View Full Version : A Föglö Emigrant's Memoirs

June Pelo
06-04-04, 22:03
Norden newspaper had a review of the above book written by Hjördis M. Sundblom who wrote about her life in America where she lived for 52 years before returning to Åland. She wrote that her mother's father left for America at age 16. He borrowed a horse and cart from a neighbor in Ingby. The neighbor was returning home from Åbo on the same boat that her grandfather would be sailing on, so he used the cart and horse that her grandfather left for him. Her grandfather's mother had told him to "take Backas horse and go to America."

Hjördis wrote how different is was in Åland two generations ago and how unbelievable it was for people who grew up in later years to understand how difficult life was. Especially for today's young people who have computers and Internet, mobile telphones and a weekly allowance!

She wondered if they could understand how it was when she, as an 18-year-old girl, was sent to the US to work, using money that her parents had loaned to her so she would have a place to live. Hjördis was born in Föglö in 1920. Her parents served as a farm hand and maid and lived in a little cottage in Kallsö. The family grew and needed a larger home and better living conditions, but they couldn't buy a farm on farm hand wages.

Her father went to America and worked for 7 years, coming home with enough money to buy the little island Galland. For those 7 years her mother raised three children and worked for a farmer in order to have food for her family.

It wasn't uncommon at that time for young Åland girls to go to Stockholm to work. So Hjördis thought she would go to America and earn money to repay her mother's sister Matilda, who had helped them with money to buy a little farm in Sonboda. She wrote about how it was for a young girl to adapt to a strange new life. Matilda helped her find a job working for a wealthy New York family where she was worked under the supervision of Aina Engblom who was born in America but grew up in Hummersö at Föglö; she spoke Swedish and became instrumental in helping Hjördis learn a new language and adapt to a completely new world.

Hjördis wrote about the years she was employed by the socialite family. "It was important that one always knew his place and that with a little discipline, one could do more than one thought," she wrote.

After 24 years in the US working in the kitchen and parlor, she trained to become a physiotherapist and worked 22 years in that field. Then she retired and reached a dramatic decision: she flew home to Åland after 52 years in America.

The book is richly illustrated and an entire life is covered in 120 pages.

Norden newspaper Jan 1, 2004
by Siv Ekström, Önningeby, Åland


Ingemar Ekman
30-11-05, 19:45
I want to inform you that the Åland Islands' Emigrant Institute has announcing the release of the English version of Hjördis M. Sundblom's book "A Föglö Emigrant's Memoirs" now with the new title of "My Name is Sunny Now - A Scandinavian Emigrant's Story". The new English translation is to be released in time for Christmas.
// Ingemar

30-11-05, 21:29
Is Hjördis related to Haddon Sundblom, the designer of Santa Claus as we know him today?

In older Finnish Christmas songs the Joulu-ukko (Old man Christmas) was clad in gray. Nowadays he wears a read frock in Finland too, just like the Coca Cola Santa that Sundblom fasioned after his own appearance.


Ingemar Ekman
30-11-05, 23:45
Hi Sune,
Yes, Hjördis Sundblom is 4th cousin to Haddon.
The SFHS Quarterly magazine, December 2001, (Vol 10 No.4) had an article about Haddon and his family tree with information from a folder that Hjördis had put together.
// Ingemar

Ingemar Ekman
26-03-08, 19:38
KvällsStunden - Hemmets och familjens veckotidning, har denna vecka en hel sida om Hjördis Sundblom med titeln "Från Manhattan till Mariehamn - ett ovanligt emigrantöde", artikeln skriven av Gunvor Nordin.

Tidningens hemsida (www.kvallsstunden.se) anger bl.a
"Kvällsstunden utkommer varje vecka till 55.000 prenumeranter (TS 2006) över hela Sverige och även utomlands. Vi är bland annat den största svenskspråkiga tidningen i USA"