Rhubarb 2020

ST EDWARD’S r h u b a r b

NEWS A ABRAHAMSEN, THEODOR (D, 1933-1939) In November 2019, Theodor (Teddy) Abrahamsen celebrated his 100th birthday in Norway. Honorary Secretary, John Wiggins, describes this special occasion: OSE 100th birthday celebrations do not come around very often and invitations to share in the event are even fewer, so it took but a few milliseconds to process and accept the opportunity to travel to Norway for Theodor (Teddy) Abrahamsen’s party in November 2019.  Travelling with me (Society Hon Sec) was the Warden, Stephen Jones and Society President, Charles Cooper, via train, plane and automobile, with the initial leg to Oslo on a foggy Friday (and a slightly tense autopilot landing). The first bonus of the weekend was a delicious dinner near the new Opera in Oslo with local OSE at a restaurant selected by Robin Oberst (D, 1980-1985) featuring, among other delicacies, reindeer and raw fish all washed down with a local brew. In addition to Robin, your intrepid travellers were joined by Richard Peel (B,

law who taught with Teddy while Principal at the town’s  Katedralskole,  introducing Latin to the curriculum, and here making favourable comparisons with the writings of Cicero, citing his reflection on old age in dialogue with Cato the Elder. The birthday boy was treated to treasured memories in song by his five grandchildren (Maria, Karin, Alexandra, Erik and Stine) and Teddy’s Scout troop, which dated back to the 1950s, also recounted expeditions in the snow and ice, learning survival skills, sleeping in snow caves and making extensive use of reindeer hides.  Some of the older family history, recounting forestry in pre- and post- revolutionary Russia, is now published thanks to another speaker, the retired head of the Norwegian Forestry Museum, whose friendship with Teddy developed through this project. One of the oldest contributors, now in her eighties, was a young pupil in Teddy’s second year as a teacher in nearby Lillehammer in the late 1940s. The presence of the Teddies contingent, meant more to Teddy than we might have imagined and the Warden was able to explain to a well- educated, English-speaking audience about Teddy’s time at St Edward’s before the war and the influence of Warden Kendall - something about which Teddy spoke in his introductory words, when he thanked us and a number of individuals for making the journey to be there. It is hard to imagine surviving for the full century, though Teddy helped us by using the analogy of a cricket innings when playing for the Teddies 2nd XI and the struggle to get through the nervous- nineties. Having reached the ‘ton’, things got easier but then he was dismayed that the captain appeared and declared the innings over. Teddy is hoping this will not be repeated soon! There were opportunities for many to have individual conversations with the birthday boy, for personal wishes to be passed on from those not able to

1958-1963), William Rode (F, 2002-2007) and, a key man for the weekend, Teddy’s son, Thor Abrahamsen (B, 1975-1976). Saturday morning commenced with a narrow escape for the optimistic England rugby enthusiasts, in an ultimately futile attempt to locate anywhere that might be showing the Rugby World Cup final. The failure to locate anywhere turned out to be yet another bonus to add to the lift from Thor for the 100 or so km north to Teddy’s home town of Hamar, in good time for one of the longest lunches of my relatively short lifetime. The local Freemason Hall was quickly filled with over 80 of Teddy’s friends, family and fans representing the most recent 80 years of his amazing life. Our host and master of ceremonies, Swedish joining the English (and Welsh) - up to speed with those who were sharing memories for what Teddy had done with or for them. Familial speakers included a Canadian nephew who recounted happy and enlightening visits, a niece for whom Teddy’s family provided virtual parents, brothers and sisters and a son-in- Thor kept the non-Norwegian speakers - French, Canadian and


Theodor Abrahamsen


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