Monday, May 28, 2012

Sweet Discoveries in Sweden

From Krakow we flew to Sweden on Ryan Air, a cut-rate airline that made it absolutely mandatory to check a bag ($60 per bag). You can only carry on one small bag. Nothing is allowed under the seats. Strange but true! Horror of horrors. We NEVER check bags. The last time we did that was our trip to South Africa and they were unable to locate our bag for a week.

Luckily the bag arrived and we stayed overnight at a lovely little Connect Hotel, which felt like staying at IKEA, which was appropriate since we were, after all, in Sweden. They discovered very clever ways to simplfy their rooms and the cost.

The next morning we caught a train to Osby, the “stomping grounds” of Rick/Dad’s ancestors, namely Swen (born abt.1848 and Thilda (born abt.1846) Swenson. We were met by our good and faithful email-friend Erik, who the resident historian of the area whom we were able to find when our niece Brittani visited there a few years ago. Tal and Anita also visited there last year and he was literally a treasure trove of information about our family! Swen was the resident school teacher in Osby for thirteen years and Erik’s father was at one time, actually in his class! 

Here is the church that Swen and Thilda certainly either attended (until they joined the Mormon Church) or knew about since it was built in 1834. It is a beautiful little gem in the center of Osby.

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Erik is one of the leaders of the church there so he had access to everything!

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He even knew who the pastor was at the time the Swensons were there.

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I actually got to play this Steinway piano and the organ up in the loft below (as did Brittani and Aaron when they were there, albeit with much more professionalism than I did). Still it was a thrill! 

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This beautiful painting hangs in the front of the church:

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A lovely group of 24 teenagers were practicing for their confirmation ceremony while we were there. Such cute kids! They even fed us ice cream!

The cemetery surrounding the church is meticulously kept and this angel crafted from a dead tree stands amongst the graves.

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Next we drove into the woods nearby where the old schoolhouse where Swen was the schoolmaster still stands! Rick, Grandma, Saren and Saydi had been there before but this was a first for me. It was such a thrill to see!

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When Dad was there last, the remains of the old school were still there including blackboards and desks. It has now been bought by someone for a summer home but Dad, of course, just couldn’t resist a peek since the owners weren’t there.

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What fun we had exploring the grounds of the very place the Swenson family called home. They lived in one part of the house and Swen taught in the other. His son, our Grandpa Dan said he could remember sitting under the desk as a little boy while Swen taught the classes.

Rock walls were everywhere and flowers bloomed without any assistance from irrigation.

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This is the same rock wall where the Saydi and Saren sat all those years ago!

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A stunningly beautiful forest was right across the road:

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Dad managed to recreate falling asleep on the moss there all those years ago and dreaming that he was his Grandfather!

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Below is the root cellar under the house and the water pump and the original outhouses on the side of the house.

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Next came a really special treat….the home that Erik knew Swen and Thilda had lived in before they moved to the school. They had many children and were exceedingly poor so they lived upstairs in three tiny rooms in the attic. It has since been abandoned but was open and we found treasures there!

Tal and Anita had visited the house last year (on their way home from the Ice Hotel) with Erik and the property was completely covered with old wood and which has since been neatly piled for sale to a company that chips it up and sells it  Erik said that you two Tal and Anita will find this very interesting because you could hardly see the house when you came last year. We could actually see the house from the driveway along with the old farm equipment that Swen must have used or at least seen there.

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The old barn on the property:

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It was a grand adventure exploring that old house where we knew they had lived even though it was pretty much a disaster! The owners had started to remodel it and then (two brothers), got into a feud and everything halted. It has been sitting there uninhabited for 30 years!

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  • The upstairs attic rooms where Swen and Thilda lived with their children still had an old bed and a couch that could very well have been theirs.  It was exciting to find a very old sewing machine in that could have belonged to Thilda.  She helped support the struggling family with her extraordinary sewing skills. From yarn she weaved and sewed exquisite aprons which the children helped her sell. There in one of the three small upstairs rooms was a huge chest that was typical of the times as well as a smaller one, both cedar lined with several skeins of yarn. The most exciting part for me was finding a very old sewing machine with a pin cushion that had almost completely deteriorated but which contained a rusty needle, which I have! I could be wrong but I think it was Thilda’s!

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Below is the couch in this very small room. The cushions are gone and there are boards across the top but look at the fine carving on the wood.

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As well as this carving on the top of the headboard of the bed:

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Here is an old basket that Swen’s wife Iela said was used for potatoes:

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The room where the kids probably slept:

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Erik drove us back into town and showed us the spot on the lake in Osby where he was quite sure that the Swensons would have been baptized:

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That night we had dinner with Erik and Eila at our hotel. She is equally as delightful has he is, though she has not felt well for a long time because of a tick bite three years ago. So sad! They are adorable!

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How very grateful we are for this lovely couple who have now taken tender, loving care of Briitani, Tal and Anita and now us! It was truly a miracle that Brittani found out about Erik’s historical expertise at a camera shop in Osby when they were there with no idea where to start looking for the Swensons. Thanks for being in tune Brittani! that was a nice little miracle!

They invited their best friends Mats and Sissel who hosted Tal and Anita also when they came… to their home for a lovely array of desserts after our meal together. I’m so sad that I didn’t get their picture because they were equally delightful and truly fascinating!

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The next morning Erik surprised us with a tour through the historical museum that he started and is now managing.  That is going to have to come in the next post!  So many pictures, so little time!

It was purely a delight to spend those hours with Erik and the delightful people we met in Osby. Good people must come with the territory in that terrific little town!

This family including their adorable little dog Laila almost feel like part of our family!

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4 comments:

Karina said...

I loved seeing these beautiful pics of Sweden! I have always wanted to go there. So good to see you both and see you doing well. Miss seeing you at church.
xoxo

Jonah and Aja said...

I would just die for some of that well-made old furniture and trunks here on Maui. Want to recreate the ancestors crossing the ocean with their belongings and bring some here?!

Love the posts as usual. Especially Ricky sleeping in the grass.
-Aja

Anita and Tal said...

Well done!

Josh said...

Funny to think that while that schoolhouse still stands, Indian Hills, Clayton, and East High have all been demolished.