Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As these translations focus on the letters from my mother to her best friends in Sweden, I will not be including letters from my Dad (this project is for mom, Drawn Together was for Dad). I will however include some interesting bits and pieces from Dad’s letters that give insight into mom and home life.
Mom’s third letter, dated Monday November 18, 1968
[Note: my nickname in my family is Nina]
Thank you for two very interesting letters the other day, I both cried and laughed when I read them. Cried when I read that Eivor is starting to bring in money, which led to, amongst other things, us heading out on the weekend in search of a larger apartment. It is true that it is quite nice here, but a little awkward. You enter the living room onto wall-to-wall carpeting and that is a pain, you understand, as you know our angels.
At least we found a townhouse with access to a swimming pool. Super fancy, 4 large bedrooms, combined living room and dining room, gorgeous kitchen with a dishwasher. Two washing machines and two dryers in the basement. Beautiful colours on the inside and a whole new neighborhood.
We have a view of the mountains even here. One of the bedrooms is downstairs and three up with thick, luxurious wall-to-wall carpets, with hardwood in the living room (which I am so grateful for). There is even a front hall when you enter. It will be much nicer for hosting and having guests as there are two floors. We are making our decision in the morning.
Otherwise things are moving along well. I miss you all. (strangely)
Last Saturday we were invited to an English family. He works at Sandwell. They live close by in an absolutely adorable log cabin, with a wood stove made of rough granite. It turns out they are real tough people. Every year they do a road trip with boat and tent (they are in their 60’s) to Alaska and the Rocky Mountains. On the last trip, they were out in the wilderness the whole holiday. They didn’t see any humans, except maybe for natives and farmers. It takes about 8 hours to drive to the Rocky Mountains from here to a place called Williams Lake. It is supposed to be a great place.
He showed us slides and you, Rolf, would have cried if you saw the trout they caught every day. There are several small cottages built in the wilderness for any visitors– anyone can use them. They would repeatedly run into moose and bears. Anders will go crazy with anticipation before we get there. But there is no point to going there until the Spring as it is really cold up there in the winter. It is better head South in the winter. In two days we can be in Florida.
It +10ºC here today. Girls are still wearing ankle socks. But not Nina. She has to wear leotards. But it rains a lot here during the winter. Last Saturday, we took the kids up the gondola. Maybe Roar already wrote about that. He bought a book and mailed it to you (as temptation), but it was not sent by air mail so it will probably take awhile before it arrives. I haven’t received photos from Åke yet– maybe these were also sent by boat.
It is going really well for the kids at school. Nina goes 9-1 and Anders goes to 3. There is no bad day for grade 1. I am surprised. And they really go hard. Nina has to write long essays. She has such a great accent. It helps when they have start so young. Sometimes she is grumpy when she comes home for lunch, but after she has eaten, she is satisfied and happy again.
I can’t believe this is true– girls are not allowed to wear pants at school. Luckily, it does not get that cold here. I think it is a bit more strict here, and they don’t have the same approach. Vern’s two young girls are already reading fluently. I can’t believe it is true. Nina (and I) hope that she will be able to be in the same class as Ann-Christine in a few years. That’s the story I use when Nina doesn’t want to go to school.
This coming Friday, we are going to the boss for dinner. Blah! I am not allowed to wear my long pants according to Roar. Otherwise he doesn’t dare to go. The old bag called me the other day. I thought it was Fru Koppel. I have never heard anything more close. She is Danish and has lived in Stockholm for six years (stewardess), so she speaks Swedish. She is supposed to be really attractive (gross). But she actually sounded rather fun. Everyone is pretty much a bunch of old bags and bitches otherwise, I think.
Yeah, I guess one will survive this as well. There is so much to arrange, and one can’t catch up. Just imagine how much we will have time to do this summer when we come. We won’t need many clothes. Just money for the trip. The rest we can take care of. By the way, what the hell did Eivor receive from Roar through the window? Luckily it wasn’t at the door.
On Saturday, we are going to Vern for dinner because the kids are going to the ice rink to skate. Vern is the same. He must be so clever. He has built a large house with three storeys. His kids are girls ages 15 and 14, boys ages 12 and 10, and twin girls ages 6 and a half. Sheila is really nice but not exactly a party gal. Everyone seems so damn well-behaved here. Lucky for me, Roar spoke to the neighbor the other day and I asked if he was cool. Roar then said, “not as cool as Rolf.” (Which I agree with) Roar was quiet for a bit and then said, “and the broad wasn’t as perky as Eivor Carlson either.” And somehow that was followed by me saying, “and that I am very thankful for.” It just came out of me. I am going to ensure things are relaxed and calm for awhile so I don’t have to chase Roar, etc.
But I miss other types of exchanges of course. Who knows, maybe a moose hunting family will show up this summer. NOTE! But not without the kids. If I have to pay for them, I will.
I am writing myself to death. My fingers hurt. Roar is also writing letters.
I must tell you, we had some problems the other day. They aired Bonanza, Laredo and High Chaparall on three different channels at the same time the other day. This drove Anders crazy. One channel is just cartoons. Batman and the sort. The boss’s wife told me I should watch TV as much as possible to learn English, but I actually just write letters.
Say hello to Gunhild, with best wishes on the baptism. The same happened with Katarina, if you remember. The ceremony lasted an hour and Stake had dementia but there was just six of us, so it worked out anyhow.
Now I can’t write anymore. I will write another day. Please write back or I will die an old man. I play Sven Ingvars every day and long for home. But time passes quite quickly. Pan and Pia [the dogs] are welcome to sneak around outside our house some night. I will let you know when Rolf should give Moritz arsenic in a few years. Or Max could have snuck it into the coffee. I assume Rolf can buy it cheap.
PS. Excuse the handwriting. I have written to Dad, Helga, Ulla-Britt, Sivan as well.
EXCERPT: Dad’s letter dated November 17, 1968
… There is a hell of a difference between Gruvöns Sågverk where one was only an errand boy to Moritz. If I only get over this initial uncertain time, it will be an astounding school in which one learns to become the boss. Hope this will be of value when we return to Sweden in the future.
Well, I will end it here– will write more later. Please write again soon, it is so nice to hear from you both. I am starting to get over that difficult day when we left you– but I will never forget it.
Heartfelt greetings. – Roar