Greetings & Wishes For My Grandmother Asta

My grandmother Asta was born 1890 and died 1982. She has kept a lot of birthday cards and get well cards that I would like to show you. There is also a small book with her marks from school and texts on how to behave as a good and well-behaved school-child.

She was rather lonely as a child because her mother had to work many different jobs cleaning in shops e.g. photo ateliers and cooking for people in their houses. Her best friends were attending school in the mornings and she had to go in the afternoon. She felt that the afternoon pass was inferior to the morning pass.


My grandmother Asta at her confirmation in April 2, 1905

The greetings and telegrams from my grandmother’s confirmation. Her faith meant a lot to her at least later on in life.


She took care of her ten-year younger brother Svend as soon as she was old enough to do so and she suffered a lot from the loss of him when it later appeared that he couldn’t be trusted too well. He was very good-looking as a young man and sometimes borrowed money from people and his family but he didn’t care to pay them back.

Asta’s brother Svend

During her youth she worked long hours in a shop called “Manufacture Shop”. They sold textiles for clothing and underwear for men, women and children and stockings. She was very close to the owners of that shop and kept in contact with the family the rest of her life. After seven years in school she served her apprenticeship in a similar shop. She worked at the manufacturing shop for about eight years until she was 25 years old and was struck by bleeding stomach ulcer. That was in 1915. This made a huge impression on me as I was training to become a nurse when I heard about it. The woman who owned the shop sent her a “get well” card to the hospital. Later Asta was a re-convalescent at in Northern Zealand  some hours’ travel from Copenhagen.

A get well card from Mrs Thea Schraeder who owned the shop

Other greeting cards to Asta

from school friends and admirers. The slide show can be stopped

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The shop in Nansensgade 30 in Copenhagen

I believe that she was overworked as they had very long working hours combined with the fact that her father William had left his family for some years to live in another family. At that time it was a scandal that was never talked about. Her brother Svend asked her in a letter if she had heard anything from “Father”? We will never know but as he came back to his family a few years later, I am sure he has contacted her during her illness.

Once she wrote to her mother from a short weekend holiday she had with an aunt. She mentioned that she hoped her mother wasn’t too sad about being left alone. That tells me that she had a huge responsibility on her young life trying to cheer her mother Laura up now William Laura’s husband and Asta’s father had left the family.

To save money she walked to her work in the morning and back for lunch and then back to work until late evenings. I suppose she even walked home then too. It’s healthy to walk but I imagine that she might have lacked food or drink during these long hours. She says on a tape that she was nervous for making mistakes in counting the prices on the materials and clothing that people bought in the shop. Everything was counted by mental arithmetic.


William Nielsen my great-grand father as a very young man

Before William her father died in 1926 he is back in the family but it seems like Laura and he are living separately in the small Nyboder flat. At least they visit separately Asta and her husband in the province town Holbaek. The very last years William lived he signed the letters with both his name and his wife’s.


My grandmother Asta and grandfather Emry when they were engaged to be married in 1919

William wrote some hilariously funny letters to the newly wed Asta and Emry in the early 1920s. It’s obvious that he is annoyed with the fact that he cannot trust his son on money issues or on other things like appointments. It probably never dawned on William that he had not been trustworthy leaving the family in 1908.  Svend was eight years old and Asta was eighteen and William had an illegitimate child with the woman he chose to stay with.

My grandmother hardly ever mentioned these things and when I as a small child admired her old photos I asked her “Did you have a little brother Grandma”? She said yes and I knew that she never saw him. I never saw him either. But the photos hanged on her dining room wall and now they are on my wall.


  1. That was all so wonderful, I enjoyed every word, many thanks. What a beautiful looking Grandmother you had. All those wonderful cards, so well preserved, to think from your Grandmother’s walls to yours – Family History hangs. My Mother was not one for preserving anything like that, not even many pics of me as a Baby or Child growing up – sad, we need to know about our Families. I know very little about my Father’s, his Parents died with weeks of each other in 1939 I think it was just a few months after my Father married my Mother. I was born May 14, 1949 a day my mother preferred to forget. Lucky you, you appear to have come from a very loving background. Please, more and more of your history its wonderful. Take care poppet, Anna.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad to get your response Anna. It’s so precious. I struggle with the words but I am glad I got the message out. I loved my grandmother but I wish she could have expressed her losses. Maybe you would write about your relationship with your mother ? I would e glad to read it

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Jumped over from the Senior Salon

    Looking back is one of the treasures of growing older. Those who cavalierly jettison their histories are sad to me. They will never know what they threw away — unfortunately, they made that choice for their offspring and descendants as well.

    I love that you are taking the time to share your history with the rest of us. Thank you.

    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


      • I will certainly take a look, Maria. I think that valuing history, treasuring it is essential to our understanding of our own lives and the implications of our own actions. History IS the great teacher but most seem to discard it as worthless and the really trying thing is that the worst offenders are our elected leaders! I’m delighted to have stumbled on your gentle voice. It is a delight.


  3. Maria what a beautiful grandmother you had. Your post is a reminder that the people in those photos had good times and bad and were scoundrels and saints. Something I tend to forget when looking at the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes people were and are human at all times. It’s like today we don’t regard untruthfulness as such a big deal. Then money was little and if somebody didn’t pay back it was serious and to leave a marriage for another without being divorced must have been a big shame then


  4. Another lovely post with some wonderful family memories. I love that you have those old photos, I have very little from my family’s past and I regret it.


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