From my dad’s journals: a story of his life as a teenager in Denmark during the dirty thirties.
In the summer we played soccer in the evenings in a nearby park.
Come fall and the winds blew, we would often swim after dark, swimming out aways and surfing back on the waves. Because of the gulf stream reaching the Kattegat Sea the waters would still be warm.Us boys quit school just before we turned fourteen whereas our sister Erna continued in ‘gymnasium’ as we then called high school.
Mother was now out of hospital and home with baby sister Kirstin.
Money problems with the creamery had our dad changing tactics and selling the milk wagon horses, four of them, that we boys had fed and groomed. He bought a van for delivery, also doing away with four wagons.
I’m not sure that this was an improvement as horses can be trained to stop and go on their own, while the milkman runs into the stores or homes with the milk, and now my dad had to both drive and deliver all by himself.
With dad busy with deliveries us boys started looking after the creamery and it did not always go smoothly.
Once we had an extra hand, an 18-year-old, who picked a fight with the blacksmith who came to repair a separator, and buckets and bottles flew through the air.
The blacksmith drove us out and then went back to work fixing the separator. We came back in and swept up the broken glass. The blacksmith behaved as though nothing had happened and I had the impression that he really enjoyed the fight.
We had other fights. Once a group of boys from the apartments hassled us and finally Knud went for the fire hose and soaked them down good, and only their moms complained about the treatment.
The business kept going downhill as many customers went broke and could not pay their bills. Even the owner of the apartment complex housing the creamery went broke as did the local baker, the butcher and furniture factory. My dad’s creamery soon followed suit and was sold.
My brother and I were farmed out to our family on Fyn and Siø, and my sister Erna went to work for some nobility folks.
My parents moved to Troense on Tåsinge and rented an apartment there so that us kids could easily bike home on the weekends to visit them. Dad took to the road as a salesman for equipment and other products for use in creameries, cheese and butter making.
After paying off his debts he borrowed some money to buy a small acreage on which he planted fruit trees and next he went to work in a cheese factory in Svendborg. He biked to work every day regardless of the weather with the goal in mind that he would work there only until the fruit trees began producing.
Disaster hit as mother went back to the hospital with a much more serious kidney problem than before, and this time she was in there for eight months before she died.
My dad hired a woman who had worked for them before, acting as the nanny for my little sister when my mother had first gone into the hospital with the same problem back in Aarhus.
Now I will go to Siø and tell of the family there, my uncle, aunt and cousins and the work I did there.
Editor/Daughter’s Note: I have added this map of the places in Denmark that my dad talked about in his stories from the 30s.
More of My Dad’s Paintings.