INTERWIEV with GUSTAF ALLAN LINDH — OLYMPIC GOLDMEDALIST from LIDENSBODA in MEDELPAD, SWEDEN
Gustaf Allan Lindh, registered, Gustav Allan Lind, was born on the 21st of May 1926 in the village Lidensboda, northwest Medelpad, Sweden.. He won an Olympic gold medal in winter-pentathlon during the 5th Winter Olympics 1948 held in St Moritz. Through this achievement he became the first and remains to this day, the sole Olympic gold medallists in this category. Winter pentathlon was a demonstration sport at the 1948 Winter Olympic and was not continued.
Already by the age of 17, young Gustaf travelled to Östersund and enlisted at the Royal Norrland Artillery Regiment (A4) in spite of the raging world war. Gustaf attended voluntary‑, constable- (corporal?) and sergeant academy which provided him with good opportunities for athletic practises during the winter season. In 1947 he was elected to join the Olympic team after winning SM in winter pentathlon.
Winter pentathlon consisted of five categories, cross-country skiing 10km, shooting, downhill skiing, fencing and horse riding. The stars of that time were, Wille Grut, Claes Egnell and Bertil Haase, some counting as much as ten years senior to Gustaf. In total 14 delegates participated. Sweden managed to claim all medals, gold, silver and bronze!
Gustaf left the military during the fall of 1948 when the contracted four years’ time expired and after finishing an education at Tekniska Fackskolan,in Sundsvall he began a career in construction. His main orientation being power lines which resulted in some years in the United States. Gustaf continued to train and competed until 1954 when he sustained a jaw injury as a result of him falling from his horse. The accident sadly marks the end of his competitive career. Gustaf Allan Lindh passed away the 3rd of September 2015 in the municipality of Järfälla right outside Stockholm.
Interview — Swedish Audiofile
The interview (60 minutes) was conducted on Friday the 28th of January 2000 in the home of Gustaf Allan Lindh in Järfälla municipality by Arne Johansson, Järkvissle. The interview was originally recorded on a cassette tape. ©Production: Järkvissle Film & Media, 2021.
GUSTAF ALLAN LINDH – GOLDMEDALIST FROM LIDENSBODA, MEDELPAD, SWEDEN
The interview (60 minutes) is conducted Friday the 28th of January 2000 at the home of Gustaf Allan Lindh in Viksjö, Järfälla by Arne Johansson, Järkvissle. Translation: Yiyi Olivia Altin. The transcription is authentically conducted by Yiyi Olivia Altin. Subheadings have been added to facilitate the read. Production: © Järkvissle Film & Media, 2021.
- I have now continued my interview journey and have today landed in Viksjö, Järfälla. More precisely Slåttervägen 44, at the home of Gustav Allan Lind. Today is Friday the 28th of January, 2000 and the time is five to twelve. The weather is beautiful, and much like this spring weather is how I picture it during the Olympics in St. Moritz 1948 as it too was held in the Spring?
- Well, I cannot recall the date exactly but it was proper winter-weather and the sun was shining.
- We will arrive at the competitions later, however, I would like to ask you as I always start my interviews to keep track of information, dates and such. When are you born?
- I am born the 21st of May, 1926.
- Where was it?
- In Lidensboda.
- What were the names of your parents?
- They were called Gustav Lind and Magdalena Lind.
- And your mother was born? I am thinking about her maiden name.
- Her maiden name was Linde.
- Was she possibly related to Nils Linde?
- That was a brother of my mother who lived in Järkvissle.
- One always has to conduct small detours, because the wife of Nils Linde, Regina Linde have I met several times and sheared many talks with.
- The cause for us sitting here today is that Helga Lind showed me two newspaper clips to my large surprise as I knew nothing of this previously. It was of you participating in the Olympics in St. Moritz 1948. And it is in regards to which I am curious since the idea is to write an article in Lindens Tidning. Please do tell how in the world you ended up at the Olympics!
Why the Olympics?
- Well, I enlisted during the fall of 1943 at A4 in Östersund. There were two boys from Boda that biked down to Bispgården, to then take the train down to Östersund.
- Who was it more than you?
- His name was Karl Henrik Johnsson. Unfortunately, he passed away three years ago. So, it went. Employment was scares at the time which led to a large enrolment from the smaller villages. That way one received further education. In Östersund we attended voluntary, corporal and furir (private first class) academy. It was during that time, with access to horses, shooting ranges and such that I began with winter-pentathlon in particular. There was both summer and winter-pentathlon but winter-pentathlon was more suitable for me as I was a poor swimmer and a slightly better skier.
- Were you not afraid to enlist at 17 years old with a war raging in Europe?
- It is true, it was during the war and for our second year of enrolment, when I attended corporal academy there was a winter manoeuvre in Dalarna. One was quite young but participated lightly, there was an overall tense atmosphere there.
- What did your parents think about you enlisting?
- Well, they did approve it at least. Although, they did not find it amusing, but as previously mentioned work was scares when one had finished school. At that time, school lasted for 6 years and then one had to find something.
- How many siblings do you have?
- I have one brother and one sister.
- And your brother, is he older?
- Yes, my brother is older.
- Did he remain at home then?
- Yes, he remained and started working with truck driving alongside my uncle….no that’s right, Viktor Lind! The husband of Helga was a freight forwarder with trucks, I also worked there shortly when I was around 15 years. Although, my brother worked quite a while there with Viktor. Sonja, eventually moved to Stockholm and got married, and remains there still.
- So, you have your sister here in Stockholm?
- Yes, south of town.
- Where south?
- She lives in Enskede.
- I see, that is not far from here. I live at Åkergränd 3 in Örby so that is not far from away.
- No, not at all. I think it is called Old Tyresövägen 323. She became a widow around three years ago.
- This is, hopefully we will not forget it, interesting the migration that occurred for many towards Stockholm. But let’s remain in Östersund. You enlisted, then what happened?
- Well, when we started it was popular with skiing, shooting and such, it was also a small part of the education. That was how it started, 1946 was the first year I participated in a winter-pentathlon. It was the second military district and was conducted in the district championship in Sollefteå. If I remember correctly, I might have won that championship during the first year, 46. The following year, 47 was when I became the Swedish champion in winter-pentathlon in Östersund and it was though this achievement that I got selected to be part of the Olympian team of 48.
- Which categories does winter-pentathlon consist of? It is today a rather unusual competition branch so let’s recap.
- Well, the summer- pentathlon or rather modern pentathlon, had been a part of the Olympian program since 1932. However, winter-pentathlon was at the time relatively new. The categories are, fencing where everyone meets everyone. After that comes shooting where one shoots four series of five shots each on a mark placed on the edge and visible for three seconds. Following this, during winter, there is cross-country skiing 15km and downhill skiing. Lastly comes riding with obstacles where the obstacles are terrain bound. These are the five categories.
- Although, these five categories are very divers. Where had you learned fencing?
- Well, we had an instructor at A4 at the time, an Italian. And then corporal Paulsson who was our overall trainer.
- But you managed during such sort time to become a full-fledged fencer!
- Ahh, I am not sure about full-fledged but I did manage!
- You did win eventually!
- Skiing on the other hand was something I had from birth.
- And riding?
- That was a part of our education, we rode everyday during voluntary and furir academy. We spend several hours a day and broke in young horses, remonts.
- And shooting?
- You must have had special circumstances in order to achieve elite level in so many different categories during such a short time. Did you have earlier successes in school within sports?
- Well, I did have a talent for cross-country skiing which provided a base. In the summer that becomes cross-country running and they were both easily accessible to me. However, shooting had to be taught from scratch. I had not done much shooting but there were several opportunities at A4 to practise and in the end that went alright as well.
- You were 20 years old when you won the district championship for the first time.
- That was very young. I cheated slightly and looked in the files from the Olympics, it differed then years between the oldest Swedish participant and yourself.
- Wille Grut and Claes Egnell were both ten years my seniors when we were in St. Moritz.
- Were you the only representative form Östersund, or were there others? The books I have do not state where the other participants came from.
- I was the only one in winter-pentathlon, the other representatives, Claes Egnell, Wille Grut and Bertil Haase were all from Stockholm.
- Had you met before going to St. Moritz?
- Yes, I believe so as we all participated in SM held in Östersund. Moreover, I used to stay over at Wille Grut’s and Bertil Haase’s when I visited Stockholm. I also participated in the modern pentathlon a bit but as previously mentioned my swimming were not as refined so it did not go as well in that category.
The Sole Olympics
- How long had winter-pentathlon excited at the Olympic programme? St. Moritz being the fifth one.
- It was actually the first time and it would also be the only time. Because 52, the Olympics were arranged in Oslo and then it was not present. Much had to do with the horses leaving the regiments which made it difficult as well as building tracks. At that time the tracks were incorporated in the terrain and that too posed a challenge.
- So, you did ride during wintertime on the slippery ice?
- Yes, one had to put spikes on the horses to prevent them from slipping.
- So, it is that unique that you are the only gold medallist in this category that only occurred once.
- Yes, one might say that.
- That is quite remarkable, compared to the sports available today.
- Indeed, it is.
- Did you practise for these upcoming competitions on the side of your regular military service?
- Of course, we did, as much as we could. Any opportunity given aside of service was used for training. It was not for that many years. I did a couple of attempts later, 1950 was when we participated in a federation match in Switzerland. Although, at the time I had already left A4 and was enlisted at Sundsvall’s Technical Vocational School. It was already beginning to become an issue with horses and I think I participated in two or three federation matches. It was an exchange between Sweden and Switzerland between the years of 47–54, 54 being the last one for me.
- One ought to remember that this was immediately after the end of the second world war. Large parts of Europe lied in ruins and not every nation had the strength to participate. Which countries did participate that Olympics in this category?
- Indeed, that years there were Americans, Finns, Swiss, and some from Lichtenstein.
The Olympics in St. Moritz
- If we were to examine the Olympics, how was it carried out? For instance, how did you travel down to St. Moritz, Switzerland?
- To St. Moritz we travelled with the Olympic team. We had received our uniforms from NK, I remember the fitting. Then on site there were fancy hotels. There were also fellow “östersundare”, Stig Sollander, famous downhill skier and Nils (Nisse) Täpp in cross-country skiing amongst others. Mora Nisse was there that year. For our first year, 47, we flew down from Barkaby in a Dakota aircraft that had been remodelled so that we could have our parachutes in a backpack, somewhat provisionally.
- Did you go down the year before?
- Yes, we were there 47.
- Perhaps we should address the sound heard in the background.
- Hehe, well that is a small poodle that awaits its owner.
- So, you went there the year before to get a feel for and familiarise yourself with the site. What that journey 47 your first international trip?
- Yes, it was.
- That was a big occasion.
- Yes, very big. I did not know any German which was slightly problematic but Wille Grut and Claes Egnell were with us and thankfully both of them could help us since they did.
- What did your parents say about you going abroad, flying and everything?
- Naturally, they were a bit hesitant but at the same time they found it enjoyable.
- What about your siblings, did they become envious?
- Nah, not envious precisely, I think they were happy for me.
- But when you went to the Olympics what that by train?
- No, we flew down.
- That time as well? I be damned, who knew that Europe had such capacity! From where did you take off?
- I recall that we flew from Bromma to Bern and then perhaps we took the bus to St. Moritz.
The Days of Competition
- Were the days of competition for the winter-pentathlon placed in the beginning or towards the end of the Olympics?
- It must have been towards the end as we left for home the day after finishing our last competition.
- During how many days did your competitions last?
- Five days, one day for each category.
- That is incredible, having to perform on top five days in a row! Now, let’s cover each category could you tell us about them one by one? I brought the famous book “Olympia 1948; XIV: de olympiskaspelen i London och St. Moritz” where one can find this page. I find that this particular picture with the horse is great on you and will try and scan it for the paper. It reads “furir Gustav Lind form Östersund displayed the most even performance and put the cherry on top in the winter-pentathlon through the excellent win in horse riding. Both him and the horse looks contempt”. A fine conclusion. Allow us to go through the categories one by one.
The Categories of Competition
- Well, if I remember correctly on the first day it was 10km of cross-country skiing. There I finished second and Bertil Haase was the winner.
- And in third place came Grut?
- Yes, and Egnell finished fourth. After him there were an Austrian, one Finn, several Austrians. For the second day there was shooting which I apparently won. Then came downhill skiing.
- I have a cheat sheet and We should mention that in the shooting Egnell came second, Grut third, Haase became fifth and a Swiss lieutenant named Rumpf placed fourth.
- Yes, that seams correct. Well, downhill skiing then, I placed sixth, Bertil Haase won that competition and a Swiss named Somazzi came second. On the fourth day there was fencing in which I placed fourth, it was won by a Swiss and Grut came third. The last day we had horse riding and I won that one.
- I need to mention that there is something odd about the fencing. According to my papers there are two champions in that category, Somazzi and Rumpf.
- Yes, that is determined by the amounts of victories. We all meet each other and the one with the most victories is the champion, in case some score the same number they share the win. As you can see there, it was thanks to me winning the riding that I won the entire competition, Grut finished second there.
- You won two out of five categories, and then placed second, fourth and sixth in the rest. It is interesting when looking over the placement scores, you had fourteen, Grut as first runner up had fifteen and Haase seventeen. This means that Sweden managed to claim all the medals. Then there is a larger gap to Somazzi proving how superior Sweden was.
- Yeah, we were pretty outstanding.
- Which category do you recall strongest in hindsight?
- Perhaps the riding. As we entered me and Grut almost had the same score.
- Is there a certain anecdote or incident that you remember distinctly?
- I know that it was meant for me to win the cross-country skiing, unfortunately, I did not manage to do so. Had it not been for a steep, crooked hill on the last kilometre that gave me troubles causing me to fall over and then having to mount back up to the tracks for another seven or eight meters, then maybe. In the end I finished three seconds behind Bertil Haase.
- Talking about that incidence, the book mentions Egnell and another accident, “the quartet that shattered”, what happened there?
- Sadly, Claes Egnell’s ski got caught in a hole after downhill finishing line and during that time we did not have binds that automatically loosened so it caused him to break his leg.
- Who was favoured to win amongst you on the way down to the Olympics?
- I think it was either Claes Egnell or Wille Grut as they were well established having had practised for longer than Bertil Haase and myself.
- Then what was the reaction when you being the youngest newbie won the competition?
- Well, it was not intended for it to be that way, but I believe that they were happy for me none the less. In fact, Grut got his consolation the following summer when he was victorious in London.
- Would you like to help me explain, this book mentions that Sweden was dominant in winter-pentathlon a category outside of the original Olympic program causing it to have no medals. Was that true?
- No, it was not. Although it is true that the category was on trial for the first time in order to decide whether or not to install it permanently. That is common practise for the Olympics to manage the number of competitions.
- This meant that no medals were distributed down in St. Moritz rather they came afterwards. Mine was handed to me a month or so after during a ceremony at A4 by the regiment chief.
- There were many Swedes who performed well during that Olympic, did you receive any attention after arriving home?
- Well, it was not like today with large celebrations at the towns square but there were some celebrations. Although, depending on when the competitions ended for the different categories the athletes arrived scattered making a joint celebration difficult.
- Did you return to Sweden by plane too?
- According to these newspaper clips, some of you relatives including your sister greeted you at the arrival?
- Yes, amongst them Inger Lind, the daughter of Helga Lind.
- I recognise this picture; it was the one Helga immediately retrieved and showed me. It must have been on display or something since she found it so quickly. She just turned 96 on the Twelfth Night.
- That is possible.
- Unfortunately, it does not tell us the exact date of publication, only that it is the sports column, but it is given that it is from when you returned. Here it says, 21-year-old furrier a winter-pentathlon phenomenon. An alliteration that gives stacked cakes! Defeated captain Grut, Lange the surprise. Who is Lange?
- Hmm, through the mention for Lange we are no longer at the Olympics since I do not recall him being there.
- Now I am curious for personal reasons, what was Lange’s full name?
- Pelle Lange from I21, Sollefteå.
- Per Lange!? Now, I will tell you something extraordinary.
- Large, robust, blonde guy!
- Yes, and with quite a voice! It so happens that Per Lange became head of the photo interpretation education in Stockholm at Tre Vapen down in the bomb shelters. Moreover, I am a trained photo interpreter and I had him as my director. He was a very unique man, loud voice, dominant but with a heart of gold. He used to arrange gatherings for the photo interpreter alumni on a yearly basis at something called the Photocell. Then the meetings became scares, and finally died out. I am not sure what he is doing now just a faint memory that he lived in Djursholm or Stocksund for a while.
- I actually met him during an orientation through work.
- Yes, see this man Per Lange is legendary. (the tape is turned). What did you say, have you met him in fencing?
- Once when we duelled his lance broke against my arm and went in under the west. Thankfully, it halted just before my armpit only leaving a small mark behind. It was quite dangerous as it could have punctured the lung!
- Are you born the same year?
- No, I believe he is slightly older.
- As I did military service rather late during 71–72 as I was at the Royal Institute of Technology [KTH], I happened to meet him in active duty, especially during the spring of 72.
- It was I21 at that time.
- He might have belonged to K1, it is confusing when one does not have access to the system. How incredible! If you meet Per you have to tell him that you were visited by a well-fed interviewer. I would hardly have the courage to meet him today, thinking of the telling he would give me.
- I haven’t seen him for many, many years and believed that he had remained up north. But apparently not.
- I do think that he too lives in Stockholm going by the phonebook.
Joy from the Gold Medal?
- What a fun coincidence! When you had returned home and the everyday settled in, did the victory give you any advantage?
- Well, that much commotion did not exist but it was very nice to win and relish in the achievement afterwards.
- Did it bring any “tickets” to things? Were you ever invited to talk about the competitions?
- Nah, I have not been much for talking about it and such. But then I think many in the hometown were very happy about it.
- Was it celebrated in Boda and its surroundings?
- I can remember a community House in Boda.
- Yes, maybe you have been there?
- No, it is no longer there. But I have been to the school Björkbacken for social dancing many times.
- Yes, and slight further away was this venue located and at some point, when I was on leave from the military 48, there was a small event in connection to a dance where I was led up on stage and they congratulated me.
- Being 22 years old when accomplishing such an achievement hardly prepares one for the repercussions of being a big star. Did you receive an edge in your professional life through this? It sounds so foul to ask, but did you gain any favour through this victory?
- No, I do not think so as I haven’t exactly tried. At that time there were no money in such things, at its hight I might have gotten a pair of skis and some gear.
- Did you bring all the equipment down there?
- Yes, in large we did. I recall getting special shoes in Switzerland as the conditions were different. They gave me a pair of shoes that had been made out of a picture of my foot.
- The lance?
- Those things were provided by the regiment, A4.
- So, the Olympics did not supply lances?
- No, we brought our own and once there they went through tests for the right conditions of the length and the feather in the tip that gives results.
- The saddle?
- The horses were provided through lottery so you never knew which one you would get.
- It was local horses?
- Did you bring your own saddle from Sweden?
- No, they provided that.
- That pistol?
- We used our own pistols and the skis were given to me by the regiment.
- Did you have different pairs for cross-country skiing and downhill skiing?
- Yes, that is a must. The binds are completely different.
- It is a whole other world today.
- Yes, but already back then there was a steel edge on the downhill skis.
Termination of Military Service
- A victory of this calibre does create echoes, you had won over candidates who were better established, more well-known and even had a higher military rank. Could you benefit from that in your military career?
- No, nor did I try. Already after half the time I wanted to quit, although, one had singed a fixed time which made it impossible. I must admit to not having much of a military spirit.
- What was the reason to why you wanted to leave ahead of time?
- I had finished my education and the first fixed time of four years. At the time I though of becoming a polis or a fireman for that was the military way. However, an opportunity arose for the to attend Sundsvall’s Technical Vocational School.
- What field did you choose there?
- Electrical engineering.
- And that marked the end of your military career?
- What year was this?
- It was the fall of 48.
- So, the same year?
- Yes, the Olympics took place sometime in February.
- It was a rather big step. Did you move to Sundsvall during your studies?
- Yes, I did.
- How long was that education?
- It lasted for five semesters so two and a half years. Because I lived in Sundsvall, I also had the possibility to visit my parents during the weekends.
- And you were still competitively moderately active?
- Yes, somewhat. 1950 marked the last year of school during which we also went to Switzerland for a week, ten days.
- How come you kept competing? Was it out of interest?
- Yeah, I wanted to try and make it work but it was hard. Then I arrived in Stockholm and kept trying at a fencing venue at Sveavägen and a riding stable in Karlberg. It was at Karlberg during indoor obstacle practise where my horse got stuck with its leg in an obstacle and I fell off and sustained my injury. I landed in the upcoming obstacle and woke up in Karolinska with a broken jaw on both sides. That was in large my last practise and then during the summer of 55 I left for America.
After the Technical Vocational School
- If we reverse slightly, what happened after you graduated from Sundsvall’s technical vocational school? Did you move straight down to Stockholm?
- No, I stayed and worked a summer at Hammarforsen, the power company today known as Bålforsen. After that I spend one winter in Hammarstand where the company had offices for planning low voltage networks. If what after that I began at Vattenfall as technical assistant at powerline construction, switchgear and powerlines. This was during 50–55 and then I went to America in the spring of 55.
- How did such an enormous change as to leave for America come about?
- There were two of us a friend from school and myself that had decided to go. In order to do that one needed a sponsor or someone to vouch for you over there. Fortunately, for us there was a family called Holmbom in our hometown that could do that. Perhaps you know of Hilding Holmbom and Elfving Holmbom? So, for the first period I came to stay with them and eventually found work at NSP (Northern States Power Company).
- Where was that?
- In Minneapolis.
- The proper Swedish settlement.
- I remained there for fiver years and it is where I meat my wife, she is originally from Uppsala.
- What is her name?
- Her name is Ulla.
- I am aware of her presence but she is being extremely polite and leaving us to finish our talks. Do come in here!
- It is alright to come Ulla!
- She has to be a part of this too!
- Have some coffee if you like!
- Thank you!
- Hi, my name is Arne Johansson.
- Hi, my name is Ulla.
- I have a tape-recorder with me, it is going great but I apologise if we are being slightly rude but now you have participated along with the dog that accounts for the entire household! It is extraordinary and I will halt shortly with regards to America. It had previously been a large migration and it had been a trend in the parishes, Boda and Järkvissle, that now seamed to die down somewhat. But in your case, it must have been driven a little by competition spirits as well. Perhaps you tried to make a career in the states and gain wealth, or was it just the excitement that made you cross the Atlantic?
- It was mostly the excitement. I was young, free and only had myself to care for. It was not such a big step, after all, one could always return home if the job-hunt failed.
- Although, still there is some distance between Boda and Minneapolis all the same.
- Yes, but as you mentioned, several Boda residents that emigrated along with them my uncles. Two of them had already been settled in America but had returned in time for my arrival.
- Did you speak English?
- No, not at all.
- Who did you travel with?
- I travelled with Sture Bergman; he came from Sundsvall.
- Did he remain in the states then?
- No, only for four or five years. I still see him for a week every year when we go skiing in the mountains.
- What did you work with in America?
- It was called NSP (Northern States Power Company), an equivalent to Vattenfall across Minnesota.
25 years of Powerline Construction
- When you arrive back in Sweden what did you work with then?
- That was when I stared at Linjebyggnad, a company owned by practically every large power company at the time that build powerlines and switchgear; Krångedeforsen, Sydkraft and Bålforsen. I remained there for 25 making it the majority of my professional career.
- If you were to describe it in detail, what does the work entail?
- After returning from America, I was situated in Stockholm at the construction department where we constructed powerlines. I stayed there for a couple of years, before I moved to the building department. Then one travelled across the country and calculated on different powerlines that were to be built and submitted tenders. One was also responsible for some line masters and visited them for regular check-ups and then the final inspection when the work was done.
- Were you stationed in Stockholm during this time?
Settling in Viksjö
- For how long have you lived in Viksjö?
- Since the construction of 68.
- I know some people but I am unsure whether it is here. Including my financial director within Postfastigheter (postal properties), Björn Simon, around here somewhere. Unfortunately, I do not recall exactly where it was.
- I don’t know someone by that name.
- There are a couple and usually when one least expects in it happens to be your neighbour. Although, Viksjö is rather large so it might also be on the other side of town.
- Yes, it has grown quite remarkably since the first residential area was built 68.
- Do you still keep in contact with the others from the winter-pentathlon in St. Moritz? Are you close?
- Not that much, no. Wille Grut moved to France after his divorce and I received a Christmas card from him this year. He and his late wife lived on an island between Sweden and Denmark called Ven. He has since becoming a widower moved up to Östersund where his children from his first marriage lives. He lives there permanently and I suppose given that he served there for four or five years it seams somewhat familiar and gives him the opportunity to be close to his family. Claes Egnell on the other hand, with him there have been almost no contact since then. I believe that he got transferred to Falun and I13. Haase became a mountain engineer in Avesta and when I spoke to him over the phone six months ago, he was still there.
- How many children do you have?
- Two, one girl and one boy.
- Have they walked in your footsteps?
- No, you can’t say that.
- Are they competing athletes?
- No, they are not.
- Then what are their careers?
- My daughter lives in Älvsjö.
- Älvsjö!? That is my postal area! Where in Älvsjö does she live?
- Really? She lives on Pukslagargatan.
- In the municipality Älvsjö?
- Yes, one drives down by the fire station if you know where it is and then down to…What is the name of the street Ulla? Svartlösavägen, down to Sländvägen and just a bit further down is Pukslagargatan. She works within commercials.
- I live on Åkergränd 3 in Örby but the postal code is Älvsjö so I live in the municipality of Örby but I am familiar with the area and I know where it is.
- Our son lives here in Viksjö, on Tegvägen right by Viksjö centre and works at Folksam.
- It is always fascinating to see whether or not the line continues. You never know, someone might be a hobby orienteer or something.
- Nah, they are not much for sports perhaps a little before but not much now.
Childhood in Boda
- If you recall your childhood in Boda until you were 17 years old before your migration and change in social status. Looking back, what is your refection?
- Well, I do consider it my actual home and we have been up there a lot Ulla and I. We bought a Per Albin cottage around ten or fifteen years ago which we kept until just a few years ago. It was only to have a place after the passing of my parents, before that we were there a lot every summer with the children.
- Do you long to return to Boda?
- Yes, I miss it a bit, but I wound not want to move back. I am still there every autumn during the seasonal hunt and sometimes during the summer.
- I suppose you get your fill during the hunt.
- Indeed, I do!
- Moreover, the Boda today is hardly like the Boda of 1943.
- No, that’s right. There is a big difference.
- The entire society has changed and many along with yourself have left Boda to settle elsewhere.
- Yes, many did leave. As previously mentioned, it was hard to find employment if you could not farm and even that disappeared eventually.
- Irma (daughter of Helga Lind) told me that she and two other women had made a survey through SVAR (Swedish Archive Information) in Ramsele. They found that for a hundred years ago, 1900, 480 people lived in Boda.
- Oh, really!
- According to the information she provided there is only 65 residences left. She claims that there are thirty vacant houses, vacant being like yours, that it is owned by someone but without someone being registered there. She went on to tell be about the astonishing fact that in 1910 the numbers had decreased due to migration as well as in 1920. However, the large breaking point according to Irma was 1950–1960. I cannot properly vouch for this information but if it is correct that would mean that between 1900 and today there is a factor eight. It was eight times as many people then as there are now. It is strange how things change, the school, the postal office and the stores are all gone!
- There were two stores at that time in Boda, Konsum and Boda Uppköp.
- Would you say that it was the lack of employment that forced the people to migrate?
- Yes, at that time and might still be to this day.
- It just proves how difficult it is as that is the very thing one have tried to combat with an active regional policy.
- Yes, it really is.
- Have you ever reflected on why you started this migration to begin with?
- No, I wound not say I have. I consider my life to have been pretty good.
- It is also interesting now that I have the opportunity and privilege to interview people who are born and raised and have decided to remained in the villages. Then I meet people like yourself who were born there but later moved away. And finally, those who were born there, moved away, but then later decided to return. It is fascinating how one regards it, I would claim that your reflection is the same as the one of Erik Höglund from Järkvissle. I conducted an incredibly twelve hours interview with him in Stockholm. He lives happily in a small flat here after having moved from Sundsvall. There is something peculiar about big cities.
- Wasn’t he a teacher at the Technical Vocational School?
- I can imagine that. During the interview we focused mostly on his time in Järkvissle.
- What business did you say he worked in?
- He was a consultant in the building business, often consulted within the area of inspection and later started his own firm consisting of 20 engineers. Sweden had entered a building-boom in every part of the country so I picture it going well for them. Then he sold the company and will turn 85 years old this year.
- I have a feeling that when I was between twelve and thirteen that he dabbled a little in ski jumping.
- Perhaps, I should know that. He was talented in sports, skiing and such.
- Yes, I think he was interested in sports.
- Yes, definitely. Britta Lidgren, Järkvissle’s most famous female athlete placed second and third in SM several times. For a time during the 20s-30s there was a large interest in sports. After that the village stared to decrease in size, many moved away and it lost its youth.
- I guess it is the same trend for all the villages.
- When did you last meet Helga Lind?
- Several years ago, I would say. I know that I met her once when Inger visited, she called and wanted me to come over for some conversation. But has to be about six or seven years ago.
- Oh, wow. I actually met her this Monday, how time flies. I congratulated her on her 96th birthday on the Twelfth Night. The priest was there and several others, she really is the Grand-old Lady of Boda!
- Yes, she really is.
- She is a very gracious and elegant lady. Observant, quick in comebacks and with a spark in her eye. Incredible! It was a great pleasure and it is thanks to her that we are sitting here today for without her I wound not have discovered your story. She believes that she is the oldest person in Boda at 96-years-old. Do you know if she could be?
- I do think she might be I cannot recall someone being older than her.
- Both of you are representing two outliers her with the age and you with your unique Olympic achievement. There are very few places where a person has been so successful. It is one thing to participate in SM or the district championship and such but to reach these hights at that time is very impressive. Do you believe that winter-pentathlon is a product of the war?
- It might be. During that time, it may be related given that it died out in connection to the motorization of the regiments.
- Then how could the summer-pentathlon endure to become modern pentathlon?
- Well, it is considerably easier to arrange in the summer than during the winter in the smaller places. In Stockholm it makes no difference having to provide swimming halls and available horses. They remained for much longer at K1 but I gather that the horses there are gone now as well.
- The once there are only for the Royal Guard Parade.
- Much of the issue lies in size.
- Naturally, being torn by war Europe tried to find common ground and a way back to peace.
- The tape is now coming to an end after approximately and hours talk. There is so much to discuss and the worst part is that when one has concluded, new questions always emerge, something I have to my dismay experienced a lot. Anyhow, it is now collected. I will make a draft of the article and send it to you for approval so and then later a copy of the tape will arrive by post. May I take your picture?
- Yes, you may.
- Then I thank you very much for taking the time and share the story of your glorious days. Many thanks!
- Thank you!