Thanks to the wonders of Vanderhoof Newspaper Archive digitisation technology, and Mum for finding it for me, I’ve come into the possession of enough of my Grandpa’s writings and historical commentary about him to start his own blog for him. Perhaps one of these days I will do that for him. I never met him, but he seems to have found a way to speak to me.
Nechako Chronicle, Thursday, June 16, 1960
As told by Karl Frederiksen
This Sunday, busying myself cleaning up some drawers full of old magazines, I happened to look at a little Danish illustrated weekly from 1955. The reason why some kind soul sent it to me was that my picture was on the front page put in there by someone who knew me, I suppose. That was, at the time, all I was interested in. Now however, leafing through the magazine I see there is a nice illustrated article about our friend Axel, Axol in Danish means Wenner-Gren. The article is titled, “Paradise for Millionaires”. The Danes, of course, know Axel from way back when he sold Electrolux and was an up and coming young man. Also the Danes did not have anything against him even if he sold too many Electroluxes. They can even be friendly to a Swede.
Here in 1955, in this magazine he is described as: “One of our times’ most mystic personalities in the realm of international finance. Again and again the Swedish multimillionaire draws the searchlight to his person, etc. etc. Perhaps it was to get away from the searchlight that he got the idea of buying the little island of Andros, close to the Virgin Islands that once, as you will notice from the name, belonged to Denmark.
Anyway, he bought Andros, one hour flying time from Florida, and turned it into a resort for tired millionaires and international famousitics (permit me to make a new word, I do not like celebrities). Andros is a small, narrow, coral island about 90 miles long with broad white beaches, cliffs and palm trees. “Around it rolls the swells of the blue-green Atlantic under an eternal summer sky.” Could anything be better for tired and retired millionaire financiers and the cream of the world of Art and Beauty from Hollywood to Sweden!
When Axel bought the island there was nothing but an old lighthouse haunted by ghosts (not millionaire ghosts but drowned sailor ghosts). Axel turned it into a veritable paradise—lodges and beach cabins and club houses but no radios or television or telephones, a new Miami or Biaritz. The Lighthouse Club offers five servants for each guest and it costs you only about a thousand dollars a day. If you want to own a place of your own you can buy an acre for as little as fifty thousand dollars.
Axel is a genial and distinguished host. I wish I could insert here the pictures showing him welcoming Clark Gable to Andros or admiring Jusse Bjorling hitting high C while he shows his eighteen pound catch (fish). He also likes to give generous gifts to his friends. Once he sent his friend Carl Brisson, Hollywood cabaret singer (Danish) a live elephant from Africa as a birthday present.
Axel had, in 1955, spent only about five million dollars on Andros, however by this time likely over ten million. Nevertheless, investing in millionaires is good business and the sceptics who doubted the soundness of this will likely see a waterproof Scandinavian multimillionaire taking his U.S. colleagues for a good dunking on Andros. Mind you, this is only fun and relaxation for him. So look out when it comes to real business. Money is just chasing him and he sucks it in like an Electrolux sucks in quarters when the salesman gets you to supply them.
Now—as I mentioned, Axel is a kind, well-meaning fellow. He just can’t help making money. Some people blame him for making money during the last war trading with the enemy. But it was not his enemy he was trading with – because he is a Swede and the Swedes did not have any enemies, that is, after they made peace with the Danes. He even tried to arrange a peace conference (like Henry Ford in the first world war) between Hitler and the Allies, when he thought he had made enough money, but that was for once overstepping his ability. Now he is getting along in years so is taking it easy, mostly relaxing at Andros or loafing on his yacht. He is not chasing business, he draws it as the light draws the moth. He now delegates the ground work , to deputies, investigators, promoters and messenger boys and mouthpieces as you will have noticed in his latest adventure: “Wenner-Gren B.C. development.”
He has Macs and Tugs and Birger and Bernard and Bill and Gundy and Lords and Honorables with him, but don’t get fooled, Axel is the master mind and if anybody thinks they are smart enough to get even with him in a deal they have another think coming. They may have been smart in a stupid way and he smart in a clever way. A. will always be ahead of B.