Monday, May 21, 2012


When I was a little girl, I became aware that my Mom's mom was Swedish.  I vaguely remember her at that age of 3 or 4, but then she moved to California so I didn't get to see her much after that.  She did come to visit once in a while, but travel back then was not so easily done.

I did hear stories about her from my own mother and also from people who lived in our small town.  She was well known because she and my grandfather had started a business in the downtown area when they decided to settle in this small town and raise their family.  They had 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls. They were all good kids, who did well in school and worked hard.  Life got a lot tougher when the oldest child was 13.  That's when their father, my Grandfather, died suddenly of heart failure. I never got to know my Grandfather in person, but knew him through photos and stories.

My Mom was 12 and the second oldest child, so she had to help out with all the younger kids in addition to attending school.  Grammie was now the head of the family and had to be at the store to keep it going to feed her brood.  This is how she became so well known, everyone in town had to deal with her when shopping in the store.  From all I gathered through the story telling, she was talkative, fun, outgoing, and always cheerful.  She had a pretty thick accent but I think everyone thought she was cute, and liked hearing her talk.  My grandfather was known as "Andy", so now my Gram was referred to as "Mrs. Andy".

All things turned out well for the family, kids graduated tops in their classes, some went on to college, they married and had children, and most lived to a good old age with the exception of 2 sons.  The oldest son followed in his Father's footsteps and died at 45 of heart failure, and the youngest son died at 20 or 21 after the plane he was piloting was shot down in the Pacific during WWII.

Grammie was born in 1888 in Sweden on the west coast north of Malmö.  Her father was the organist in the church and owned quite a lot of land.  When Gramma was around 24, she and one of her sisters left Sweden for the U.S. effectively leaving behind all their siblings and father for good. (She did return once, 60 years later.) They booked passage on a ship leaving from Copenhagen to New York's Ellis Island.  On arrival, they received help from some society ladies (these ladies aided young women to avoid danger) to buy train tickets to Chicago where they had the address of a friend of their Father's.  Both my Gram and my Great Aunt got jobs in Chicago, learned English, got married to Swedish men, and lived until they were in their mid-nineties.

Grammie's  95th birthday celebration,   holding the floral arrangement I had sent to her.

I think I was the only one of my generation who was interested in knowing about her life in Sweden, and I got her to teach me some Swedish.  She must have passed on the "travel bug" to me, as well.  I studied French and Spanish in school, and if they had offered Swedish, I would have taken that, too.

When I moved to Switzerland with my family in the 1980's, one of the first trips we made was to visit my Gram's birthplace.  We stayed with her nephews' families since all of her brothers and sisters were now deceased.  My Gram had outlived them all, she was still living in southern California at the ripe age of 94.  I looked so much like my her that the nephews accepted me and my children with open arms.  Later that year, some of these relatives stayed with me for a short while in Geneva. I was happy that I could return the hospitality.

Graveyard surrounding church where my great grandfather was the organist

the family plot

inside the church with my mother's cousin

in front of my Gramma's childhood home with kids and cousin

other side of home with my kids

going for a swim with my kids and cousin, Per

local fishing harbor where we got our just caught fresh fish for dinner

with my daughters getting ready to go swimming soon

on the sleeper car going to Stockholm

picking veggies from Hannah's garden for dinner, she grew everything

my cousin holding her child with my daughter

picking fresh strawberries "yordgubbers" for dessert  (means,  old man of the earth)

I think we have enough for today!

my Gram's church

the list of pastors

the alter inside the church,  this church (kyrka) is lovely and well taken care dates back to the 12th century.

More information on the church and the area.

Another link:

While staying with Hannah and Lennert, she made us wonderful meals.  One afternoon at tea time, we enjoyed a very tasty jelly roll sponge cake filled with whipped cream and the strawberries we had gathered from her garden.

I'm looking forward to fresh strawberries from my local source, it won't be too long......


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