Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Unique family photos 3: Little Sofus

When my great-grandmother Gerd died in 2005 at the age of 80, some of her old photos were bequeathed to our side of the family. Many of them were very personal and even humorous. My great-grandmother - oldemor, as we say in Norwegian - was a good person; we visited her often, I have many fond memories of her, and my mother and my aunts have always felt strongly connected to her side of the family.

Among oldemor's photos, there were a few that were very old and intriguing. Some of them we still haven't really identified. But some of them were in fact childhood photos of oldemor's parents, my great-great-grandparents, and their siblings.

Oldemor Gerd was the daughter of Sofus Adolf Hansen, who was born in Oslo in 1898 and died in 1970, and Dagny Gunvor Andreasdatter Hellerud, who was born in Blaker in 1901 and died in 1983. The majority of the very old photos seem to come from Sofus' side.

Believe it or not, the photo above is Sofus' class picture. It must have been taken around 1905, and the location is Sofienberg School. Sofus is almost certainly number 4 from the left in the third row from the front.

This photo was taken in Number 3, Conradi Street, in the Sofienberg area of Oslo's East End (an area which was also my first home). On the left side, sitting on the couch, is my great-great-grandfather Sofus (born 1898). In the middle is his sister Ester (born 1901), and on the right is another sister, Lili (born 1904). I guess the photo might have been taken sometime around 1912-1914.

I don't even know how to describe this photo. It's like travelling back in time. There are so many details here; the tear in the couch, the bundle of clothes on the armrest, the pictures on the wall, the mirror, the chairs on the wooden plank floor, the expressions of the children. This photo depicts life. It breathes. Just looking at it gives me the feeling that I've known my great-great-grandfather in person.

Sofus is remembered fondly by all his descendants. My mother remembers that he used to have a small wooden motor boat moored near the mouth of Aker river, in the middle of Oslo. The boat was named "Thea", after Sofus' mother in law, and my mother used to go with her great-grandparents Sofus and Dagny on boat trips on the Oslo Fjord.

Even though they owned a boat, Sofus and Dagny were not well off; they belonged to the working class. Sofus worked as a stoker at the Christiania Sailcloth Factory from 1922 on, earning a medal for long and faithful service in 1952.

There is, of course, nobody alive today who remembers Sofus as a young boy. The photo below is from his final years at the sailcloth factory, and shows him as the older man that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren remember him as. I believe the photo was taken sometime in the 1950s.

And here is a photo of oldemor Gerd and myself:

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