Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Me and The New York times

In 1938 when I arrived in America I was intrigued by the newspapers that were so inexpensive. At home in Sweden we subscribed to two papers, a morning one and an afternoon one. They were not expensive, but fewer pages. The first responsible task given to me before I was five years old was to go into the village to buy the evening post. A visitor who did not know that we subscribed to the paper was impatient and could not wait until it was delivered. Helsingborgs Posten was the name of this paper and according to my mother it was the conservative paper and this visitor probably had to check the stock market. He gave me a dime, or a tenoring. It was so small that I could not feel it in my tightly fisted hand and when I got halfway to the shop I had to open my fist to see if it was really there. My hand had become damp because of my responsibility, and when I spread my fingers the coin flew out of my hand. Had I dropped it I could have found it, but it flew out and since I was standing on a cobble stone road with grass growing between the stones, where could it be? I was on my hands and knees crying while looking for it. What could I tell everyone when I got home?

Around the corner came a well dressed man, obviously a summer resident. When he saw me he asked 'What's the matter?' I told him about my dime. No more than an instant later he found the coin. I never saw that man again, but if I had, I would have asked him if he found the dime in his pocket.

What has this memory to do with The New York Times. As a 'green horn' when I first saw an American paper I had found an inexpensive way to become a citizen five years later. Read the paper every day and become more American than an American. My job as a kitchen maid meant that I had to help the cook prepare food before each meal, clean up after each meal, and keep the kitchen clean. I had many hours a day and all night for myself and after asking the butler not to throw out the paper, I was all set. The first pay-day I bought a pocket version of a Dictionary. In the beginning it was slow going and there were slang words that I could not find.
I learned to ignore them but often missed the point of that line. And Jokes were impossible. In one newspaper I read a comic strip called: Them days is gone forever. Wow. I knew better grammar than that.

The New York Times impressed me in so many ways. The full page ads. The drawings illustrating the merchandize for sale. The book section. I had to be careful. I read a review of a book called CLIMATE AND CIVILIZATION written by a professor in Iceland. His name was Whiljalmar Steffanson. The book sounded so interesting I had to buy it. I think it cost $20 or more. I would read the reviews but bought very few of the books. Much later I learned about Library Cards.

Most of all the paper taught me about the political life in America. President Roosevelt intrigued me and I admired him almost as much as I admired Eleonore Roosevelt. Little did I know that I would meet and work with FDR in Warm Springs Georgia years later. But more about the New York Times next time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Again,a new year

2012. I had the happiest Holiday season that I can remember. In 92 years I could conceivably have forgotten a happier one. From the time I was a child? No, there was not one. ( I never got the grocery store I wished for) From my teens? No, things were miserable at home. From my early years in America? No. I was homesick in a strange way. From the first and only year Sam and I had before he had to go overseas? We spent it alone in a tiny rented house with a cow who stationed herself by our kitchen window. We were happy we were together, but not Christmas happy.

Then Sam went overseas and those years were worry some. I remember one year we, Sam's family and I, spent Christmas with an aunt of Sam's and her large family. Auntie Aggie at the piano playing the old familiar Christmas songs. I sat with her on the piano bench holding a three year old little boy on my lap and there were happy feelings stirring in my breast but not strong enough to forget that Sam was in danger in Europe. So I think 2011 was the happiest.

What made the Season so memorable? It began at Thanksgiving time. Gilbert who spent that season in Colorado with Chris and Kate and Tory had given Anna, our first daughter, permission to use his house on the beach for our celebration. And then Jane, our youngest daughter, and her family decided to fly up from San Francisco. The party began early and soon the fabulous eating began. Jane is a good cook, her husband Tom is also and I think I have already told of Anna's and Steve's talents in that direction. And I added my old fashioned talents. When I got tired i went home to my place and they walked the dog, played games and found treasures the beach. It was very lonesome when they all left.

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was welcome. A little dieting, a little resting and a lot of knitting. I made scarves for all the females in the family. And then the baking began. Rye bread for the 'grav lax' (salmon) and cardamon coffee cake for breakfasts. Swedish Meatballs, of course. And then the family from Colorado arrived. Tory who had been stationed in Alaska (Coast Guard) came first. Then Gilbert, who immediately went fishing for Steelheads
in Morse Creek. (first legal date to catch them) He caught a big one. Then he went crabbing in the mornings and salmon fishing, They had so much fish, and I was invited to join them for most of the meals. Chris was so generous, I almost always left with a care package.

On Christmas Day Anna and Steve arrived for Christmas Breakfast. Chris's famous Christmas Eggs and coffeecake that Tory had baked for the occasion. (She is very generous with the butter and sugar and nuts and raisins. I hate to say it, hers is soo much better than mine) And then again, there were four of the best cooks making the best food. I felt a little guilty, but I told myself I had contributed to the hungry, both the Food Bank and The Salvation Army.

Yesterday the last departure before Gilbert goes back to spend the winter in Colorado.

PS I got the grocery store when I was in my late twenties. I made it with the old fashioned match boxes for Swedish matches. I put a little brad for the handle to pull out the drawer. I filled the drawers with sugar, salt, flour, and chocolate bits and I had eggs from Easter, small small eggs. The counter was a piece of thick glass. I had sundries and homemade brooms etc. Nobody came to buy anything in my store.