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Family album IV, Uncle Henry

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Mon Oncle Henri, in French with stress on last syllable. I had never seen him, but when I was 10 years my mother went to Tehran on her first family visit for 11 years and we kids were taken care of by a kind aunt. When mom returned she brought a watercolor set as a present from Henri, and she brought home two pictures which he had painted as a young man, a self-portrait and a study of a Persian city wall at a smaller persian town.

Henri's self-portrait, selvportræt

Henri’s self-portrait

Henri was always generous with gifts. I have a feeling that he could read people quite well.

Selvportrættet hang i mon mors spisestue

The selfportrait hung in moms dining room; I inherited it and want to put it somewhere in my living room

In reality he was baptised something else, Assadour, I think, but my mother had named him Henri when they moved to Paris, because Assadour would be an impossible name, she argued. I have never heard what her parents thought about that new name. Compare US immigrants in 1880-1950, which also were given American names which sounded more or less like their old names.

My dad told that Henri read an encyclopedia to learn things. He read fast, as did my father, but I think Henri got more out of his reading. He had arrived in Tehran from Paris without finishing his school, but still he wanted to learn and become educated – which he did.

He bought a correspondence course to become architect of sorts, but he later diminished the significance of this accomplishment, he had “only” designed a shed for The Trans Iranian Railway. That in itself is quite an accomplishment in my opinion.

Min mors yngste broder skulle også aftjene værnepligt i Iran

Henri like others had to serve in the Iranian military and was drafted once in a while for training cadets as far as I know, for a week or maybe only days later in life, or maybe this is just a parade picture

Henri fik bygget et hus i en forstad til Tehran - det er ørken udenfor havemuren

Henri had a house built in the outskirts of Tehran; it is desert outsiden the garden wall

Henri's hus fotograferet 1971

Henri’s house in 1971

The winter is only two weeks in Tehran, but a fireplace is always cosy

The winter is only two weeks in Tehran, but a fireplace is always cosy

TV in 1967 in Henri's home

TV in 1967 in Henri’s home

In 1965 he invited me to go with him to see construction work where he had a new house built. I was awestruck by a mason who made floor by arches between two I-beams, and until he smacked the last stone into the arch he held the others with his forearm. I was fascinated that he could get stone and mortar to linger!

“Off we go”, said Henry, afterwards explaining that the mason did not like that I stared. There were class-tensions in Tehran.

In 1983 or -84 he came through Copenhagen. After 5 years of ayatollah-regime he had given up hope that Tehran would become a civilized city again. By leaving he lost most of his assets but in Los Angeles he started over aged almost 60 years and became a tax accountant. He tried everything from electric calculators to PC spreadsheets to smart forms and Internet servers which could calculate tax revenue etc. in seconds.

Thereafter he lived as a pensioner for about 10 years.

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Written by Donald

Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 23:41 UTC

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