Arnt Olav Klippenberg– Happiness is to get up on Saturday morning and queue up outside Kalle’s at eight thirty in order to buy fresh rolls. The funny thing is that there are only men in the queue, laughs Arnt Olav Klippenberg.
– Happiness is to get up on Saturday morning and queue up outside Kalle’s at eight thirty in order to buy fresh rolls. The funny thing is that there are only men in the queue, laughs Arnt Olav Klippenberg.
You get in a good mood by being around Arnt Olav Klippenberg. The Egersund man is known far beyond the municipal boundaries for his good pen, his striking comments and not least his social commitment. He is a good ambassador for his hometown that he is very fond of.
Small identity peculiarities
– When I've been on vacation and drive home down Jernbaneveien, I feel that I will meet again an adolescent sweetheart. I shiver expectantly, he smiles and adds:
–I am very fond of Egersund, but I’m not afraid to be critical of certain things. We are a small town with all that entails.
Klippenberg has worked for a number of years as a journalist for the Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper. In the group Show Chow he is behind most of the lyrics. Songs which have become known and dear to many – ”Livet på torvet”, ”Eg e liga gla” and ”Ei med alt!”. He helps set up for the Christmas Town, the Nordsjørittet bike race and most things in town. In addition, he has managed to get put on the city map a special square in honor of Priscilla Presley who has roots from Egersund.
– It is the small peculiarities of identity that make us who we are. It is important to learn these ”Egersund things”, like for example ”to tread the plank”.
When I grew up we took walks out to the Tyskerbrygga pier and trod the plank, og then we went home again. It was part of what made us the way we are, he explains.
”The plank” lies at the end of Dampskipskaien, the steamship pier. It functioned as a guardrail and at the same time kept vehicles from rolling into the sea. A typical Sunday walk when Klippenberg was growing up, was to go out to the plank, put your foot on it and turn. This was called ”to tread the plank”. At one point in time, the plank was removed, but it reappeared in 2012.
Egersund has Norway’s best preserved wooden buildings, and in the midst of them Klippenberg has found his home. A yellow wooden house from 1847.
” It's funny to think that a person stood here in my living room and bought stamps so long ago.”
– This was the former post office, and there has also been a pharmacy here. I've tried to get hold of the figure that adorned the corner of the house, but I have not succeeded in finding it. It would have been incredibly fun to get it back! But I have bought a postage stamp that was canceled here in 1887. It's funny to think that a person stood here in my living room and bought stamps so long ago, he chuckles.
He tells that it is a conscious choice to settle in a historic house in the town.
– It reflects Egersund, and all the old history that lies in the houses here, he points out.
A walk through the town
For there is much history in the old town. Klippenberg himself would gladly take all the newcomers on a city walk to give insight into what Egersund is. He often does such city walks and has a lot to convey.
– Then I start in the church which is the city's oldest building and a fantastic building!
And not least, it's an incredible story about Hedningeholmen and the mystery around it. Then I go further to Gruset. People get incredibly fascinated as we walk along the shorefront and see old plates lying there. I usually say that here it is pick for yourself, so just help yourself, he laughs loudly.
The remains of Egersund pottery factory are clearly visible. Klippenberg says that when they once excavated at Gruset, they discovered that everything below was stoneware.
– I remember when I was a child, we jumped over the fence around the factory and took lime forms that we found and used them as chalk to play hopscotch.
”Love me tender”
The city walk continues to what is now the pedestrian street in the town. Here he finds an old picture of the street.
– I ask if they see a difference, and they do. The street was much more narrow before. The difference came after the Jubilee Exhibition in Oslo in 1914. Then one discovered that there were automobiles in Oslo, and that they needed more space. The streets had to be wider in Egersund! Then you lifted up the houses on one side of the street and moved them to make room.
” But she learned from a relative that it is located here, and her comment was ”Oh, it´s marvellous!”.
The walk with Klippenberg continues to Kirkegata and a stop outside the Iversen house. The family who once lived here immigrated to the USA. The grandchild married Elvis Presley.
– People get very enthusiastic about the story and are extra impressed when Kari (who lives in the house) opens the window and plays "Love Me Tender". Priscilla Presleys Plass is here, something that originally was my idea. She was invited to come to the opening but couldn’t make it. But she should definitely have come, he says thoughtfully. – But she learned from a relative that it is located here, and her comment was ”Oh, it´s marvellous!”
Take care of the town
And maybe there’s a new thought spinning in the head of the energetic Klippenberg. But he is soon on track again and says that the city walk ends in the park in Strandgaten, where he tells about the city fire.
– The way the town looks today is a result of the fire. Strandgaten was the promenade street before that time. It was what connected the town to the sea, and was thus the most important street in the town. It was here the stores were and where we went when we were children.
The road to the park goes through the outer district. He says that in recent years he has seen a lot of change in the district.
– Urban renewal is contagious. It's getting increasingly nicer to go here, though there are still places where I think it's not so nice. But we have become very able at renovating and taking care of what is old. There is a pride in Egersund which makes us loyal to the historic, he says.
The desire is important
Arnt Olav Klippenberg´s philosophy of life is that if you have the desire, you can do most things.
– I notice that if things are fun, I can manage, for example, to write a book about sausages. That’s why I say when I see that people struggle with things they don’t think are fun: ”Forget it!”.
He states that the best thing in the world for him is to write.
– When I sit down in front of the Mac, I'm delighted. It has been a motivating power since I was small. I remember when I was young, I rented a typewriter for ten kroner a month to type my poems, he grins. Klippenberg finds the ideas for the texts in the local area. The sausage book was also local, even though it’s supposed to be a book that should cover all of Norway.
– Well I got maybe a little criticism for it, he admits. – Some of the sausages are from butcher Grøsfjeld and the Christmas Town. But that book is a proof that one must do something that is fun. I got a call from the publisher asking if I would write a book about sausages. I was not particularly occupied with sausages, but looked at it. And found that the history of sausages, both locally and internationally, was both fascinating and interesting. It became very exciting!
Sundial or grave?
– Which place must you visit when you are in Egersund?
– Stoplesteinane! (the local Stonehenge) This is the most fascinating historic place we have.
We don’t know what it is – is it a sundial, a grave or a place for fertility rites?
It is sad that the municipality has not been able to prepare the area for tourists. You have to know where they are, but it is quite possible to find the way.
He further explains that those living on top of the hill right by the rocks are positive to people crossing their property.
– I have teased the man in the house there a little. I had in fact a professor up there with me once, and he believed that Skårabrekka is shaped like female genitals. The house owner lives there with his wife, two daughters and ten hens, he says with a hearty laugh.
In fair weather you often see Arnt Olav Klippenberg on a bicyle in town. And not just any bicycle. It is an official citybike that is imported from Denmark.
That little extra
– It is not suitable for longer trips. The biking stays within the downtown area, and is a very nice thing to do when the weather is good, he says.
It is the small and close things that Klippenberg appreciates.
– It’s that little extra that it’s all about. To stand in a queue Saturday morning together with several other men who will be going home to make breakfast for the wife and children. That makes it a fine morning. It is not certain that the ground beef was better from butcher Grøsfjeld than from other places, but it was the whole package around it that made it so that everything tasted better. And that’s what it’s all about – that little extra, he nods affirmatively.