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.

1 comment:

Jodie said...

I love the wonderful suspense you've built into your tales of World War II days. I had a couple of good friends, who recently passed away, who were in Europe helping after the war. The wife ended up with some very beautiful jewelry that was traded for exactly that - cigarettes. You would never guess it unless you heard a story like hers or yours. They travelled the world after he retired from US government service and had friends that they visited all over Europe. Those people visited them in the US too. I think I first learned about cultured people by meeting them when I was in college. Their niece was my classmate. Once again thanks for sharing. My father and all his brothers served in the military, most in WWII. Dad was in the Pacific on a ship but never told any stories... I guess it was too awful to repeat.