A father’s son

Anders Swanson always wondered why his adventure ended where others saw beginnings. He had endured the third-class crossing, the humiliations and the shattered dream of acres for himself.

Always late, he had accepted work where his able body could deliver. But lingering too long, his strength and wealth had waned into prohibition bourbon.

It was time to face retreat, the country that he once had left was now a dream for wealth. Once again he could be Anders Svensson — Sven’s son — who left his family to broken promises. For his father’s sake he would now repay those debts.

© Copyright Jean L. Hays

© Copyright Jean L. Hays

The emigration from Sweden was stunningly large. 1.3 Million Swedes emigrated from a country that was a among the poorest in Europe. Those that came first could break new land, and many were successful. Other’s became workers and faced moderate success or failure. Actually about 20% of those that emigrated returned to Sweden, that changed rapidly at the same time. Read more in the Wikipedia article here, or if you have time check out the emigrant series by Wilhelm Moberg.

The videoclip (in Swedish) is from the musical Kristina från Dufvemåla, written by Björn Ulveaus and Benny Andersson of ABBA, and describe another failure (gold turning to sand).

Friday Fictioneers is a wonderful blogging community under our faithful leader Rochelle Wissoff-Fields and we all write fiction in 100 words to the same picture.

January 7, 2014

58 responses to “A father’s son

  1. Dear Bjorn,

    Fascinating history and a great tale to accompany and illustrate. Perfect for the prompt and even more so for those Swedes that returned home. Well done.



  2. Dear Björn,

    So many emigrants endured hardship for the promise of land and freedom only to be robbed of their life savings and self-esteem. You’ve told the story well.



  3. Wonderful characterisation in such a short piece Bjorn, and a great story to tell. I’m sure it’s just me but it felt like the last line was missing a word or two at the end – repay what?

  4. the relationship of father and son is always so deep and encompasses so many levels- whether the relationship is seen as good or bad does seem to matter- the depth and the consequences/ results are always there.

  5. Not all who immigrate find their dreams come true, no matter how hard they work. I love the way you characterized it with “his strength and wealth had waned into prohibition bourbon.” Heart-breaking, but I hope he’ll find redemption when he returns home.


  6. The historical background definitely added to the richness of this tale. I could almost see a parallel between this and the American gold rush, where travelers headed west to seek their fortunes, and so very few found them.

  7. Ooo, a story and some history. My favorite sort of read when going through the other entries for FridayFictioneers. I’ll admit immigration from Sweden to America has never really demanded much of my attention 1.3 millions from a country that size is certainly breath-taking. I also really love the warmth that seems to radiate from the idea of going home and being “Sven’s son” once more. There’s a lovely completeness about it.

  8. Dear Bjorn,
    I knew next to nothing about Swedish immigrants before reading your post today although I have long been aware of their presence in some of our northern states. Thanks for sharing this bit of history.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  9. I didn’t know about this mass emigration. It is a bitter reality, how people have to leave their homelands in search of better opportunities elsewhere.
    A thoughtful tale. I liked the reference of changing back to Svensson, “Sven’s son”, sounding almost like Sweden’s son. 🙂

  10. Well, I just read that at one time Chicago was the city with the highest number of Swedes outside Stockholm! It must have been hard to immigrate, but I do know that Swedes contributed much to the US.

  11. This is a very interesting story, and I think it’s always very brave to return home when such things happen. I like your protagonist despite his lack of success.

  12. Bjorn,
    the area I live now in Iowa has a lot of immigrants from Scandinavia, so there are still a lot of evidences of the culture in this area. The name switch in your story is telling. I’m sure that was the case for a lot who came to North America during that era.

  13. A fascinating story – I had no idea immigrants left Sweden in such large numbers or that it had once been poor. You capture the problems that face many an immigrant well.

  14. A really touching story of disappointment, but not despair. I like how you had him return home and revert to his original name. The immigrant road is always difficult.

  15. That is a sad tale, but I really enjoyed how you were able to weave in some historical truth into it. The lure of dreams can be strong, but sometimes the pull of home can be stronger.

  16. This is one of my favorites of yours, Björn. It rings with truth and bittersweet reality. Anders’ journey brings him full circle, and given how many of these journeys ended poorly, that is a much better outcome! The history and video at the end is icing on the cake! Thanks for including it.

    2 suggestions: In the first sentence, it should be otherS. In the final paragraph, first sentence, drop the the “had” before left. Passive voice– without it is stronger and you save a word. 😉

  17. My ancestors came from southern Germany in 1805 and landed near Philadelphia. It took about 100 years to work their way to Arkansas and homestead the property we now live on. Loved the history and the video.

  18. Great story, Björn. I’m glad he was able to come home with a new sense of pride and purpose. So often people prefer to remain stuck in their misery far from home than admit that the dream didn’t work out.

  19. I have a Norwegian friend who has researched her own vast family’s migration to America. She says she’ll have to be careful writing it up because there are some skeletons she’s uncovered!

  20. Good story! I emigrated from my country, too but had no choice since I was still a child. Our family have found success here in Canada. But there are losses, too. I thought I could go home but I was wrong. I can never go home again – not to stay. That is one of our losses.


  21. I can only imagine, Bjorn, how homesick people were for families and countries left behind, especially when they met with misfortune in the country they traveled to and worked so hard in. That was a beautiful story and the song was lovely. What a talent that young man has. Well done. — Suzanne

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