Life as we know it
Pull of a Place Division
Mounds View Swede writes again: “On a second trip to Sweden, in 2011, I was looking for one last farm, called Guntjugan (goon-shoo-gun). I knew which parish it was in, but not how to find it by its name. We went to the archives in Uppsala that had the records for that parish and asked there. They quickly got on their computers, brought up the old maps and printed off a copy for me. The farm was clearly marked. I then asked how I could find that on today’s maps, and they replied that they didn’t know. But if I got closer and asked, someone would know.
“We had already planned to spend the night in Örebro, the big city in that parish, and when we got there, we saw an information kiosk. I asked for detailed road maps to find this farm, and they told me they did not have anything like that. But there was another information place closer, in the little village called Lekhytten, and they phoned there to ask. They told them to send me there, and she would get her grandmother down, who remembered a lot of the old names. When we arrived to the bed-and-breakfast place in Lekhytten where the grandmother lived, we learned the grandmother was actually the information lady, and her granddaughter was doing it during the summer when she was home from college. The grandmother did not know anything about the names I was looking for or how to find the farm, either.
“All the landowners had booklets with photos in them of all the farms in the parish and who had lived there in the past, so they brought one over, and we found Guntjugan listed. There were two farms, Farm A and Farm B. Farm B was the one I was interested in, and it was torn down in 1939. Farm A was torn down in 1945. This land was now owned by the government, and when they were training soldiers, no one could go there.
“I asked how to find it, and they told me they didn’t know. But if I drove down the road to the butcher, the butcher knew. So we headed off down a gravel road and, a few miles later, saw a business sign, so we turned in. We didn’t understand the word for butcher, but it was the right place. The butcher, a lady, was excited that we were doing this and got her genealogy out to see if we had any names in common. We did not. She then told us to drive 3.1 kilometers farther up the road, and we would come upon an old gray sign leaning over that said ‘Guntjugan’ on it. We were to park our car on the edge of the road and follow the pathway in. She told us there would be a metal post with a metal sign on if where each farm had been, saying who the last owners were and when they left. (Sweden is organized and thorough!)
“Her instructions were precise. We found the sign and parked the car and followed the pathway in.
“We found the sign for Farm A, but never found one for Farm B. At the end of the path, before it became woods, we saw a sign that said ‘GRV 1’ (‘Grave #1’). I knew from my research that both of my great-great-great-grandparents had died of typhus there in 1841, and one or both might be buried there. They left behind my great-great-grandmother as an 8-year-old orphan who was crippled and unable to walk. Someone — church or relative — had to see to her care. When she was 16, she had my great-grandfather, Anders, and because she was not married, the church census records wrote of the crippled Brita Stina and her illegitimate son, Anders. The churches did an annual census at that time, required by the government, so I was able to follow a family year by year to learn small things about them.
“When Anders became 16, he was old enough to work and started working on nearby farms. He later got a job as an ore handler at an iron-ore mine and smelter, running the machinery that could lift large quantities of ore into the smelter. Anders always stayed not far from where his mother lived. He eventually married, and they had a baby, which died. His mom died shortly after, at age 40, and Anders and his wife then came to Lemont, Illinois, and had two more children: my grandmother and a great-uncle on my mom’s side of the family.
“We started walked back along the path, and where there was a little clearing that looked just right for a farmhouse, I saw this large lilac bush in bloom, almost as big as a tree. All the years we lived in our suburban Chicago house, my mom grew lilacs. She really liked them, and seeing them here at her ancestors’ farm made a connection — perhaps that love went way back.
“The other thing I noticed was that there were acres of raspberry plants. I never saw one growing up in Illinois, but when we moved to Minnesota, the first thing we did was to plant raspberries — and still have them at our current house. Why did I think I needed to plant raspberries? I can see the connection to my ancestors, of course, and I marvel at how such things happen. This pull of place idea really has some power, somehow.
“My ancestors came from across southern Sweden, and I have visited all the farms now at least once — but this one, this area, is where I feel most at home. And when we drive past different small farms, I imagine which ones would be ‘right’ for my sister and brothers and my wife and me. We aren’t going to move there, but if feels good to imagine the possibilities. And as others have mentioned, coming to Sweden feels like I am coming home.”
And now Miss Kitty of the Midway: “Subject: Homing instinct.
“When I read about Buttercup’s statement of going home — ‘For some reason, without my even thinking about it, my body knew that I was close to the place where I had been born and raised. I was the salmon, and I-94 was the Columbia River’ — I had to send a video I had just received from a friend in California regarding the recent floods in the Vancouver area.”
Now & Then
Baseball Division (responsorial) (responsorial) — or: Everyone’s a (ballpark food) critic! (responsorial)
Snackmeisterin of Altoona, Wisconsin: “Prompted by Lucky Buck’s commentary on Peters wieners at the Met, may I add in response to BB’s earlier comment regarding Frosty Malts that ‘The Frosty Malt was unsurpassed, then or now’: All I can ‘taste’ when I think about them is the little wooden spoon that totally ruined the taste of the treat itself!”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: That wooden spoon was unsurpassed, among wooden spoons, then or now!
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin wrote, in Monday’s Bulletin Board.: “I know I’m not the only one . . . so when I think back about all the jackknives I’ve lost, I wonder why I have never found anyone else’s.”
We presently heard from Dragonslayer of Oakdale: “A possible explanation may be found in my experience.
“Back many years ago, I worked part-time jobs in several local metal scrap yards. My task was operating and repairing cranes.
“On a regular basis, fellow workers would find valuable items while perambulating the yard. I wondered: Why they were so lucky? I never found anything!
“Some time had passed, and I was remembering my grade-school teacher, Sister Alice Gertrude, and her lessons on posture. She instructed that we should keep our shoulders back, our chin up — and look straight ahead, not down.
“Aha, that’s why.”
Matinee Idle (Vol. 1, No. 65) (responsorial)
Farmer Jeff writes: “Thank you, Bulletin Board, for posting Soul Sister’s recommended ‘Long Live Benjamin’ video documentary series as your Matinee Idle today (Monday).
“I am amazed at how moved I was by the story of the love between a man and a Capuchin monkey. Certainly another example that we are ‘All God’s Creatures.’ I would imagine that all animal lovers unquestionably understand their relationship.
“And a surprise plus was the fact that when they listed what the monkey, Benjamin, liked to eat, there was no mention of zucchinis. A monkey of good taste!
“Thank you very much.”
Mrs. Patches of St. Paul: “Subject: Benjamin.
“I cried throughout this very moving piece. Shared it on Facebook, too. Thank you.”
Clowning around (responsorial)
John in Highland writes: “Subject: A ‘Balanced Blend’ for an Unbalanced Person?
“I wonder if this is the brand of cigarettes that was favored by Tim Torkildson and his band of merry men?”
A thought for today
From the immediately aforementioned Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Pearls of wisdom, before swine.
“You can tell more about a man from his garbage than from his résumé.”
Or: Life Imitates Sitcoms
Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “If you find the controversy, sordid rumors and general nastiness surrounding President Trump and his administration unsettling, consider the political bombshell Deputy Barney Fife dropped on the idyllic town of Mayberry, North Carolina.
“Owing to an unexpected turn of events [Bulletin Board notes: St. Paul angle!], Barney runs against incumbent and best friend Andy Taylor for the office of sheriff. Things are congenial at first, but Barney, who can be overly sensitive and paranoid, challenges Andy to a debate after accusing Andy and Floyd the barber of trying to sink his campaign.
“Before a packed auditorium, Barney holds up a satchel (shades of Senator Joe McCarthy?) in which he claims there are 76 cases of malfeasance in the sheriff’s office. Barney points out that Andy doesn’t wear a sidearm, that traffic and jaywalking are completely out of control, and that Mayberry doesn’t have tear gas or submachine guns. Finally (hold on to your hats), Barney asks the audience: ‘Do you know what your sheriff carries in the trunk of his squad car? A shovel and a rake! . . . Is this good government?’
“A stunned Andy quietly agrees with Barney’s allegations, but notes that extra weapons aren’t really needed in such a small town and that there hasn’t been a traffic accident in five years. Andy humbly tells the folks they’re either happy with the job he’s done, or they’re not.
“In the end, Barney comes to his senses and says he’s voting for Andy. And everything is once again honeysuckle and peaches in Mayberry. If only I could say the same for Washington, D.C.
“I will, however, go along with Barney about the need for tear gas and submachine guns — because you never know when a gang of chicken thieves (or politicians) might hit town.”
Band Name of the Day: General Nastiness
Website of the Day: