Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Around 1930, there was a building fire North of Viken. It was a big two story house which looked as though it was made of cement. Our house on the beach, directly below the church, was close enough that we could hear all the emergency vehicles hurrying to save the burning house. It was owned by a wealthy seafarer. His wife and grown daughter were told to go to a neighbor's house. The fire was soon taken care of and the only sign of it the next morning were black streaks sweeping out the window of the daughter's upstairs bedroom.
Nothing like this had ever happened before, during my ten or twelve years of living there. It affected my life seriously. We four children were constantly warned of the danger of fire. At Christmas time we had real candles in our tree. During the school Christmas party we danced around a giant tree festooned with hundreds of real, lit, candles. When the last Christmas party (the 6th of January) was held in our house all our friends were invited and we got to share the candies and cookies that had decorated the tree during the holidays. Then we grabbed the tree and danced through all the rooms, and finally opened the front door and threw the tree out in the snow. And with this we had never heard about a fire around Christmas time. Our trees were of course greener and less flammable.
You may ask, why did the fire in the big house affect you so seriously. I don't know enough about Psychology but for the rest of my life I walked around with so much guilt. I had never been in the house with the fire but never looked at the streaks of black around that window. Even after WWII when Sam and I walked around Viken I never looked in that direction. In 1960 when I showed my children where I had grown up, I never showed them the house . I think my mother had imprinted in my brain that I was So Bad. The fire must have been my fault.

Monday, September 5, 2011

M emory

When I read this mornings paper, all abut Labor Day observances, here and in nearby towns, I wondered if we had something similar in Sweden. I am sure there was a day devoted to the honor of labor, but I do not remember what date it was. So refusing to get going with the daily chores, I tried to remember when I was first introduced to reading a newspaper. There were two newspapers daily in our house. The evening paper had a serial published at the very end of the paper. I remember my mother reading those to us at dinner, if they were suitable for children. Some times we tried to get a sneak view, if they were fun ones. But then the time I was excited about learning more was in 1932. Word had come over the radio that Ivar Kreuger had committed suicide in Paris. We all knew something about him. He was called the Match king. He was handsome. We did not know that he was also a crook.
A lot of the news was about his financial doings which was not understandable for me. I was 12 years old at the time. I think the Swedish papers were trying to white wash the story about him. I think people looked on him as another Alfred Nobel. It is always hard when a hero is discovered to have dirty feet. I looked up Kreuger's name on Google and my gosh, there are acres of stories about him. So now it is high noon and I have managed to spend the whole morning on the Match King. I heard somewhere long ago that if it had not been for Ivar Kreuger there might not have been such a serious crash in the late 1920ies.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Twin Towers

Much, much earlier you may remember that I wrote about Jack How. He was married to Sam's cousin Jane. He was a strange person. During the few years I knew him, he hit bottom and he soared to soaring heights. At first when I came to California, he was in the Navy serving at Oakland Knoll Hospital or maybe some other base near by, for he often he came home to spend the night. He was very amusing and could hold an audience breathless for hours. Suddenly he inherited $40.000. And suddenly he was driving a secondhand blue convertible and drinking nothing but French champagne. He claimed he was allergic to whiskey and gin drinks. It did not last long for Jane decided they had to pay bills, and just as suddenly as the money arrived, just as suddenly the money was gone. And so was his allergy.
When the war was over he found a job in a chemical company. I forget the name, but I think a plant was located near the Sacramento river somewhere in Contra Costa County. I imagine he was in sales for he was a spellbinder. In a few years he was working for that same company, but in their Wall Street office in New York City.
Many years later Sam and I had reason to go to New York. While there we called Jack and he said: "Lets have lunch" I said: "Where?" "How about the Twin Towers. We met on the ground floor and when Jack came he took us up to the fanciest restaurant for the most elegant lunch I still remember in detail.
Being in that building was an adventure, enjoying the fabulous view I will never forget. Jack died a few years later and I am happy he did not have to die in the inferno that occurred ten years ago.