Two schoolboys, jeans, jackets, sneakers, sitting face to face, table by the window, rhythmically swinging their legs, eagerly playing around with their drinking straws. Room: walls and ceiling covered with wood paneling. Furnishing: lime green sofa corner, checked retro floor lamp, museum piece-like map of the world, large chalkboard, more wooden chairs and tables, people sinking into vintage armchairs. The old school of Hvannasund, having turned into a super cozy café for some time past, lavishly decorated with handcrafted products. Music playing: Frank Sinatra’s ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’.
A few steps away, in Hvannasund harbor, the ferry puts out to sea and sets course for the outer islands Svínoy and Fugloy. Inside the Cafe Old School, Myrna Lind Jacobsen unwaveringly heads for the next table, takes the orders, cuts chocolate cake, brews beverages and serves freshly baked waffles, whipped cream and home-made rhubarb jam. Together with Hallgerð Akurstein, Signa Ellebye, a few other local women and some local teenagers, Myrna – coincidentally a teacher – runs the Cafe Old School. Voluntary work. Only the young get a little bit of money for the commitment. A unique café as the result of a municipality competition in search of a new utilization concept for a former village schoolhouse.
Stirring my tasty coffee, ensconcing myself in a ruby-red armchair, looking around. Right here, in 1983, local kids attended class for the very last time. Afterwards: Different types of use. Office. Bible study. Kid’s playroom. Daycare moms’ “hangout“. Here and now: most well-liked meeting place, popular among well-informed tourists and villagers.
“The locals are glad about the café, and they are proud of it“, Myrna tells me. At her school, the Skúlin á Fossánesi in Norðdepil on the other side of the sound, she teachers i.a. math, geography and Danish. The connecting dam road between Hvannasund (located on the island Viðoy) and Norðdepil (located on the island Borðoy)? Construction work. “The dam road was built in 1974“, Myrna says. “Before that, anyone who wanted to cross the sound had to row. Children on their way to school included, in all weathers, a lot of times using one oar only, because of extremely strong currents. That’s what my parents told me.“
In connection with my visit, Myrna sends me several pictures afterwards, one of them being a black and white shot, showing a man and a woman, both sartorially dressed, at a certain place. Myrna’s note: “My grandmother’s brother and his wife. The picture is from the late 50s or early 60s.“ Clearly visible in the background of the photograph, at center: what is now a café and stage for experienced boys’ drinking straw artistry that day – the old school of Hvannasund.
The café on Facebook: Cafe Old School. Sundsvegur 31, Hvannasund, currently open from one thirty pm to half past five every day. Last day of this year’s summer season: Sunday, 30 September 2018. If everything goes according to plan, the café will be open again at Christmas time. Local history footnote: Over the decades, the local school has either been located in Hvannasund or Norðdepil.