The Rostock Family
Childhood Memories of Algutsboda and Vissefjärda
By Ingrid Lindåberg (Anna-Lisa-branch). Translated into English by Håkan Larsson (Johannes-branch).
" ….It was August 13, 1904. My grandmother, Anna-Lisa in Rostock who lived as a widow in one side of the old house on the Rostock farm, came to her son Carl who now was the owner and farmer and yelled: " Carl ! Harness the mare and fetch the midwife ! Hilda needs help ! ". Hilda was my mother who in the last fall had celebrated her wedding in Rostock. She had now come home to my grandmother for a few days to get her help to handle a large heap of clothes to be washed before I was expected to be born. But she didn't have the time to go back to her home in Kalmar and so it came that I was born in the house on the Rostock farm.
In all my papers it is written that I was born in the parish of Algutsboda, although I didn't grow up there. However my mother and I stayed there until September 4 when I was christened by parson Wahlberg who often used to visit the Rostock farm. My father's mother and father, Lovisa and Joel Nicklasson in Lindås became my god-mother and god-father. After the christening I went by train for the first time together with my mother and father to our home in Kalmar where we lived in a house that was owned by the railway company and was situated near the central station.
I suppose I drank in my love for Rostock and other old farms together with my mother's milk and the air. Certainly this is the reason why I fell in love with the Lindberg-farm which later on came to be my home in Algutsrum on the island of Öland where I came to work as a school-teacher.
In may 1908 my sister Calla was born. She was born in our house in Kalmar. One of my first childhood-memories I can associate with that day. I was sitting in the kitchen together with aunt Ida Holm who was a good friend to my mother and father - when I heard small "peeps" from the bedroom. Then the door was opened and I was allowed to go in. In a corner of the sofa - the one I now have in my living-room - there was lying a little bundle "peeping" - that was my sister! I can even remember the cloth on the sofa, it was striped in red and white.
In August 1908 my mother and father, Calla and myself moved to Tvärskog, a village where my father had become a station-master at the recently built Karlslunda railway line. Thus Tvärskog became the real childhhod home for Calla and myself. In the year of 1916 our family was enlarged with the boy Gösta and with him the family was complete.
Every summer when my father had his holidays, hampers and suitcases were packed and we were on our way to Lindås and Rostock! It was the big event of the year! How we looked forward to this event! When the day came we first went by train to Kalmar. There we transferred to the Emmaboda-train, which took us to Lindås. Mostly we visited my father's mother and father first - they lived only a short distance from Lindås railway-station. Grandpa met us at the train and then we walked the little distance home to grandma, who greeted us with food and coffee. Calla and I thought it was so funny when grandmother poured coffee into the cups because it should always be "Vissefjärda-measure" which meant that the cup was overfilled and the coffee were flowing over on the saucer. The old people always drank coffee from the saucer and the cup was put aside. There was always a lot of fish to be eaten. My grandfather liked to be out fishing and before we would come to visit he always went for a fishing-tour. Sometimes we had eel, pike and bream at the same time. Calla and myself - we didn't like the fish with the many bones.
During our stay with grandma and grandpa we also visited all our relatives in Lindås - we had a lot of relatives there both on my mother's and father's side. At close quarters lived aunt Emelie who was our father's aunt, such a nice old auntie. It was a feist to visit her. She was a weaver and she had always weaved fabric in her loom in the kitchen. She often weaved checked head scarfs or striped aprons. She invited us to sit on the sofa at the window in the best room in the gable. Then aunt Emelie wound up the clock with the musical box and we were allowed to listen to music that we thought was the finest that could be heard, at least we thought so! While we listened to the music we were treated to meringue. There were always meringues in a fancy can that stood in the sideboard. Aunt Emelie was so good and sweet and it was shining clean everywhere in her house. I don't think I have ever seen so beautiful clean-scoured broad floor-boards as in her big living-room.
Aunt Fina - she was also one of my grandfather's sisters - lived her last years with aunt Emelie. During her professional life she had worked as a cashier at the railway-hotel in Emmaboda with the powerful Mrs Emma Holm. When Emma Holm ceased the hotel business Aunt Fina moved together with her to Kalmar as her house-keeper and faithful old servant. Aunt Fina was also a sunny and sweet aunt. However she was sick rather often. Sometimes she lived for a couple of weeks with us in Tvärskog, but then she moved in with aunt Emelie. She died there in 1918. Aunt Lisa, who was Fina's sister's daughter in Lindås arranged a decent funeral with a big funeral-dinner in spite of the fact that it was food-rationing during World War I.
In the apartment below aunt Emelie's "little Lisa" lived. She was daughter to aunt Emelie's brother. She was married with the joiner Karl Johansson, who made my birchwood suite of furniture. Among other things he was clever at repairing and fixing old antique furniture. Aunt Lisa was often applied for ironing starched clothes. We often visited them.
A little further on lived "tall Lisa", she was tall and handsome - on that account was the name. She was also a daughter to one of my grandfather's sisters. She was married to Gottfrid Nicklasson who was sculptor at the furniture factory. With them lived aunt Hilda, who was the mother of "tall Lisa". Like her sisters she was the sunny and sweet aunt with whom one always wanted to have a chat. She lived to be 98 years old. Aunt Hilda had worked as a cook in the village for many years, that is to say that she did the cooking at the big feasts. She and aunt Lisa also had worked with laundry, ironing starched collars, shirts, dress-shirts and so on. They had a special furnace in which there was a wood-fire and there the flat-irons stood in a ring and were heated. In my home we also had such a furnace in the laundry-house for many years.
In the other direction from my grandfathers house the brewer-family lived. There beer and small beer were brewed. I was allowed to go with grandfather there to fetch small beer in a firkin which was a kind of barrel with a tap. Emelie "the brewer" was a cousin to mother so we visited there also sometimes. If you walked the road further on you arrived at my mothers brother Oskar's house. I always wanted to go there because there were cousins to play with. Inga, Britta and Eva were at the same age as we were, cousin Nils and Gun were younger than we were.
We almost always visited at August Petersson's farm. August Petersson was my grandmother's youngest brother who had a farm in Emmabo. Uncle August was always cheerful and spry and always told a lot of funny stories. Uncle August and all his sons were very good at doing wood-work and they made a lot of beautiful things of wood and also some funny toys which puzzled us and some we could play with. Hilda was responsible for the household with the help of Ida. However Ida at an old age married Ernst in Tinkelsbo and moved there. Anna was in America at the time we were young. But when she came home she married the blacksmith-master Sven Franzén in Lindås and so it came that we could visit that family too.
It happened that we also visited Lindehult. There lived grandfather's brother August - father of "little Lisa" and his son Hjalmar with family. Uncle August for many summers worked in the garden at Queen Viktoria's place called Solliden on the island "Öland". When grandfather's youngest brother, Uncle Carl in Värmland, was visiting us at our house we should be guests at all places. At that time it was parties every day.
We lived at grandfather's house all the time. In the summer we were allowed to sleep in the "Little Chamber". There were beautiful shades with pictures of castles on them. I admired them every morning when I woke up. Grandmother did all the cooking over an open fire. Grandfather could not induce her to let him put an iron range in. All bread and all cookies were baked in the big oven in the kitchen. On the wall near the open fireplace in the big room there had been put up a big iron hook that grandmother often used. Because you see, she made strong candies and the mixture which was gluey had to be "stretched" on that hook. Grandmother sold candies to people all over Lindås. At Christmas time she would make lovely paper-candies. In the "Christmas-box" from grandma and grandpa there were always a lot of lovely paper-candies for our Christmas-tree.
Both grandpa and grandma loved flowers. Grandma had a lot of flower-pots in the house and grandpa was in charge of the well-kept garden outside. They gave a lot of flowers away but often people came and wanted to buy a little bunch of flowers for a birthday or a funeral. There were not so many florist shops in those days. Among other flowers grandma and grandpa had many white lilies which blossomed on the Joel-day and that day we were often in Lindås. On that day grandma took some of the white lilies indoors and put them in an old, nice pot. The flowers were very beautiful but their scent was too strong. I can never smell the scent of such lilies without remembering grandpa's lilies in Lindås.
When we had been in grandpa's house for a few days my mother's mother came one day and fetched us. She came and looked so radiantly happy in a hand-woven cotton blouse, cotton apron and a newly ironed headscarf on her head. "I have the punt at the fiord" she used to say. Then off we went with all our belongings past Thelanders and down to the Rostock lake where the punt was waiting. With grandma at the oars, sometimes replaced for a while by my mother, we were rowed across the lake to Rostock's "area of punts" where all the punts in Rostock were placed in a file between the stones. It was SUMMER when one was rowed over the lake home to grandma!! Sometimes it could be a hazardous venture. But grandma knew fairly well where she had all the sunken rocks, but sometimes she could miss and then we got stuck on a rock. " Oh, was he there, the old rascal ! " grandma would say. But with help of the oar she used to be able to get us off the rock fairly quickly and then the boat was floating again and we reached land almost in due time. The rock that grandma called "the old rascal" was mostly "the rock of "Klånga-Lena". Klånga-Lena was the widow of soldier Klang and lived on the tenement soldier's small-holding in Rostock. Klånga-Lena had got stuck on that rock for a whole night before she could be able to get off.
In the farm at the lakeside aunt Ida and her daughter Signe lived. Often they came out of their house to say hello to us before we trotted off home to grandma's place. You see, "our farm" was situated a little way further on. How nice it was to come home to grandma and to our uncles and our cousins Elsa, Siri and Ivar. It is true that my family also lived in the country in Tvärskog but it was not the same thing. In Rostock was the real country with meadows, lake, barn and livestock. Grandma, as a widow and former owner of the farm lived on her own (as was the custom in Sweden) and had her own cow and some sheep. Uncle Carl had many cows, sheep, pigs, hens and a horse who was called "Pärla" (Pearl). Those times when we went directly to Rostock without stopping in Lindås, uncle Carl used to meet us at the railway station with Pärla and the carriage and drive us to Rostock. I can't say that we drove the 5 kilometers especially fast. There were eleven gates to be opened and closed because the livestock were grazing in the enclosed pasture-land. Past Thelander's farm, Skutkarla-Fia's cottage and the hamlet of Locketorp we rattled on a curved and stony road and little by little we came closer to Rostock, where we were met by our cousins who were as happy to meet us as we were to meet them.
"The fishing-rods with lines are ready and so are the hooks and floats. We only have to dig for worms", said cousin Ivar. You see, the angling at the lake had to start as soon as possible. But first we were invited to something to eat at grandmother's place. In her living-room the table was laid and we were invited to food and something to drink. There were always newly baked rye-figure-of-eight biscuits and newly churned butter and how nice it tasted! Sometimes grandmother had cooked sweet-cheese for dessert, she knew that we loved that.
When we had finished our meal and put our fine clothes away, we put on our every-day dresses and shoes. Then with a fishing-rod in hand we all ran down to the lake. Ivar had filled up the worm-can so we had enough bait for the fishes. When we had reached the lake each one of us very carefully selected a suitable stone to stand on. In the beginning Ivar helped us to put a worm on the hook. Then we stood on our stones and waited in excitement for the bites. Usually we didn't have to wait long before the float began to bob up and down. Oh boy, how proud you were when you managed to land a flaping roach or bass. Sometimes the poor fish came loose but we always got enough fish to be able to offer the cat a square meal. Of course, for us girls it was sometimes a little difficult to keep silent and then we heard from Ivar: " Keep silent !!! I just had a bite but now the bass came loose.!!". Once Ivar was so excited that he fell off the stone and into the water. Of course he did not dare to come home with soggy clothes so he had to put them on a hot stone in the sunshine and we continued to angle until his clothes were fairly dry.
Sometimes we walked through the enclosed pasture-land and picked wild strawberries between the stones. There were a lot of wild strawberries in Rostock. Once when we were picking wild strawberries there came a lot of curious calves leaping up to us. A bull calf came dashing towards us and you can imagine how we ran!! All the wild strawberries we dropped on to the ground, but we reached the fence which we swiftly leaped over - and saved we were! But the "bull" stood in a mound of stones and just looked at us. He could not have leaped any further.
Once we met with horses in much a similar way. Together with my ma we cousins would walk to Ryggamo - a neighbouring hamlet- and visit our relatives there, among others my mother's aunt Stina and uncle Gustav. We walked along the road through the enclosed pasture-land and we children ran ahead of ma and we leaped like calves. All of a sudden there came a multitude of colts in a row galloping. I suppose they had heard us children making a noise and were curious about us. But, alack-a-day ! The horses came between us and ma - and we all began yelling ! We yelled so piercing that it was heard all the way to the farm in Rostock. Ma tried to calm us down and then she took us one by one and heaved us over a fence nearby. On the other side of the fence in a little patch of cultivated ground we felt safe. When the horses had disappeared so far away that we were not afraid any more, we went back to Rostock. To Ryggamo we did not dare to walk on that day.
Almost every summer we rowed over the lake to the holme - "Rostock's Holme" where once there had been a stronghold. You could see the banks after the walls that had once walled in the stronghold. Many treasures had been found there, among other things a chest that presently is kept in Algutsboda church. The legend tells us that a bridge of copper was built across the lake - presumably towards the "Goat-lake" - but the bridge had sunk down into the depth. Many people have searched for it, but nobody has found it. On the holme wild strawberries were growing which we used to pick. There were also plenty of wild strawberries up on the heights in the enclosed pasture-lands round about the farm. In the small patches, where the forest once had been burnt down to give cultivated land but which now had become grassed, were growing lovely berries, mostly wild strawberries and wild raspberries. In the evenings we called for the cows to come home from the enclosed pastureland to be milked at the farm. Sometimes the cows were far away and we had to hunt for them. Then we were not afraid.
Home on the farm we often played in the hay and the straw in the barn. It was fun to jump in the hay. When we got tired we sat down and listened to the "sermon". Ivar was always the clergyman. He stood up on the chaff cutter and in a peremptory tone he preached. He always started in the same way: "Now I will preach to you so that your tears will trickle big as sheep pills". You see, in the old days the clergymen used to preach a lot on the sins of all people and what kind of punishment that was to come, so that many - especially the women - were moved to tears, and the big church-handkerchiefs came into use very often. That is the reason why we girls sat on the barn-rail, each one of us with her handkerchief in front of her eyes, when Ivar preached. Sometimes we played vaccination. Then we took fruits from anemones and buttercups and pressed in impressions into the skin on our arms.
Cousin Elsa couldn't play so much together with us. She was feeble and sick. She had got "tubercles" in the glands on her throat. For that reason we remember her with small pieces of plaster on her throat and a neck-wrap around her neck. Mostly she was inside with grandma in order not to be together too much with her sister and brother. Of course she was together with us when we were inside at grandma's place. She died inside when she was together with grandma - she was only 15 years of age then. Her funeral is one of my strongest memories from my childhood. It was in September, 1914.
Mostly at Christmas grandma used to visit us in Tvärskog and stay on for some time during winter-time. Her cow gave no milk then. When she came to us she almost always brought a dish with sweet-cheese. One Christmas during the depression after World War I she brought both sweet-cheese, butter, cakes and a lot of other sweets. The train was much delayed but although she was hungry she did not dare to have one little mouthful because then her fellow-travellers might have taken it all. They were so hungry that they said: "If we at least had got the head of a herring to look at". But we were so happy when she at last arrived. Some of the best things was to be allowed to feast on the sweet-cheese.
When I attended the fifth grade in school we were told one day to write an essay on our grandparents "and you may very well write in the form of poems" our teacher Sjöström said. I made an attempt and wrote "A winter day with my grandmother". For several years I had my exercise-book in the attic in my home, but I suppose it was burnt among so many others things when we moved out from Tvärskog. I would have liked to have that exercise book right now, although there were not any remarkable poems (but my teacher liked them). However, I remember a little of the beginning. All together there were 12 - 14 small poems. This is how one of them went:
"Early in the morning she leaves her sheet all the day's toil and moil to meet - To the cow-house she hasten for milk-luck and don't care that her clogs are by frost stuck - Then you can hear rumbling from the loom and the log-fire's sparkling from the other room".
I especially remember one winter-day in Tvärskog when grandma payed a visit to us. Ma and Pa were visiting a funeral in Halltorp. Before they left, Pa had said that a garland from the florist's shop of Schuverts in Kalmar had been delayed and would arrive by train. He had asked grandma and myself to take care of the cardboard box and walk down to the main road to meet up when the funeral attendants were to walk to the church. (You bet, there was a good service from the railway-companies in those days. The family-members often had to participate in the service so that all the goods came to the receivers as fast as possible ). It was snowy and cold on that day. Grandma and I went the road to and fro waiting for the funeral attendants. There was good snow for sleighing, but because it was a funeral the horses were not allowed to wear jingle-bells, the sleigh-ride had to ride in silence. Then grandma said to me: "You can't spell JINGLE-BELLS". "Of course, I can" I said and spelled the word jingle-bells. No my little girl that doesn't sound right in the Algutsboda-dialect, grandma said. I tried to spell the word in different ways but grandma always said it was wrong. You see she said, nobody can spell JINGLE-BELLS with the Algutsboda-dialect.
After grandma had died in 1924 we didn't visit Rostock as often as before. But on family festivals we had feasts. Siri's wedding was also celebrated home on the farm. The year was 1927 when Siri married Alexander Nilsson from Skäggalösa in Skatelöv. Then we had a great wedding in Rostock. Alexander had many brothers and sisters who had left home and tried their luck out in the world and had been successful. Now they all came home to celebrate the wedding. There were Arvid and Holger with families from Denmark, there were sisters and brothers from Switzerland and from Skatelöv, of course. And naturally we were many in our group from Rostock. As relatives we all arrived early and it was quite a confusion with talk and chatter and laughter in Danish and Swedish in all the rooms in the upper floor where we were to sleep after the feast but where we now dressed up before the wedding. Siri was dressed as a bride in the side-chamber on the ground floor with the help of aunt Emilia who recently was married herself. The bride was not to be seen before the marriage ceremony.
When the set time fell and all the guests -also those from the neighbourhood - had arrived, and everything was fixed up, we all gathered in the hall. There the parson stood, in his black gown and with a book in his hand, behind two beautiful bride-stools that stood on the floor. We were packed like sardines in the hall and in the passage. And now the bride and bridegroom came walking in procession and got into position beside the bridestools in front of the parson. After that followed the marriage ceremony which was completed with hymn-singing. After "the toast to the bride and bridegroom" and all the congratulations the great feast started and went on right up to the morning. It was an excellent wedding because it went on right up to the morning. The criterion of an excellent wedding was that the guests didnt arrive home until 4 - 5 o'clock in the morning. The feast after a wedding ceremony followed the same course as a feast after a funeral. One dish - two hours break - the next dish - break - and so on.
Cousin Nils from Lindås told us that he was thirsty and went out into the kitchen to have some water. There was standing a big barrel made of copper at the kitchen-door - and that barrel was always almost filled with water. In the kitchen the big, strong female cook was making an omelette. At the very moment when he came into the kitchen she took the frying-pan, rotated the omelette up in the air to turn it. Nils thought she meant to hit him with the frying-pan and ran head over heels out of the kitchen and stumbled over the high threshold of the hall.
During the time in between the dishes we danced. We danced in grandma's room which had been cleared out of some pieces of furniture. We danced to the music from accordions and sometimes to the music from a phonograph. I especially remember a schlager from Ernst Rolf that was a hit at that time "I am outside when my wife is inside, I am inside when my wife goes out". Alexander's cousin Ture from Växjö sang and danced to that popular song more frequently than anyone else. His wife Elsa was not present at the wedding.
We were many relatives that stayed on to the next day and then the feast started all over again. The relatives from Lindås came that day too which made it almost more fun that day than on the first day.
We have always had a great unity in our family and have associated also with not so close relatives. During many summers when we visited Rostock we went for at least one day to Johansfors. In Johansfors grandma's brother Karl lived close to the glassworks. His youngest daughter from his second marriage was about the same age as we were so we thought that Evelina was like a cousin to us instead of a cousin to Ma. It was always exciting and funny to come to Johansfors, because then you were allowed to visit the glassworks and follow the glass manufacturing. Most fun of all was to watch the glassblowers work in the smelting-house. But that house was very hot because of the melted glass in the big kilns. Every time we visited, we used to get beautiful glass-marbles with coloured streaks in them to take home and sometimes we got other beautiful glassware too. We went by horse and carriage after the horse "Pärla" the one swedish mile distance to Johansfors. At about halfway distance we passed the school of Humlebäck where Ma had attended school and where our cousins still went to school.
In Ekeberga there lived relatives who sometimes attended our family-feasts. Uncle Johan's family from Örsjö and the family from Ryggamo did the same. They all went by horse and carriage. It was often a great distance to ride. We always had a cosy time when we met. Most of our relatives were good story-tellers and they had many interesting things to tell. A good humour has always characterized a "true Rostocker" as old aunt Emma (ma's cousin in Nybro) wrote in her ballad for the first family reunion. She dedicated that ballad to "the cheerful Rostock family".
In order to give the young people in our family a little knowledge of old times I have tried to express in words a little of what I remember myself and of what the old people told us in our generation when we were young..."