1948

2000

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.

Back­ground

  • 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.

The Sib­lings

  • 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?

 

Why Win­ter-Pen­tathlon?

  • 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.
  •  

 

Fel­low Competitors

  • 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.
  • Ama­zing!
  • 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.

 

Tri­al Competition

  • 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.

 

No Medals?

  • 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.

 

Per Lange

  • 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?
  •  

Com­pe­ti­tion Equipment

  • 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.

 

Inju­ry Sustained

  • 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.

 

To Ame­ri­ca

  • 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.

 

Reu­ni­ons

  • 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.

 

The Family

  • 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.

 

Hel­ga Lind

  • 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?

 

The Moto­ri­za­tion

  • 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.

 

Thank You

  • 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!