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San Francisco

A Quick Guide to what is Swedish in and around the "Queen of the Pacific" now and then (as noted in the February 2001 Swedish Press).

Mamma Mia!
is the best show in town right now. After successful runs in London and Toronto, the ABBA musical, that opened in November is drawing a full house at the Orpheum (1192 Market St, tickets from Ticketmaster 415-512-7770,
www.ticketmaster.com) on its way to Broadway. Mamma Mia! "is the musical we never knew we had written," said Björn Ulvaeus of the story by Catherine Johnson in which 27 of ABBA's legendary songs have been fitted in. Set on a Greek island, the musical is about a young girl who is getting ready to get married. She wants her father to be there, but the problem is he could be any of three different men. The success of Mamma Mia! is a fitting revenge for ABBA that never really made it to the top in North America.

Malin Giddings
is San Francisco's most successful real estate agent and the number 2 agent in the nation. Malin, originally from Stockholm, concentrates on luxury real estate north of California Street where the Russian Hill and Pacific Heights views command premium prices. This is an area where Malin knows many of the residents and every nook and cranny. She runs up sales of $ 72 million a year where nor-mal agents average $ 10 million. In 1998 Malin broke all previous real estate records when she, in collaboration with another real estate agent, sold oil dynasty heir Billy Getty's two-bedroom penthouse for 15 million. The penthouse had originally been two separate units, but Malin had convinced an earlier owner of one of the units to buy the other one to allow for a 360š view. Visualizing and identifying potential is one of her strengths. This is very evident in her own home in a nearby side street. What was once a four-unit building has been remodeled into a Tuscany-inspired house with beautiful rooms filled with art and European antiques behind the terracotta facade.      The daughter of envoy Nils Ståhle who was the President of the Nobel Foun-dation from 1944 to 1979, Malin grew up in a Gustavian manor in the Royal Haga Park in Stockholm. She first came to the USA as a tour conductor for Nyman & Schultz. It was when she was returning to Sweden that she "got stuck" in San Francisco. Her real estate career began when she moved into the guest house and started renting out her own house after a divorce. Together with a friend she later bought, renovated and ran The Jackson Court, one of the city's first trend-setting bed and breakfast hotels. Malin loves her job as a TRI-Cold-well Banker agent that now-adays also takes her a lot out of town.

SAILORS
were among the first Swedes to come to San Francisco. ³Fingal Larsson was all that one would expect from a deep water-man ... tattooed like a walking art gallery, lofty and strong enough to withstand any blast, at sea or ashore, he had a roll to his walk and fist half clenched from years of gripping the ropes that advertised his calling.² This was the description of one of the Swedes who constituted 15 percent of the Frisco-based sailors at the turn of the century.      ³They were heavy drinkers,² recalled a longtime San Francisco waterfront labour consultant. ³Their pale eyes would blink over and they¹d say ŒYou said something bad to me a month ago.¹ And you¹d say ŒC¹mon Björn, don¹t be that way.¹ They were dangerous fighters I don¹t mind saying². (Quoted Larry Deblinger in a 1990 San Francisco Chronicle article on When Scandinavians ruled the Waterfront). The Scandinavians also made a name for themselves as shipbuilders, organizers of the first seamen¹s unions and as shipping magnates.

WILLIAM MATSON
(or Wilhelm Mattson) 1849-1917 was one of the most successful Swedish immigrants in San Francisco. Born in Lysekil, he arrived in the city as a sailor when he was 18. He quickly became the captain of his own small ship. Eventually he commanded a fleet of ships often named Lurline after his daughter. Captain Matson¹s ships were some of the first to switch from steam to oil and they were also the first in the Pacific to be equipped with wireless telegraphy, gyro pilot and compasses. The Matson building is still a landmark on Market Street but the family has no longer any financial interest in the Matson Navigation Company. The family mansion, purchased by the Swedish state, was for many years the residence and offices of the Swedish Consul.

THE INGLENOOK
wineyards in Napa Valley were planted by Gustav Nyborn, a Swedish-speaking Finn. As a sea captain he had explored the wine industries in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Spain before settling for California. Many other San Francisco Swedes have been involved in the wine industry.

IKEA
in San Francisco was originally set to open in 1992, but plans changed when the Swedish furniture retailer was more or less forced to buy up the carbon copied STØR stores in Los Angeles. Instead IKEA East Bay opened its doors last year. The gigantic sculpture of a Big Chair by sculptor David Ireland at the entrance is a tribute to the artists¹ colony at Emeryville. The store manager is Michael O¹Rourke who spent ten years in Sweden before joining IKEA. He also met his wife Katarina there and speaks fluent Swedish. The enormous popularity of the store, with 60 000, or double as many visitors as anticipated, per day have now necessitated the construction of nearby parking and additional stores in South Bay near East Palo Alto and in Alameda County. Michael suggests you visit during the first three days of the week.

THE NORWEGIAN SEAMEN¹S CHURCH
(2545 Hyde St.) has one of the best views of the Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the city. Situated at the world-famous steep Lombard Street, a few trolley stops from Fisherman¹s Wharf, the church with its reading room, café, and a little shop with cards, t-shirts, caps, chocolates etc has a welcoming atmosphere. On the second Sunday of each month (except in April when it is on the first Sunday) the Rev. Mikael Franzén comes over from Los Angeles to hold a Swedish sermon at 11am. He also baptizes three to four kids a year and performs a couple of weddings.

VESTKUSTEN
Consul General Barbro Osher is married to Bernard who used to own the Butterfield & Butterfield Auction House. She started the local SWEA, publishes Vestkusten and supports Swedish causes nation-wide through her Pro Suecia Foundation. Vestkusten is the local Swedish paper, started as a Lutheran Church newspaper in October 1886. Today it is a bi-monthly tabloid edited by Bridget Stromberg-Brink. The paper was edited by Alexander Olsson for more than half a century. When the earth-quake struck on April 18, 1906, he managed to save the subscription list and arranged for typing services outside the disaster area so that he, just a week after the big disaster, could publish an edition with the headline: ³San Francisco in Ruins: Earthquake and Fire damaged three-fourths of the Œthe Pacific¹s Queen¹; a destruction unseen in recent history; the loss should reach $ 300 000 000 and the number of victims exceeds 1 000 persons.²      A year after the earthquake Alexander Olsson moved into a newly built house where his grandson Ted resides today with wife and two children. Ted¹s father Hugo, who took over Vestkusten from his father, decided to sell it. Today Ted¹s wife, Astrid keeps up the family tradition by publishing the ScandinaviUS.com website to bring together the Nordic community.

TRASAN
means rag in Swedish, but it is also a great San Francisco ³rags to riches² story. Two friends Carin Bergman-Hayashida in Walnut Creek and Randy Hökfelt in Lafayette wanted to start a home-based business. In Sweden Carin ran into Randy¹s brother who suggested that they look into the ³miracle rag² that had become all the rage. Carin and Randy founded Trasan, Inc (see the Swedish Press CompanyFile Jan96) to market this product that is quite remarkable because dust and dirt are attached and bound to the dry cloth surface by static charging so that it replaces vacuum cleaning on hard floors. A damp Trasan manages most wet mopping and windows and mirrors. And you don¹t need any detergent. The cloth¹s fibers are so small that they not only remove visible dirt, they also remove bacteria and that is why Trasan is used in Swedish hospitals. Today Trasan is marketed through a separate company with networking demonstrations by more than 30 000 representatives! Carin and Randy still handle retail sales through their OneCloth company, proving that you can become quite rich through rags.

NOBEL LAUREATES
from the Bay Area gather in the home of Sweden¹s Consul General each December 10. That is the birthday of Alfred Nobel and the day of the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo. Right now there is no Swedish descendant among the laureates, but in the past the guest of honour was San Francisco¹s Glenn Seaborg with Swedish heritage on both his mother¹s and father¹s side. Glenn T Seaborg received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on transuranium elements. He later discovered Nobelium and was for many years the chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. This December marks the centennial of the Nobel Prize and so the annual affair will be celebrated on a grand scale with a banquet at San Francisco¹s City Hall.

KJELL SPÅNGBERG
     Sweden¹s most success-ful venture capitalist created quite a stir when he moved to San Francisco to manage all his IT engagements. Now his company Emerging Technologies is moving back to Sweden, while he and his family are staying on in their large home in Belvedere, north of San Francisco, where his company still maintains an office. Kjell Spångberg¹s plan is to divest his many e-commerce engagements (that have included well-known and now rather unfortunate names like Boxman, Letsbuyit, Dressmart and at least 15 other e-business companies) and instead concentrate on high technology. Emerging Technologies will be re-organized as an investment company, which allows for certain tax advantages in Sweden. Outside investors will be welcome in the future and Spångberg intends for his company to go public in time.

THE SWEDISH AMERICAN HALL
at 2174 Market Street stands as a lone monument to a time when the blocks around it were San Francisco¹s ³Swede Town². As late as in the 50s you could hardly get by without speaking Swedish in this neighbourhood that was full of Swe-dish churches, restaurants, bakeries and rooming houses. The impressive Hall was built in 1907 with a 50 000 dollar loan from a Swede who had struck it rich in the gold rush. The four-storey building, with the Café du Nord bar club in the basement level, was designed by noted Swedish architect August Nordin, who designed more than 300 buildings in San Francisco. Now the whole building with its original elevator has been extensively renovated by the Swedish Society of San Francisco. It has old world charm, a grand two-tiered ballroom and several other more intimate rooms for meetings, parties, dinners, weddings, receptions, recitals and other special events. Svenska Patriotiska Förbundet (415-968-5532) meets here on the fourth Monday every month. The Swedish Club of San Francisco that was started in 1913 in the Swedish-owned Portola-Louvre Café (which was the largest restaurant on the west coast at that time) now meets at the Villa Hotel in San Mateo county where most of the 210 members live. In south Silicon Valley the Swed Cal Kids Club is for children who want to have fun and maintain their Swe-dish language. You can read much more about the history of the local Swedes in Muriel Nelson Beroza¹s ³Golden Gate Swedes: The Bay Area and Sveadal². The book details how the earliest organization was a Scandinavian Society, founded in 1859, and how the national organizations soon took over. Today many Swedes are members in the Young Scandinavian Club, established 1950 with an active program (415-346-7454) and cabins at both Clear Lake and Lake Tahoe. The Scandinavian Cultural Center of Santa Cruz (831-438-4307 or 688-3741) is also worth a visit.

SILICON VIKINGS
is a networking group started in 1997 for the roughly 5 000 Swedes with a connection to Silicon Valley. The first meeting was attended by 22 people. Now there are 750 members from some 500 companies and there is always a waiting list for such popular events as the annual crayfish party. When Kjell A Olsson, who took the initiative to start the club with some friends, first arrived in the Silicon Valley fifteen years ago, it was a rarity to run into another Swede. Now e-Vikings are visible everywhere and they keep in touch through the Silicon Vikings site, lunches and other networking events.

SWEDISH SERVICE
abounds in the San Francisco area. During a quick visit I noted that you can have your hair cut by Agneta Lindman at the Alex Chases Salon (415-397-5505), get your genealogy charted by Ruby Hendrickson (415-591-3113), get complicated translations done by Victor Kayfetz (at Scan Edit 415-296-0232) and be buried by C A Anderson Funeral Parlors (800-647-0150). If you want to get your Swedish videos for watching here or if you are looking for a special video, turn to B & H Television (415-401-9110). If you are travelling to Sweden there is Jason Travel (Renee Hersson 415-957-9102). If you want to invest turn to Arendt and Anders de Jounge at Wells Fargo Van Kasper (800-652-1747). Longing for some Scandinavian food? Drive out to Nordic House (1-800-854-6435) in Oakland. The best baked goods can be bought from Copenhagen Bakery & Café (650-342-1357) in Burlingame. You find gifts at Scandia Imports (877-622-5619) in Albany and at Northern Lights (650-325-0313) in Menlo Park.

SVEADAL
in Morgan Hill was bought 75 years ago by the Swedish Patriotic League to provide a resort for San Francisco Swedes. The 110 acres with two creeks full of crayfish now have 50 private (20-year leasehold) houses and 10 housekeeping units (rented out by the week at $375 phone 650-968-5532). There is a swimming pool, two tennis courts and a new clubhouse where, during summer, dinner is served on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There is even an outdoor dance floor. Sveadal is 90 miles from downtown but the two hour drive is well worth it for the traditional midsummer celebration and this year¹s 75th anniversary celebration on July 28.