Inga Hildur Maria Bak-Jensen, confirmed in Kastellet parish, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1949

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Inga Hildur Maria Bak-Jensen, confirmed in Kastellet parish, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1949.

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Confirmation: Coming of Age in Denmark and the US

Born in Uddevalla, Sweden, to a Danish father and Swedish mother, Inga came to Iowa Falls, Iowa, in 1952 to attend Ellsworth College, where her father had also gone to school. In 1955 she married Air Force Lt. Lynn Grove. Inga lived and taught in many countries, raising two sons who also became military officers, before retiring to a farm in Ohio.

Confirmation Memory

In 1949 when I was barely 15 years old my parents felt I should be confirmed. Most of my classmates at Ingrid Jespersen's school were also going to be confirmed in the Lutheran faith as was the custom in that day and age. Faithfully I went for several months in the spring of that year to the "Kastellet" church to which the family belonged to and not far from the Copenhagen seashore where the famous mermaid sits on her stone.

This was the first time I had attended a religious class with boys, since my school was only for girls and I was very excited to do so. We must have been about 20 or so boys and girls and each time we met we studied the Bible with good instruction from Rev. Rehling, our minister. I had also attended Sunday School for years at the Swedish church nearby, since my mother was Swedish and she and my dad felt a good religious upbringing was important.

But being in a Danish church and with a Danish minister teaching us was not as stern an experience as the Swedish one and I liked it much better. The young boys, or at least some of them, were also both handsome and fun too -- such a change from being with JUST girls daily!

As is customary in Denmark or at least in those years ‘way back then, all young folks would look forward to the FINAL day of the confirmation itself. Then everyone was dressed up, girls in white, long dresses and young men in handsome suits and ties.

My mother had bought and had my name engraved on the back in gold letters of a tiny, white leather psalm book, which I carried into the church on April 24th on that meaningful day. The minister had lined all of us up very formally along the white walls, young men on one side, young ladies on the other. Finally, boys and girls were allowed to sit in the first, reserved pews together. Then the special service began of which I remember very little.

But that little "SALMEBOG" is one of my precious mementos and in the front I can still read the Reverend's writing, which says: "Den som har tro, ser Gud's herlighed." (The one who believes sees God's beauty.)

On that day and time as we had walked slowly down the aisle to beautiful organ music it was a serene moment and my mind was not on my inherited sister’s dress. The slow walk along both aisles seemed to be as long as a mile, because we were all nervous, happy but grateful for our accomplishments of finally soon being formally confirmed.

After that lovely church service, photos were taken and then came the party and gifts in the home. I can still picture the round table in the den with lovely flowers, beautifully wrapped packages and many "lykønskninger" (congratulations).

ALL for me and on MY day. HURRA !!!!

But -- and yes, there is a ‘but’ to this story and here it is: My sister Eva had been confirmed 2 years before my turn and for that occasion a lovely, white, taffeta dress was made for her at the Illum department store in town. It fit her to a T. The style was very demure and "enkel," meaning clean-cut and nice, very much to my mother's wishes.

Now that it was my turn to be confirmed my parents had the idea that since Eva and I were the exact same size, I COULD wear this same dress, the new heirloom in the family.

To strong objections I tried to convince my parents that I had other ideas of a NEW dress, totally different from Eva's, more open at the neck and more modern in style.

My dad felt it was a total waste of a perfectly good dress which had only been worn once. So dad came up with a way to try to persuade me otherwise.

I had taken tailoring for a few years in my school and LOVED to sew and create clothes which we made there. So I longed to have my own Singer sewing machine at home, but that was a big item and very expensive, since it could only be imported from England.

DAD came with the following suggestion: that I could swallow my pride and just give in and wear my sister's dress, and then after that receive a gift of a spanking new electric wonder, my own sewing machine. The two items -- the tailored dress or the sewing machine -- were of almost equal value.

What a choice I was given! I pondered this long and hard for many days and finally decided that the few hours of wearing Eva’s dress would not kill me and once that day was done, I would have what I really wanted and from then on enjoy my very own electric sewing machine. No pedals for me!

The humming wonder won out and from then on both my sister and I made many of our own skirts and blouses and wore them with pride daily. Material was not hard to get at this time, since the war was over and my dad gladly drove us to the stores to find just the right material we wanted.

My oldest son Scott, when hearing this story, said that my dad had really bribed me to come to that conclusion and I agree. However, I think my dad wanted me to learn that sometimes in life we have to make wise decisions that also have long and good consequences.

Dad was totally correct and sense prevailed in the family and in my life. A good lesson learned! (courtesy of Inga Grove, Wilmington OH).