Page 110 - Zumtobel Group Geschaeftsbericht 2013-14 EN

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“I went there to meet Selma Lagerlöf. I rode onto the grounds of her big country
house, and she came out, but she was quite short with me. I don’t think she cared
for unannounced visits. So we didn’t have much of a chat. Then I rode home. She had
a lame foot. But she lived well. There was a big gravelled drive, and the gravel crun-
ched under my feet and my tyres. And she had lovely flowerbeds.”
And thus Helny did not pursue a career as a writer, but instead ended up in
Stockholm, where she lived in a rented room near Kungsbron with three other girls
and took a job as a practical nurse at Sophiahemmet.
“I should have continued with my studies, but I didn’t have anybody pushing me.
Mostly, I worked. Stockholm was big and bright. The light shone from the streetlights
and signs all night long. Others were no doubt having a time of it, but I rarely went
out. For the most part, I worked and kept to myself.”
These were turbulent times in Europe. Hitler had come to power. Helny hated
Hitler and worried that Sweden might be attacked and occupied. She joined the
women’s defence auxiliary and was sent up to Boden to join a group of women who
scanned the night skies, looking for enemy planes. They were called “swifts”, after
the migratory birds. That was how she ended up in Boden.
“As it turned out, though, nothing much was going on, so I started cycling in
Boden, having a look around. That was how I found my lot on the Lule River. I wanted
to build a summer cottage, but the lot was so big I figured I might just as well build
a real house. I had the money from my mother, so I ordered a prefab house and found
a builder. However, afterwards he decided he didn’t want the job, and when they
called from the station in Boden and said my house was ready to pick up on a
couple of goods wagons at the rail yard, I decided I’d build it myself. I did hire a
few men to help, but we ended up quarrelling all the time, because it turned out
that they couldn’t take orders from a woman. I threatened to dock their pay, though,
and in the end they did what I said. It wasn’t like there was all that much work to
be had, here, after the war”.
“‘If you can’t hold your tongue, you can quit,’ I told them.”
Eventually the house was finished, and Helny moved in and started working as
a clerk at I19, the Norrbotten Regiment. The house had four rooms and a kitchen, a
cellar and a view of the river. She loved it. In the winter she skied, and in the summer
Helny Zingmark
65°50’0”N, 21°43’0”E