Friday, August 4, 2017

Story Time Friday #3

I completely missed July so we'll pick up where I left off in June.  We lived in Revere, Massachusetts from July 1961 to August 1962.  I don't remember much about this time, being only 15 months old when we arrived and 2 1/2 when we left but I do remember my Mum telling me a story about Halloween.  The area we lived in, the suburbs of Boston, had a very large Catholic population and nearly every yard had a statue of the Virgin Mary.  On Halloween 1961, a small child knocked on our door to trick or treat wearing a sheet over their head in an attempt to be a homemade Casper the Ghost.  I turned to my Mum and said, "Look, it's the Virgin Mary!".

I am very fortunate to have had a father who kept, with his important documents, every passport that had been issued to members of our family.  I was able to go back and recreate our comings and goings over the years.  Dad always kept his documents in a tin box, a tin version of the plastic storage totes that are available today for document storage.  I have no idea what happened to the tin box but I remember the sound of it as he opened it to file away bills or bank statements.  Funny the sounds you remember.  I also have to thank my dear friend Janet's son, Ian, who interviewed my Dad on the subject of his career in the Army for a school project in 1992; it is from his report that I can fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge of Dad's work and assignments.

We arrived at our next duty station, AFNORTH (Allied Forces Northern Europe), Kolsas*, near Olso, Norway.  In the case of war with the (then) Soviet Union, AFNORTH would assume supreme command of all Allied Forces in northern Europe (Norway/Denmark/parts of Germany) and adjacent sea territory.  During the time Dad was stationed here, he participated in exercises above the Arctic Circle which explains why many of the trips documented in our passport (Mum and I were on a joint passport) were not listed in Dad's passport.  She must have headed to England with me to pass the time while Dad was away.

Exercise Northern Trail - June 1963
Group picture of Visitors' Bureau personnel and staff of the Allied Press Information Centre

I'm not exactly sure what was involved in Exercise Northern Trail - I found two references to it on a Google search, in the UK National Archives and in this book which translates to Bundeswehr Special Case?: Armed forces in national perspectives and in international comparison.  I can't find a translation for Bundeswehr.  I also don't know what my Dad's assignment was at AFNORTH, I'll have to dig a little further to figure that out.

Anyway, we arrived at Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, on 16 August 1962 and then promptly left for England.  According to the passports, the three of us left on 20 August via ship, arriving in Newcastle, England on 22 August but the joint passport Mum and I held doesn't have a departure stamp from England until 6 October, arriving back in Norway on 8 October.  I assume that Dad left us in England, perhaps until our household goods arrived from the States and he found us a house.

Fred Olsen ship, SS Blenheim, Dad and me and a friend playing shuffleboard while getting ready to sail from Oslo to Newcastle

Taken onboard SS Blenheim

Mum and I went back and forth five or six times during 1963-1965, all trips without Dad.  There is a five-day trip in 1965 that was just Dad and me - not sure why, it was about three months before we left Norway so perhaps Mum was at home preparing for yet another trans-Atlantic move.

During the time we were in Norway, we lived in an old farmhouse in Sorkedalen*, a valley located in the northwestern part of the Oslo municipality.  I remember it as an isolated area, you turned off the main road onto a long drive, our house was on the left and on the right was a British Air Force family (Jeff, Jenny, and their little girl about my age, Fiona).  If you continued on in front of our house, there were a few other houses and that seemed to be it.  In front of our house was a huge yard with the forest in the distance, and there was a river somewhere behind us because I remember my cousin coming for a visit in the winter one year and there was ice skating there.

Jenny, Fiona, Jeff, me, and Mum in front (or maybe it was the side) of our house

Fiona and me with someone (neighbor, perhaps?) with the main road behind us (and the forest in the distance) - if we continued walking, our houses would be on the left and right of the road where we are standing

My most vivid memory of our time in Norway is of the night/morning Dad woke me up to see a moose in the field - it's the land of the midnight sun so I'm not exactly sure if it was night or morning but it was light and the moose was clearly visible with his enormous antlers.  I'll never forget it.

It's been interesting digging through the old photos and trying to figure out the dates.  I hope that if you are reading this and you take photos of your family and their adventures, that you clearly mark them in some way (photo-safe pen on the back of print photos or details on the digital files) so that your children and grandchildren won't have to guess the who, what, where, when, and why of each photo.  OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.

This photo has no information on the back but I'm in the cabin of a ship so it was taken on one of our trips between Norway and England - I'm wearing the same dressing gown as the photo below so I'm going to guess that it was taken in January or June of 1964 - the one below was taken in October 1964 and I think I looked a little older than this shot

One of the few photos with a detailed description mostly in German but with the help of Google, I've included the translation in parentheses:
Schone* Madchen (Beautiful girl)
Pamela Gail
Prestwich, Manchester, England
Gut Jule 1964 (Merry Christmas 1964)
Zum Oma Mitt Viel Lieb (Ach! Mein Deutsch!) (To my grandma with lots of love - Oh, my German!)
Schlaffen Kleider (Sleeping clothes aka Pajamas)
Oktober 1964

Interesting to see that my parents (my Dad at least) still in contact with my biological grandmother.  I'm sure my Mum knew about the contact but I doubt she ever really participated in any letter or photo sending.  She would get very emotional whenever the subject of my birth and adoption came up.  I don't know if she was just consumed with overwhelming gratitude to my biological mother for giving me to her (them) or whether it was just one of those things that British women of that generation just didn't talk about - like politics, religion, or sex!

I'll see if I can fill in some of the gaps as Story Time goes along but that's about it for Norway.  Next stop, San Francisco, California.

* Forgive the omission of proper Norwegian and German symbols above some letters - I just can't figure out how to include them and keep everything in the same font size and style.

1 comment:

  1. you have led such a non-standard life! all those trips & sights.