June 21, 2011

Wednesday, 21 June 1911


Bjaaland, Hassel, Wisting, Helmer Hanssen, Amundsen, Johansen, Prestrud, and Stubberud around the table at Framheim, probably on Midwinter's Day. [1]

At Framheim, Amundsen wrote later, "preparations for a feast were going on, and now one could really appreciate a good house. The change from the howling wind, the driving snow, the intense cold, and the absolute darkness, was great indeed when one came in. Everything was newly washed, and the table was gaily decorated. Small Norwegian flags were everywhere, on the table and walls. The festival began at six, and all the 'vikings' came merrily in. Lindström had done his best, and that is not saying a little. I specially admired his powers and his liberality -- and I think, even in the short time I have observed him, he has shown no sign of being stingy -- when he appeared with the "Napoleon" cakes. Now I must tell you that these cakes were served after every man had put away a quarter of a plum-pudding. The cakes were delightful to look at -- the finest puff-pastry, with layers of vanilla custard and cream. They made my mouth water. But the size of them! -- there could not be one of those mountains of cake to every man? One among them all, perhaps -- if they could be expected to eat Napoleon cakes at all after plum-pudding. But why had he brought in eight -- two enormous dishes with four on each? Good heavens! -- one of the vikings had just started, and was making short work of his mountain. And one after another they all walked into them, until the whole eight had disappeared. I should have nothing to say about hunger, misery, and cold, when I came home. My head was going round; the temperature must have been as many degrees above zero in here as it was below zero outside. I looked up at Wisting’s bunk, where a thermometer was hanging: +95° F. The vikings did not seem to take the slightest notice of this trifle; their work with the 'Napoleons' continued undisturbed." [2]

Cigars, coffee, and Benedictine came after that, and then the gramophone was brought out.

The concert, Amundsen related, "began with 'Tarara-boom-de-ay,' followed by the 'Apache' waltz.... Certain numbers were kept to the last; I could see that they were to the taste of all. First came an air from 'The Huguenots,' sung by Michalowa; this showed the vikings to be musical. It was beautifully sung. 'But look here,' cried an impatient voice: 'aren’t we going to have Borghild Bryhn to-night?' 'Yes,' was the answer; 'here she comes.' And Solveig’s Song followed. It was a pity Borghild Bryhn was not there; I believe the most rapturous applause would not have moved her so much as the way her song was received here that evening."


[1] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[2] Roald Amundsen, The South Pole, ch.8.

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