National Geographic : 1934 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Otto Ohm MANY CELEBRITIES ARE ENTERTAINED AT TORUP The talented chatelaine, Baroness Henriette Coyet, is showing her herb garden to her friend,- the world-renowned author, Dr. Selma Lagerlof. Winners of the Nobel prizes (awards that are granted for outstanding work in chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, and peace, through the generosity of the will of the Swedish chemist and engineer, Alfred Nobel) and other distinguished visitors to Sweden usually are entertained at this medieval castle (see text, page 10, and Color Plate IV). has lived on the same property for three or four centuries. There are estates which for 500, or even 600 years, have been handed down from one generation to another with out ever being sold, though these, of course, are rare exceptions. LIFE ON A SMALAND ESTATE Many lie far from the towns, so that none of the modern thirst for superficial, exciting pleasures has yet found its way to them; that is why the old Swedish tradi tions in all classes of society are more firmly rooted there than anywhere else. I will give an exam ple of what life can be like in one of these old Smaland properties by describing my aunt's h o u s e, Odensviholm, where I passed several weeks last autumn. In her house every thing is still done in the old style, just as in her late husband's time (see opposite page). There has never yet been a strike or a trades-unionist on her estate, and the only Communist in the par ish complains loudly that the workmen are so satisfied that the most ferocious Soviet propaganda has no effect upon them. Although the com munal almshouse is ex traordinarily pleasant and comfortable, and its standard of living fully meets the exact ing requirements of the Swedish working class, none of my aunt's re tainers will go there. Widows and feeble old men refuse to give up their work so long as there is any possibility of their continuing it. They regard it as their absolute right to avoid being pensioned off, and prefer to earn a coin now and again in addition to their ample revenue in kind. It is, more than anything, their homes that they are reluctant to leave. Their attitude is more than understand able when one sees their well-built, com fortable cottages, painted red with white corners, window frames, and verandas. Each has its well-kept garden plot full of vegetables, fruit trees, and all kinds of ornamental old-fashioned flowers; and they stand in the most picturesque situations, on the shores of the lake and clearings in the woods. Even the laboring class in Sweden has an unusually well-developed feeling for natural beauty.