Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ancestors, continued

You may wonder why so many Swedes went to America. Late 1800 Sweden was a very poor country. The kings of that time,and previously were constantly at war, mostly with Russia. Inheritance laws were unfair. The eldest child would inherit all. Since my grandfather was a teacher with an unbelievably low salary, there would be nothing to inherit. It was a law really concerned with a farmer's estate. My Grandfather owned nothing. He was given a home until he was retired, and then he rented houses until he died. He retired around the turn of the century. He had enough of a retirement pay to rent some very large houses in Viken. I heard him say once, bitterly, I have now earned more money in retirement pay than I earned my whole working life.

I know I have mentioned the aunt who went to America and who never came back. Every time her name was mentioned, people would quickly change the subject. Yesterday I began searching old blogs to see if I could find her name. I have searched all sorts of places in my brain, and I can not find it. I have thought about her more than all the others. Could she have gone astray over a man or over many men? Could it be a sexual disease that killed her? Could it have been drugs or drink that killed her. She was a beautiful woman when she left Sweden. I often thought that maybe I could find her history somehow, but now I can't even remember her name. If her name pops up in a dream I will write it down before it disappears again.

Aunt Ida was the apple of her father's eye. She met and fell in love with a young man in Viken. He proposed to her and after they were engaged he told her he would like to go to America to try to find gold either in California or in Alaska. He would come back to get her as soon as he was ready to get married. This made my grandfather happy because he could keep his favorite daughter at home a little longer. My grandmother died either 1908 or 1910, and Ida was the hostess in her father's house until Martin finally was ready to settle down. The young couple were now in their early fifties. Too old to have children. What a tragedy. They settled in Colorado. I finally got to see Aunt Ida, when she was a widow, and just a few years before she also died.

When Ida left, my mother was the only one to help out with her father. There was Olof, who never left Sweden. He had a little more education than his siblings, and became a banker. We were sort of afraid of him because of his high standing in the community. Actually he was only a teller. He married one of the Cato girls. They lived in the city.

There is a lot more to tell of this family. Next time

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I used to own my grandfather's logbook. In it he had written what a kilo, or what a ton of coal cost. Also, what it cost to have a cow betackt (the a with an umlaut). It meant a calf would be born soon. But their first baby would be born before the calf was born.
The job he got made it possible for him to get married. His fiancee had lived with her family in the city named Helsingborg. Here she was pampered, and lead a comfortable life with indoor plumbing. Her father was a successful merchant. The store was called Tengwall's and was still in the same place when I was growing up and owned by a woman who was my mother's age.  She had inherited the store. I remember going there with my mother to give Hildur her Christmas present, which yearly was the same potted tulip, which had been forced to bloom in time for this Holiday.
The job grandfather was given came with living quarters. Half the building was the schoolroom.  The other half was the Olsson's living quarters. The water pump was outside the kitchen and the Outhouse was as far from the dwelling as possible. This had to be shared with all the students in the school. Poor Botilda, it must have been a rude awakening for her. Grandfathers pay was miniscule and as far as I know, they never had a pair of store bought socks or stockings. In every photo of my grandmother, she was seen with the five sock needles, working on a new pair of socks for her eight children. Or maybe there were seven children.
Soon after marrying, Ivar was born. And then the others followed. Either my mother was the youngest, or morbror Olof was. My mother was born in 1886. Many of her siblings had already emigrated to America. Next in turn came Alma, who worked in NYC as a baby nurse. I forgot to tell about Ivar first. He had a good friend from school who left first to go to America. He ended up in Walla Walla Wasington, working for a grocery store. He convinced Ivar that the streets were paved with money and to hurry up and follow him. I wish I had seen his diary to read about his trip across the Atlantic. I know he landed in New York. But how did he get to Walla Walla. What adventures did he have on the way. He did not last long in the West. He returned to NY and became a teamster. How he got money to buy a team of horses I don't know. He worked for the Swedish American Line and delivered luggage and other ware. He married Henrietta and they ended up in Upper New York state as Maple sugar farmers. They had one daughter named Louise.

The next time I will tell you about Alma and Ida, both interesting cases. And then following will be the stories about one whose name escapes me at the moment. I know nothing about her so what you will read will be my own phantasy about her. Everytime her name was mentioned, the conversation changed and looks told one there was more about her that would not be fitting for small ears to hear. So do not believe what you hear, for chances are that I made it up.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FAKE continued

It is now a week since our successful week at the local quilt store. Everyone who participated was a star.

 Jan and her mother Joanne who came from California to experience something new. They were very talented and I am eager to see their finished work. 

Joanne had a more detailed time doing Matisse's Sunflowers. How she executes the two flowers will be important and if the first attempt fails I hope her second one will be perfect. We have a preconceived idea of what the flowers should look like, but how did Matisse see them? That's the secret of being a good FAKER.
Jan, her daughter, worked on the painting of a neighbors that is so rich in especially the colors. She finished the basic part of the fruit, but had all details to work on at home. She is a busy lady and I hope she does not wait too long. There are fewer details, both in the background and in the foreground. So the red persimmon has to star in perfection.
And then there was Ann from Bainbridge Island. She came knowing what to do with the photo she had invented. Fascinating watching her work.  It was a landscape from Kansas with mysterious things happening in the distance. It is going to be revealed to us when the work is finished.
I held the class because a friend from Bainbridge asked me to help her make Matisse's Red Room. In the last minute she had to go with her husband to a convention. I will offer to give her a private class here in my home, some Saturday of her choice. It will be easier to have the lesson here. 

Next blog will be a continuation of my Grandparents lives. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Saturday was finally the day for the class. I don't know how many sleepless nights I had before the event. How would I get all my materials from my place to the place where we were to meet? And then back home again. Baby sitting for Gilbert's dog, solved one of my problems. When I arrived at the house I would enter through the garage. In the corner I would pass a very meaningful wheeled object. If I could borrow that, I felt I could manage one trip from my place to the street where I would park my car. Sewing machine, coffee maker, and all the boxes of material would probably fit on the thing. And if it were as manageable as it looked, the hill up to the car would be no trouble. And the short length from the car to the classroom would be a snap. I tried to hire some young person with muscles but could find no-one. And then Betsy, a friend,  who had already taken one of my classes and was doing it again said 'I'll help you'. And she helped load the car, she said I'll bring my coffeepot, she was an absolute gem. And in the classroom she was an inspiration.

The Quilt store whose class room we used, was a big part of the success. They were so helpful and so kind to the students. Everyone got a ticket when they arrived and then could dash into the store to buy the item they needed and then could pay when the class ended. I had to be very demanding when someone left to go to the store. It is so exciting to wander through the stacks and stacks of fabrics. Someone buying a needle could spend an hour looking at yardage for a future project. So each time someone would go to the store I would give them a short time for the errand. "You have four and a half minute' or something equally ridiculous. We had only one day to work together. And when the day was over they could spend all the time they wanted. 

Betsy was the star of the moment. She arrived knowing what she wanted to do and never stopped working. Her project was fabulous. And her independence and personal touch was exciting to watch. The others all did well and had a great FAKE to take home to finish. How well all worked together was an inspiration. If they didn't live so far from each other I think real friendships were born that day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I wish I could remember what the Swedes called the bed that held more than one stranger. During snowstorms people would never turn out a person who needed a safe port. Often beds were in short supply, and the bed would be made from both ends. And people would sleep with their heads next to the stranger's feet. I those days with no indoor plumbing, I can imagine the odors that issued forth from the feet of the stranger, and vice versa. People were lucky who could manage a bath a week. But what has this to do with pregnancy.

Grandfather had met the love of his life somewhere. Probably in the school he was attending in order to get his teaching certificate. He lived in on a farm North of Helsingborg in exchange for work (milking the cows in the morning and in the evening). School started at eight o'clock, and the walk to the school took 45 minutes. Weekends he was free and he would walk to Helsingborg to see Botilda. Her father was a businessman and they lived in a great house, probably with in-door plumbing) There were times when the weather was so atrocious that Botilda's parents could not send the swain out in the night. And then they would fix the bed 'skafottes'. And they would put the couple in the bed with what they thought, the security of the sheet between them. And that was the way Botilda got pregnant.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Last blog was misleading. I told about feeling more insecure than ever about my punctuation. Actually, that was not caused by the book, THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG. There was a short mention about the comma in a certain sentence. But that little sentence caused a big uproar among the ladies present at the club meeting. The person leading the conversation, a good friend of mine from long ago, has her doctorate in education, and before her retirement was a principal in one of our elementary schools. She mentioned that little sentence about the 'comma' and with that there was as huge discussion about all sorts of grammar. I did not enter into all that for I was afraid of revealing my ignorance. But it certainly was enough for me not to rush into another blog. After much scolding from my PLOT daughter, I agree that I should let the faults drop where they may.

My maternal grandfather, whose picture I have on my desk, was born in Sweden in 1838. His mother died when he was born and his father either died soon after, or could not take care of him and he became a foster child in a neighbor's house. When he reached a certain age, I think eight, he was indentured into a farmers house and his term was until he was sixteen or eighteen. I don't know if the farmer was supposed to let him go to school during this time. It sounds as though his father had sold him into slavery. I remember his telling us children that when he was sick, the farmer's wife would give him nothing to eat. How he got his education or how he became a school teacher I don't know. I wish I could remember what he told us when we were little, for he loved to talk.

He graduated from the teacher's college, got a job, married his pregnant girlfriend within one week. They had seven children who lived. (I never heard about others) I will tell you about the ones I got to know. I will begin my next blog with how the pregnancy happened.,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One day

Yesterday, first Wednesday of the month, I had to go to the book club. The meeting was being held in a house not far from where I live, a house with an extraordinary view of the waterfront. I have been there once before and once, long ago, the first time I attempted to go there, I searched and searched and after a while I got in my car and went home again. (I think I told you that I rejoined the club after years of having been a non-member) Well, I had the address secure in my mind and I ventured forth.
The street is a narrow path. On one side of the street are the back yards of people living on an ordinary street. With all the stuff that people have have behind their houses. And the other side of the street are mostly fenced in properties, with houses built on the edge of Port Angeles. (Let's hope we never have an earthquake)
And so I came to the correct number. Parked my car on the nearest side street. Got my cane and wobbled over to the front door of the house, wondered at the lack of goings on and used the door knocker. A friendly Brittany came by to see what I wanted. A beautiful Brittany. No one came to the door. The thought entered my mind that I would probably go home again if no one showed up. All of a sudden, there stood an attractive man with gardening gloves on his hands. Before he could ask what the heck I was doing there, I asked him if this was the place for the book club meeting. He then informed me that I could find the same numbered house at the other end of the street. When I got there, there were about twenty cars parked on the side streets and one car pulled up and parked on a little place that had a basketball pole. There was a tiny bit more space so I inched in there and saved myself a long walk.
The meeting was fabulous. Everyone liked the book and everyone had found so many hidden messages. I think I told you last time that the book was THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG. I know what the book did to me. I am twice as insecure about my punctuation.