Where were we?
Oh yes, A Synopsis - Japan mid-thirties.
Afraid I’ll have to go back a bit to southern Sweden and the small town of Höganäs. That is where Märta Greta-Stina Scwartz was born and grew up.
Her father was an accountant who worked for a slate maufacturing company. Since her parents did not have enough funds to put two girls through university, my aunt Ruth got the education. My mum, instead of becoming a doctor, became a nurse. In Upsala, where she trained, she learned a lot. On her first day on the surgical ward, the Ward Sister (politically slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun) despatched her to shave a young man who was having his appendix removed. She soaped him up and he, like any young guy would, got an errection. When he made a lewd comment my mother ‘slapped it with a wet towel until it went down’. Tells you a bit about her – she was feisty.
In her mid-twenties, she met an airman called Bertil and after the old ‘whirlwind’ thing was set to marry the guy. He jilted her. Fed up, she replied to an advertisement to become the children’s nurse to the Swedish Ambassador to Japan. On the way to Japan, she travelled widely with the family across Europe and Asia and America. I have pictures of her on a beach in Rio, at the Grand Canyon and in Honolulu. When she landed in Japan, she became part of a small ex-pat community - cigarettes and gin ‘n tonics from what she told me.
It was in that small group she met a guy called ‘Buzz’ from Australia. I don’t know his real name but that’s what they called him. He was in love with her and she certainly had a romance with him until she met my father.
My parents met for the first time, sharing a taxi with some others, during a black-out (power-cuts were common in Tokyo). She was charmed by the guy. When the lights came on she figured he was really ugly. But he pursued her. He phoned, he ‘bumped into her’ and did what any guy worth his salt would do – refused to take no for an answer. They began dating and went to a different night-club every night they went out. They went out a lot and on each occasion they pinched a box of matches and wrote slushy notes to each other on each box. My sister has those boxes of matches still - about a hundred of them!
It was about this time my mother climbed Fujiyama. It was a four day trek, camping with a guide in the snow. Like I said, she was feisty. Then there were rumours of war. All non-Japanese had to leave the country including the Swedish ambassador, who was recalled. Martha and Bishwa had to part. She, returning to Sweden and he, to no known destination.
What happened next is for the next post.
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