I am a retired person who is now writing books, thus fulfilling an aspiration that reaches back to the careless days of my childhood. I was born on Decatur Island in the San Juan Archipelago of Puget Sound. The San Juan Archipelago is an island paradise, reminding me of the Greek Aegean, in that both are sunny and incomparably serene. I was forced to leave that islanded Eden, under a cloud, at the mature age of fourteen, exiled to sail as a ‘ship’s boy’ on the last of the great windjammers, the five masted schooner Vigilant engaged in timber trade with the Orient. My experience in the Orient while not academic, was certainly (of a kind) educational. My China experience occurred at the time of the Japanese incursion into the Chinese mainland. This was during the Kumintang era of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek’s regime. However, I was not much concerned with political issues; my experience (adventures and misadventures) were confined almost exclusively, to Guangzhou’s (Canton) Pearl River waterfront. In 1942 I was drafted into the army. I fought in Europe as a member of the 515th Airborne, participating in some of the bitterest fighting of the war in both Belgium and Germany.
After my discharge I married and spent a little more than twenty-five adventurous years in Alaska. I divorced, remarried and moved to San Francisco. I spent some years as skipper of a Greek yacht, and later went into property management as receiver for the Marin Superior Court and also for private interests. To date I have published one book, Shadow of the Imago (memoir of a wondrously happy childhood in the San Juans, terminated by a cataclysmic meltdown). I have a second book coming out later this year, Windjamming to China, about my sailing experiences with piratical-type shipmates in the North Pacific. And too, it’s about some of my youthful adventures (those that I admit to) on the seamy side of Canton’s waterfront.
In writing I use my Swedish ancestral name, Gustav af Tjgaard, as a penname. I only sometimes use the nobiliary particle ‘af’. In modern Swedish ‘af’ corresponds to the German ‘von’, in fact the Swedish form of ‘af’ and the German form of ‘von’ are used interchangeably in both Sweden and Finland.