Back to the 60s
Our attic is very, very large. It almost feels like crawling through The Chamber of Secrets. This time, I went deep. Somewhere between the third and fourth chimney I found a box and a suitcase. In it, the life of a young student graduating in 1964.
I once read a book where the autor claimed that: a man from the 1890s time traveling to the 1950s, would have less problems adapting to his new life than a man time traveling from the 1950s to 2018.
Technological gadgets and cars aside, the man traveling from 1890 to 1950 would find himself in a social world quite similar to the one he came from. Gender roles and male dominated work spaces, the educational system, personal disiplin, fitness and food, money, christianity, love and flirtation and the institution of marriage.
I belive this to be true, especially in the Norwegian countryside.
Things move slow up North.
1950s. The Second World War created unity. The big "we", not the individual "I". Growth in all areas of society. Labour party.
1960s. Industry. Young people start questioning life's obligations and its practical aspects. "I want to get married later". Dawning individualism. Labour party.
1970s. Young people question the emotional aspects of life. "I don't want to get married". Individualism hits the fan. Mao. (Oil will be here soon).
1980s. Oil. Today's Norwegian reality emerged.
I had the rare opportunity of peeking into a young mans 1960s life.
A young man I do not know, a young man who can not tell me his story.
Assembling, investigating and interpreting a composition of assets: his gadgets, his writings, his documents, his books, his calendar and his treasure.
Let me start by describing his calendar, or his "Seventh Sense" as this kind of calendar is called in Norwegian.
First page and I'm thrown back in time.
First of all, the calendar is made for men only. I mean, what would a woman need a calendar for anyway?
It starts of with a check list for accessories. Car (a proud tick in this box), gloves, hatt, passport, tax card, shirt, shoes, shirt collar, stockings, bicycle, phone, weight class and underwear.
Basically, all the things a grown and responsible man needs to know and possess.
I see this check list as a (smart) tool to incorporate the right values, and to give a young man the proper mind set.
Tax card. Weight class. Hatt. Loving it.
Scrolling through his calendar I notice he hasn't noted much.
His confirmation date. Age 15. In the 1960s, at this age, young men and women were considered adults.
The date when he met the girl who would become his girlfriend. Noted in keywords: Her name, where she was from and where they met.
A few weeks later, their first kiss and the beginning of a relationship, simply noted with "Kissed X. We are now a couple".
Their four months anniversary.
Their first fight.
The break up.
I find a letter from a friend who lives in America.
The friend is moving from Florida to Norway and is starting school in a small town near by. There are questions about the school, the classes and the students.
There are tales of the grand life in Florida, of the new Ford Thunderbird, the rock music and the prosperity.
"Some families have several cars!".
I also find a post card from Berlin, sent by some other friends. The main message being:
"We found a flat. Movie theaters are open day and night. We can go to the movies all the time!"
The young student was serious about his life.
I find his life insurance. One small piece of paper and a promise of a 10 % increase if death should take place before the 31st of December 1963.
That is, before his turnes 17.
In another envelope I find a University catalogue. A list of all possible educations and professions and what payment to expect.
Let's just say that the opportunities were fewer back then.
I find one hymnal and one bible.
The hymnal belonged to his mother, the bible was a confirmation gift.
I find crayons, pens and drawings.
Drawings of the perfect upper body? When you can't find them in magazines, why not draw them?
I find a small shrine. A treasure.
In it, a picture of two girls. Was one of them his girlfriend? Or someone else he had a crush on?
And this, "Russekort".
Typical printed personal cards that students handed out when they graduated. They usually had some funny drawing, the name of the graduée and some funny quote.
"Work is life's salt. Did I put to little salt in?"
We still have these in Norway, though they look very different. Mine said "Under my thumb" (Rolling Stones).
And oh my, this is to funny. A pamphlet for the new, awesome Swedish ballpoint pen "Ballograf".
Nowadays Swedish people are considered to be very politically correct.
Apparently, this was not the case in the 1960s.
Long live stereotypes! The Ministry of Culture would be proud. I suspect this is their goal with those cultural heritage programs.
I have learned of a young students dreams and aspirations, about what was important to him and a little about the world that influenced him.
Though I was humbled for this opportunity, I felt a bit like I was poking around.
Like when I was a kid, sneaking into my big brothers room - reading his diary, trying to figure out what he is really up to...
(Message to both of my brothers in case they read this: I never did that of course. Never. Promise).