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Frustrated Nostalgia

Freda Isaksen

During the decades that I was growing up it was customary that when a girl married, her parents would send her to her new home supplied with as much household equipment as they could afford. Linens, kitchen supplies, window drapes, etc. It was considered that the husband would henceforth be providing everything for their duaghter, so the newly married couple should start off well in their new home. During the years when women were proficient in needlework they could be sewing for years to prepare a hope chest to be ready for their marriage.

My family was of the same mind so when I left England for Norway boxes of supplies were shipped to equip my new home. Even chicken fat was sent, for how could a Jewish bride cook without chicken fat which is hard to come by in Norway?

So for four years I had an almost fully endowed home, money was supplied to buy furniture and all of this was meant to be used for many years into the future.

Four years later came the occupation by the Germans, and three days later I packed a suitcase of valuables which hopefully could be converted into cash such as sterling silver wedding presents and walked out of my home, not realising that I would never return there to live.

In America we set up a new home with new househould goods, at first somewhat shoddy and later on as we established ourselves, these were replenished. Never regretting everything lost because we had escaped the terror in Europe.

I have returned to Trondheim many times. Each time I would pass by my former residence with nostalgia, never knowing what had become of our former possessions.

My visit this summer would have been no different except that my nephew Lennart told me that the receptionist in his office said that her daughter has bought a house at Stats Ingenors Gate at the corner of Rosenborg Gate. He replied, “My goodness, such a coincidence because my uncle and aunt used to live there sixty or seventy years ago. My aunt is coming to Trondheim very soon.” His employee told him that there is some old stuff in the attic. “Do you think your aunt would like to look at it for no one knows who it belongs to.”

When my nephew told me this my heart skipped a beat. “Oh yes, you bet I would like to look at it, maybe it’s mine.”

Lennart called to make arrangements for us to go over there, but the owner would be at her summer home for the weekend so we should come on Monday. “But they are leaving town on Monday.” “So come on Sunday at 4 o’clock.”

So for three days Dan and Leonard and I speculated about what I might find there in the attic after I had abandoned it sixty-six years previously. Dan thought it might be my dirty laundry. No one would have taken that.

At the appointed time we arrived. When she opened the door to us on the first floor I was almost overcome with nostalgia but I had to compose myself as we climbed the stairs to the attic. There were a couple of old cupboards there which had not belonged to me.

The lady invited us to her apartment on the second floor, but it had obviously been redecorated so it was not familiar to me. We had lived on the lower floor but the present occupant was away so she could not let us visit there.

She invited us to have tea with her and she served a chocolate cake with blackberry topping. I have written a story about my blackberry jam.1

She took us down to see the cellar and that was very familiar with the same shelves that stored my blackberry jam, they were empty.

So with that visit my life has evolved full cycle.


  1. See What Happened to My Blackberry Jam?

Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at

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