Monday, October 26, 2015

Snotty Ole (Snaattole'n)

His name was Ole Magnus Zahlquist. He was number six of ten children. They lived on the first floor in number twenty. He was our leader and took the name of Tom Mix when we played cowboys and Indians. The name Snaatt Ole he got from the fact that he always had a running nose, it stayed with him all his life. Spent one extra year in grade school so we became classmates from about the third grade. Seems he always beat me at sports, perhaps he was more aggressive. His father was mostly out of work, but when he had a job, he would come staggering down the street with a bouquet of flowers in his hand, "Come here Ole, you don't belong with that gang." Ole comes back out, "Han var drita full (He was shitty drunk)".

One year we were all invited to Bjørn Paasche's birthday party. He lived in the fourth floor in number 20. Bjørn told us we were going to get creme, apparently very special. We were all sitting around the table and the creme was served. Ole took one spoonful and said, "Fanden steikke saa daarlig det var (The devil fry, what a horrible taste)." Afterwards we would walk around the Christmas tree singing carols. It was the eighth of January and the tree was pretty dry and decorated with live candles. It caught of fire, scared the living daylights out of me. I ran home and never went back to the party.

It was customary in those days (ca.1933) for the seventh grade to go on a class trip/ Since our teacher had married a lady from Stavanger we thought we should go there. We left Bergen at Wednesday at noon time, returning Friday morning. The whole trip cost ten kroner (modern day about $1.25). That included transportation, two man cabins on the return trip and all meals. In the evening of the day we got there we walked around the neighborhood. Went into a bakery to buy some cookies, etc. Ole stuffed his pockets, saying "You are making money now," to the proprietor.

He played football (soccer) and was quite good at it. We soon thereafter moved to Laksevaag and I lost track of him.

The next time I saw him was at the marketplace in Bergen in 1966. We had just returned from a boat trip on the White Lady with Audun's kids He was selling paintings. We both remembered each other. Audun's kids were surprised, "Er det Snaat Ole'n? (Is that Ole Snot?)"

Otto, 2002

Note: Otto told me many short quirky stories about Ole Snot over the years my brother and I were growing up. I expect some of our trials and tribulations reminded him of his own childhood. My brother, stepmother, and I were with him in Bergen in 1966, staying with my uncle Audun and his family in Laksevaag. At that time Otto hadn't seen Ole for about 30 years, but I don't remember the incident. The rest of us were probably just catching up on some rest. We spent six weeks in Norway that summer and I turned fifteen while we were there. It felt like home to me, but it would be nearly thirty years before I could go back.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Approaching Disaster

As our culture, such as it is, continues to deteriorate into hate-filled, headline grabbing, rants by people who mostly make shit up I bring you some truly awful news. No, this isn't about a call for more guns by ammosexuals across the country. It's about coffee. Yes, the stuff without which this country would not be able to get started in the morning. The same stuff that enables meetings, negotiations, and breakfast to continue on to their logical conclusions. The problem is a continuation of the ongoing issue of SHRINKAGE!

Remember the five pound can of coffee? Some of you may not be old enough to do that, so I ask you to remember the three pound can. In an effort to slowly deprive us of our "morning heroin" the manufacturers have done it once again. They used to just put a little less in the same can and hope you wouldn't notice the weight change and for the most part this has been successful. They don't realize that some of us have very keen observational abilities. Having been raised by wolves, as my stepmother claimed, I can smell a rat a mile away and my skepticism has kept me safe from harm. Except when it hasn't. See if you notice something different in this picture:

The one on the right was the last can I bought before last week when I bought the one on the left. See the difference? Those of you with a sharp eye may have noticed the can on the left is a bit shorter. The price, however, DID NOT CHANGE! That is effectively a 13% increase in price! Did I get a 13% raise at work to make up for this? Of course not! At some point coffee will be so expensive I will not be able to have any before work and, along with the entire U.S. workforce,  be unable to go to work sending this economy into a tailspin!

I have sent letters to Congress warning of the impending economic collapse, but I am not sure many of the Honorable Members can read as I haven't heard back yet. I sent them detailed photos with a well thought out assessment of the situation so they have had fair warning.

A 3.6 ounce (102 grams) decrease in weight means 30 less cups of final product. Although, I really don't believe for a minute that they can get much more than lightly colored water at that grounds/water ratio.

How long can this go on? I can already hear the early morning screams of my neighbors who are being slowly deprived of their morning java. Unless those are screams of passion, as it may be hard for me to tell the difference, I'm sure at least some of those screams are due to being deprived of caffeine.

Please don't get all judgmental (or any other kind of mental) about my morning choice. I am not wealthy enough to afford the likes of Starbuck's or any custom roasted beans to make my own morning brew. I have to economize and now with huge jumps in cost I may be forced into doing what the dirt poor Icelanders did in the old days by making dilutions with chicory, random grains, carrots, or potato peels. Acorns could be used also, but until the climate changes a little more oak trees don't do well this far north. I am not wealthy enough to horde things for the End Times, but for those of you who are I say this. Forget it! There is nothing you can do against millions of desperate people who want to get YOUR STUFF, so don't bait them with expensive rarities such as coffee and cat food (I'll warn you about cat food shortages at another time).

Heed my warning! I have spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff and researching all the relevant articles google has to offer so I know what I am talking about! Also, I am old so it doesn't matter much to me as I've lived a full life, but you younger folks need to be aware of this horrendous situation and do what ever you have to to ensure the survival of the species. It is up to you!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

The War Years continued

 Otto, Klara, and Audun c.1928

Soon after the invasion, the Germans took over the area north of our shipyard. It was called "Nordavaagen" and they razed all the houses there. Started to build a submarine base with a lot of Norwegian forced labor joined later by Russian prisoners of war. The Russian camp was right in front of our yard, the fence being about 20 feet away. We figured about a thousand of them. They were a miserable looking bunch. The Germans had a camp next door.

On a clear October day (the 4th) in 1944 about 150 allied bombers came over. They hit almost everything around, including the base, but didn't hurt the bunker at all. That was solid concrete and thick.

Our small community lost about 200 people that day. Worst of all they hit the school and wiped out two classes of boys and their teachers, one who was also our neighbor. We lost our home. Salvaged a few pieces of clothing and small things, but all furniture was lost.

Bestefar went to live with his sister, tante (aunt) Oline, Audun to Karla's family, Kaare to tante Ovidia and I to Karl and Anna Hertzwig.

After a few weeks, bestefar was able to get us an apartment in Store Parkvei (I believe #6), which we shared with my cousin Aslaug, Birger, and their son Helge. It was on the fifth floor and we had the most beautiful view especially to the southern part of town. We lived there until the fall of 1946 when we moved back to Laksevaag.

The War is Over

We were living at Store Parkvei. Kaare was confirmed at Laksevaag kirke (church).  We had a good party for him. We had gotten a tuxedo for him somewhere. He looked just great.

During the Spring we knew that the war would soon be over. Audun was involved and so was I in the underground. He worked with Birger Aarli (Aslaug's husband) and I mostly with Karl Hertzwig.

On May 6th Kalle Hertzwig's neighbor came to recruit us for the "liberation". He talked to Bestefar, not to us. Bestefar told him no. The war was over and there was not much sense running around with a gun over your shoulder. So we didn't become big heroes, but were not killed accidentally by the so called underground, most of whom hadn't done a thing. They had more accidents after the war than from fighting the Germans. A good friend of ours was killed by one of them. We were sitting in a room at school where they lived. One guy was pointing a rifle at him. "Put that away," He told him. "it is not loaded," he told him, "I'll show you". He pulled the trigger and blew his brains out.  

Bestefar, Audun, Otto, Kaare after the war