When I was about eight years old, our teacher read a book to us in class. Teachers did that often in those days, and I suppose they still do. I hope so! The book was Snow Treasure: A story of courage and adventure, written by Marie McSwigan, published in 1942. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Now every sled ride was a matter of life and death
Peter Lundstrom never thought he would become a hero. But that bleak winter of 1940 was like no other. Nazi troops parachuted into Peter’s tiny village and held it captive. Nobody thought they could be defeated—until Uncle Victor told Peter how the children of the village could fool the enemy.
It was a dangerous plan. Peter and his friends had to slip past Nazi guards with nine million dollars in gold hidden on their sleds. It meant risking their country’s treasure—and their lives.
This book was the ONE thing I wanted for Christmas that year. My mother, broke as a churchmouse, but determined to do what she could to make our holiday wishes. There was a small stack under the tree…some undies, and socks, maybe some school supplies like pencils or notebooks…and I opened all of the packages as politely as possible, all the time anticipating the gift that I really wanted. Finally there was one present left for me, and when I opened it, I found a box of TIDE soap powder. My poor little heart sank until I realized that the package was not what it appeared to be. My book! My book!
Throughout the decades Snow Treasure has been my favorite book. Until about ten years ago it was only a memory…and I found a copy at a used book sale at the library. Actually the book has an ISBN number, so apparently it is still available, though no longer in print. The copy I have was published in the 1980s.
At the time that I was eight years old, World War II was very prominent in our lives, and indeed influences everything, everywhere, for every one. I have written other blog accounts about the War and my personal experiences as a school child living in Cleveland, Ohio.
I always believed that the story of Snow Treasure was true. The preface of the copy of the book that I have, published by Scholastic, Inc a couple of decades ago, qualifies the story with details that I presume are true. To paraphrase: On June 28, 1940, the Norwegian freighter Bomma arrived in Baltimore with about nine million dollars in gold bullion. According to the story, the gold “had been slipped past Nazi sentries by Norwegian boys and girls! Under the very eyes of the enemy, the story went, these children had pulled the gold on their sleds to a freighter hidden in a fiord off Norway’s coast.” There is no proof, of course….I still believe that the tale is at least possible, but I am a dreamer and believer in all sorts of things. To me veracity of any given account or story depends not only on proving something happened…but also proving that it did not happen.
*0590425374 There are several editions of this book on Amazon, and on other book seller sites. The book has been published periodically in paper and hardback for years. I’m glad to know that, its like finding an old friend still alive!