Part 17 of “The Americas Connected”
by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
Time passes quickly, when you are changing the history of North America. Maybe keeping your brain and body busy is what keeps them young and makes each new day an adventure. My main complaint is not having enough time in the day to do what I had hoped to do.
I just happened to glance the diploma earlier this week and saw the Friday was the 50th anniversary of my graduation from Georgia Tech and the 40th anniversary of me starting my own architecture practice.
Life is a box of chocolates timeline
The experiences that I had the first few days and weeks after graduating from Georgia Tech would have extraordinary implications for the discoveries that I am making at this very time. I am finding profound evidence that immigrants from southern Sweden and SW Ireland settled in the Georgia Gold Belt, during the Bronze Age, plus that one of the member tribes of the Creek Confederacy, the Alekmanni, were originally Angles (as in English) from Denmark. They obviously intermarried with American Indians so much that they looked like American Indians, however. The “GT” will mean “Graduation from Tech” time.
GT = 3:00 PM, June 3, 1972 – Handed a diploma . . . finally free from the living hell of architecture school.
GT = +16 hours – Boarded a Delta jet going to New York City, as part of a 24-hour journey.
GT = +20 hours – The British Airways Boeing 747 was packed to the brim . . . except immediately around where I and a man in his early 30s were sitting. I soon was in situation identical to the opening scenes of Mission Impossible. The man was an out-of-uniform commander in US Naval Intelligence. I learned why I had been offered a job in Sweden that I didn’t apply for. Henceforth, my only contacts would be officers in Swedish or Danish Naval Intelligence. I signed a document stating that I would go to prison if discussed my assignment with any other person during the next 20 years. The Black September terrorist organization planned to either hold hostage or sink the MS Svea Scarlett, which connected Sweden with Denmark. My apartment was on the same hallway, where the terrorists were living in Landskrona.
Almost exactly 20 years later, Vivi the French Courtesan ( and French Surete’ Intelligence Officer) would be the first person to learn about my secret extra-curricular activities m Europe. This was while she was staying at my Virginia farm.
GT = +30 hours – Embarked on the MS Svea Scarlett at Tuborghavn, Denmark to take me to Landskrona, Sweden. It was 10 PM and the sun had just set. Two young ladies, who had just graduated from the University of Minnesota with Education degrees asked me, “Richard, we have always wondered what it was like to go through an inferior education system.” I was not amused. Actually, after returning to the states, I took the GRE (Graduate Entrance Exam). I scored in the upper 2% of college graduates. Guess my education was not so inferior after all.
GT = + 2 days – Woke up to bright sunshine and birds chirping. I thought I was very late to the first day of my first job after graduation. As my bicycle passed the Domkyrka (cathedral) its bells tolled 4 AM!
GT = + 4 days (Onsdag/ Juni 7, 1972) – My boss, Stadsarkitekt Gunnar Lydh took me to Ven Island on a tug boat that had been converted into a small ferry. After climbing up the cliff above Backviken, he showed me Bronze Ages stone ruins and petroglyphs near St. Ibbs Kyrka, which was near my project site. Sankt Ibbs is the oldest Christian church in Scandinavia. I immediately recognized the petrolglyphs as being Creek and Uchee sacred symbols. Gunnar laughed at me when I told him that, At the time, I did not realize that identical petroglyphs could be found all over the Georgia Gold Belt.
After we returned to Landskrona, Gunnar directed me to spend the afternoon in the City Museum to learn the ancient history of the Oresund. I immediately noticed that the copper celts and ingots in the museum were identical to those at the Etowah Mounds museum. I also noticed that the oldest pottery in the Oresund Channel was identical to the cord-marked, beaker-shaped pottery of the ancient Deptford Culture in Georgia.
What for unknown reasons, stuck particularly in my memory of the visit to this museum, were the traditional Bronze Age boats of the Oresund Channel. They were called Hjortspringbåter (Elk stag – running boats). Forty-five years later I would be astonished to see a hjortspringbåt carved on the Tugaloo Stone. It had been found at the terminus of a trail that connected the head of canoe navigation for the Savannah River with the Nacoochee Valley . . . where I live now. GA Hwy. 17 follows the route of this trail.
GT = + 5 days (Torsdag/ Juni 8) – A city council member invited me to dinner and afterward to watch the premier of Liv på USA (Life in the USA). We all were surprised when the first show featured Georgia . . . interviews with Jimmy Carter, the Rev. Andrew Young and Mayor Maynard Jackson. My hosts were totally impressed when I told them that a year earlier, I had been an intern for Jimmy Carter and that Andy Young was the Assistant Minister at the Methodist campus church, where I attended. The program ended by its host stating that Georgia’s young governor was destined to become president. This is something that no one else in the world, would have predicted in 1972, including Jimmy himself.
GT = +6 days (Fridag/ Juni 9) – As I was sitting on the edge of the fountain in front of the Rådhus (City Hall) eating lunch, a tall, classic Swedish beauty walked up to me and announced, “Hey Richard. My name is Britt. I am your official Swedish girlfriend.” She went on to explain that many of the beautiful blond girls that would approach me at discos and bars in Malmö and Köpenhamn (Copenhagen) were actually Soviet spies from the Baltic countries. I wouldn’t recognize that their English was better than their Swedish or Danish . . . an might get into trouble!
Britt was a law student at Lund University and President of the College Division of the Center Party. She was pro-NATO, but opposed to the Vietnam War. I could make up a tall tale about nights of passion and people would believe me . . . since this was Sweden. However, the truth was that until the last month I was in Sweden, she viewed herself as more a chaperone or tour guide, since she assumed incorrectly that I was very conservative. Once she got to know me better, she did warm up considerably, but that was only during the last four weeks.
GT = +7 days (Lördag/ Juni 10) I accompanied several colleagues at work to watch a film of the Swedish version of the Broadway show, “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” I was instantly enraptured by the young lady, who played Mary Magdalene. She had the voice of an angel.
GT = +14 days ((Lördag / Juni 17) – Britt was in charge of the big Center Party Midsommarsfesten Dance at Lund University. With Gunnar’s permission, she picked me up early at the office. Britt had managed to book one of the top dance bands in Sweden. It had a weekly program on Swedish National TV. That week’s program was being filmed at our dance. The dance hall was packed. The band mostly played American and British pop songs . . . in particular, those of Chicago Transit Authority. They also played some French and German pop songs, in addition to Swedish folk songs. The crowd would cheer, whenever the band sang a song in Swedish.
After the dance, Britt, Lena, Max and I , plus the band drove over to a waterfront restaurant in Malmö to celebrate a traditional Summer Solstice meal. The band leader asked me if I was from California. I told him, no, I was from Atlanta in the Southeast. The people there knew nothing about Atlanta, other than Rev. Martin Luther King was buried there. They thought it was a small city, while Savannah was the main city in Georgia.
Not fluent in Swedish, I was left out of the increasingly alcohol-fueled conversation until Britt mentioned I personally knew two of the people from Georgia, who were featured in Liv på USA. They thought that I was a VIP! Suddenly, most people were either translating what they said into English or speaking in English. Then the blond female singer asked if we could move to another table.
After we relocated to the table for two with a view, she said that her dream was to move to the United States and sing on Broadway. I told her that several female Swedish singers had done well in Hollywood, but I didn’t know of any on Broadway. I asked her why she was interested in Broadway shows. She explained that earlier this year, she had been on Jesus Christ Superstar’s cast and loved it.
OMG! I was sitting across from Mary Magdalene! I didn’t recognize her at the dance because she was a lot slimmer than in Jesus Christ Superstar and had worn her hair long for the dance. She was very nice young lady . . . I must emphasize that. She really could not talk about much other than music . . . specifically, the music industry in Sweden. I now know that she grew up out in the country, not in downtown Jonköping, as official biographies state and the she dropped out of school at age 16.
Neither Britt nor I were aware that either she or Anni-Frid Lyngstad were married. They certainly did not act married. It was obvious to me that she was “fishing with me” to see if there was potential of her getting into the United States via a spousal visa. After asking me if I had a girlfriend or wife in the United States (no) Agnetha then said that she had formerly had a boyfriend in Stockholm (Bjorn) but that she had grown tired of returning home from Jesus Christ Superstar or band performances to find that another gal was living there in her absence.
The band members were wanting to go somewhere to smoke pot. The brunette singer was pretty much out of it, while our crew was sober, but getting sleepy. Agnetha walked over to Brit and discussed something. I did not know until later that she had asked Brit if she had a way to get home, if Agnetha and left early in my car. Britt informed her that the car was hers, not mine . . . and that I lived 44 km (27 miles) to the north. Then Agnetha said something about riding in a taxi, but she was also feeling the multiple drinks and the message was garbled. I responded that I was staying a Britt’s mother’s apartment in Malmö that night.
Given the future trophy value of this talented lady, I probably sound like a wuss, but Britt was very intelligent and well educated. We never stopped being able to carry on meaningful conversations. It just took Britt many weeks to realize that we already had a healthy emotional and intellectual relationship. Actually, at that point in time, Britt was also prettier than Agnetha.
As we walked on the sidewalk back to Britt’s car, she, Lena and Max were joking in Swedish about the brunette singer being “myycket full.” I didn’t understand, but soon learned a new colloquial adjective in Swedish. “Mycket full” means “very drunk” in Swedish. They speculated that the brunette would soon end up working in Nyham. That’s the prostitute district in Copenhagen.
Britt then informed me that Agnetha had wanted to continue our conversation elsewhere, but was too shy to be direct. She suggested that I ask Agnetha for a date. I responded that I only had a bicycle and didn’t even have a telephone in my apartment. I really was much more interested in Britt.
Actually, Ani-frid remarried a wealthy German landscape architect, who was legally, Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss, Count of Plauen. Ani-frid is now a princess and the wealthiest veteran of ABBA.
GT = +17 days (Tisday/ Juni 20) The Swedish media announced the Watergate Break-in scandal in front page headlines. The editor of the Sydsvenska Dagbladet in Landskrona stated that the scandal would be traced directly to President Richard Nixon. I assumed that this was Leftist Delusions, but sent a clipping to my handler in Washington, DC. The US embassy in Stockholm was closed.
He sent back a note for me not to pay any attention the article, but keep him posted as what the Communists in Landskrona were doing. Were they making contact with the terrorists or helping them in any way? The handful of Communists on the street in Landskrona, protesting against the Vietnam War were friendly with me, because they assumed that I was a draft evader. Two years later, Americans learned that everything that the Landskrona newspaper said was true.
GT = +25 days (Onsdag/ Juni 28) The last time that I saw Agnetha in person was on the Strand (beach park) in Landskrona. We held an impromptu picnic at the Strand Pavilion picnic park. Within a year, I had forgotten even her first name . . . only remembered her as Mary Magdalene.
The next time that I saw Agnetha was on television on November 15, 1975 . . . the first season of Saturday Night Live. I dropped and broke my ice tea glass in shock, when she came on stage with ABBA. I had thought ABBA was a British band!
The official ABBA biography one sees on the internet is a fairytale. Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-frid entered their marital relationships as a means of promoting their musical careers. I am not sure what the real story is, but it is definitely not the official story.
Proof of this editorial opinion is the real story of how ABBA started. In August 1972, Bjorn persuaded Agnetha and Ani-Frid to leave the band that I danced to and form a new group. It was called “Bjorn, Benny och Svenska flickor” ( B, B and the Swedish girls). Agnetha’s and Ani-Frid’s names were nowhere on the record album. When marketing the album internationally, Bjorn presented himself and Benny as single playboys. The female voices on the record were described as two anonymous singers, employed by the hour through the recording studio! It continued to be that way for at least a year.
Their last public performance
Ironically, ABBA’s last public performance was on May 14, 1979 at the Strandpavilion in Landskrona . . . the same general locale, where I had last seen Agnetha. Life is indeed a box of chocolates.
My project on Ven finally completed
A couple of years ago, I was surfing the web to see if they ever built the pedestrian village that I had designed. I typed in its Swedish project name. To my shock, there was an ad in an online Swedish real estate magazine that announced “Last houses in final phase of Gamlagårdby now for sale.” The advertisement suggested that the project had been highly successful. That’s a good thing!