Monday, October 13, 2008

A Look Back in Time

In yesterday's entry I made mention that I didn't go out for orchestra in my senior year because this dude named Ole had entered my life. Here's a bit of history from a long ago entry - just for my newer readers:

Ole and I were high school sweethearts. We met in first hour study hall of our senior year. He sat in the front of the room, and I sat about mid-way back. He was well over six feet tall and had the most beautiful brown eyes - his mother called them "bedroom brown" - (I'm not going there!) Every morning during the Pledge of Allegiance (yes, we said the Pledge back then,) he would turn around and give me a big smile with this perfect white teeth.

Ole had kind of a reputation back then. He was one of those "hoods" as they were called back in the 60s. A bad guy, he smoked and had been "requested" by the principal to not attend classes on more than one occasion. Must have been the mystique that drew me to him, because by the time Sadie Hawkins Day came around I asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance, and from that point on we were a "thing."

I was 20 by one week, and he was 20 by 26 days when we were married. The Viet Nam War was raging, and lots of our high school friends were being drafted. About a year after Ole and I were married we knew his number was getting close, so he decided to enlist in the Navy where he would have some choices about what he would do, instead of being drafted and sent into the infantry. Luck leaned our way, and following basic training and additional school, he was sent to the NATO Base at Keflavik, Iceland.

You can't imagine the chagrin when he came home with his orders for Iceland. Neither of us even knew where the place was, let alone whether or not I would be able to go with him. After a short leave, I put him on the plane, not knowing when I would see him again.

As things went at that time, there was a postal strike for all APO/FPO addresses, and even though I wrote to him every day, I didn't receive ANY mail from him for over six weeks. I was SURE that that was the end of our marriage and that he had found some little chickie and had written me off. And that was back in the days when making an overseas telephone call was extremely difficult and much more costly than a seaman in the Navy could afford. At this point in his military career he was bringing home $32.46 every two weeks. Even back then that wouldn't buy many groceries.

FINALLY I received six weeks worth of mail all in one bundle. Somewhere in that stack of letters was one telling me that I would be able to join him, but that it would be at our own expense - because he was only a seaman, the military wouldn't pay for any of my travel expenses or shipping any household items. So I sold everything we owned, paid off all our bills and bought an airplace ticket to Reykjavik, Iceland. At this point, I had $100 to my name and I started off to an unknown location halfway around the world.

Now remember, at this point I'm a pretty naive little girl from Minnesota, and have NEVER in my life been on an airplane. I remember the tears in my father's eyes the morning he brought me to the plane and said goodbye. I was going half a world away, and he didn't know when he would see me again. I flew into JFK in New York where I had a 12 hour layover before I could board the plane to Iceland - Loftleider Airlines flew from New York to Iceland only once a week at that time, leaving at midnight. This was in June, and as we flew north and east, within two hours of departure the sun was rising, and never set again for about a month.

Of course, Ole was there to meet me when I got off the plane. He hustled me through Customs and the extremely intimidating appearing Icelandic police, and brought me out to a car he had managed to buy. A 1959 Opal with bald tires, cracked windows, almost no muffler and a jury-rigged stick shift on the floor that was supposed to be on the column.

He had managed to find a one-bedroom apartment on the upper floor of a residence in Keflavik, where we lived for about a year. We spent the second year in Iceland in a beautiful house a little farther from the military base. Even though he made rate rapidly and we would have been able to get housing on the base, we chose to live out in town to get away from all the military BS that can take place on a NATO Base. By this time I was also working Federal Civil Service, so we both needed to get away at the end of the day.

We spent just over two wonderful years in Iceland, made a number of great friends that we still communicate with and see on occasion today, some 35 years later. The time spent in Iceland certainly made us who we are today. It broke those "apron string" completely and made us into two very independent people.

Here's some of my fondest memories from Iceland. I hope you enjoy them.

PS: You'll want to turn the sound off on my jukebox before you click on this video. It has its own sound. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

those are amazing photos! You and Ole sure got quite an opportunity there!

words-4-less said...

I love your memories, Lena. Please keep sharing!

harrietv said...

How very beautiful! Iceland was always in the list of places I wanted to see.

StitchinByTheLake said...

Lena I loved reading your story - it was fascinating. I hope you will share more with us. blessings, marlene

Carolyn said...

You are so brave! I can't imagine moving to Iceland. I thought I was brave (or an idiot) when I left a great job to follow Bill to Montana! I love these stories!

Meggie Lou said...

Iceland?! I remember seeing it on the world globe in geography class, but I guess I didn't realized people actually lived there -- kind of like the North Pole. What language do they speak and did you learn the language? Fascinating video and such darling pictures of a time gone by for us baby boomers. One of my most favorite reads are memories shared by others.

Shear said...

Great video and wonderful entry! (I even teared up a bit when I read the part about your Dad putting you on that plane.)

Here I sit, moaning and groaning about moving 8 miles out in the country while you moved half-way across the world for love.

Thank you. I needed this entry to get my big butt in line.

~ Sil in Corea said...

Gee, you two ScandaHOOvians musta fit right in there. Seriously, those are beautiful photos and give a really good feeling of what it was like to live in Iceland. They look surprisingly like some islands off the coast of Maine, although I can tell by the sunlight that Iceland is a lot further North.

Hugs from South Korea,
~ Sil in Corea (originally from Maine)