«Describe the town where you grew up» … that was the topic in the WP-challenge, and one that I’ll love to write about. I’m immensely proud of Härnösand, and it’s the most beautiful little town in the whole world, if you ask me!
Härnösand was founded 1585. It’s located on an island, but nowadays it has spread to the mainland. There were several little islands actually, but due to the isostatic uplift, it’s all mainland now.
It has a deep, natural harbour and shipping and ship building was always an important part of life. The harbour used to be a lively place. Not so much now.
1650 Härnösand got its first hospital and 1680 its first highschool. I’m not going to write up the history of Hernö Sand in this little blog. That has already been done in three, very thick, volumes.
I wasn’t born there, to be honest … I was born in Kristinehamn, Värmland, where my father was from, but we moved to Härnösand when I wasn’t even one year old, so I consider myself a native 🙂 My Mother was from there, her brother — my uncle — had just built a house with two apartments so we moved. Perhaps she was homesick. My Father died shortly afterwards … when I was two.
My brother, who is ten years older, and I grew up on the mainland … a little bit south of the city centre. As our Father was dead, and Mum working nights in the hospital, my brother had to look after me a lot! Imagine that … a fifteen year old boy, having to look after his little sister every night. He often took me to the movies. The first movie I can remember ever seeing in the cinema was Cat Ballou.
My first, six years of schooling took place in a really small school in a more rural area. All of us in school knew one another, our parents knew both us and the other parents … if they didn’t know them personally, they at least knew of them. Our neighbors had only sons, so I grew up playing with boys all the time and didn’t have a ‘best girl friend’ until I was almost twelve. She lived quite far from our place so we sure did a lot of bicycling. Anywhere we wanted to go … going swimming or so, we biked.
I was born 1955 and I still remember what Härnösand looked like in my childhood … before they tore down parts of the old in the 60’s. I remember many buildings, streets that are no more … all the little stores, before the supermarkets came into play… little cafés. The coffee shop where you bought ground coffee, that smelled so good, the fish store that didn’t smell so good 🙂 There were butcher shops, shops for fruit, a rather big department store … they’re all gone.
Every Saturday people went into town … to do their shopping, but also to have coffee with friends in one of the numerous cafés. I always went with Mum, you got served at the table, the waitress came around with a big tray filled with oodles of delicious pastries. How I wish I’d had a photo of it. I have no photos.
Back in those days … I could go into town on my own when I was about twelve … you knew or recognized almost everyone in town. Even more so when I started grade 7, because that was a different school and it was in town (Franzén skolan). I don’t think it exists any more.
The Cathedral has a central place in Härnösand, and this is where I was confirmed 1968. Church of Sweden is Lutheran and up to 1999 church and state were together. It was almost like you were born into the church but Sweden is a very secularized country.
Around that time, they had started to build a plant in Härnösand … out in a place called Murbergsviken. That used to be a little beach and many people were upset that this place was being ‘destroyed’ by an industry. It was a small beach and only frequented by the people living nearby … it was strange because there never seemed to be any sunshine — it was always shady. I never went there to swim — there were so many other places.
If my memory serves me right, that plant was taken into operation in 1969. 1970/71 I went to school in another town in southern Sweden and when I got back, I got a job at that company, which was American by the way. I worked there for twelve years. About three hundred people worked there, which was a lot, considering how small a town Härnösand is. It’s kind of sad that I worked there for twelve years and don’t have one, single photo from that time. Great Lakes Carbon Corp. was the name of it.
This turned out to be the most difficult post to write, even though I was so looking forward to it. Difficult, in the way of keeping the thread … I wanted to write about the town but my own growing up there go so intertwined so I had a hart time keeping my thoughts apart. I’ve been at it for two hours now 🙂 I wanted to write a post that made people want to go there. I haven’t been there myself for seven years.
My brother still lives there … and I just can’t finish off this post without a picture of my favourite place … Notsand, a stony beach