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Vittepigen” means Vitte Girl and that was my nickname for many years, although only my mother and father used it. I was born on January 8, 1921, in Fredericia, Denmark and christened in Trinitatis Church with the name Vita Irene Bøgebjerg Møller.

If one was born inside the ramparts of the fortress in Fredericia, one had the right to be called a “Rampart child,” either “ Rampart girl” or “Rampart boy” and since I was born in Bjergegade 68, which lies inside the ramparts, I was a “Rampart girl.”

My father, Niels Sigfred Carl Eigler Bøgebjerg Møller was born in Fredericia November 13, 1886, and christened in Trinitatis Church December 26, 1886. He was the son of Jens Møller and his wife, Karen Nielsen, who lived in Sjælland Street at the time of his birth. My mother, Marie Christine Møller, born Petersen, March 18, 1889, in Fredericia and christened in Trinitatis Church June 16, 1889, was the daughter of Thomas Petersen and his wife, Mette Kirstine Madsen Bæk, neither of them were born in Fredericia. I had a sister, Elinor Vera Bøgebjerg Møller, who was born 9 years before me on January 6, 1912, in Fredericia. She married Knud Christian Larsen from the town of Faaborg on the island of Fyn on November 10, 1934.

A brother by the name of Carly was born between Elinor and me, but he died as an infant of Thrush, a fungal disease, which shows up as small, whitish spots on the linings in the mouth, throat and on the tongue.

We lived in a two-room apartment, consisting of a large combination dining and living room and a reasonable large bedroom, where mom, dad, and sister Elinor slept. We had a reasonably good kitchen, but no bath. Elinor and I would fill a large tub with warm water in the kitchen every Saturday and we would get thoroughly washed and then get our underwear changed.

We didn’t have a flush toilet in the apartment, only an outhouse in the backyard. I was not allowed out there after dark because of the rats and mice that scurried around there after dark, so I had to use and enamel bucket with a lid on it in which there was a hole, and my mother emptied this every morning in the backyard.

On the main floor lived the Jørgensen family. They had four or five children. I don’t remember the precise number. They were often spanked on their bare bottoms if they did not behave and this happened so often that they would pee in their pants out of fear. I was completely horrified of this, for I had never received corporal punishment, neither from my father nor my mother and it’s quite certain that I misbehaved every now and then.

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the floor above us, (the top floor), lived an elderly man with his grown-up daughter, who had a little son by the name of Helge. I often played together with him, while his mother was at work at the Bloch & Andresen factory. Little by little, he became like a little-adapted brother to me, for mother also cared for him quite a bit, something his mother greatly appreciated.

When I was a little girl, my clothes consisted of an undershirt, a kind of girder with elastic band on it that buttoned on to my stockings to hold them up. My mother knit the stockings, which were quite thick so they would make my legs look a bit fuller. I was very thin when I was a girl, a condition I later grew out of. On top of this, I wore something called an “Uldklokke” a kind of sweater, home knit from 100 per cent pure wool, with hooked fringes, made from the same kind of wool, but died pink. My pants were made from a light brown material called “Macco”, with a fleecy inside and elastic in the pants legs.

I hated my dress so much that some nights I would dream that I was walking down the street wearing this outfit, which was so short that if I pulled it down in the front, it would slide up in the back or vice versa, a most unfortunate situation since my bum was bare. This wasn’t a dream; it was a nightmare. When I started school, I was surely the last one in my class to be permitted to change from long stockings to short, white ankle socks when summer arrived. Otherwise, I was rather spoiled and always smartly dressed. My sister Elinor was nine years older than I and when she was old enough, she became an apprentice seamstress and after completing her apprenticeship she began her own business sewing clothes, which resulted in me always being rather smartly dressed.

As mentioned, the sanitary conditions in my birth home were not too good, but a fine solution for this existed. In the railroad shunting yards on Holsten Street, there was a little red brick house, where some rooms had been equipped with bathtubs. I don’t remember what it cost to have a bath there, but it was reserved for employees of The Danish State Railways. My father was head porter at the Fredericia rail station and later became superintendent of the shunting yard, so I was permitted to go and take a bath there.

I began school at the age of seven, while we still lived downtown in Bjerge street, but shortly thereafter, we moved to number 4 Egeskov Road, now renamed “July 6th road.” The schools were referred to as “The Parish schools” and we began in the Slesvig Street School, attending this for two years, followed by two years in the technical school in Fyn Street and finally three years in the Dale Street School for girls.

In the school, we were seated by the number and we would receive a booklet showing our grades. The classes were grouped alphabetically “A, B, C and D.” The “A” class had the best and most capable students, the other classes with the progressively less able students. I was assigned to the “A” class and stayed there until the seventh grade when I was 14 years old and became confirmed.

During the years I went to school, there were two swimming clubs up at East Beach, one for women and one for men. While at the Dale Street School, we used the women beach club facilities during the summer. We were marched there in columns from the school and learned both swimming and diving, including diving from the springboard. This activity replaced gymnastics, which was mainly a winter sports activity in the school. The club consisted of a wooden building with a number of small change rooms, a small, stretch of sandy beach for sun tanning and a long wooden wharf extending a good ways into the water, at the end of which there was a diving board. We thought it was wonderful to be there and often used the facility after school hours.

There was a small store close to the school owned by a Mr. Lind. Besides being able to buy pens, paper, and pencils, we could also buy candy. There was a particular kind called “Salmiakpastiller, (a salty licorice) which we thought tasted great and had a lot of fun with. They were very thin, small and diamond-shaped. By licking them on one side and sticking them on the back of the hand or wrist, we could make a pattern in the form of a star or whatever else we could think of. We would then sit and lick them with our tongues. They tasted very nice and would last a long time. Apricot bread was another form of candy we could buy in the store. It was made from apricot pulp, rolled into large, almost paper thin sheets and it could be bought in various sizes, depending on how much money one was willing to spend. This was also a delicacy.

All the schools’ records are stored in the local historical archives. Amongst them is the one from my class and here are written all the grades from year to year. I was never number one in my class, but several times I came in as number two. There were approximately 40 students in my class.

While attending school, I often wondered why my name was Vita, so I asked my mother about the origin of my name. I didn’t know anyone else named Vita, neither inside nor outside the school. She told me that while she was pregnant with me, she had read in the local newspaper (Fredericia Daily News) about a little girl by the name of Vita, who had gone down to the paper’s editor with a butterfly, which she had found in the dairy’s yard. It was a messenger of spring, even though it was in January.

In the local historical archives, one can also find newspapers dating all the way back to 1849. In Fredericia Daily News from 1921, I found on page three, column two, the story about the butterfly that the little girl “Vita” had brought in on January 12. It was thus quite true what my mother had told me.

My father was president of the railroad abstinence club, a non-drinkers association. When a lottery took place in the association’s clubhouse, I was put up on a table and asked to draw the lots. Incidentally, I also learned to dance in a hotel called “Afholdshottellet” in Fyn Street. Many well-attended dances and card games were held in this hotel. Prizes awarded to winners in a card game often consisted of ducks.

The association also had a Christmas savings club, were members throughout the year could buy savings stamps, which they glued into their Christmas savings books. Shortly before Christmas, the books were collected from the members and my father plus three or four of the members began counting the stamps. This took place during several evenings in our home, while I lived at Egeskov Road No. 4. The members who did the counting constituted the collective Board of Directors, and I was very eager to get commissioned to count, or rather re-count the stamps in the books. These were always joyful evenings.

I also became a member of the “Abstinence Club,” when I was a half-grown girl and remember the times when we had meetings at Afholdshottellet, in Fyn Street. There was a large cabinet on the first floor of the hotel, filled with club regalia in various sizes. Those for the children were all white and designed to be pulled down over the head and hang across the chest. The name of the host was Mr. Junge, who was very popular amongst the adults as well as the children. While living in Bjerge Street, we played in the street and in the yard behind the house. There were some games and playing hide-and-seek. From time to time a hobo would come up the street. We called him “Sanfus” and when he came staggering up the street, I had strict instructions to come home immediately. This was because mom and dad were non-drinkers. They had been so from the day were engaged and remained so until they died. This had to be respected.

For me, these were pretty good times and I was well looked after. In our Bjerge Street apartment, we had a two-way street mirror and often times I would have a cozy moment with my mother, sitting on her lap and looking into the street mirror, especially around the time when my father was expected home from work. Since he worked on various shifts, it was often late before he arrived home. This could happen on Christmas Eve also, which was not funny at all. The time spent waiting for him could be insufferable long, but Christmas was never celebrated before his arrival home.

While we lived in Bjerge Street, our shopping was done in various places. The Baker lived on the corner of Bjerge and Sjællands streets. His name was Baker Skov. In his shop, I often bought a quarter’s worth of day-old Danish pastry, together with some other goodies, which all in all came to quite a bag full. From time to time I would go down to the railroad cooperative store, which at the time was located in Jyllands Street No. 22. On the way there, I would pass by Printer Ottesen’s book printing and bookbinding store, located at Axeltorv, the main town square. I could stand on a small, elevated platform, just outside the window and see the machines working. That was quite exciting.

My father’s tobacco, I would go and fetch at Cigar Dealer Jeppe Jensen, at his store in Jyllands Street and he was very kind, always giving me a little candy. At Svendehjemmet in Konge Street 48 (meaning King Street), I picked up the kindling for our heating stove. Fish was bought at the fishmonger, who came up the street, pulling a small cart filled with fish and always shouting something about his wares, such as: “Herring is good!”

There were two drawers in father’s tobacco table. One was used for pipe tobacco (he smoked something called “Mélange Nicot”) for his long pipes; the other drawer was used for pipe ashes. When the latter was full, it was poured into a bag and I would go up to Mr. Mogensen, who lived in Købmager Street 47 (meaning Merchant Street) and give it to him. He would use this to make snuff with. In return, he would give me some eggs to bring home. The Mogensen’s had a wonderful garden at the rear of the house, where they kept a bunch of chickens. Incidentally, my father’s tobacco table was one of my favorite indoor location to play at. There was a small shelf a little below the drawers, which I used for many things. I was seven years old at the time and my legs could just fit underneath the table.

As a child, I was very fuzzy about what I ate. If we were having something for dinner I didn’t like, I was given permission to go down to the butcher, who lived a bit further down the road and buy ten cents worth of liver pate’, which came to quite a nice slice. I would eat this together with potatoes and some gravy.

Christmas in our home was celebrated in the traditional manner, with roast pork or duck, served with red cabbage and candied potatoes. One thing, however, was different from many other homes. We also had creamed kale with cooked, cold pork (fresh, uncured bacon) and smoked, cured boneless pork rib roast (called Hamburgerryg in Danish), served with mustard and pickled red beets. We could eat whatever we wanted to and I preferred the creamed kale. Naturally, we drank ‘Nisseøl’ and for dessert, we had Rice a la’Mande.

After dinner, we would go in and dance around the Christmas tree. This was followed by distribution of Christmas presents. It was always I, the youngest, who had charge of this responsibility. It brings me to think about an event, which happened shortly before one Christmas. I was out shopping with mother and on the way downtown, I asked her what they were giving me for Christmas. Naturally, mother wouldn’t tell me, but I kept insisting and finally, she said: You are getting a gold arm bracelet.” They were very fashionable in those days. Mother insisted that come Christmas, I was not to let on I knew what I was getting. Thus, on Christmas Eve, when I began handing out the Christmas presents, I naturally looked for a small square package, which perhaps might contain an arm bracelet, but I couldn’t find any.

Puzzled, I looked at my mother and she said: ”Try looking under the couch!” I proceeded to do this and hauled out a very large package. It contained a large, beautiful doll, with real hair and brown eyes, which could open and close and it was nicely dressed. There was only one thing wrong. I never cared much for playing with dolls. One day, when dad coma back from work, I had hidden under mom and dad’s double bed, something I did quite often. Naturally, dad had long ago discovered this, but he had brought home a small wind-up type toy train, and run it in under the bed to me. This made me extremely happy. I think I should have been a boy, as far as toys were concerned.

When I was a bit older, I had learned how to draw in school and played with paper dolls. Us girls designed all the clothes for the dolls on paper which were kept in exercise books. This was quite a game and we felt as if we were fashion designers. Often, we sat up on the old fortress ramparts and played with them. We also played song games, such as: ”Take this ring and let it wander from one to the other.”

My mother’s family I knew little of. I had only seen mother’s father one time when I was very little and lived in Bjerge Street 68, so this must have been before I was seven years old. Contrarily, I knew my father’s family very well and we often socialized with them. My father’s brother’s name was August and he was married to Aunt Laura. They had five children, two boys, and three girls. The boys were named James Carl and Egon and the girls Marie, Sigrid, and Sonja. We visited them often and I played together with Egon and Sonja, who were the same age as I. ”Uncle August”, as we called him was a ”Big loaf of bread” , strong as a bear, but a convivial character, who was fond of children. He would pull five cent coins out of the noses of children (well, at least he pretended to) and they were considerable impressed by this.

My father’s sister, Aunt Inger, was a spinster and remained unmarried until her death. She lived near the Church in Egeskov (meaning ”Oak Forrest”), close to Fredericia and was employed as a housekeeper for a widowed gentleman, who had a little son. From time to time, I would go and visit

 her and we traveled to her place in a horse gig. It was Uncle August who arranged the trips and he was also the driver. My cousins, Egon and Sonja, often came along and it was fun to ride in the gig. I remember during one of those trips that Uncle August suddenly stopped. There was a package laying on the road in front of us. Uncle jumped off the gig and proceeded to go and pick it up, but as soon as he reached for it, it disappeared into the ditch. Two boys, hidden there, had tied a string to the parcel so they could pull it. We laughed a lot about this and so did the two boys.

In the newspaper: ”Fredericia Daily News” of August 25, 1931, I read about a funny experience that uncle August had. The article stated:

Yesterday, two warehouse workers made a bet that one of them, August Møller, could drive a colleague to the town of Snohøj and back again in a wheelbarrow within a time span of two hours. The trip began at 2:15 in the afternoon and during the following two hours; quite a few people had assembled along Strand Road, to witness the race. When Møller arrived back, the trip had taken half an hour longer than needed, to win the bet, which was only a small amount. Ha had an accident along the way in that he stepped on a nail, which hurt his foot. Many people followed the two men on the last stretch of the road to the finish line. Even though he did not win the bet, it was never the less an impressive accomplishment and this morning his friends gave Møller 10 Kr. (Kroner) and a silver spoon as a reward for his performance.”

On the 28th of August, 1931, Fredericia Daily News writes that Uncle August will make another attempt to drive his colleague “Ernst” in a wheelbarrow from Fredericia to Snohøj and back. The article stated:

This time, Møller actually succeeded, in that he made the round trip in two hours and five minutes. The fact that he was able to reduce his time by 25 minutes was in part due to Møller’s better condition and also because this time he had positioned his passenger in a more practical way so that the weight was not as great as last time. When the two wheelbarrow men arrived at the finish line by the railroad crossing on Strand Road, a very large group of people had gathered, amongst them many of his colleagues, who had shown an interest in this undertaking and hailed this little expedition.

 

Amongst mom and dad’s friends from the abstinence club were Andreas Pedersen and his wife Johanne, whom I was quite fond of. While I was a little girl, I could not pronounce their correctly and thus called them: “Gres and Per.” Gres worked at Fredericia Coal Gas generating station, which wasn’t very far from our home in Bjerge Street 68. From time to time, it happened that Gres had forgotten his lunch bucket and since he and Per lived close by our place, they would send for me, so that I could bring him his lunch down at the gas works, something I didn’t mind doing. It was something of a big experience for me each time. I would get Gres to open one of the great gates to the coal roasting ovens and God, how the flames flared up inside them. I both thrilled and shivered at the spectacle.

While we lived at Egeskov Road No. 4 and I was attending school in Dale Street, I could either walk or bike to school. When I walked, I always went through The Prince’s Gate. On the city side of the gate were situated two small fences made of iron pipe, on each side of the gate. On these, I would always do a series of somersaults, before I went home. I thought this was a lot of fun and, by the way, they still exist at the very moment I’m writing, September 1994

During my childhood and youth, we were quite involved in the annual festivity called: “The Sixth of July Day.” This day commemorates the battle at Fredericia on July 6, 1849. On the part of the ramparts called “Prince George’s Bastion”, some of the old cannons were still mounted there and soldiers, wearing uniforms of the 1849 period, were firing the canons, which were pointed toward Venders Street. They gave some terrific “Bangs,” which rather scared me a bit, but I wanted to go up and see it. So mother had to wake me early in the morning, around 6 in the morning, I believe it was when the shooting started. So it was, that I stood out there on the ramparts, holding my hands against my ears, scared and thrilled all at the same time. Later there would be a procession through the streets and speeches were given at various commemorative monuments.

The celebration actually already began on July 5th, in the evening. People would show up with flower bouquets, which were laid on the grass around the statue of “Landsoldaten.”

There were many different types of flower bouquets, ranging from very expensive, store-bought flowers to those coming from gardens and also bouquets of wild flowers. Each year, when I was a little girl, I would get a new white dress on this occasion. This type of dress was very popular and much used in then.

Back in those days, there would be carriages in the procession, filled with veterans from the 1849 war, but of course, they are all dead now. Nevertheless, there was great jubilation amongst people, when their horse-drawn carriages passed by them.

While living at Egeskov Road 4, something both unpleasant and exciting happened, and that was a fire. The event was described in the newspaper: “The Social Democrat” on November 16, 1931. I was ten years old then and playing hide and seek with another girl on the day of the fire. We had gone through the gate to the yard of a farm, located close to where we lived and we saw that the barn was on fire. I rushed into the cow stable, where some girls were milking the cows and shouted; “Fire, fire!”

At about seven PM, the fire department was called and they arrived quickly with a lot of equipment. Four hoses were laid out and connected to pumps set up at the fire hydrant outside a place called “Rosenlund.” Some of the fire crew began fighting the fire, while others helped the owners and their workers rescue the animals from the stables, which was difficult since the fire had started so suddenly. There were 23 heads of cattle in the barn and although they managed to get them all out, three of them had suffered so severely from smoke inhalation that they were put down as soon as came out.

It was especially hard to get the pigs out since they didn’t want to leave the barn. Many of them had to be carried out, which took quite some time and it wasn’t possible to get them all out. The flames had spread and it had become too dangerous to rescue them all. Several piglets, four brood sows, and a boar fell victim to the flames. The hen house, which was attached to the barn, also burned and a lot of chickens succumbed in the smoke and flames.

Within an hour’s time or so, the firemen had gained control of the fire and at nine PM, the firefighters could return to the station. I fire guard remained behind, to keep an eye on the smoldering embers. It was stated in the newspaper that the cause of the fire could not be attributed to any electrical malfunctions since there were no wires where the fire had started. It was also determined that none of the people who lived there could have started the fire since all of them were working someplace else at the time the fire started. It is possible, however, that the fire may have started as a result of children playing with matches since the two girls who discovered the fire had seen two boys throwing lighted matches in the alley behind the farm. The barn wall facing the alley was in a state of disrepair, resulting in some straw protruding from it. Thus it is entirely possible that the two boys caused the fire.

 

The following afternoon, an inquest was held and the two boys were questioned. One of the two girls was also questioned, and that was I, something I still remember very clearly.

I was not some scared little wimp when I was 13 years old. My sister, Elinor, was more scared than I, even though she was nine years older. I remember one night when my parents had a card game at our place on Egeskov Rd. At the time, my father was having a house constructed on Spurvevej 5 (meaning Sparrow Rd) and he discovered he had forgotten his wallet out at the construction site. Since the house was not yet completed, there was no electricity in it and when dad asked my sister Elinor to go and fetch his wallet so that he could pay what he had lost in the card game, she said no. She didn’t dare to go out there in the dark. “Never mind”, I said, “Lend me your bike and I’ll go and get it.” The bike had a light on it and I went and got dad’s wallet.

Seaman, Chief Mate C.H. Hansen, and his wife owned the place we lived in on Egeskov Road and they tended to spoil me a lot. I learned to embroider at their married daughter’s place.
Her married name was Ellen Kragekjær and I embroidered everything that needed embroidering on my sister Elinor’s bridal outfit.

Much as I was spoiled, I was not permitted to decide everything for myself, especially if it involved something dangerous for me. After I had attended school for some years, I began to assert myself and found some interesting things to do in my spare time. I was quite good at gymnastics at school so I took out a membership in K.I.F. (Kvindelig Idræts Forening) where I took swimming lessons during the summer and gymnastics in wintertime. Later I also began “Step” and “Plastik.”

At the age of 13, in 1934, we moved to the new house on Spurvevej 5, which now had been completed. The house had a large room in the basement, which was used as a guest room and other things. I used this for training in gymnastics. By and By, I became a member of the elite team. Once, we were scheduled to put on an exhibition in the town of Odense on Fyn Island. We had to practice a particular gymnastics program, accompanied to music and in this respect; I was lucky, for I had a portable record player down in the basement room and a collection of records. Amongst them, I found a recording of “Stars and Stripes”, which suited precisely both the rhythm and the length of this gymnastics program. I remembered all the exercises, so I trained like mad at home in the basement. At our next official training meet, which took place at nighttime, I could remember all the exercises without making any errors. Because of this, I was put in front of the team, with the rest of the team following, and this made me quite proud. Our team became a success in Odense, and the whole affair was filmed.

During the summer, I benefited greatly from membership in the KIF in that I was taught both swimming and diving at the ladies swimming club on the east beach. We also had swimming competitions in on of the large harbor basins. The water was very deep there, which scared me somewhat.

My father’s position at the railroad entitled him to certain privileges, including “permission”, meaning he could get extra days off. He was also entitled to free travel anywhere the trains went and my parents would often take the train to either Filskov or Thorsø and our summer vacations were generally spent in either place. I Filskov, we vacationed on a nice farm named “Filskovsminde” owned by my aunt and uncle. It consisted of three buildings and a large storage shed for peat bricks, used for fuel during the winter. Although modernized somewhat, the farm still exists today.

An example of an arrival at the farm on a winter day would be something like the following. We would arrive by train at the railroad station in Filskov and outside, uncle Søren Christian would be waiting for us with his horse and carriage. We would then be driven to the farm and immediately be bidden into the large, cozy warm kitchen, where Aunt Edeline would be busy preparing some food. On some winter days, it could happen that I got cold hands, but aunt Edeline had a good remedy for that. On the back of the kitchen stove, there was a hot water container called a “Gris” (meaning “a pig”) and it was always filled with hot water. Edeline would put an egg in it and when good and hot, she would put it into my hands and they would quickly warm up again.

 

I helped to bring peat fuel bricks back from the bog and another wonderful event was the harvest. It was simply just great to go and visit there any time of the year.

They grew a lot of potatoes in some of the fields, and the surplus was sold. In this, my father was involved. Some of my dad’s colleagues from the railroad and friends from the abstinence club would order as many barrels of potatoes as they needed through my father. The potatoes were of very fine quality and inexpensive. When the truck carrying the potatoes arrived at our place from Filskov, dad would go with it around to the various persons who had ordered potatoes, to make sure everyone got what they had ordered. I also came along several times, and that was quite enjoyable. After aunt and uncle died, my cousin Anna and her husband Markus Nielsen took over the farm, but our visits there did not diminish because of that.

Anna’s sister, Marie, lived in Thorsø and was married to Jørgen Jørgensen. They owned a cement casting plant, where they fabricated cement bricks, culverts, well liners and various other things for use in construction. It was both interesting and a lot of fun to spend my vacations there. Their private residence was called “Thorshøj” (meaning Thor’s hill) and across from this lay the factory and the warehouses. From the warehouse, a set of rails had been laid, leading up to a gravel pit from where they got the sand and gravel used in manufacturing the products. A small train hauling dump cars would be running back and forth from the gravel pit and it was fun for us children to ride on it, which we could as often as we wanted.

Their house was quite large, so there was lots of room for the whole family plus vacationing guests. The family consisted of Jørgen and Marie and my cousins Frank, Richard, Betty, Inger, and Grethe. Betty and I were the same age and always together, whether just to have fun or working in the house. When we were teenagers, we would often

Go to a dance in one of the town hall in the neighboring towns. At times, we wouldn’t get home before five o’clock in the morning. Before we went to bed, we would sit down at the kitchen table and eat rhubarb jelly and salami sandwiches, which we would get from the root cellar underneath the kitchen. Then straight to bed to get a bit of sleep, before Betty had to get up and help around the house, something I also participated in.

I was very fond of going to school and wanted to attend “Latinskolen”, to become a high school graduate. My school gave me a letter to bring home to my parents, in which it was recommended that I be enrolled in that school. My parents, however, felt that I was too frail. I was prone to faint, often in such a way that I, for example, would all of a sudden fall off the bench at my school bench. This condition followed me for some years but has long ago vanished.

It was a disappointment for me that I was not allowed to attend the Latin school. Instead, I enrolled in “Handelskolen” (school of commerce) and at the same time, through an add in the local paper, I got a part-time job at Mr. Swane, who was a customs control officer and lived on Thors Rd 17. My working hours were from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. This way, I could study in the afternoon and attend the school of commerce in the evening.

I wanted to work in an office and succeeded in getting a position with Johannes Hansen at Teknisk Material Handel, located at the northeast corner of Gother’s and Jylland streets. This business sold minor groceries, various health care supplies, and materials. There was a nice cozy office in the back of the store, where two desks were positioned against each other, and here Mr. Hansen and I sat across from each other. I had to keep the cashbooks and manage the accounts payable book every month. I gained quite an insight into who paid their bills and who didn’t. This was really quite a nice place to work and I maintained very good relationships with both the sales clerk apprentice and the delivery boy. We often sat together and enjoyed ourselves, while Mr. Hansen was home for lunch.

One day, something rather extraordinary happened. We were standing behind the counter talking about this and that’s when all of a sudden we heard a loud bang. It was a can of pears that had exploded and there simply wasn’t a place in the store where you couldn’t find bits and pieces of pears and juice. It took some time to get everything back in order before Mr. Hansen, who was home for lunch, returned again.

Mr. Hansen was foreman for the harbor committee in 1939 and the new west harbor was to be officially opened on July sixth that year. For the occasion, Mr. Hansen asked me if I had five girlfriends who, besides myself, would like to as hostesses, offering various types of tobacco from large mahogany boxes to the prominent guests during the inauguration.

King Christian the Tenth and Queen Alexandrine arrived in Fredericia aboard the royal yacht “Dannebrog” through the new entry to the harbor basin, over which was suspended a red banner, which the ship was supposed to cut when it entered. A lot of people stood on the wharf and hailed the royal couple. A grandstand had been erected, from where the King gave a speech, following which they signed their names in the guest book. After this was done, I had to go around to all the other official guests and have them sign the book also.

My girlfriend Ketty and I were supposed to go aboard a ferry in the afternoon, which was to take some of the guests for a tour of “Lille Bælt” down to and around the little island of Fænø. When we came on board, we were told we could go anywhere on the ferry we wanted, both on and below the deck. At some point during the tour, I was on my way up to the bridge, when I felt a tug in my skirt, I turned around to see whom it could be. It was a gentleman and he said to me: “Tell me little Miss, has anyone ever told you that you are walking very nicely on your legs? And who was this gentleman? It was the Prime Minister of Denmark, Thorvald Stauning. I think I blushed. In the evening, all of us six girls went to the Theater restaurant, where the 159 guests were dining. We were dressed in white, pleated skirts, white blouses with navy seaman’s collars and something akin to Navy officer caps.

The inauguration of the harbor and the celebration that followed are detailed in the newspaper “Fredericia Daily News”, July 6, 1939.

After dinner in the Theater Restaurant, us six girls headed for Hotel Landsoldaten, only to find that it was impossible to get a table in the restaurant. I happened to spot Johannes Hansen, my boss, sitting in the banquet room and since I had a bundle of keys, belonging to him, I went in and gave them to him. He asked me if we had managed to get a table, to which I sadly replied that we hadn’t. He called a waiter and asked him to procure a table for us six girls and for the rest of the evening, anything we ordered was free. What a party that was. I didn’t get into the office until noon the next day.

While I still worked for Mr. Hansen, I came to know Allan Christensen, who was a nephew to Pastor Erik Christensen of St. Michaelis Church. Allan worked at Mr. Clock’s bookstore in Gother’s street, and since Hansen and Clock shared the same backyard, where we parked our bicycles, I came to know him. There were five or six of us and we would often meet in the evening after work and supper. We would go for long walks out on Strand Rd or across the white bridge, but no matter where we went, we always ended up at the pastor’s residence for evening tea with Erik Christensen.

During my last school year, a new girl came to our class. Her name was Karen Kålberg and she was from the town of Viborg. We both became confirmed at the same time in Trinitatis Church and at this point in time, we had ‘discovered’ boys. We spent many hours together with two boys, Hans and Alex. They were friends that suited us fine. Hans became my boyfriend and innocent kisses were exchanged on one of the benches on the ramparts. We maintained our friendship for many years, even after we had found our respective husbands.

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