Thursday, May 25, 2017

Homage to an old friend

On the beautiful and sunny Spring day May 24 I visited the grave of my old friend and UFO colleague Kjell Jonsson. His gravestone can be found at Södertälje Cemetery, not far from the house where Kjell in his small, one-room apartment created and for several years in the 1970s maintained the first AFU library. His father Henry is buried at the same place. I have written about Kjell and our UFO interest and work in many blog entries but here I simply wish to pay homage in pictures to my old friend.

It was our common interest in books and reading that resulted in our acquaintance. As teenagers we both, beginning in 1967, worked part time evenings and Saturdays at Södertälje Public Library, where we soon discovered that we studied at he same school. Our friendship deepened as we both in different ways were outsiders. Kjell had a very poor health since childhood, a.o. severe asthma and had been heavily medicated, which was probably the reason he stopped growing when quite young. Being very short and different from his classmates he was the constant victim of both verbal and physical bullying and abuse at school. We spent much time together and soon discovered a common interest in spiritual searching and mysteries.

Kjell Jonsson May 1968

Fun times working at Södertälje Public Library 1969

Walking home from library work, Spring 1970

Celebrating New Year´s Eve together 1970

As a young teenager I had read all the UFO books found in my parents library and when I introduced Kjell to these books he immediately became intensely fascinated by the subject and entered a subscription to Flying Saucer Review. In 1970 we contacted UFO organizations active at the time which resulted in our founding a local UFO group, UFO-Södertälje, later Södertälje UFO-Center. We were of course naive and idealistic and spent many evenings skywatching and waiting for the space people to appear in their craft.

Ready for a bookshop tour to Stockholm August 29, 1971

Skywatching with members of UFO-Södertälje May 1971

When our UFO interest became more realistic and research oriented we founded an informal working group Arbetsgruppen för ufologi (AFU), later Archives for UFO Research, together with UFO colleague Anders Liljegren, Norrköping. As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, The man who created AFU, it was Kjell who in 1974 came up with the idea of building a UFO lending library. Practically as a one man enterprice he maintained and expanded the collections until the AFU was instead located at Norrköping.

Kjell working with his Swedish UFO bibliography at my apartment June 1976

One of our many discussions of his UFO bibliography

The first two AFU bookshelves August 1977

The first AFU librarian October 22, 1977

In the 1980s Kjell´s health problems worsened and he died on April 30, 1986, only 34 years old, caused by a heavy fit of asthma. His short life was in many respects an incarnation of suffering, poor health, pain and loneliness. In spite of all these hardships he was an idealist, caring, cheerful and full of good spirit. A great and beautiful soul in a miserable body. Kjell was a pioneer who made the AFU venture more than a dream. I cherish and honour the memory of my dear old friend and hope we will meet again. 

July 30, 1978