Some Memories from my Childhood and Youth” by Zacharias Müller  1910 -2006

When we boys in Porkeri  were 10-12 years old, we often went to the river down by the church. There were small salmon, which we call “sjallar” (small brook trout) in the river. They stood under the stones. When there was little water in the river we moved the stones, so they came out and we could catch them. We often did that. I remember that once there was this large boulder in the water. We moved the boulder with a large wooden stick, and out came 3-4 small humanlike figures. I think they were about one foot tall, they had legs and arms. They did not run away – it was very strange – suddenly they were gone, but later we could all remember this. I am the last of the boys alive today.

We were often at sea in a rowing boat. My cousin and I were in a boat in the fjord, fishing rockfish. We often did that. Once we got our hands on an old muzzle loader, which was used for shooting birds. One day we rowed out on the fjord, it was a calm day, no wind, and there were many puffins and guillemots. We had to load with gunpowder and we had a cork to load with. We shot into a flock of birds, which was so close that about 20 birds died with one shot. Actually, it could have been very dangerous; as such an old gun could easily have exploded. We did not think of that then.

We children were always supposed to help out, especially in the outfield, e.g. by cutting and drying peat. In the summer we laid the peat on the ground in the outfield, and carried it down to the village in a sack on our backs in the winter. At one end of the sack a cap was sewn on, so we could carry the weight with our heads, and in that way it was easier to hold our balance, when the terrain was difficult. All the children helped.

I remember this one time when we were with my mother and father in the outfield, collecting the thin peat. When my father was on his way down with the peat, he fell and broke his leg. The doctor lived in Tvøroyri.  And when he arrived several hours later my father’s leg had to be amputated, and he was disabled. As he was the only breadwinner we children had to help out. My mother was a strong woman, and now she had to carry the heavy load pf raising us children.

When we were 11 or 12 we had to go to Vágur and work in the drying of cod to earn some money. There was no road, so we walked 5 kilometres along a path to Vágur every day. I was the eldest, 12 years old, and we all had to help. It was a hard time.    

The roads came gradually. I remember that there were no roads in my childhood and youth. The first road from Porkeri to Vágur came in the early thirties, and it was a gravel road. We did not get the big roads with connections to all the towns and villages until about 1960. I have lived through all this development.

When my mother was young she salted and washed fished in Tvøroyri. She had to walk across the mountains and only came home Saturdays to see her family. She told me later that it was very hard. Before there were roads we rarely visited in other villages. We could travel by ferry, the Smyril, to Tórshavn, but because the Smyril put in at every town and village on the way the trip lasted 4-5 hours.

We did not exactly suffer any hardship, but I remember that when my mother went to other villages to sell goods, we 4 brothers and sisters often had to stay home alone and look after ourselves. She did not get home till the next morning, and when she had fed us she went up in the “haugen” – the outfield – to milk the cows. It was like that all the time – it was a difficult time. Sometimes farmers who had too much corn fetched my mother to thresh their corn, and as payment she could take some corn home. It was ground on the grinding mill. In this way we got enough to eat. There were also a few other families in the village who did not have enough to eat, so they were helped by those who had more than they needed. Occasionally the worst distress was relieved when the pilot whales came and supplemented our diet. The whales were always chased into Vágur because there was no sandy beach in Porkeri. When the pilot whales come into low water the sand is whirled up and it blinds them. Then they swim straight onto the beach  .   

I remember that a house next door burned to the ground when I was a boy. My father offered the family shelter, and they lived with us for a year and a half. All that time, we were sixteen people in a small house of about 60 square metres. It was not so difficult back then because you learned to adjust.

When I was 14 years old I went fishing with a sloop near Iceland for 3 months. As a beginner I found it very hard. We fished with hand lines and the sinkers were heavy. It was a long time, before I could keep up with the others. Eventually I got the training. In February we fished near south Iceland and got home at the end of May. In the late twenties and early thirties we fished near the Faroese harbour in Greenland, called “Føroyingahavnin”.

It often took 8 to 14 days to get up there. We had a small auxiliary engine, but it was not much help. We were dependent on the sails. Back then we didn’t have permission to fish inside the reefs in Greenland, but because there were many fish there we defied the ban.

We were once caught by the Danish fisheries inspection vessel and were towed to “Føroyingahavnin”. We had to stay there for 14 days, and were given a fine. The temptation was too big; there were so many fish by the reefs that when the shoals came we could take them with our bare hands. When we got back from Greenland we worked drying cod in Vágur, to earn some extra money.

Other times we sailed out in May and didn’t come home until October, when the season was over. We competed for the chance to get on the ships with the best skippers. Some of them had more luck than others.

In 1940 I sailed with a sloop from Vágur, the “Aldan”, a sailing ship with auxiliary engine. We loaded fish in Vágur and sailed it to Aberdeen. We had 5 or 6 trips where we carrying fish to Great Britain, and we earned a lot of money. Once two men from Porkeri, Johan Christiansen and I, had signed on as mates and were to sail from Vágur to Aberdeen. Before we were to leave Vágur, Johan and I went to Porkeri to say our goodbyes to our families. South of the village Johan suddenly says, “I am not going”. - “What are you saying!” I said, “The ship is full fish and ready to sail, and if you are not going we will be a mate short.”

“No, I’m not going!” he said. I came home to my wife and told her that Johan was not going. She said,” Then you are not going either.” She was pregnant. I still wanted to go, but she was firm and insisted on my not going – in the end I obeyed her. The master’s brother-in-law went instead. The “Aldan” never came back. It was the first Faroese ship to go down during the Second World War. It left Vágur and never came back. There were rumours that the Germans had taken it and towed it to Norway, but people were just guessing. Probably the ship got blown up and went down with all hands.

Later I sailed with a sloop from Vágur, called the “Vilhelmine”. I was the mate and made two trips transporting fish from Iceland to Great Britain. We were lucky, everything went well.

From 1948 to 1952 I sailed with my brother-in-law from Viðoy, on a schooner called the “Viðoy”. We fished near Norway, and in 1953 we were near Svalbard. There was a lot of ice and it was very cold. Before leaving Vágur, I had been to see the doctor about stomach ache. When we were near Svalbard the pain grew worse and worse. When we arrived at Klaksvík around harvest time I only weighed 60 kg and was taken to hospital, to the disputed Danish doctor, Halvorsen. After two days, he told me that I had too much acidity of the stomach. For a whole year I had been taken the wrong medicine because the doctor in Vágur had given me a wrong diagnosis, and I got well quite soon after that. Halvorsen was a popular and good doctor. I signed off and went home to Porkeri to have a rest.

At school I had a Faroese teacher, Danbjørg, and we had to only talk and write Danish in the Danish lessons. When I passed the examination for my master’s certificate, we were to write in Danish. The Danish teacher told me that I wrote perfect Danish. That’s how good my Faroese teacher was.

Most people in Porkeri were either married to someone from the home village or someone from one of the nearby villages. Some people found their partners among the recently arrived people from the Northern Islands – Kunoy, Viðoy, Svínoy, Kalsoy, Borðoy, or Fugloy – who got jobs in Suðuroy.  Some of the young men got educations or apprenticeships in Tórshavn and found girls there. We rarely went to *the Ólavøku because it was too much trouble. When I was young few people went to Denmark. It was only the rich people in Tórshavn, who could afford to send their children to Denmark to be educated. Fishermen with small earnings could not afford that.

 * The Ólavøku is a national festival which is held in Tórshavn on 28 July every year.

Tape-recorded by Erik Christensen,   Porkeri,  10-01  2003   

 And translated from Danish into English by 2a of Miðnamsskúlin í Suðuroy, Vágur in November 2005  


Båndoptagelse med Zacharias Müller  1910 - 2006

 nedskrevet d. 10-01  2003 af Erik Christensen, FO- Porkeri

Dengang vi var 10-12 år gik vi ofte ned til elven nede ved kirken. Der levede små laks, dem som vi kalder sjaller.(små bækørreder)  De holdt til under stenene. Når det var lavvande i elven, rokkede vi på stenen, så de kom ud, og vi kunne fange dem. Det gjorde vi ofte. Jeg kan huske engang, der var der en stor sten, som lå ude i vandet. Vi rokkede på stenen med en stor træstang, og ud kom 3 - 4 små menneskelignende skikkelser. Jeg tror, de var en alen høje, de havde ben og arme. De fløj ikke – det er noget mærkeligt noget, - pludselig var de væk, men alle kunne huske det senere. Johan Christiansen og jeg er de sidste af drengeflokken, der lever endnu.

Ellers var vi tit ude på havet i en robåd. Min fætter og jeg lå ude i fjorden og fiskede rødfisk. Det gjorde vi tit. Engang fik vi fat i et gammelt forelade gevær, som man brugte til at skyde fugle med. En dag kom vi ud på fjorden, det var en stille dag, ingen vind, og der var mange lunder og lomvier. Vi skulle jo forlade med krudt, og vi havde en prop til at lade med. Vi skød ind i flokken, der var så tæt, at ca. 20 fugle døde af ét skud. Det kunne faktisk have været meget farligt, da sådan et gammelt gevær let kunne være eksploderet. Det tænkte vi ikke på dengang.

Vi børn skulle altid hjælpe til, særligt oppe i haugen, f.eks. skære og tørre tørv. Vi lagde tørvestykkerne oppe i haugen om sommeren og bar dem ned til bygden, i en sæk på ryggen om vinteren.  I den ene ende af sækken var der syet en hue (fetil), så vi kunne bære lasten med hovedet og derfor bedre kunne holde balancen, når terrænnet var vanskeligt. Det var alle børnene med til. Jeg kan huske engang, vi var sammen med min mor og far oppe i haugen og samlede de tynde tørv sammen. Da min far var på vej ned med tørven, faldt han og fik det ene ben knust. Lægen boede i Tvøroyri.  Da lægen efter flere timer ankom, måtte benet amputeres, og min far var invalid. Da han var den eneste forsørger, måtte vi børn tage fat. Min mor var en stærk kvinde, og hun måtte nu tage den store byrde. Da vi børn var 11-12 år, måtte vi tage til  Vágur og arbejde med klipfisken for at tjene nogle få kroner. Der var ingen vej, vi gik ad stier de fem kilometer til Vágur hver dag. Jeg var den ældste, 12 år gammel, og vi måtte alle hjælpe med. Det var en hård tid.

Vejene kom gradvist. Jeg kan huske, at i min barndoms- og ungdomstid var der ingen veje. Den første vej fra Porkeri til Vágur kom først i trediverne, og det var en grusvej. De store veje med forbindelse til alle bygder fik vi først fra omkring 1960. Jeg har oplevet hele denne udvikling. Min mor arbejdede i fisken i Tvøroyri, da hun var ung. Hun måtte gå over fjeldet og kom kun hjem om lørdagen for at få familien at se. Det var hårdt, har hun senere fortalt mig. Før vejene kom, blev vi i bygden og besøgte kun sjældent de andre bygder. Vi kunne tage Smyril til Tórshavn, men fordi Smyril lagde til i alle bygdehavnene undervejs, var sejltiden fire til fem timer.

Vi led ikke direkte nød, men jeg kan huske, at vi fire søskende ofte måtte være alene hjemmeog passe os selv, når  min mor tog ud til de andre bygder for at sælge varer. Hun kom først hjem om morgenen, og når hun havde givet os noget at spise, gik hun op i haugen og malkede. Sådan gik det hele tiden – det var en sværd tid. Det skete også, at nogle bønder, der havde for meget korn, kom og hentede min mor til at tærske kornet, som betaling fik hun korn med hjem, der så blev malet på kværnen. På den måde fik vi nok at spise. Der var også en del andre familier i bygden, der ikke havde nok at spise, så fik de hjælp fra dem, der havde overskud. Af og til hjalp det lidt på den værste nød, at grinden kom og sørgede for et ekstra kosttilskud. Grinden  blev altid jaget ind til Vágur, da der ikke var sandstrand i Porkeri. Sandet gør, at grinden blindes, når den kommer ind på lavere vand og hvirvler sandet op. Så går den lige på land.

Jeg kan huske, da jeg var dreng, at der brændte et nabohus ned til grunden. Min far tilbød familien husly, og den boede hos os i halvandet år. Vi var i den tid seksten i et lille hus på ca. 60 kvadrat-meter.  Det var ikke så svært dengang, man lærte at tilpasse sig..              

Da jeg var 14 år, tog jeg på fiskeri med en slup til Island i tre måneder. Som nybegynder var det meget hårdt. Vi fiskede med håndsnører og loddene var tunge. Det varede længe, før jeg kunne følge med de andre. Efterhånden fik jeg træningen. Vi fiskede i februar måned ved det sydlige Island og kom hjem sidst i maj måned. Sidst i 20’erne og først i 30’erne fiskede vi ved Føroyingahavn i Grønland.   Det tog gerne 8-14 dage at komme derop. Vi havde en lille hjælpemotor, men det hjalp ikke ret meget. Vi var afhængige af sejlene. På den tid var det sådan, at man ikke havde lov til at fiske indenfor skærene i Grønland,  men da der var mange fisk, trodsede vi forbudet. Engang blev vi taget af danskerne, og vi blev slæbt til Føroyingahavn. Der lå vi i 14 dage, og vi fik en bøde. Fristelsen var for stor, der var så mange fisk ved skærene, at når stimerne kom, kunne vi tage dem med hænderne. Når vi kom hjem fra Grønland, arbejdede vi med klipfisken i Vágur, for at tjene et par ekstra kroner. Andre gange tog vi ud i maj måned og kom først hjem i oktober, når sæsonen var slut. Vi kappedes om at komme med de bedste skippere. Nogle af dem havde mere held end andre. I 1940 tog jeg med en slup fra Vágur ved navn “Aldan”, et sejlskib med hjælpemotor. Vi tog fisk ind i Vágur, som vi sejlede til Aberdeen. Vi havde en 5-6 ture, og vi tjente en masse penge. Én ad gangene, hvor vi skulle fra Vágur til Aberdeen, var vi to her fra Porkeri, Johan Chistiansen (i 2003 90 år) og jeg, hyret som bedstemænd. Inden vi skulle sejle fra Vágur, tog Johan og jeg til Porkeri for at tage afsked med familien. Lige syd for bygden siger Johan pludselig: “Jeg tager ikke med” - “Hvad siger du!”, sagde jeg, “Skibet ligger fuldt af fisk og er klar til at sejle, og så mangler de en styrmand!” “Nej, jeg tager ikke med!”, siger han,. Jeg kommer hjem til min kone og fortæller hende, at Johan ikke tager med. Hun siger: “Så tager du heller ikke med!” Hun var med barn. (eje) Jeg ville alligevel med, men hun var standhaftig og holdt på, at jeg ikke skulle tage med – jeg adlød til sidst. En svoger til skipperen tog med i stedet for. “Aldan” kom aldrig tilbage. Det var det første færøske skib, der gik til under den anden verdenskrig. De sejlede fra Vágur og kom aldrig hjem igen. Der gik rygter om, at tyskerne havde taget den og bugseret den til Norge, men det var kun gætterier. Det blev sikkert minesprængt, den gik ned med mand og mus.

Senere tog jeg med en slup fra Vágur, som hed “Vilhelmine”. Jeg var styrmand og var med på to ture med fisk fra Island til England. Vi var heldige: det gik godt.

Fra 1948-1952 var jeg sammen med min svoger fra Viðoy. Det var en skonnert, som hed Viðoy, og vi fiskede ved Norge. I 1953 var vi ved Svalbard. Der var meget is og koldt. Inden jeg tog afsted, havde jeg været ved lægen i Vágur med mavesmerter. Oppe ved Svalbard blev smerterne værre og værre. Da vi omkring høsten kom til Klaksvik, vejede jeg kun 60 kg, og kom på sygehuset til den omstridte danske læge, Halvorsen. Efter to dage kom han til mig og sagde, at jeg havde for meget mavesyre. Jeg havde taget syredråber i et helt år, som ikke var nødvendige, pga. Vágur-lægens forkerte diagnose, og jeg blev temmeligt hurtigt rask bagefter. Halvorsen var en afholdt og dygtig læge. Jeg afmønstrede og tog hjem til Porkeri for at rekreere.

I skolen havde jeg en færøsk lærer, Danbjørg, vi skulle kun tale og skrive dansk i dansktimerne. Da jeg tog skippereksamen, skulle vi benytte dansk retskrivning. Den danske lærer sagde til mig, at jeg skrev fejlfrit dansk. Så god var min færøske lærer.

De fleste i Porkeri blev enten gift med en fra hjembygden eller fra de nærmeste bygder. En del fandt deres ægtefælle blandt de tilrejsende fra Nordøerne, der fik arbejde på Suðuroy.  Det hændte, at nogle var under uddannelse og i lære i Tórshavn,   og at de fandt en pige der. Vi tog sjældent til Olai-fest, det var for omstændeligt. Der var heller  ikke mange i min ungdomstid, der tog til Danmark. Det var kun de rige i Tórshavn, der havde råd til at sende børnene til uddannelse i Danmark. Fiskere med en ringe fortjeneste kunne ikke tillade sig det.   Portal om Færøerne   Hovedartikel Færøerne

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