The powerful religion

alnon

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!

båten

The list

Sussie

So it was settled. After weeks of unbearable separation and innumerable telephone calls and exchange of letters a decision was taken!

I would travel to Sweden! The means of transportation it was decided, would be taking the boat from Tilbury to Gothenburg on M/S Saga! It was a new adventure as just half a year before Sweden was not on my map, all together!

Our letters should be revealing, but were they? On my mind I was trying to create a picture on my head where the people and the places could become visible! From Mona’s letters I understood that her father got up early (6 o’clock) so I should avoid ringing too late at night. Two things became also evident as they were a big worry for Mona! Drinking alcohol is very bad and only alcoholics drink and it is important not to be perceived as lazy!

Mona’s mother sent greetings and a kitten called Sussie was on every letter being Mona’s company as she wrote her letters!

Our love could not be questioned. It was strong and could not bare separations any longer! Mona worked as a telephone operator, a job she took in the summers. On her free time she went with Åsa to the Marina disco or a place called “Sommarnöje”! She complained that nothing was fun and that was also my state of mind as I wrapped up my time at Tramp’s.

I gathered some of my belongings and booked my trip with Swedish Lloyd for Wednesday the 5th of July 1972 arriving in Sweden on the 7th. From Gothenburg I would take a train to Stockholm where Mona would pick me up by car!

I got a shopping list containing the following items.

1/1 bottle of Whisky “Long John” for uncle Folke! (The reader will now wonder, as I did!)

Nailpolish (Mary Quandt) dark red

Wine gums and one Kit-kat!

That’s’ all folks…next stop Sweden!