though she's put down roots in america, playmate lenna sjööblom still considers sweden home
Back around the turn of the century, an emigration epidemic known as America fever swept Sweden, with thousands pulling up stakes every week. It eventually waned and almost died out, but three years ago native Lenna Sjööblom caught it -- and left her homeland in search of adventure across the Atlantic. "I'd finished school," she says, with characteristic Swedish inflections, "and I didn't want to just settle down and get married before I had seen America. So I got a visa and came to Chicago to visit a cousin." But what was intended to be only a short stay stretched into permanent residency for our Playmate, who has launched a successful career modeling for magazines, newspapers and catalogs. "The modeling work may have influenced my decision to stay," says Lenna, "but I think it was more the freedom here. Though I miss my parents and brother very much and Sweden will always be my home, I couldn't move back unless the government changed. The country's becoming too socialistic for me: like, I think it's wrong that people must pay such high taxes, even if that does make some public-welfare programs possible." Government policies, however, haven't prevented her from returning annually for family reunions and the traditional Midsummer Eve festivities. This past summer, Lenna spent a month in Sweden, touring Stockholm (a short distance from the Sjööbloms' home in the village of Järna), relaxing at their summer house on the Baltic Sea and trekking north to their mountain retreat. "We had a great time," says Lenna, "and I found out how much I appreciate my relatives. Even now, I'm still a bit homesick for them, but I'll get over that. Besides, there's always next summer."
Photography by Dwight Hooker