O Eusébio


Quando estávamos a viver na Rua A às Amoreiras era aquilo um beco sem saída no fundo da Rua Aviador Plácido de Abreu. Ao lado havia apenas um campo abandonado nas traseiras do quartel da Artilharia 1. Este campo onde brincava era conhecido como Campo da Aliança. Tinha-se lá jogado à bola e ainda havia havia restos de uma bancada de cimento. Foi aí que se organizou durante um par de anos uma feira popular e foi tambem aí que uma noite correu a noticia que estariam lá uns jogadores do Benfica, entre eles o tal moço que tinha vindo de Lourenço Marques, o Eusébio. Claro que o queríamos ver. Ganharam uma coisas nas rifas ou na tombola. Penso que o que iam ganhando ofereceram aos miúdos. Foi o meu primeiro encontro com o Eusébio.

Tambem visitava o meu vizinho Vicente Lucas na Praceta do Junqueiro em Carcavelos. Vimo-nos várias vezes na década se sessenta e sempre mostrou humildade e bons modos. Cacei durante esse período o seu autógrafo que aqui fica!

Ele tinha dez anos mais que eu. Durante muito tempo era Eusébio o único portugues que se conhecia fora das fronteiras de Portugal. Embora não tenha jogado naquele jogo amigável com a Inglaterra em 69 estava lá, e encontrei-o por casualidade numa loja do centro de Londres. Quando se lhe dirigia a palavra falava como se fossemos conhecidos.

Uns anos depois, já não jogava, veio integrado na comitiva do Benfica que fez o seu estágio pré época na Suécia. O treinador era o sueco Sven- Göran Eriksson. Organizou-se um jogo treino com a equipa local do Alnö. Foi e continua a ser um dos eventos desportivos mais importantes aqui realizados. Foi um agora funcionário do municipio de Sundvall que se encarregou da organização do evento. Segundo ele deu lucro e foi de facto um feito trazer áquele campito o grande Benfica. Infelizmente não estava cá por ter sido no período de férias. Tive pena e tenha a certeza que se assim não fosse teria tido a oportunidade de falar mais com o Eusébio.

Descansa em paz Eusébio!

A new profession


My first text for September 2013 will take up some of my experiences as a newly arrived immigrant to the city of Sundsvall in central Sweden. For most people well placed in the north of the northern hemisphere. I am hoping at the same time that this month will see my 10 000 viewing on this blog.

 Arriving in Sundsvall was a chock for me. I settled in a flat that was fixed by Mona and her parents in the area of Skönsberg. Soon after that I became a father. I cut down on smoking as a consequence of the baby and the cold weather. I had no work and even though I was looking I could not really see what I would be doing. I was new page in a new book. Not only for me but apparently for the whole society that I was now trying to be a part of. If the word depression was used then, I believe I had, at least, a spell of itin that year of 1974.

 I did land a few jobs here and there. One of these jobs influenced the rest of my life so I will briefly explain how it happened that I finished up teaching kids in a regular school.

Åsa Ahlberg was Mona’s best childhood friend. They had kept up their friendship into adult age and Åsa was with Mona in London when we first met. Åsa’s father was a school master on the island of Alnö where the girls had grown up.  It was also to this school of Vibacke that they went to up to the age of 16. Ali Ahlberg, was Åsa’s father. He had to find replacement teachers for his two language teachers that had recently, themselves become parents. One was Märta Starringer and the other Bertil Olsson. Both of these teachers taught languages. More specifically they taught English and French. Because I had considerable knowledge of the languages in question though absolutely none of teaching I accepted the challenge. I took on the teenage kids that saw this 22 year old, with hardly any Swedish as an interesting novelty in their school day.

 Even though I had not dealt with teenage kids before I found that I had enough experience in my social luggage to cope with this new situation and did step in for what eventually became my profession.

The Christening


When I arrived in Sundsvall in 1973 it is safe to say that I didn’t know anyone. It is also true that nobody knew me! I felt when walking down the main street Storgatan that people looked at me and wondered who this new stranger was.

Mona’s relatives knew nothing of me. As we had got married in Stockholm one year previously it was felt that a christening would make some amends. The new family consisted very much of my mother in law’s relatives. Aime had then five older brothers still alive. They all had names ending in the letter E. The one that hadn’t was Allan and he was dead. Another peculiarity was that they all had only one child, except for Allan who had two.

Obviously the choice for the christening fell on Alnö. This is the island where all the family related to. Mona’s grandparents had worked in the sawmills like so many other men of that Sundsvall’s generation. Here everybody was at home Cedervalls and Hillmans.

The church of Alnö was built very near the medieval one. From it, the christening font was moved, and this would be used for the service that was to be directed by the old priest Mr. Bertil Wågström.

There was the small matter of getting Godparents for the occasion. The choice was simple. Best friends Åsa and Quim. I asked Quim, not very hopeful that he would say yes, considering travelling distances involved. He said yes and the date was set to the 16th December and the toddler would be given the name John Olof.

This event in the church was followed by coffee and cake and if nothing else gave everyone the possibility to get a glimpse of this new import somewhere from the south with the unpronounceable name. How would it go?

The powerful religion


Those few weeks in July 1972 on the island of Alnö passed very fast. The house situated as it were on the southern part of the island was extremely quiet. A quietness only interrupted by the singing of birds and the passing of cars or mopeds on the road below.

We went on boat trips with captain and shipbuilder Olle Hillman, at the wheel. The small motor boat was called Mona. The excursions took us to several of the smaller islands that surrounded the larger volcanic but very flat island. This island lay practically in front of the city of Sundsvall. There were industries all around and crossing the bridge from Alnö you’d bump against a large sawmill with large amounts of wooden trunks waiting on their different stages to be cut and made into planks only to be shipped abroad from the nearby port.

When not cycling round the island on a tandem, we could visit what was the pride and joy of the commercial town. IKEA! This was my first ever visit to what has become a worldwide furniture and decoration giant. We obviously did the night scene and finally got a glimpse of the much proclaimed Marina disco. My memory from it was an encounter! Spanish waiter Ricardo de la Rosa, an artist married to a Swedish girl. He invited me when the sun was up to meet him at a place he was decorating. As it turned out Sundsvall’s first Pizza restaurant- “The Triestina” later renamed“The Vagabondo”.

One weekend I was driven to a cottage out in the mountains. The trip took some three hours and the cottage was built by Olle. The name of the place is Vemdalskalet and the mountain chain runs west almost separating Sweden from Norway. We saw the views, went for walks and Aime made waffles!

I soon discovered that the Hillmans were working people with their own religion. They did not drink alcohol but rather drank milk even with their meals; they cut their cheese with a special designed knife that I was expected to be able to operate. They ate their cooked potatoes with the peels on; hard pieces of bread accompanied the food. They did not smoke!

But they were loyal to the workers and cooperative movement!  In front of the house there was a small shop selling food, the Konsum where Olle did volunteer work, Olle would not fill petrol anywhere else but at the cooperative OK. We shopped for everything at the large consumer owned OBS! Everything was insured at Folksam and if Aime wanted to learn English she would go to the ABF organization for her study circles. The party they voted for was the Swedish Social Democratic Party, and everyone was a member of the trade union. This was not theory; it was practice every day of the month, every month of the year. It was a powerful religion!



CrossingLanding in Gothenburg meant stepping into a new country! Sweden! Regardless to say but worth repeating it was the follow up and direct consequence of blind and true love. It just wouldn’t hold, to be apart any longer.

After travelling on the train between the two most important cities of the country I can but recall how I just could not understand and take in that the heat I found there was so intense that transpiration was taking the best of me and that this feeling g was shared by my fellow travellers despite open windows in all compartments!

Mona was there at the Central Station eagerly waiting for our reunion! The painful wait was over and we could look forward to a few weeks sharing each other’s company! We took ourselves to the next means of transport- a VW light blue 1300 commonly known as” beetle”! Mona sat at the driver’s seat and even if I would have wanted to help drive, I couldn’t, as I did not know how!

Our long north bound journey started, taking us out of Stockholm and passing through a number of towns on the way! There were many miles in front of us and I learnt they were about 40 Swedish ones! A Swedish mile, Mona explained was quite simply 10 kms. It did not matter, we were together and the towns of Uppsala, Gävle, Söderhamn and Hudiksvall had to be driven through before arrival at the destiny of our trip- Mona’s Sundsvall and her home on the island of Alnö!

My eyes tried to take in as much as possible especially when it wasn’t endless forests that met them. The road signs showing danger of wild elks crossing the road was if anything exotic. So was also the fact that night never dawned properly on us…

We crossed the much awaited bridge taking us to Alnö. This one I had seen on postcards and looked familiar. When we arrived on the island it was late. We had to keep quiet as I was shown my quarters in the basement where I shared my sleeping hours with a bath tub and a boiler!

Next day we would meet the parent’s. First mother Aime and about half an hour past 4 o’clock the father that made his way upstairs to the kitchen where dinner awaited and firmly shook my hand with the words- OLLE!

Unique minerals


When Mona and I started to be a couple it needed to be officialized. The family approval is universal and no exception in our case! I told my grandfather Joseph Ineichen, that I had met this girl from Sweden and she was my first girlfriend to be introduced in this manner! Serious staff, in other words… He wanted to know where she was from in Sweden so I remember telling him the odds were he had never heard about it. Sundsvall, a small town somewhere along the Baltic coast…

How wrong I was! Dad had heard about it as he had many times insured cargo to and fro…Mona and Dad got on very well and jokingly he called her “Moaner” and what are you moaning about?

My curiosity was growing. What was this Sundsvall like? I recall dreaming about it. Many wooden houses perched on hillsides…

Mona in turn came from an island that had its own rocks and some were even named after the island as Alnoit was. At the London Geological museum I remember once looking curiously at theses volcanic, rather unusual minerals!

My information about this land and what to expect grew as letters poured in from Sweden in 1972. We started to talk engagement and marriage and even children. The idea was clearly that of big changes in our lives! And we were right!

On the first letter from Sweden I was told that the trip had taken ages. After the boat there was a train, and it took 12 hours to go from Gothenburg to Sundsvall.

Life in Sweden started to take shape. Mona’s father Olle Hillman worked a whole day on his boat, they went off at weekends to the mountains and visits to graveyards were common in this new culture!