We were told after a few days that our father had died at sea. These were horrible days. If you don't know the facts, what you dream up in your imagination gets more and more horrible. Birgit was told that first day, but she was told not to tell her siblings. We were too young to understand.
There was an inquest to investigate his death. For some reason the inquest was held somewhere in Denmark. Mother was told that she did not have to attend. The owners of the ship would tell her what developed. But she did go, and she did attend. Father had turned up missing on a warm, calm day in the Bay of Biscay, between Portugal and France. Father had written in the log at eight am. Later in the day it was discovered that there was no other entry in the log. The crew searched the ship for their Captain and it was decided that he had somehow left the ship. Mother asked the next in command, "Did you go back to search for him?" The answer was, "No, we were too far from that." Mother asked,"Too far from what?" And the answer was a shrug of the shoulders.
All this came to my ears from listening to Mother discussing it with her friends. She wanted the shipping company to have the police investigate what had happened.
And then came the problems of the insurance companies. She immediately received money from what would compare with Workman's Compensation. And when it was time for the life insurance company to pay, it was denied. They claimed that Father had jumped overboard and committed suicide. Mother had letters that gave a different picture of his attitude at the time. It was to be the final journey for Father on this ship because the company had promised him a brand new vessel. He was elated. There were many new inventions built into the newer ships. On board was the man who was to take charge of the old ship. I think the name of the ship was SEVERIN, but that might have been an earlier ship of his. The company recommended an attorney for mother to use as she tried to get the insurance people to pay. Mother won in the first instance, and the insurance company sought a new trial. In the next trial, Mother won again and so the insurance people went to a higher court and Mother lost. She was devastated and beaten. The lawyer Mother had used was upset. But that was the end of the line for Mother.
I told you all earlier that Dr. Hansson, my mentor, was Swedish and had come from a place very close to my home village. He had gone to school with a boy who became a lawyer while he became a doctor. As I was walking west on 42nd street Dr. Hansson caught up with me. He said he was upset. A very good friend of his from school days was just sentenced to prison for many years. He had been on the take and had lost cases on purpose and then been paid under the table by whichever company he had been suing. I asked what was the name of the lawyer. It was the one who had represented my Mother.
I was eager to tell Mother. She said, "I can't fight that fight again."