in my studio. All the things that did not sell at our garage sale. It was sad to see some of it hoiisted on the truck but at one point I said hold it, I want to keep that. It was a painting I had done of my parents from a little black and white photo.

Then off to the store to get an angel food cake. After that home to vacuum out what the dog and my cat bring in on the carpet after lying in the mud or in the beauty bark. And then get ready for a Bridge Game with my favorite foursome. Coffee andAngelffod Cake and blueberries. All this previous stuff to explain why I couln't go to sleep. When I overdo I pay for it.

During sleepless nights it is fun to let your mind wnder through your memories. Suddenly I was back with my brothers and sister. And just as suddenly I had a question. Why were so many of our games so geographical. We wandered on a turfwall that my father had built as a teenager. We had to go one following the other until we were blocked by a high fence. The younger ones had to be lifted up to get a glance of what lay ahead. My brother would say: Look at all the lights on the horizon.That's London, England. When in actuallity we were looking at the lights from Helsingor Denmark. (we could see the castle where Hamlet used to hang out) Or we would head out north and the little stream we came to was Mississippi river. And South of our village was Niagara falls. That was not a childhood pretend for there was a cafe right there called THE NIAGARA CAFE. (The first time my husband visited my home I took him first to see Niagara Falls. The falls were as high as one standard brick.) I wonder if these games hadsomething to do with my sense of adventure. My brother went to sea and settled in Australia . My sister and younger brother never left Sweden.

Tomorrow Dentist II

Saturday, August 9, 2008


With my increased wealth I felt I had to go to a dentist. Social medical care did not include getting our teeth fixed in those days. And my mother had less knowledge about the care of her four children's teeth. She used to say: if you eat an apple before you go to bed, you don't have to brush your teeth. But it was not cavities that drove me to the dentist. It was a small chip in my front tooth. It had made me put my hand over my mouth every time I smiled.

You might be interested to know how I got that chipped tooth.

Early one winter morning my mother was standing in the corner of the living room talking to a friend. On the phone. No cell phone. The phone was fairly high on the wall and I dont think she could sit down and talk on the phone at thesame time. All of a sudden we heard her say: Oh, my God, there is a huge ship practically in our front yard. There was an edge of hysteria in her voice. We children quickly donned our outer garments and ran down to the beach. Well, there was a freighter way up on the beach. Only the aft of the ship was still in the water. There was ice on the rocks we had to climb over to get a front seat view. I slipped and broke my front tooth. We could not afford to have it fixed, said my mother. So I had arrived in America behind my hand hiding my open mouth. Luckily it was a very small chip.

Are you all dying to know why the ship was in our front yard? Remember it was before the age of radar and a ship's master had to use eyes and ears. It had been very foggy in the dark before mornning light. The captain had the wole crew on deck to listen to any noise that could tell them how near they were to either Sweden or Denmark. He said he had a feeling that he was very close to the Danish coast. All of a sudden a cock crowed and he ordered HARD STARBOARD. And with that he found himself in Sweden.

I will have to tell you about going to the dantist next time.

Talk of war

My new job was different. The house was less formal and instead of a butler we had a powerful ladies maid. She was an older Finish woman who decided on the menus with the cook. She ordered whatever food or services were needed. She did not like me at first and I guessed it might ave had something to do with the fact that she had not found me first. We became very good friends.

Mrs B was a down home kind of person. She loved to garden even though she had several gardeners. She suffered from back pain which was not hard to underrstand. I saw her once in the barn hoisting bales of hay. A Swedish physical therapist came at least once a week for massage and exercise treatments. We became good friends. I felt like a million when she asked me to go along downtown on my day off. Riding in a convertible Packard was fun. Mr B was seldom seen. Rumor had it that he had been Chief of police when he married her as a divorcee. They had fun parties and lots of house guests. I remember one house party especially. Ruth Gordon and her husband Elia Cazan were in the city for some do on Broadway and came out for the week end. When I saw the movie about a chauffeurs daughter falling in love with the son of the house I thought THAT'S WHAT MRS B's PARTIES LOOKED LIKE.

But everything was not sugar and whipped cream. When we were eating breakfast in the servant's quarters the radio was always on The Breadfast Club. And the talk of war became more and more insistent. Helga, the ladies maid, liked fresh eggs and ordered them from a farmer who lived nearby. They were German and both belonged to THE BUNDT. We got so much propaganda with the delivery of our eggs.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Sorry about the earlier post of the same name. I was sitting at my laptop looking at the page and suddenly it said:YOUR POST HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY PUBLISHED. I tried to retrieve it but I am not that smart. I really didn't know what to write and my laptop knew and said, stop this nonsence and get going on housecleaning. To all of you who read this blog and comment, I am so overwhelmed with the kind words you are sending my way. I feel I have a few hundred new best friends.

I arrived on the Kungsholm late August of 38 and we are just coming into the holiday seasons. I had never heard of Halloween before and loved the festivities with masks and costumes and candy. Then came Thanksgiving which was also new experiences. Had never had turkey for dinner. Nor cranberries, nor Pumpkin pie. All was exciting and sooo much work. Everything totally differentnd and so were me of the traditions concerning Christmas. I learned a lot. When New Years eve came I gave notice of my leaving to Urban. He informed me that it would take two weeks to replace me, I could leave on the 15 of Jan.

Meanwhile I feel I should tell you of a festive time I Sweden that in a way was comparable to Halloween. Comparable only in that the tradition arose from pre-christian belief in unseen powers. Ours was called VALBORGSMASSOAFTON. Happened on the evening before the first of May. Children would go from house to house singing a song welcoming spring and in our province we had huge bonfires on the beach. There were old Christmas trees and furniture that people wanted to get rid of and anything else burnable. In the olden days people were afraid of bad spirits enduring the winter and the fires and the singing drove them away.

Instead of Thanksgiving, we celebrated Martin Luther's birthday and instead of turkey dinners we had goose. And blood pudding and blood sausagee. Why, I don't know. I loved fried blood sausage.

Christmas was different in that it was so much more serious. We would sit for months working on items to give loved ones. Secrecy was important. I don't remembering buying a christmas present. And Holiday parties did not begin until Dec. 26. I felt blessed by having learne dall the new ways. But I was homesick.


Thursday, August 7, 2008


When the line for coffee came to an end Mrs B said, Let's go into the office where we can talk. When we were seated Mrs B said,'I heard that you are having trouble with the chauffeur.' How did she know! How can I answer. I said nothing, just looked intently at my nails. I wished I could bite them.

Finally Mrs B said ' I will tell you how I know. Angelo, who used to work for me, until he said he wanted to retire, came to me yesterday and told me what you said about Tom. He, Angelo, is very fond of you. He said he wished he had a daaughter like you. Then he asked me if there was anything I could do. Mrs D is a good friend of mine and I don't want to meddle in her household.
If you want to, I will offer you the same job you have now and I will increase your wage by a third. Finish out this month, give your notice, and when it is right for you to leave call me. I will send my chauffeur to pick you up. If they want reasons say you were offered more money. You don't have to tell me now. Think about it. But I can promise you one thing, you will be safe at my house. Now tell your group that I will take you home.

I had so far never met Mrs D. I had seen her from a distance. I felt her ignoring me must show how people related to their servants, at least the ones on the bottom of the rung. And now, suddenly, I had been thrust from oblivion into full daylight.

When I returned to the house, Inga and Elsa were sitting in our living room. What happened! Why did she want to see you. I lied and said she just wanted to know about Greta Garbo.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fly in the ointment

Life in Princeton was safe and enjoyable. The work was hard and constant. There were so many potatoes to peel and so much parsley to chop and when the rush was over so many floors to wash. Ulla became nervous and who better to get mad at than me. She always apologized when things settled down.

One day when Angelo came to pick up the chopped food for the parrots I asked him when next he would go into town. Could I ride along for I needed a few things. He said he would take me wherever I needed to go. I want to get two orange boxes and I need to go to a fabric store. He said 'you really should ask Tom to take you'. I said he scared me and I would rather go with him. Angelo said 'I think we better synchronizee it with Urban and Ulla.

So we had a little meeting, the four of us. Of course the question was: Why was I scared of Tom. I huffed and I puffed and before long I had to tell them that Tom had showed me a horrible comic book. Nowadays we would call it PORN. I had never seen anything like it and I didn't like his leer and his getting closer. All I wanted was get away but he had me cornered.

They let me go with Angelo and next day I had new and beautiful curtains and a dressing table made of oraange crates. As far as I know Tom was never spoken to, and he forever terrified me.

One Sunday when the family was away, Ulla asked me if I wanted to go to church on Sunday. I said yes and since we came from many different countries we wanted to go to different churches. Elsa was an Episcopelian, Inga and I were Lutherans. Ulla and Urban would remain in the house. That meant Tom would drive us. But I didn' have to be alone with him for Inga and I were going to the same church.

It was a lovely service with coffee hour following. As the woman served us coffee she asked me if I was new and Inga answered 'That yes, I was new, and I had just come from Sweden on the ship with Greta Garbo. She took a long and looked very proud of herself. I had never heard her speak with sentences longer than three words. Mrs B, according to her name tag, said, 'please remain a few minutes after I finish here. I would like to talk to you.

That little chat changed my life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I woke up as the car drove up a majestic driveway. We drove around the large house and stopped near the back door.The huge house was for the family consisting of Mr. and Mrs.D, two preteen children and their German Governess. It was a magnificent house. A large twostoried ell belonged to the servants. Livingroom downstairs and many small bedrooms upstairs. Urban volunteered to carry my suitcase upstairs to my room. It was a forgetable room with one small window, a tiny closet. The colors were drab. The bathroom was down the hall. I was told by Urban to get a washup and then come down to the Kitchen to meet Ulla.

She was not what one expected a cook to look like. She was young and thin and modern looking. She was welcoming and I was hppy that she was going to be my boss. She said I had to wait 'til supper to meet most of the other servants for most of them were not yet back from their naps or their trips into town. She said it was about time to get the supper on the table. 'Would I please set the dining room table.' 'Please show me where the diningroom is.' And what kind of meal supper is. Is it meat and potatoes or soup and a sandich? She showed me that the diningroom was in the lower level of the sevant wing. 'Urban is of course setting the table for the family in the big dining room.

The work in the kitchen consisted of preparing many meals. Breakfast for the servants. Breakfast for Mr D before his train ride to New York. Breakfast for the the two children and their Governess served to them in the play room. Breakfast for Mrs D served to her in bed. After this was over I had the responsibility of fixing the food for all the parrots. This was picked up by the head gardener, Angelo.

I will try to introduce you to all the servants. Urban was the big boss of us lesser humans. Didn't get to know him at all. He was too high on our scale and very private. Ulla was the next on the ladder and liked by all. Elsa ws the Parlormaid working directly under Urban, doing the cleaning and dusting in the livingquarters downstairs. She also filled in for Urban on his days off and she had to help serve during parties. She wore a black dress with white collar and cuffs and a little white apron. Inga was the chaimber maid and ruled upstairs, making beds and cleaning bedrooms. The Ladies Maid Took care of Mrs D, washed her undies, carried the tray with her breakfast. We had an Irish chauffeur who took care of the many cars. Mr. D had a car which he left at the station, sometimes he was driven there by Tom. Mrs D was always driven in a Buick by Tom. And then there was the La Salle which drove us to the movies downtown every Thursday or into the city once a month to a Broadway play or Rodeo at Madison Square Garden. We never had to pay for any tickets to these happenings.

There was very little chance of spending any money. So I seriously saved all my pennies. I had plans and I knew I would need it then.


Left my rooming house, little knowing I had spent my last night in that noisy, dirty place. I was headed to a Scandinavian, Domestic Employment Agency. It was located near Grand Central Statiion on Madison Ave. Yesterday, I had learned enough about New York City to know that going above ground when possible was far better than speeding through life on the subway.

The waiting room was filled with many sorts of Scandinavians looking for employment. I had fun trying to figure out what kind of jobs they were looking for. One, an elderly man wth huge gnarly hands was not looking for indoor jobs. A middle aged woman with too much make up was not looking for an outdoor job. No one spoke to his or her neighbor and I was too shy to break the silencee.

Soon it was my turn. I was nervous. Felt as if my future was going to be decided in the next few minutes. What would I become. I had large hands but I would never make it as a gardener or a plumber. I had no make up on, but what had that woman in the waiting room become in the last few minutes. When I was seated at the desk and my interviewer asked me what kind of job I was looking for, I said 'I don't know.' She looked mystified. I told her tht I had just arrived. (had to go through some chit chat about Greta Garbo) I had been told by a friend of my mother's that this was the way to get a job in America. 'What have you done so far'.I finished school in the spring. I worked last summer in a hospital in Landskrona Sweden. I was not in nursing and not in housekeeping but some vague combination of the two. I have my school records with me. Would you like to see them?

She was obviously relieved for this breather. I could tell by her accent that she was a southern Swede and consequently knew of my school. I can get you a job, beginning today. You will be a kitchen maid in a lovely house in Princeton NJ. The butler is here in town and he will pick you up. The pay is $75.00 and room and board. If that was all she thought of my School papers who was I to argue. You will owe us $50.00 out of your first paycheck. I will call the butler, and have him pick you up here. How long will it take you to get your suitcase? 'Could he pick me up at my rooming house for my suitcase is heavy'. 'Take a cab here. Andbe prompt.'

I managed o be there on time and was met by Urban, the butler. The car he was driving was a La Salle which he informed me was used only for the servants. His wifee was named Ulla and she was the cook. Within minutes we were in the Hudson Tunnel and I think before we were out of the tunnel, I was asleep. The elevateds and the fire engines screaming to fires had taken their toll.

Monday, August 4, 2008

my first American purchases

I think I left you at Fifth Ave and 34th Street. When I came out of the dark and noisy subway, I drew a deep breath and marveled that I had managed all that traveling. It was actually more difficult than traveling from Sweden to America. And scarier.

I headed west on 34th and lo and behold! I spotted a Woolworth's. I had heard about those stores also, and my sister and I used to sing a song about the Five and Ten Cent Store while washinng dishes at home. I had to check it out and wandered in and walked around expecting to buy nothing. And then I saw what must be a big mistake in their pricing. Palm Olive bars of soap that we in Sweden had to pay dollars for, were here for cents each. I think they were 13cents each. I had to take advantage of their mistake. So I picked up siix bars and headed for the cash register. Remembering my mother's admonishions, when the young woman handed me the coins and bills I picked up each one and tried to quickly do the addition in my head.

The checker looked at me with a quissical eye and said: Are you new here? I said, Yes, I arrived yesterday. From where did you come. I said Sweden. She raised her voice and said:Were you on the same ship with Greta Garbo. I told her of my meeting with her. It was a small, short interlude but it made me feel so happyy to be here and after this day, I never again used the little gloves with the zipper.

And then I walked into Macy's. I looked for the elevator and rode to the top floor. I made a circle and was awed by all the merchindize under one roof. Rode the escalator down and got off on each floor and continued to circle and then after what seemed hours I found myself in the basement. I had to buy something and found a table of slashed price items and there was an apron for sixtynine cents and at that moment I felt I needed it.

I knew I had to try to get back to my upper East side rooming house before rush hour and I walked back east on 34th and hoped I knew enough to reverse the mornings scary adventure on the subway. I managed to make it to 42nd Street and there my luck left me and I took an express train instead of a local and ended up way far away. Instead of staying underground I got up and out and it cost me another nickel to take a local back down Manhattan, Found Lexicon Ave and strolled the few blocks towrd my address. Walked by an Art Gallery and saw a small statue of Queen Nephertiti in the window. My sister loved this lovely long necked Queen and I went in and offered them the rest of the money in my glove. They accepted.

The next day I found a job.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A mother's admonisions

I remember so clearly what she said before I sailed away to America. DO NOT CARRY YOUR MONEY IN YOUR PURSE. There are so many Al Capone types in New York and they will rip off your purse if you carry it under your arm and they will cut off the straps if it is hanging by your side. I have found a pair of gloves with a zipper in the palm and that's where I want you to keep your money.

So my first day I decided to test her warning. I put two twenty dollar bills in my glove. I had some small change left over from the cab fare from yesterday, which I put in my pocket. Walked West a few blocks and came to Lexington Ave, which looked wide and clean and safe. I meet one of New York's finest, and asked him how I could get to Macys.

My stomach recoils just thinking of how scared he made me. He said 'Walk down to the next block. The entrance to the subway is there and you are going to go downtown to 42nd where you will transfer to a crosstown train and go to fifth and there you will transfer again and go south to 34th.from there you walk west to Macy's. I asked him how much that would cost and he told me I could do it all for a nickle. I didn't know what a nickle was but I surmised it was cheap.

Walking from the subway I discovered a Five and Ten Cents store where I made a puchase and met a friendly sales clerk who taught me about money. I bought one thing at Macy's and one more item when I returned to Lexington Ave. I will tell you about it next time.

Friday, August 1, 2008

What happens when you get up early

The year was 1938. There were two old ladies in my cabin, both snoring loudly. The oldest was probably at least sixty. They sounded as if they were trying to harmonize but in my estimation they were failing miserably. It was dark, only a slight light tried to peak out from under the door. I felt I could dress quietly and get out smoothly enough to let the duet continue.

We were on the path and certain to meet the Hurricane which had devastated the Nassau County on Long Island. The smell of musty clothes and morning bad breaths filled the cabin. I had to hurry to get out before the high seas won the battle with my stomach. I opened the door to the hall and escaped into air that was not much better. Since I was travelling steerage I was supposed to stay on the lowest deck and the air outside was wonderfully welcome. I saw no other souls stirring around so I climbed the stairs to the next deck and since nobody stopped me I climbed some more stairs and found myself on the top deck.

I sat down on a box that probably held life jackets and drew long deep breaths and slowly my stomach settled. I closed my eyes and probably would have fallen asleeep. The box was smooth and slippery and I had to hold on to the railing to keep from sliding off.

Suddenly I felt I was no longer alone. Out of the darkness a very tall person had appeared and since she was standing looking at me I felt I had to greet her. Would I do it in Swedish or in English? When she opened her mouth to respond, there was no doubt about who she was. It was the "I vant to be alone" woman, Greta Garbo. I said "Im sorry, I'm not supposed to be here for I have my room in 'steerage' She said "don't go on my account" We chatted for a few moments. She asked what my plans were and I told her I had wanted to go to America since I was a small child and when I was small I used to tell people I would have eighteen children. She asked how old I was and I told her I was eighteen years old.