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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Research in Stockholm

While I was at work last Tuesday I printed a few copies of the first version of the book about Olga. I brought them with me on the trip to Stockholm, so that the relatives could read it and make corrections to it. There will be a second version later when I have added all the comments, both from the proof-reader and the relatives.

Wednesday morning I got out of bed early and took a train to Lund. Not the one I had planned on, unfortunately. I didn't think I would need 45 minutes to make a ten minute train ride, but things never cease to amaze me. Several trains in a row were cancelled and there was not a chance to get a taxi. When I finally arrived in Lund on an overcrowded train the limit had passed to the connecting train. I was very lucky, however, and made it onboard the long distance train with about 20 second's margin. It was delayed too. Not a good start, but everything went well after that. I was on my way to Stockholm, but made a detour to Jönköping about half way up. Jönköping is situated by the southern shore of Lake Vättern, our second largest lake. It's a very windy place. This was the town where my great grandfather Arndt and his family lived in the 1930s. My grandmother graduated from school here. I started out at the Matchstick Museum, right by the train station. A unique place, related to my family history. Arndt worked for Swedish Match as a sales director from 1920 until 1955. The head office was moved from Stockholm to Jönköping in 1933 and Arndt had to move there too. The museum depicted the factory work mostly, but also matchbox making, aspen splinting and the big boss Ivar Kreuger. Mr Kreuger tried to build a matchstick empire, but the Wall Street crash of 1929 made him bancrupt and he ended up dead, presumably by his own hand, in 1932. The company lived on thanks to government loans. The history of Swedish Match will be included in the book about Arndt. I took photos of the factory buildings, the former head office and the school. After a nice Italian style lunch I continued on by train to Stockholm. I settled in with my mother's cousin, like every time I visit the nation's capital.

Thursday morning I walked to a church to visit Arndt's gravesite. It's in a very unusual place; a columbarium underneath the church. Not difficult to find, but the staff had forgotten to unlock the door. After a while I got help and located the space. It was a plaque with Arndt's and his wife's names on and behind it were the urns. Sadly, about this time my camera decided to quit functioning, but I got the most important photos taken. After lunch I took the subway three stations to visit Arndt's nephew. He had found letters Arndt had written to his brother. We talked about family the entire afternoon. They know so much more about Arndt and his siblings than I do. I was also given the letters and I'm very grateful for this.

Friday I took the subway four stations and then a bus for about 20 minutes. I visited the Stockholm branch of the National Archives for the very first time. I studied original documents written by Arndt in his capacity as a director of an import organization during World War II. This organization tried to import chemicals to Sweden's industries, which was increasingly difficult under those circumstances. Very interesting documents.

Saturday I went to the Royal Library. I had applied for a library card on-line and ordered books ahead of time. There were some Swedish-American books we don't have at my library and I wanted to look at them. I also went to the newspaper room. They have digitized some newspapers and I searched for articles about Swedish Match. Found some interesting ones.

Sunday I took the westbound regional train about 40 minutes to visit my aunt. She had agreed to be interviewed about her grandfather Arndt. She gave me lots of information and also some poems and stories he had written. I was treated for a salmon lunch and then we went to see my grandfather. The 100-year old is now in a care facility and not that happy about the situation. He was glad to see me, however. We talked some about his life story also and I wrote it down. It turns out that he and the woman he didn't know at that time, but would later become his wife, were both abroad the day World War II broke out, and both had problems getting back to Sweden.

Monday morning I did more research at the Royal Library. I disturbed my fellow librarians by asking stupid questions. Of course, I never told them what my job is. At noon I took the long distance train back home, without detours this time.

At home, I re-packed my bag, and the next morning I went on a train to a place in Halland province, Falkenberg. It's a seaside town with lots of tourists in the summer. In the winter you can get discounts on the spa treatments there. My mother had found a good deal and booked an overnight stay with two treatments included. The only complaint I have about the whole thing is my mother's snoring. She said the same about me. It was a very nice visit. The food was marvelous, we had a three course meal with grilled trout in the evening. The spa was great with three different saunas, facial treatments and a warm indoor pool with a view of the ocean. This afternoon we got massage, which again pointed out where my back problems are located. We managed to get back to the train station just in time, my mother went north and I went south to get home. Needless to say, I'm pretty tired now.

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