The first years in Sweden

LatviansVera and Alberts Puķe-Puķītis didn’t find it easy to adapt to life in Sweden in the post-war period. The days passed in heavy and monotonous work, working in Swedish factories. The creation of the porcelain girl in the folk costume took place at a time when Vera began work at the “Roerstrands” Porcelain Factory at Lidkoeping. She remembers this time well:

(when I arrived in Sweden)… I was in a bad state of mind at first, wasn’t I? I had to work in that factory as soon as I arrived. There were a few other Latvian families there. I asked my husband: “Could you bring a piece (of porcelain clay) home for me? I want to create something; I can’t keep my fingers still.” And then I created this little head.

At first the young Puķe-Puķītis family lived in one room which was provided for them by their workplace:

(it was) a large room, heated by a wood stove. At one end there was a sort of kitchen – with a curtain which could be drawn in front of it, a two ring electric stove and a sink. Nothing else.

For two years Vera glued and drew on the crockery  at the porcelain factory, until the family moved to Molndal (not far from Gothenburg) to work at the silk weaving mill at the “Mӧlnlycke” Textile Factory:

The textile factory needed workers, because they also paid the lowest wages. There were Latvians working there already, that we wrote to and knew.
Vera and Alberts with their daughter Līga Britta on her day of christening, 1954.

Vera and Alberts with their daughter Līga Britta on her day of christening, 1954.

Again, the work was hard, in shifts. At first the Puķe-Puķītis family was accommodated in barracks, but finally they were allocated a two-room apartment in a new building, which was quite an experience:

It was like Paradise after all the refugee camps in Denmark and the cramped living at Lidkoeping and here… But, as the factory had given us the apartment, we had to work there and couldn’t go elsewhere. We were “Mӧlnlycke” slaves.

After a time, Vera was lucky enough to find work in her profession and found work as a piano teacher at a music school. In this way she was able to improve her Swedish language skills, and slowly life became more stable. Vera and Alberts left their employment at the factory, Alberts working at the Gothenburg port, loading ships, where he could make good money. Their daughter Līga Britta was born. Vera and her family got actively involved in the Latvian community in Sweden, with Vera participating in concerts, religious services and Song Festivals.