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.  


  1. Did it still feel like home when you finally went back thirty years later? I do hope so.

  2. I'm amused by the playful tone of this segment. Plus, now I know how to say "the devil's fry" in Dutch (or German...?) What language is it, Jono? This was a fun post regardless of fried devil.

  3. I wonder how it feels to go through life being called Snotty Ole? He seems to have been a resourceful fellow.

  4. Ole Magnus Zahlquist is a fantastic name.

    It seems like there's no way NOT to have great stories connected to your name when you start off like that.

    (Of course, as a boring old Texan, I have to say that Bjørn Paasche seems pretty exciting and exotic to me, too, even though it's probably not.)

    1. Needs a nickname like Ole the Hammer and you've got the mental image of a Viking in an iron helmet and bearskin cloak, wielding a battleaxe.

  5. oh my ..what a memory that triggered...first grade in Enid, Oklahoma..wish I could remember her name..but we called her snot nose..for the same reason..she always had a snotty nose..lord we were mean too her..where ever she is..I am so sorry we were so ugly to you snot nose.

  6. Love this story about your dad. Did the memories come flooding back when you were there again recently?

  7. I can sympathize with Ole; my sinuses hate me. Don't know what I'd do without my boxes of tissues all over the place. On another note, we have a cat who loves to run his very wet nose up your arm as you pat him. He would do this name proud.

  8. I should be called Ole Snot. I have terrible allergies. When I need to do something important, I must stop about every thirty seconds to blow my nose. Very annoying, but I enjoyed your writing.


  9. I knew a few Snotty Oles when I was a kid. They just had a different name.

    Live candles on the Christmas tree - now you brought back some memories! That was the custom in Germany, too. People look at me weird when I tell them about it.

  10. Your dad was quite the writer, Jono. I love his "voice." Just tells it like it is but paints vivid picture without trying.

  11. EC, Yes it did. I have been paying much more attention to my roots since then.

    Robyn, That would be Norwegian in a style spoken before in that era. Kind of like "Oy vey" or "wtf" or "Uffda" now.

    Debra SWS, It would be tough with a moniker like that. Or Stinky or Toad, or others that usually, but not always, fade from puberty into adultery.

    Katy, I sometimes watch Professional Bull Riding and those guys have some interesting names like Chase Outlaw, Ryan Dirteater, Gage Gay, Stormy Wing, for example.

    JACKIESUE, I think it's pretty common to have snotty friends in childhood. There was this one guy, an extremely talented musician, when we were young that was known for always picking his nose.

    Donna, Yes, they always come back. I always go by the public bandstand in Bergen knowing Otto used to play music there with his bandmates.

    jenny_o, Only when I have a cold or when it is below freezing (6 months of the year) do I have that problem. I have a cat that gives me Eskimo kisses which is tolerable unless she's been licking her butt.

    Janie J, You have my sympathy. I feel fortunate to not have any known allergies. Especially happy I don't have food allergies.

    PP, Candles on a tree are quite beautiful, but I've seen green spruce trees go up like a matchstick in a fire.

    Agi Tater, He was also a great correspondent, always writing letters. He wrote to me at least weekly until the last five or so years of his life when he slowed down. I saved a few, but it would have been volumes if I had tried to save them all.

    Bill the Butcher, The helmet, battleaxe, bearskin, and a runny nose. I actually have a steel helmet with a chain mail hood.

  12. I really enjoyed this story about your father. Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. the old oral stories are the best. they don't have to have a beginning, middle, ending; they just go on like life and are then mostly lost.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  14. This one gave me some chuckles! Seems like there's a Snotty Ole in every crowd.

  15. I love these stories. Happy or sad, they capture the everyday "stuff" of life.

  16. Great story. Thanks. Are you going to publish all your dad's stories someday?

  17. Just call me Snotty Ole today..... I'm carrying a box of kleenex with me where ever I go and sneezing uncontrollably!
    That's a great story,,, i love hearing your dad's remenicences. I have some stories from my own dad, I'll have to write them down before I forget them.

  18. Linda,You are welcome.

    Ol' Buzzard, Ain't it the truth.

    Diane, Those of us in the Northern climes know snot season is coming soon!

    barbfroman, It is fun and interesting to me to read of past times and other places whether they are my family or someone else's. Your travelogue across England was one of those.

    The Blog Fodder, The response I have gotten has made me think it may not be the worst idea I've ever come across.

    Shammickite, I'm not getting any younger so write them down soon!

  19. How can you not love a story about anyone named "Ole Snot?"

  20. The tales were great, but I just love the names. I'm not sure which is better, Ole Snot or Ole Magnus Zahlquist. Also, I feel like if my name was translated directly into Norwegian it would be Bjørn Paasche.