THE BOY AND BARKS 1

Reference to the autobiographical novel 'The Boy who Loved Carl Barks' chapter 3

The Fifties was a gray and dusty decade. Denmark still lived with the aftermath of World War II. People had low incomes, women were homemakers and everyone was leading an incredibly clean life, at least on the outside. You didn't talk about emotions and entertainment was scarce.

I grew up in the decade. Of course, I had nothing to compare with, and it was not for me to get bored. We children were clever to find something to pass the time which did not cost much.

If you wanted to be entertained, there was not much to be gained. Most homes only got television at the end of the decade, and then it was a small screen in black and white with a single channel with programs only aired at a small part of the day. Moreover, the television sets often broke and had to be repaired and it was expensive.

At libraries, there was not much for children. We boys could borrow a few books by Captain Marryat and Torry Gredsted as well as some old classics. Detective books with 'Jan' and girl books with 'Puk' was not to be found there since they were too 'commercial'.

These youth books were written in an old fashion way with knotty language and outdated ideals, even seen from a Fifties decade viewpoint. However, there were also comics. I read the weekly magazine Popeye at the hairdresser salon when my hair needed cutting. It consisted of continuing series mostly picked from American newspapers. They were okay.

But before I learned to read I got for my 5th birthday in 1953 a monthly magazine with complete stories. It was printed in attractive colors but cost as much as 90 øre. I was so excited that I pleaded to get it next month, and it ended up that the grocer put the booklet aside and wrote it in the book store tab together with toilet paper, sugar and flour.

"What is that?"
"What do you mean?"
"It sticks up there?"
"It's probably a tree."
"It doesn't look like a tree."
"Then it is probably what they call a palm tree."
"Palm tree?"
"Yes, it is a kind of trees you have, where it's warm weather."
"Oh."

I did not think the long-necked white bird on the image above, where the kids run over a tree trunk with their kites, was a bird I knew.

I sat next to my grandmother, who read the story for me. She had better time than my mother, who always had more important things to do.

On the front cover the kids had filled Donald's accordion with water, so there was a fountain coming up in his face when he tried to play it. The kids laughed in the treetop behind him.

Just the fact that children could be some brats and make pranks were most reprehensible. They should tend to their school and do what was said and behave. Otherwise, they risked getting a dissolute life, and you should for all in the world take care and avoid that.

Admittedly you didn't belong to the lower class, but it required a great effort as an independent craftsman to support a family. If you didn't do your utmost it could all collapse, so you had to constantly be industrious and conscientious.

My father had been a union member, and later it struck me that if he had continued to be an organized bricklayer, he could probably have earned more as an employed worker than as an independent contractor. And with fixed shorter working hours. But he had been a blackleg and worked too much, so he broke the chord. My father was a heavy worker.

We children understood that we had to behave nicely, so our parents did not have to be ashamed of us. Only by targeted efforts the family could acquire some extra goods and gradually we succeeded in that.

Comics were a safety valve offering experiences of something different. As time went by, I found out that some of these duck comics were something special.

My grandmother lived alternately with her children, of whom she had six. One of the kids had in a monetary embarrassment been allowed to sell the smallholding so she did not own a house. Her husband had been a stonemason. Eventually she got a tiny wooden house in Vinding at Silkeborg, where the family came from. But before that she traveled and lived a little of each of the children.

It was said that 'a mother can provide for seven children, but seven children cannot support a mother'. It was before the social security had caught on. The mood was not equally good in all places, but I had the impression that she had a good time with us.

My grandmother belonged to the generation that was never idle. She always had some needlework in her hands, although her fingers were gnarled after decades of wear. Gradually it became more luxury items occupying her hands. Each child received a large as cross-stitch embroidery, and I almost think ours was the largest. It depicts three deer that comes out of the wood early in the morning to eat. Now it is hanging next to my bed, and it reminds me of her self-effacing attitude when she ate at her children's charity. Old age was not always so easy.

Well, back to our story ...

The Boy and Barks 1 The Boy and Barks 2 The Boy and Barks 3