Sunday, September 04, 2005

P.O.P. continues his story

Where were we?

Oh, yes, I was telling my few readers about me and my family...

My Dad's new boss made him a foreman and from this point on my own memories are a bit clearer. This is about 1965.

The pay wasn't good and the swedish child care authorities were just as biased against travelling amusement parks (isn't there a better word?) as anyone else. Since I inherited my mother's very slim build, the child care authorities accused my parents for not feeding me properly. I was skinny then, and I'm far from fat 40 years later... The authorities threatened to take both me and my brother (and he was definitely, positively, not skinny!) and put us in foster homes. Especially me, being the "abused" one.

This led to my parent's decision that I should live with my grandmother in Germany for a while. And so I did, for almost three years. I loved living with my german grandmother since she lived in a small town with one of the finest beaches in Germany.

In the late summer of 1967 it was time for me to start school. I learned reading at the age of four so I was well prepared. This also gave me the nickname "Little Professor", a nickname that follwed me up to ninth grade. I loved school right from the start. It opened up a whole new world for me.

My parent's visited me as often as they possibly could, but actually I rarely ever missed them. I had my grandmother, my cousins, aunts, uncles and, above all, my school. I didn't have many friends but on the other hand I preferred the company of grown-ups. Actually my teacher moved into a flat just a few doors from my grandmothers. I visited her a lot and tried to learn how to play the guitar that she had hanging on the wall. I never got it right. I just wasn't cut out to be a musician.

I rememder that my first class consisted of about 20 pupils but as I moved up to second grade we were suddenly more than 70 in one classroom! I still don't understand how our teacher could make us keep quiet. I mean, put 70 eight-year old kids in the same room and expect them to be quiet? She must have been a magician!

During the winter holidays of 1968, my father came to Germany and told me that I was going to move back to Sweden. The only thing I remember that saddened me was the fact that I was leaving my beloved school...

Back in Sweden I was surprised with the fact that I suddenly had two baby sisters. They had probably told me about it, but for me... well, I had other things on my mind.

At the beginning I had a tough time adjusting to my new class. Not only because I had forgotten most of my swedish, but also for having parents with an unusual profession and for being part german. The other kids teased me and called me "nazi swine", "jew killer" and more of that kind. It still hurts when people make that kind of remarks.

(I found this a bit strange. I was just as much a foreigner in Germany as I was in Sweden but in the former country I never got teased for anything. Not my slim build, my nerdiness or the fact that I was from Sweden.)

I wasn't a fighter, so I learned to ignore them. I soon discovered that I had other means of revenge. As soon as there was a festival in town, I had the power to decide which kids that could have a free ride on any of the carousels. I think that that's the main reason that the teasing never escalated to physical abuse.

Still, I enjoyed my early school years. I always had good grades in everything, except math. I even enjoyed gym class, as long as we didn't play any team sports. I was always picked out last because I was a slow runner and ball games wasn't my favorite. Not because I hated to play together with others as a team, but because I hated to be dependent on others for a result.

My life continued with school during fall, winter and springtime and summer holidays on the road with my family. It was a good life for a child, even if many "experts" would disagree. According to the experts, me and my siblings, would almost certainly develop into insecure teenagers, drug addicts and criminals. In fact, we all developed into the opposites.

The main reason for this was almost certainly that we always felt that our parents loved us, no matter what. Our father could often raise his voice (and even threaten us with a beating) but we always knew that everything that he did, he did for his family.

Travelling all summer also showed us kids the depths of human self-humiliation when people got drunk, puked all over themselves, got into fights and got beaten up. This somehow inoculated us against excess drinking. Together with the fact that we were seen as outcasts by the same people, that considered themselves to be so much better than us, that each and every weekend got drunk and behaved like... *idiots, made us feel that we didn't wanted to be anything like them.

*(I just can't say that these people behaved like "animals", because that would be a major insult to all animals.)

We were surrounded by alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals and even people with psyciatric problems all summer long, but they treated us kids a hell of a lot better than "Average Joe". There was always someone that could keep an eye on us, and they did. Even though our father demanded a lot of the others that worked there and even beated one or two up, they never held that against us since Dad earned their respect by demanding even more from himself. And they absolutely adored our mother, who worked just as hard.

During the winter of 1966-67 my father had asked his boss about permission to build and start up a small business, a pop-corn stand, to be able to provide better for us kids. The boss said okey, under the condition that it would not inflict on my fathers work as a foreman and that he payed a fee for every weekend it was put up. This was a lucky break, but would soon lead to envy from the boss's daughter, which later on would trigger my father to leave the company.

(My father was considered an handsome man by women but he never even looked twice at anyone else except our mother. This was something the boss's daughter just couldn't accept. She was very good-looking but Dad just couldn't stand her upper class manors.)

Our pop-corn stand did very well and this became a thorn in her flesh. She just couldn't accept the fact that Dad did good business and that he actually earned some money. She drove a brand new Mercedes but couldn't bear the thought that my parents also could afford one, a really old and used one, but still a Mercedes.

With some of the money they earned they built another, much smaller, pop-corn stand, which was perfect for small fairs. My father had plans to build even more of them but that all soon changed.

The summer of 1968 my father saved every little penny he could spare, went to the bank, asked for and got a loan for a small house. For us kids, who almost always had lived in a trailer, this seemed to be to good to be true. We would actually have a lot of space indoors!

In the late fall of 1968 my father's boss announced that he was going to retire and that the daughter would take over the amusement park as the season of 1969 started. I wish I knew what went through my fathers mind, considering he detested her...

I don't think it came as any surprise to him that she wanted him to stop selling pop-corn and cotton candy. She regarded it as taking money that she was entitled to since he traveled with "her" company. In other words, she wanted a bigger cut of the earnings.

I remember the summer of -69 as one where my father was in a constantly bad mood. He was worried what his new boss would come up with next. He had to pay mortgages on the house but the boss made it harder and harder for him to take care of his own business. Eventually, they had a big argument and my father told her that she could stuff her Mercedes in a place where the sun never shined. Luckily this was just at the end of the season. Otherwise things might have gone wrong in a really bad way.

I'll tell you about that, but not for now.


Piggy and Tazzy said...

Travelling amusement parks - we call them 'travelling funfairs'.

I continue to be astonished at how good your english is. I would dearly love to be able to speak a foreign language as well as you do.

And thank you for the link! We have returned the compliment over at our place :)

We loved your description telling the boss to 'stick her Mercedes where the sun don't shine'. Brilliant!