I had a sister who was then sixteen years old. Her name was Alice. She was very beautiful. She was also a little spoiled. My mother said that Alice was delicate because she had not gotten the right kind of food during the war years. She had begun to develop diabetes. Although her name was Alice, people called her "Lisa". Somehow Roland started to call her "Lisa Fisa", which means Lisa the Fart. This caused some discord, not only between Lisa and Roland, but even between Lisa and me. I had brought some cloth material from America and made Lisa a beautiful dress to pacify her. That helped more than a little.
After Christmas school started in the little Söndrum school nearby. I thought it best to get the very active boy, Roland, out of the house. So I took him to the school and got him started learning better Swedish. He went there a few weeks when suddenly a measles epidemic broke out. Roland got sick, but recovered quickly after being in bed awhile. I decided to visit my sister Hilda who had married a man named Åkergren and was living in Örkeljunga in Skåne. Hilda and her husband had a country store where they sold everything from coal to syrup. They had three children and a maid because Hilda had to help in the store. Their oldest child was a boy named Åke who was the same age as Roland. Åke and Roland got along fine. The Åkergren home was very busy. Lennart had learned to walk while in Sweden and was beginning be rather comical and enjoy the company of happy people. As spring progressed I decided to return to America (photo). The weather was fair and mild on the entire return trip, and soon we landed in New York.
August had been in contact with the travel agency and had found out when we were to arrive in Barnstead and he met us with the horse and buggy. August had not known if he would ever see us again, but he did not say he had missed us. Years later Roland would say that August looked happy when he saw us, but I don't remember that. I do remember that he said that none of the neighbors had come to see him while we were gone.
When we got back to the house we could see that August had been busy while we had been gone. He had made many improvements. He had put a pump in the kitchen so that water could be pumped from the well directly into the kitchen. I could hardly believe my eyes. It was a great help.
In the spring, a corn canning factory was completed in Pittsfield. August said he was going to Pittsfield and I thought it was to see the new factory or something; he didn't say he was going to buy anything. He came home with a small Ford pickup truck. He told me that now I could go for a ride. I told him that he had never driven a car or a truck before and I asked him if he could drive and if he had a license. He told me that he had learned to drive and had gotten the license at the same time and the same place where he had bought the pickup truck. So we went for a ride in the pickup truck.
That summer we took in a few boarders. One family was named Scots and they were nice. They had their home near the railroad marshaling yard in Malden near Boston. Freight trains thundered past their home every few minutes. They were delighted to come out on a farm where they could pick berries and get really fresh air. They also liked Lennart and they took care of him a lot of the time.
Roland went back to school in the fall after having missed almost a year of school, not counting the few weeks in Sweden. This, together with the fact that there was a new teacher at school, made it hard for him to get used to being back in school again. I got a telephone call from the teacher. She wanted me to come to school to talk about him. She told me that Roland was having trouble. I told her that I was sure that Roland would improve. Before I had left school the year before, he had been so good that he had been put ahead one class and I was sure he could be just a good again. She told me that when school had started he had drawn a fine picture of the steamship that had taken him across the Atlantic.
August had in Sweden taken a correspondence course in accounting from the Hermods Institute in Malmö. He and his brother Otto had discussed going into business together. August was hesitating about this because he was not doing so badly in New Hampshire. But in the end August decided to sell the farm. Right at that time I became very sick and got an infection in one of my ears. I couldn't take care of the children very well. Within two weeks the farm was sold. I couldn't help out much then either. We sold everything, even the truck.
We moved in with Otto and Anna. After a short time it became clear that Anna was against Otto going into business with August. Anna thought August was too quiet and reticent to be a success in business. Otto had already experienced some business failures and Anna wanted to be careful. August was so angry about having sold the farm and then having nothing to come out of their discussions about going into business together that he said that if Otto hadn't been his brother then he would have sued him. We moved out of Otto's and Anna's home and August got a job at Norton's again.
In the middle of the 20's, August's brother Olof, his sister Hilda and their families were all living out in California, in Chico. That guy Jackson and his family was there, too (1927 photo).
It was the fall of 1927 and we needed a roof over our heads so we bought a house on 22 Fraternal Avenue there in Worcester. It had three stories, almost five, it depended on how you counted. There were six rooms per floor, warm and sunny, but with a big mortgage on it. We were able to take in many roomers. In 1929, after the stock market crash many tenants moved out to parents and relatives. Many men were pensioned off it they were around sixty years old. But the Norton Company kept some men on short time so in spite of everything we were able to keep the house. Times were so hard that the bank that held the mortgage told us to pay only the real estate tax, which we did.
Somewhere around this time, when Lennart was about six years old, he was Santa Claus in a Christmas play and we were very proud. Roland was about fourteen years old then and got a route delivering daily newspapers and made money for clothes and books, and then started in North High School. Roland got another newspaper route delivering the Sunday newspaper and he kept that up all through high school. I could save money by going down to Water Street to the Jewish stores and buying remnants for the clothes that we needed.
Lennart was in another school play when he was eight or nine. Together with a boy named Rodney Nelson, Roland started a glider club in high school. The club was able to get hold of a glider somehow, but I don't think they were able to get up into the air.
After finishing high school, Roland worked for a year at the Worcester Evening Post as copy boy in the Display Advertising Department. He was also still delivering the newspaper on Sundays. Together with what I had been able to save, we had enough money to cover the first semester's tuition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Roland went one evening and spoke with Admiral Earle, who at that time was President of Worcester Polytechnic, and was told that it was possible for him to get an interest free loan for the second semester of school. So Roland enrolled at Worcester Polytechnic to study Civil Engineering. I remember that I was able to get a hold of a piece of green plaid cloth that I used to make a suit for Roland. It was so thick and heavy that I had to take it to a tailor to get the thickest seams sewn. Roland told me that when he wore it he got many rides to school because the young men that he went to school with recognized him and picked him up. It was three miles to school. Roland was able to get scholarships from the Norton Company to cover his second and third years at Worcester Polytechnic but he wasn't able to pay for his final year and to leave school and get a job. Times were very hard, even Lennart got on a paper route as a helper.
Roland was lucky enough to get a job at Babson Institute in Wellesley Hills near Boston. The Babson Institute was making a relief map of the entire United States at a scale of one quarter inch to the mile on a spherical surface, or about two hundred by one hundred feet in size. He bought a little car, a 1931 Model A Ford roadster for thirty-five dollars, and drove back and forth from Worcester every week day.
In the thirties, when so many people were out of work, food was very cheap and if you had any money, it would stretch a long way. Others, that had no money, had to go on welfare. I remember how Roland had to scout around to find parts for his car so he could repair it. August did not seem to like him to have a car, but this time Roland just ignored his father.
One day Lennart's teacher, Miss Girardin, telephoned and said that some of the children had been saying that Lennart and another boy had been seen smoking cigars behind some bushes. When I asked him about it, he said, yes, it was true but it had made him sick. He never smoked again although he was tempted when he was about sixteen. He told me then he wanted to start smoking, but I told him I thought he should wait until he was about twenty. He consented to that, but he never did start to smoke.
One time when the school term was over, Lennart came home with a report card with nine A's and a C in conduct. Two of his friends were with him and I told Lennart that his grades were good. He told me that some boys got a dollar for every A. I told him that I could give him nothing more than love. Him and his friends left the room. He was whistling and had his hands in his pockets.
Lennart transferred to another grammar school, one for children that got high grades. There were seventeen girls in his class and he was the only boy. I soon discovered that he was skipping school so I took him over to the West Boylston Street grammar school that Roland had attended. Miss Quinn, the principle, said he could begin there. Lennart liked that school much better.
Later I met Miss Girardin on the street. She thought it was too bad that Lennart had not stayed in the school for high graders.
Lennart had had for a long time a strong interest in guns. The law in Massachusetts was at that time that no boy under the age of sixteen could own hunting guns. But Lennart was so persistent that I helped him get a hunting gun when he was fifteen. Times were hard and the could maybe get some extra food on the table, and sure enough, he brought home something every time he went out. Once he came home with two good-sized rabbits.
I remember something about the sister of my brother's wife. This woman had been working in Boston as a housemaid and had lost her job because the family she worked for could not afford so many servants as before the stock market crash. She had gotten my address from someone in Sweden and one day she came to our home and sat down in a chair and cried, so there was nothing to do but help her the best possible way. She said she had been visiting Sweden the previous summer and had left all her clothes with her folks there and now she had only traveling clothes. I helped get her a job and lent her some money and white uniforms, too, but she stayed on the job only a week. She said that the work was too hard so she came back and tried to get another job, but had no luck. After about a month she took off for New York, where she said she had a cousin. We got a card from her saying that she could not find the cousin and then we never heard from her again. She did not leave any address where she could be contacted, she just disappeared, and nobody was to blame.
My father died on the first of March 1940. I hadn't seen him in seventeen years. I really felt bad about that. They had sent me a telegram, but they also sent one of those funeral invitations with black stripes around the edges like they used to use. The funeral was over by then but when that came in the mail I was just as shocked all over again just seeing it (documents).
August's older brother Otto was forced to sell his latest business venture. I think he had started a business of vulcanizing tires. Things were difficult during the depression and gasoline filling stations had started to take over this service. Otto's son Paul had to help his family out. Paul had also studied Civil Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Lennart had entered high school and was doing well. He was particularly good in art and chemistry. He worked at odd jobs in the summers, even tried working in a hot dog stand.
I had become very good in sewing so when Lennart graduated from North High School I could make his graduation suit and shirt. This was in the hard times of the thirties and this was all I could do to help out. I made clothes for myself, too.
Roland was able to finish his engineering courses at Worcester Tech. In June 1941, together with a fellow named Carl Nystrom he had joined the Army's Air Corps and had gone to Chanute field near Chicago. Roland had long been interest in flying and had built and flown model airplanes in his youth. He had been in that glider club, too. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Roland became a lieutenant right away.