Small Towns in a Big World

Told by: Ole

I am a Danish man, born and raised in a small town of 8000. When I was 16 years old, I was in the merchant navy on a trip sailing from Japan to New Zealand. In New Zealand we came to Lyttleton, a small town on the South Island, population 2500—maybe even less back in the 70’s. As it on occasion happened when a Danish ship came to town, a Danish immigrant would come onboard to hear news from home or just have the chance to speak his old language again. In Lyttleton, a man about 45-years-old came to the galley where I was working and started to chat. After a while he asked me where I came from, as he thought I had a dialect from where he came from many years ago.


It turned out that we came from the same small town. Of course, his obvious question was if I knew a certain family, with a quite unusual last name. To this I could only reply that my best friend back home had a similar name, and his father owned a furniture factory and his uncle was an actor. The man started to cry and he told me that my best friend was his nephew. He told his story— that he had left Denmark when he was quite young and moved to Canada, but after a couple of years he moved to New Zealand. He had not told his family in Denmark that he moved to New Zealand, so if I would tell his brother that he was OK and doing well, he would be appreciative.  Of course, I promised to do so, and I called my father and told him the story, and he went to tell his brother about it.

When my father told the tale, there was obviously a lot of crying and hugging from the whole family, and they were convinced he had passed away since they had searched for him in Canada but there was no trace of him.

When writing this, it still give me goose-bumps and makes me happy that I helped in some small way to reunite this family.