How did I get interested in genealogy?
Ulf Svensson, 1998
"How did I get interested in genealogy? It's kind of odd, actually. It all started with something called a "seaweed" road - a road maybe 3 meters wide and 50 meters long - a short little bit of a road about a kilometer from my mother's old home in Söndrum, down by the beach. "Seaweed" roads are something that's left over from the time before they had fertilizer, or rather from the time that they used seaweed as fertilizer. It's kind of an access right given to property owners to provide fair access to the seaweed that was washed up on the beach and was used by people to better their crops. It's really more than a right of access because besides giving people a way of getting down to the beach, this right also regulates fair usage - like it says that people can't go down to the beach and get seaweed before sunrise so that people wouldn't go down to the beach in the morning only to find that someone had been there at night and had already gathered it all up. It also regulates how people should act after storms when a lot more seaweed had been pulled loose from the sea bottom and washed ashore. And it allows people to dry fish nets nearby, stuff like that.
My mother and about 100 other people have these rights in connection with that little road. Six families have buildings down there. They were once sheds for drying fish nets, but they have made them bigger and modernized them little-by-little over the years so that now two of them have become year-round homes and the other four are summer cottages.
About 4 or 5 years ago, one of the people now living down there decided that new times have come and the fishnet sheds should be considered homes with regular property rights and that people that don't live there shouldn't be allowed to go traipsing around down there. She thinks it's time to squeeze out the others. She got a big machine to come down and put giant boulders across the road to block it off. But even though we don't use that road to go down to the beach to get seaweed or dry fishnets down there, the law's the law and we have a right to go down there and that's what I told her. All this got taken to court and the result was that that woman was supposed to take away the boulders and pay a big fine, both for putting the boulders there in the first place and for accidentally clipping off an electric cable while she was having them put there with that big machine. But because of a legal technicality it was sent back to the courts and still isn't over.
Well, anyway, once when I was going through a pile of old documents to find something I needed for this seaweed road thing, I found an old letter from a relative of my father in America. There was another paper there from the embassy that said that this relative had just simply vanished without a trace and that nobody knew what happened to her. I had never had the slightest inkling that my father had relatives in America or that anybody had disappeared and I became intrigued about her fate. I tried to find out more. I developed a real interest."
Ulf Svensson, Söndrum, Sweden, 1998