. .Grandpa John Hakanen– Grandfather John was a physically fit man who was about 5 foot 10 inches in height and a lean 160 pounds. He had excellent posture and as far as I remember he was always in good health. There were a few times I recall when he would get severe nose bleeds and the doctor had to come to the house. It was a frightening thing. I always wandered what caused them. I just recently discovered that he was in a mining accident in 1919. The accident caused a nasal hemorrhage. I believe the occasional hemorrhages after that were linked to that accident. Aunt Edith said she remembers him doing exercises when she was a young girl. She counted for him while he did his exercises, so incidentally he worked at being fit.
Grandpa was an even-tempered man who had a very practical nature. He was somewhat like the patriarch of Finntown, the section of town the family lived in. Many of the other Finns came to him for help and advice. Aunt Edith tells how he would send his daughters to help Mrs. Lindrose, whose husband had left her with two young sons to care for. Grandfather took it upon himself to watch over her well being. The two boys were Bill and Walter. Bill’s son, Billy, and Walt’s son, Wally, were around the same age as me and were part of the gang of boy’s we all grew-up with. We did everything together. Walt was born in Vintondale around the same time as my Uncle Waco. This summer (2012) We had visitors from Finland at our reunion and Billy Lindrose came. I was surprised to learn that his dad, Bill, was born at Ellis Island right after the ship that brought his mother from Finland docked. I remember when Bill came down to the front porch of my grandparents and spoke Finn. That was the first I realized that Bill and Walt were Finns. I still don’t know if Walt could speak Finn. Ernie Ditchcreek related that when any of the Finn’s were having difficulty or needed advice, they came to grandpa. At times he would loan them money if they needed it. He loaned my Mom and Dad money to purchase their house.
He provided a place in his home for his brothers and sisters. They all lived there at one time or another. I never heard the brothers or my grandparents argue or demonstrate disagreements but Aunt Helen told me that when she was a young girl she witnessed some disagreements. She said the brothers used to sit around the kitchen table and have heated arguments in Finn. She said there were times she felt they would physical confrontations but that never happened. Uncle Ernie said you knew when not to get Grandpa mad. I personally never saw him lose his temper but somehow we kids knew it was best to be on our best behavior when he was around. I remember if we were acting -up’, Grandpa would grumble something in Finn to Grandma and she would reply, in Finn, probably defending us. No doubt, his occasional grumbling was what kept us all on our toes’, we knew he wasn’t happy about something but weren’t quite sure. Grandpa worked in the coalmines and I think it was either he or uncle Mike who took my Dad, Sulo, into the mines when he first started at around age 20. When a person started in the mines he started with an experienced buddy’ until he learned the ropes and learned proper and safe procedures. Ernie said during the depression when there wasn’t work at the mines Grandpa worked on the road crew building U.S. Route 422. Other than going to work and occasional rides with his brother Elmer or his son Ernie on week ends, Grandfather very seldom left home. He never went to town or shopping.
The Hakanen homestead was a plot of about an acre on the corner of Roberts and Finn Streets in Nanty-Glo Borough. That section of town is known as Finntown and it is where the Finnish Cemetery is located. Grandfather always kept the entire property immaculate. There was a sauna next to the house and all the Finn people in the area would come to use it.
The Hakanens had a carpet loom in their basement and people would bring old clothing to make into warp. Grandfather would spend hours making carpet on that loom. He seemed to enjoy making carpet. It’s not certain if he sold the carpets he made or just gave them to people who provided warp. Perhaps a little of both, he certainly made a lot of carpet.
Early on when I first started this project I made a questionnaire About Grandpa to distribute to my aunts and uncles. In hind site it was a little too ambitious a project. I asked way too many questions and it would have been a chore to fill-out. However I did get a few responses and I may have related some of the comments in other places throughout this site, I will relate them here. His children, Helen, Ernie and Edith all said, regarding his physical traits, that he was handsome with brown hair and green-blue eyes. Ernie said he was strong and Edith said his posture was “straight as an arrow”. They agreed that he was an even tempered man. Ernie said you knew to watch for his temper. Edith noted that, ” He was always easy going with me but I’m sure his temper flared at times. Can you imagine four brothers living in the same house without some flare-ups”? Edith remembered that he was kind to everyone. She said the Lindrose boys didn’t have a father, so grandpa looked after them. And she said that “peanuts” Deetscreek told her he was a good man and when his dad needed help Grandpa was always there for him. They all said he was a hard worker who cared most about his family. Edith remembers sled riding with him and taking long walks to the Kivisto farm. I can’t imagine him sled riding! Ernie relates a funny thing he remembers. Ernie let him drive his truck to Kivistos farm. He said that was the first and last time Grandpa ever tried to drive. Knowing Ernie, that was a harrowing ride! Grandfather John died April 7, 1960 in Nanty-Glo Pennsylvania, he was 77.
. . Grandma Hakanen- Grandmother Hakanen was only 43 when I was born but I remember her as the ideal image of a grandmother’, about 5 foot three and a matronly figure. She wore gingham dresses, her hair in a bun and she was always in the kitchen preparing something good to eat. She was my favorite person in the whole world. I loved her very much, she was very good to me. From early photographs, it is obvious she was a striking beauty as a young woman. I remember her as a quiet, unassuming, kind person who was genuinely concerned for the well being of everyone around her. When you consider that she earned her own money to venture to America at seventeen in spite of her parents’ objections, she must have had a strong will and self confidence to spare. I always felt a special bond with Grandma; it was always nice being around her. Aunt Edith said she didn’t believe it was right to brag about yourself or your children and she taught all her children to respect their elders.
I remember spending a lot of time with her while she sewed on her peddle’ sewing machine. She was an excellent seamstress and made dresses and aprons for many of the other Finn women in the area. Uncle Ernie, said she never charged any of them. Aunt Helen said she was known as Tahti’, Finn for ‘Aunt’, and she also did washing and ironing for many of them when they needed her help.
My mother often said that Grandma Hakanen used those sessions at the sewing machine to pump’ me for information about what was going on at our house. I imagine that was true because my mother probably seemed like a ‘fast-living woman’ to Grandma. She smoked, was out spoken and could curse like a trooper if the occasion called for it. Ernie said my Dad often teased her to get a rise out of her. He remembers Dad taking him over to our house during Christmas season and they would help Mom put ‘ice-cycles’ on the tree. She liked them to be hung individually, one by one. Dad would take handfuls and throw them in clumps on to the tree. She would get really mad and start ‘ cussing a blue steak’.
I remember a Finnish Lutheran Church building in Nanty-Glo but as I recall the congregation was no longer active when I was a young boy. Locating a Finnish-speaking minister was a problem and the older Finns weren’t comfortable with English services. As a result I don’t think they could find a Finnish speaking minister when I was a child. I have news paper items showing all grandma’s children attended church and took confirmation classes, when the Finnish church was active. I learned some of my assumptions were wrong during the 2012 reunion. Walt Ditchcreek came to the reunion and explained to me that the Finnish Lutheran Church joined with the current St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and the Finns continued to attend church right along. Evidently only some of the older Finns, including grandma and grandpa, didn’t attend regularly. Never-the-less, I have always believed Grandma Hakanen personified what a true Christian should be. She was kind to and concerned for everyone. She passed away May 11, 1966. She was seventy-seven.
. . Grandpa J.P. Whitsell- Grandfather Whitsell (Joseph Pearl) was a man who stood about 5 foot 7 or 8 inches in height. He was not a heavy man; he probably weighed about 160 pounds. He was always very kind to Me and he enjoyed a good laugh. His laugh was a distinct and hardy one. He enjoyed telling jokes and would laugh as he told them. He was a coal miner all his working life. He used to tell about the early days of the miner’s union movement. He enjoyed pitching horseshoes and was very good at the sport. He carried a set of shoes and pegs in the trunk of his car and was always ready for a game. He built two courts in a lot across the street from his house. They were professional grade courts, with special clay and ashen areas along side the pits and along the pathways between the courts. I recall someone saying he attempted to get patents for things he developed. Some were work related for the coal mines. One I recall was for a car wheel that would separate to make tire repair easier. I have never investigated any of these stories and am not sure if they are factual.
In his later years he read the bible quite often and attended church regularly. I can’t recall if he was a regular church attendee during my younger childhood years. Grandfather died June 3, 1967. In Mercy Hospital, Johnstown Pennsylvania. He was buried in the Ebensburg cemetery, Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.
. . Grandma Whitsell- She raised six daughters, all very feisty ladies. I believe they took after their mother. Grandma was an even tempered woman who seemed to have a unique understanding of any situation. I don’t think I ever saw her excited or flustered.
When my mother rushed into a second marriage and I was resisting moving from Nanty-Glo, Grandma was the one to convince me to accept my fate. I don’t recall our conversation or how she got me to come around but somehow she did. I often think back on that time. I sincerely meant to resist any changes in my life at that time and I was pretty angry with everything and everyone, I missed my dad terribly!
The exchanges between her and Grandpa Whitsell are precious memories. He was a pretty stubborn guy and she never failed to direct him in the right direction. I never heard them sincerely argue but she could ‘zing’ him at times and he would just ignore it.
Grandpa and Grandma Whitsell remembered by their youngest daughter . . .When I first started my research I wrote to all my aunts and uncles and asked them to give me feed-back about my grandparents. The effort was pretty much a failure. I asked far too many questions and it was a threatening task to many. With the exception of my Aunt Doris Kupchella, J.P. and Sarah’s youngest daughter. Although it was a taunting task she did it. She started by telling me, “this was a very intense sort of thing . . . For days, I could think of nothing else . . . Try doing this for your parents and you’ll see what I mean.” Here are her remakes:
Dad stood about 5′ 7” and weighed about 165 pounds. He had a bald pate brown hair, gray around the ears and neckline. He had deep set hazel colored eyes He had rough work worn hands and a prominent nose. He worked in the coal mines most of his life. He started when he was nine years old, right after he finished the fourth grade. As a hobby, he invented several mine working devices. He also liked carpentry work and made several improvements to the house. He was actually “a jack of all trades.” I remember many times helping Dad with some of his “odd jobs”. I was the “gofer”. I helped him clean the chimney base every year and I’d hold the light for his repair jobs. In the summer, it was my job to water the horseshoe courts every day. Then I kept score for the horseshoe games played after Dinner. He could not get enough of playing horseshoes and he was very good at it. He kept pegs and shoes in the trunk of his car with a sledge hammer, just in case there would be an opportunity to pick up a game. After I got my drivers license, I did most of the errands. Dad helped me get my drivers license. When I was learning to drive, Dad took me out on a country road to teach me how to back-up. I backed-up too fast and got stuck between two trees. It took the bark off the trees and scratched his car (which was always up-to-date and well kept). It scared me to death but Dad was very calm and patient like nothing happened.
When Dad was a young man he played on a baseball team and played trombone in a marching band. He loved Sousa music. As he became older he played the harmonica. He played mostly country music.
Later when they had T.V., he loved to watch wrestling, Kate Smith, Life of Riley, etc. He disliked Bob Hope and other stand-up comedians. He would listen to the Pirate baseball games on the radio.
He took over adult tasks when he was a child. He started work early to help support the family. As a result he formed some strict and biased ideas very young. For example, his daughters were to be perfect ladies, no dancing, no dating, no make-up, no smoking, etc.( my note: He had six daughters and for them to keep up with the times they had to turn to their mother. She new when and where to stretch the limits set by Grandpa.)
He tried to be stern and put on a macho appearance, but the daughters all knew he was really a “pussy cat” and very generous and kind.
On Sundays he would take the whole family on a ride. When I was very young we went to baseball games that he played in. We would go to picnics and parks, occasionally to the big cities (Pittsburgh or Buffalo) but mostly to visit relatives. The latter was quite boring for the kids. The relatives we visited most were: Moms brother Uncle Allen and his wife Aunt Lizzy; Aunt Vern and Aunt Jane. Aunt Vern lived in Altoona. She was a rather ‘strait-laced’ lady. Nice but not especially warm. She had two ‘plain’ daughters, Dad wanted his daughters to be like. I remember Mum saying, “If my daughters were like that, I’d pay a guy $5.00 to take them out.”
I remember cold winter weekends when everybody would stay in bed til we’d here Dad toking up the coal furnace. When the house was warm, we would all get out of bed. Winter week days were different. Mum would make a fire in the kitchen stove, probably by sprinkling suger on the wood. We would get dressed for school and put our feet in the oven. When we came home from school, clothes would be hanging on the line frozen stiff.
I remember only some of Dad’s family. His mother Anna died before I was born, so, I didn’t know her. His Father William lived with us for a while. I just remember when he died. His wake was held in our living room. Dad made me touch his so I wouldn’t dream about him. I didn’t dream about him, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
I knew some of his Brothers and Sisters and only heard of some. Like Grace, I don’t remember her. His sister Vern lived in Altoona and we visited her occasionally. His sister Lottie married Walter Heitzenrater. They lived in the company houses at the top of Syotie hill. She had a bit of coarseness about her and unattractiveness. She was ridiculed, privately by our family. Although she had a kindness about her. His sister Lily married our Uncle Eli (Mum’s brother). Lily died young. I barely remember her. I remember her being sickly. Dad’s brother Jim was married to Aunt Carrie. They were close to our family. I remember Uncle Jim as a hard working but poor person. He seemed sick most of the time. He died at home on Pirguam Hill in a stuffy, air tight room, of pneumonia. Dad’s brother Calvin was the estranged younger brother. He lived fairly close to Nanty-Glo but we seldom saw him. He didn’t like to work and was considered an undesirable by my Dad and most of the family. Dad was a product of his times, when he was very young he belonged to the KKK, chewed some tobacco, judged people by their background or nationality. He did not tolerate laziness he even disowned his brother Calvin because of his shiftlessness and laziness.
Dad’s chief concern was his family. He helped out as a guard in Johnstown after one of the flood and would bring us treats, that didn’t get wet. He’d leave some treat in his lunch box for us to find. Some time it was just a half a sandwich or a musty cookie, but they tasted great to us kids..He left school after the 4th grade but he was self-taught enough to pass the mining tests to become a fire boss. He loved to smoke his pipe. Worked hard and paid all his bills on time. Never wanted to owe anyone anything.
One bad experience I remember. The men were pitching horseshoes in the court across the street. I was in the kitchen drying dishes with Mum and my sister Fleming. I was in a bad mood and they started teasing me about something. I got real mad and slammed the kitchen door as I went out to the backyard. I slammed so hard the glass broke and came all over me. After the horseshoe game Dad put me over his knee and paddled me. I was 13 and that was the first and last time he paddled me.
Mum was born January 28, 1883 in Clarion County PA. She was about 5 foot 3 inches tall and weighed about 160. She had red curly hair, worn short. Her fair freckled complexion, blue eyes, and round chubby face made her quite a pretty woman. She was strong willed and easy to laugh. She did not accept new ideas readily. Like Dad, she was family oriented. She had the tendency to dominate and was a bit of a dare devil. She was a great “go between” for her daughters when dealing with “stern” grandpa. She would do the talking for me when I wanted something from Dad or something we couldn’t afford. She was always there for me when it mattered. My kids remember her funny sayings. Like, “now wouldn’t that grab your grandmother’s snap satchel.”
Mum was raised on a farm with old fashioned “Pennsylvania Dutch” ideas. She attended the Methodist church and had 6 or 7 years schooling. She used to tell about having a pet goat as a child. She used to tell how she rode a bike “better and further” than any boy. She liked to square dance and liked to do exciting things. That is where I got the idea she was a dare devil. She loved going for airplane rides, when that was not an in thing. She liked roller coaster rides that were too much for the kids.
She read “True Story” magazine all the time and loved listing to and later watching the soaps on radio and T.V. When I was very young, we had boarders at the house.
Mums Dad was a red headed Scot from Glasgow. Scotland. He died before I was born, so I never knew him. I do remember Grandma Snedden, My Mum was a lot like her. I remember grandmother as always being old, because she didn’t do much and just sat around. She taught me to knit and embroider. She lived with us awhile. She then moved to Buffalo to live with Aunt Mary Ellen. She died and was buried there.
Mum had six siblings, five brothers and one sister. Uncle Bob married to Alice, lived in Buffalo. He had his leg amputated in an accident at an early age. He was a very kind and lovable man. Uncle Eli married to Lily (Dad’s sister). She died young and he remarried Ann Grove. He was a rough rugged type, a hard worker. He lived in Nanty’Glo. Uncle Allen was married to “Lizzie”. Lived in Lewistown and also Nanty-Glo. He liked to tease us kids and tell jokes. Worked in the coal mines and was famous for removing warts. He had his fingers amputated on his left hand in a machine accident at the mine. Aunt Mary Ellen. Mums only sister, was married three times. Lived in Buffalo. She was a kind and loveable person. She looked a lot like Mum. She died quite young. Uncle Bill was Mum’s youngest brother. He married twice. He lived in Nanty-Glo on the Twin Rocks road. He and his wife Byrd had four children. Uncle Bill was a bit of a “rogue”. He worked in the coal mines and liked to hunt and fish. Uncle Johnny was married to Clara. Uncle Johnny was close to our family but we didn’t see him that often since he lived in Buffalo. He had a great sense of humor and was very kind and gentle.
That is the remembrances of Aunt Doris. I appreciate here efforts in behalf of my genealogy efforts. It was a large task and I understand why others didn’t respond.
I remember some of the Aunts and Uncles Aunt Doris talks about. I knew Uncle Allen and Uncle Bill. In fact, Uncle Allen removed warts from me and my father, Sulo. My father’s was a bad one. We called them “blood warts”. It was on the nape of his neck. Mine was a small one on my left forearm. Uncle Allen would simply cross the wart with the dull side of a knife blade. He used a simple butter knife on our warts. He would then tell you to put it out of your mind and try not to think of it at all. And it would disappear. It worked! When Aunt Doris says he was famous, she means everyone in the town of Nanty-Glo knew of his “power”. Uncle Johnny reminded me of the movie cartoon character Mr. Magoo. To me he looked like him and his laugh was exactly like Magoo’s. Her writing brought many memories back to me.
. . . Growing-up in Nanty-Glo- I remember some of the Sunday trips Aunt Doris talks about. To this day, when traveling the Pennsylvania area, I see roads and landmarks that tell me I was there with grandpa Whitsell. The picture on the seft is our family circa 1943, my dad is holding Dennie I’m in front of my mom. I think the picture was taken across the street from grandpa and grandma Whitsell’s house, before Sylvia and Reynold built their house there. Shortly after this was taken my dad was killed in a coal mine accident. Ironically, I think the dark outfit he is wearing is his safety team uniform. He may have been going to, or just came back from, a safety meet. All the mines had safety teams. They took classes in first aid, rescue and safety measures. Periodically they had competitions and receive team trophies for their mooch performances. I remember attending several completions. I believe they were held at the fair ground in Ebensberg.
The musketeers arrive. . . 1932 was a busy year for mothers giving birth in Finntown, the section of Nanty-Glo where I was raised. In January my cousin Billy was born and six weeks later cousin David came along. It took six months before I joined them in June. We grew-up together and remained close all our lives. People used to call us the three musketeers, because we were inseparable. We shared all our ‘growing-up’ experiences, good and bad!
The Three Musketeers Circa 1938 and Our Collective-Memories. . . . The three of us now share our memories at the Hakanen reunions where the descendants of Mike and John Hakanen gather annually at the Park in Nanty-Glo and via e-mail. Each of us seem to remember different occurrences more vividly than others. There is one experience the three of us remember well. It occurred on the farm Billy’s dad, Clare, maintained and farmed for the Morgans. Dave and I went up to visit Billy in the summer, circa 1945, and found he had to finish helping bringing in hay before ‘playing’ with his cousins. We decided to pitch-in and help. I still wander how we could ‘help’ with those exhausting chores and still have enough energy to go ‘play’ .
Well after the horse-drawn-wagon was full we had to return ‘Charlie’ the HUGH workhorse back to the barn. We decided to ride him back. Because of ‘Charlies’ broad back and our short legs, we had to depend on the harness to stay on his back. We mounted ‘Charlie’, Billy in front, me in the middle and Dave in the back.
‘Charlie’ started at a leisurely pace and we all settled-in for the ride back. Well, David ( the devilish one of the three) decided to get ‘Charlie’ moving a little faster. He began slapping his rear with a piece of the harness. This got ‘Charlie’ into a trot which made us grasp a little harder at the harness. Then ‘Charlie’ spotted the barn! Where there were tasty oat treats!
We lost full control, ‘Charlie’ went into a full gallop and all we could do is hold on. I recall that the center part of the harness slide sideways and I had a close-up look at those enormous hooves as they hit the turf. To complicate things, the barn was located across the busy main road between Ebensburg and Mundy’s Corner. ‘Charlie’ completely ignored the road and luckily crossed when to traffic was on the road. We made it but that was an experience burned into all our memories.
Cousin “Billy” tells me one of his fond memories is when our voices were changing. He said I had arrived to spend the summer. He remembers it this way, We were in front of the sauna and we’d actually fall down laughing. We’d keep telling each other to ‘say something’ then we would collapse. Even the sound of our laughter made us laugh more. I don’t remember that particular time but it is typical of the things we did and the good times we enjoyed together. Bill spent more time with the Finn persons than most of us young kids. This is because he was so close to his granddad, Mike. Bill is the only one of the grand kids who learned to speak Finn. Mike taught him with the help of a large Finnish bible he kept on a stand next to his bed. I remember waiting for Bill for what seemed to be hours, while he talked to his granddad and read from the bible in Finn.
David remembers some of the devilish things we did as early adolescence. Pranks we pulled on Uncle Ernie etc. He remembers the time Ernie was visiting cousin Wilmer at the Kivisto farm. While he was in the house we took his pick-up truck down into the woods and raised the rear tires of the ground so when he tried to pull-out the truck would not move. I don’t remember all the details of that episode but it is a good example of some of the type things we thought were fun!
Dave also tells the story of us hiding behind our Grandparent’s coal shed ‘trying’ a cigarette. Hiding is an exaggeration because we were hidden from the Hakanen house but the rest of the neighborhood could clearly see us. He says he was waiting his turn and, suddenly, we gave the ‘butt’ to him and froze in our tracks. As he was taking a puff, he realized someone was watching. He turned around and my Mother was standing there, looking very angry! Dave thinks Billy and I ‘set him up’.
While on the tobacco subject, another story that keeps coming-up is the ‘snuff story’. All the men in those days chewed snuff, which involved keeping a ‘pinch’ of the fine ground tobacco under their lower lip for what seemed, for ever. The three of us kept a can of snuff hidden in the Hakanen woodshed. One evening while ‘taking a chew’ we noticed that the snuff in the box was formed in tiny balls. The balls were pretty fragile and we had to be extra careful if we wanted a ball to stay in tact long enough to get under our lip. Once we returned to the Hakanen kitchen, where all the men gathered for coffee, we started getting questions about our snuff in the woodshed. We exited quickly to avoid too many questions. Once out side our Uncle Elmer came out and explained why everyone was curious. He revealed that Grandma Hakanen had discovered our snuff can and put some baby rabbit fetus in the can (the fragile balls). The joke was on us, I guess we never REALLY got away with anything. Thinking over the mischievous things we did and David being the one who recalls them, maybe that is because they were his ideas in the first place! When we were growing-up I recall his mother worried that we might be a bad influence on Dave, But I also remember that many of the times we got in trouble, we were carrying-out something Dave thought-up.
Visiting cousins were also a special treat for us. We all had crushes on the girl cousins. We all thought Peggy Sackle from Ohio was very special. And there was Pauline Kivisto from New Castle PA who spent some time at the Kivisto farm in the summers. Bill and I had s crush on Donna, Davids sister, at one time. I remember Bill and I in the very serious discussion about marrying cousins. Of course, Bill had the facts, he knew that it wasn’t a good thing. He knew about Elinore and Franklin Roosevelt being cousins. So the puzzle was which cousin is O.K.? First cousin, second cousin, third cousin or fourth? Of course that gave Bill the edge with Donna..
I will be adding memories to this section as I talk to my cousins and as memories are recalled. Watching grandchildren grow and develop, ‘jars’ many past memories and that is a pastime I enjoy very much! Bill spent more time with the older adults and heard more ‘genealogy type’ information than all of our generation and is the only one of our generation to learn to speak Finn. I will dedicate the following few paragraphs to the things Bill’s recalled and told me about:
Billy’s thoughts and recollections . . .Bill tells of Edith telling him that the three of us used to argue about what kind off car God drove. I know we argued often about cars. Dave loved Chevys, I think this is because his dad worked for the Chevy dealer in N-G. Bill liked Chevys too, his Granddad owned one. I think I was a dodge, plymouth guy because Uncle Elmer had those. Elmer bought a new car about every two years. I imagine there was a line waiting for his used car. He only drove them on weekends and then to no great distances . . . Bill once discussed all the places he and his Mom and family lived. A lot of the early years I remember where before his Mom wed Clair McMullen. Then Billy’s Mom was a single Mom. Bill says he was born in the house where our friend ‘Booty’ lived. I don’t recall that. Booty was Booty Zenoviack (sp), he lived on the street that went up to Goldberg’s mine, a house coal mine that we often visited and miraculously never got hurt (or killed). Bill was born in ’32 so that was after Mike brought the family back from the Ohio farm. He didn’t sell the farm right away, so we assume Roy (age 13) stayed back to manage the farm. Roy came to N-G later and worked in the mines. Roy was probably taking care of the farm when his mother was ill. His sister Helen did the house work. Mike went to work in Girard PA. then. We think to pay the hospital bills that Laimi had. She died in 1920. Bill remembers, after “Bootys’s” , living with his Mom Upstairs of Scaife’s house. Scaifes lived up across from Goldberg’s mine. I don’t remember that. The next place he remembers is Goldberg’s, a duplex next door to the “Booty” house. I remember that the most. I spent a lot of time up there. I remember, most, an extra large book Bill had. It had nursery rhymes, stories and fables for children and many illustrations. We spent hours leafing through that book. Bill said he does remember a large book but some of the pictures in it scared him. They probably were illustrations for Grim Brothers tales, they could be pretty realistic. Bill then remembers living in Kissick’s house. Kissicks lived across from Dave Hakanen’s on ‘Dunn Town Road’. I remember that well. B ill’s Mom probably had married Claire McMullen at that point. This house was a central point for most of the boys in Finntown. Our baseball field was just at the end of the lane or alley running behind the Kissick house. The Sealicks (sp.) lived at the other end of the lane. “Sheepa” and “Zig” Sealick were both close to our ages and part of the Finntown team. The kids leagues where run altogether differently then. No parents involved. The Borough provided us with a schedule and equipment for the games (catchers equipment, bats, balls etc.). The rest was up to us. We would hand-in the score sheet when we returned the equipment and the Borough kept the necessary stats. to determine the win/lose records and the league standings etc. The kids organized the teams, showed-up at the appropriate fields at the scheduled time and took care of all the details. I repeat, no parents. Bill remembers their next move was to the elderly McMullens next to the Wagner School that we all attended. They lived there a very short time. I remember that is where Bill and I sampled dry dog food. We read where it was not harmful but was nutritious. I wasn’t real tasty. Next in 1943, they moved back to Finntown just down the street from our house. Next was the Smith farmhouse were Claire ran the farm for the owner Mr. Morgan. Mr.Morgan owned a restaurant in Mundy’s Corner. This is where Bill, Dave and I experienced the horse ride on Charlie that is related previously in this section. While living in the farm house they moved a small house from the backyard of the farm to a lot next to the house. That house became home for as long as I can remember. All this time the McMullen family began to grow. First was cousin Susan December 4, 1941, then Micky December 26, 1943, Jimmy April 6, 1945 and finally Helen April 29, 1947. . .
. . . Bill remembers quite a few stories his Granddad related to him about growing up in Finland and things he did with his Granddad. He spent more time around the older adults than Dave or I did. He remembers always calling his Granddad Mike because all of us did that. Then one time his Aunt Helen told him he could (or should) call him Grandpa. Bill was a little afraid to do that but one time near the barn of the Smith farm, he called Mike Grandpa. Mike didn’t make a fuss so from then on it was Grandpa. Bill was about 14 at that time. When Bill’s Grandma, Laimi, was living and they were in Nanty-Glo, they lived on a farm up near the present Kivisto farm. That is quite a long way. We kids had a ‘short cut’ up over a large hill we called ‘nine acres’. My Aunt Helen told Bill that when Laimi was sick my Grandma would do her washing and carry it to her house, by the same route. And another kind thing that earned her the nick name ‘Mari-Tahti’ (Aunt Maria). She did those kinds of things for everyone. Mike told Bill his farm and the Kivisto farm was side by side. However when they built the road from near Vintondale to Mundy’s corner, the road ran through their farms. So they ‘swapped’ land so each farm was entirely on one side of the road. Grandma Hakanen came to America with her brother’s wife, Mrs. Kivisto. We spent a lot of time up on that farm when we were young. One of the Kivisto’s sons had his back broken in a mine accident and he was bed ridden at Kivistos. While the adults visited with him, the kids ventured the farm. . . .Bill recalls that he and Dave went to Duman’s Dam near Belsano with Mike and Uncle Arvi. Dave was swimming around and Mike told the boys that in Finland they had so many lakes that often in the summer they swam across the lake instead of walking around it. Arvi urged Mike to show the boys how to swim. After a lot of coaxing, Mike stripped down to his long-johns and swam all the way across the lake. I would guess that in the winter they would walk or ski across the lakes or even ride a sleigh across Jalasjarvi means ‘runner-lake’ which refers to a sleigh runner . . . .Mike told Bill about the winter nights in Finland. He said that it got so cold in the night that the trees cracked like gunshots as they froze during the night. He related a time that his father was dealing with Lapps and offered them his barn to sleep in during the night. But they chose to go to the side of the barn where the snow was deepest, wrap in deer skins and huddle together in the drift. . . Mike also related how as a boy he had to borrow a horse and cart from the neighbor to take his younger sisters body to the mortuary. That would have been his sister Lempi Susanna who died at age two in 1896. Mike would have been 18 at the time. If it was the winter the mortuary would have to keep the body until the spring thaw. . . I mention Mike and his son living in a small house in Finntown where I used to wait for Bill to read the Finnish bible. Well, Bill remembers that and also remembers sneaking cigarettes to Mikes son, Arvid. He would go to Palmari’s, neighborhood ‘Mom and Pop’ store, to get the cigarettes. I’m guessing the smoking habit helped him have an early demise. . . . The small house is where Mike lived when he owned a 1931 Chevy coupe with a rumble seat. That was the greatest car! We kids would sit in the rumble seat and Mike would drive us everywhere. One of our favorite rides was on the back road to Ebensburg. We called it ‘tickle belly road’ It was like a roller coaster and going up and down over the bumps would make our bellies tickle. We always looked forward to a ride on that road in the rumble seat. That car is my memories, Bill said after that his Dad, Claire, got the car and took out the rumble seat and put a small bed (like a truck) it its place. After that Mike bought a 1938 plymouth. He carried the big bible around on the back shelf of the car. I don’t recall any of that. Many years later, when Bill and I were in the service, I remember that Mike lived with Easter and family in the summers and with his daughter Helen during the winter months. . . .Speaking of the large bible that Bill read from, his Mom told him that their house in Ansonville had a room just for that bible. The family would gather in that room for bible study. Ester also said that it was Laimi who was very religious. Mike became religious after she died. . . As I mentioned Bill spent a lot of time with his Grandpa and other Finn adults. He has stories of fishing trips with Mike and Arvi, trips back a forth from their farm to N-G in winter and summer and many more memories. He and Dave have many memorize from after I left N-G. I was only about 12 when I left. Other than living there for several summers after that, I became a visitor and no longer a ‘native’.
Our 2010 discovery. . .
. .cousins in Finland- In March of 2010 Pirkko Leong from England emailed the borough of Nanty-Glo inquiring as to the possibilities of getting in touch with Barb Hakanen a citizen of that town. Pirkko had discovered Barb’s name and town on the internet. The borough made contact with Barb and Barb began communicating with Pirkko. Pirkko, who just began researching, discovered her grandmother, Aini (Lahteenmaki) Rinta-Valkama, had a younger sister, Laimi, who emigrated to America in the early 1900s and married a Mikko Hakanen. While searching the surname, she discovered Barb. Barb connected her with the rest of us. Laimi’s descendants, mostly in Ohio except for the McMullens in Pennsylvania. She included me because of my genealogy interest. Cousin Janet from Ohio, Perkko and I soon became steady e-mailers. Not long after our original contact Pirkko’s cousin Arja began communicating with cousin Janet and I asked to be included to learn more about Finland. Arja lives in Finland. Soon the four of us steady “e-pals”. The contacts have been blossoming and we are all elated! Pirkko and Arja sent us emails telling all about their childhoods growing up in Finland. You can learn more about Pirkko and Arja by reading their stories here. I’ve learned so much through these contacts. For example, during World War II the Ohio cousins kept close contact with the Lahteenmaki family in Finland. The Finns in World War II stayed independent, however, they were on a tightrope. Germany was breathing down their necks because of their relationship with Russia throughout history. But, history reveals, they held off “occupation” by Russia in many ways. As I said I was not aware of any off this and if my Grandparents were in touch with relatives during this time. Which they probably were. Anyway Pirkko remembers it this way:” Even I felt the effects of the war in my childhood (even though I was born in 1952), and remember the food and clothing parcels that we received from mum’s cousins in the USA. One of our favorites was the mousse that we made from the powder by adding milk into it. One of our neighbor’s daughter had very poor eyesight and couldn’t get suitable glasses in Finland. Mum’s cousins arranged for these, and she was very grateful always for that. Sugar was bought in a huge cone shape and we had to use special sugar scissors to get lumps out of it! Strange what one remembers from those early years! I guess we have to be grateful that the menfolk returned from the war, including my dad. Dad’s toes were frozen in the Winter War and had to be amputated. Then he received shrapnel in his back and arm during the Continuation War. The scar on the back was huge, as he lost a lot of muscle. The aches never quite cleared, but he managed to run the farm and feed the family and educate us five children”.
A Visit to Finland. . . In July and August cousin Janet, from Ohio, and a part of her family visited the new-found family in Finland. She kept a log while there and sent them out as emails. I have condensed the emails into one document and placed it here. It was fun for me to read and it clarified many of the things I have garnered from emails to and from cousins Arja and Pirkko. Here is the log:
Janet’s Log July 28th through August 7th, 2011. . .
Hi to All,
Many of you requested that we keep a log of our trip to Finland. Well, that is just what I did. At the end of each day I wrote down everything we did that day and it is a good thing as I would have forgotten so many places that we saw. We were busy everyday with places to go and people to meet.
This is going to be a series of emails based on our trip to Finland, Russia and a day we spent in Tallinn, Estonia.
We began our trip on July 28, 2011. At 11:30 a.m. John and his family and brother, Bill arrived at my home by taxi to take us to the airport. But first, John had a bottle of champagne to toast our trip. Then off to the Cleveland airport. While standing in line to check our baggage, John received a phone call on his cell phone to say our flight to Chicago had been canceled! He immediately went to “power-mode”, left the line and went directly to the counter and demanded they find us a way to Chicago to catch our flight to Helsinki. The person on the phone said we were now booked to leave on Friday. The woman was very nice and went into over-drive and booked us on a flight to New York City on American Airlines and a flight on Finnair for Helsinki. We had about 30 minutes to check our luggage and get to the gate. It was one of those “cigar” type planes – rides are bigger at Cedar Point Amusement Park! We arrived at La Guardia Airport in New York City, got our luggage and hailed a yellow cab for JFK airport….not far from there. We had about 1 1/2 hours to grab something to eat and get to our gate. We made some phone calls, recharged our I-pads, cell phones and I pods! Oh, these new fangled gadgets.
Now we are winging our way over the Atlantic Ocean towards Helsinki, Finland. It is a seven hour flight. Arja, our new found cousin, is going to meet us at the airport with her husband, Pepe. It is about midnight now. We are very near to Iceland. We are due to land at 8:44 a.m. Helsinki time.
Arja was waiting for us as we cleared customs. She had a sign “WELCOME JANET, BILL, JOHN, SHELLY, ANNE AND LIBBY with painted flowers. Pepe was with her. We rented our car and drove to our hotel- Hilton Strand. Let me say right here that we so enjoyed our stay at this hotel. The people were most accommodating and helped us at every turn of the way. They had a most wonderful breakfast each day…..more about that later. We rested for a short time and changed for dinner at 5:00 p.m. (we are now on Finn time). Arja and Pepe came to the hotel by taxi that would hold all of us and drove to the restaurant to have dinner with Arja’s son, Mikkol, his wife, Marie and their 2 daughters, Sophia and Amanda. The restaurant was wonderful and for dessert we had wonderful pancakes with many choices of toppings to put on them. Pancakes were similar to crepes. We walked around the area as it was on the Gulf of Finland and we walked back to the hotel by way of some residentual area. We made plans with Arja and Pepe to meet them the next morning in the lobby of the hotel and go to Kurikka and Jalasjarvi where our grandparents were from before coming to America.
So our first official day in Helsinki was over………
July 30th, Saturday:
Wake up call was for 6:00 a.m. for me to be ready for the day. Let me tell you that the hotel breakfast was the best part of waking up….sounds like a commercial….anything you would want for breakfast and much more. Their scrambled eggs were more like a wonderful custard…bacon and what we would call Vienna sausages. Cereals, hot and cold. Broiled tomatoes and baked beans (something a little different for breakfast for me) and pancakes. Juices, milk, hot chocolate, coffee, tea. The center island was full of fresh fruits and berries. A couple of different ones that were about the size of small blueberries but red…maybe currents. We weren’t sure. Fresh baked Finnish breads to die for. Then a whole side of the island was filled with sandwich meats, cheeses, pickles and salad makings……Sweet rolls and a donut-like favorite of Annie’s and mine called a Monkee. At least that is what it sounded like when I asked the waitress. It was a round, light donut almost like a cake donut rolled in granulated sugar. There was even more but you get the idea of why we were up early just to have a nice leisurely breakfast before we started our site-seeing.
We all met up by 9:30 a.m. and took our van and Pepe’s car. Bill drove with Pepe and Arja rode with us and told us about everything we were seeing as we drove to Kurikka and Jalasjarvi. The countryside was very much like southern Ohio and northern Canada. Lots of evergreen and birch trees and rolling hills. Many farms. We stopped about halfway for coffee and drinks. We continued on a divided highway. We went through Jalasjarvi where we would go back to visit on Sunday. We first went to the home of Laimi’s family in Kurikka. For the Hakanen side of our family, Laimi was Mike Hakanen’s wife. She was Laimi Lahteenmaki Hakanen. Mother to Helen, Roy, Irvin, Esther and my mother, Anne. The beautiful farmhouse is still there where she grew up and lived before coming to America in 1903. Hilkka is the widow of our cousin and is living in the house. We took many photos of the farmhouse and other buildings on the property. We then went inside to have coffee and juice and delicious Finn cookies, cheese and Aunt Mary Hakanen’s bread, NISUA. One cousin who was there but I didn’t write down her name and I have forgotten it. I most get her name from Arja. Anni-Liisa and Hilkka’s granddaughter, Christina were also there. The spelling I am not sure of but a very pretty young girl with a wonderful smile.
We then drove with our cousins to the cemetery where our Great-grandparents are buried. It is a beautiful cemetery – very well kept- with a special section for the men who were from the area who died in World War II. There were many graves for the size of a town like Kurikka. Arja bought flowers for all of the graves for us to put them on our family graves while we were there. In Finland you can bury several people in one grave. Our Great-grandmother was the first grave we saw. We also saw our great-grandfather’s with Uncle William (Wiho), too. We saw the grave site of cousin Sulo Niemisto who all of our mothers and some of us wrote to for years. We also went into the church that was built in 1847. It is a Lutheran church and it was one that Laimi would have gone to when she lived in Kurikka. Most Finns are Lutheran. The church was beautiful and you would never know it as that old. Everything is kept looking so beautiful. We wish you had been there, Bill McMullen, to tell us about the head stones. They were beautiful, too. The church takes care of the part of the cemetery for the veterans of WWII.
From the cemetery we went to the hotel Pitka-Jussi. Owned by the famous Finland cross-country skier. On one of the walls was a huge glass cabinet with large press photos of Pitka and a model of him, complete with beard. His metals and awards were also in the cabinet. Arja had arranged for the hotel to fly the American Flag outside with the flag of Finland. We were very proud of the two flags together. It was at this hotel where we were to spend the night. Arja had arranged for the cousins who could come, to join us for a very special dinner. Arja had photos of family members and a photo of the ship that they sailed on to come to America. Everyone there had a name tag with the name of the brother or sister of Laimi’s you were related to. There were 3 families represented that evening. The families were descended from Laimi’s brother, Jaakko and oldest sister, Liisa. There were about 30 or more cousins in attendance. There were family resemblances in many. John Sackl, you have a twin there. Deanne and Atalie, so do you. Her name is Anni-Liisa and she is from Jaakko’s family. Everyone was most gracious and friendly. We are the first of Laimi’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to go to Finland. Arja called it an historic journey as it had been over a hundred years since Laimi went back to visit with 3 of her children. She is thought to have been pregnant with Esther. Anne had not been born yet either. The dinner was wonderful – pepper steak or salmon for the main course, salad or mushroom soup and a special cheese with a sauce for dessert. It was a wonderful evening with “family” that we didn’t even know existed before Pirkko found us through the Nanty Glo Historical Society and Barbara Hakanen. What a much nicer place this world is today with our new-found cousins across the sea.
One word about the last name of a family in “olden” days. It was customary to change your last name if you moved to another home. It was to reflect the place you lived. Therefore when Laimi’s father bought the farm, because it had a spring on the property and the area was rather hilly, he changed his last name to Lahteenmaki. Lahteen means spring and maki means hill. I have forgotten the name that our great-grandfather had before. But Arja’s knows it and is sending some of the information to me as she gathers it. I have to do the same for her. One more thing about the homestead. It is red with white trim as most of the farmhouses were in the area.
Lahteenmaen sisarusten Laimin, Liisan ja Jaakon jalkelaisten historiallinen ensi tapaaminen 30.7.2011 Ravintola Pitka-Jussissa Kurikassa. Janet, Bill, John, Shelly, Annie ja Libby ensimmaisella Suomen matkallaan tutustumassa isovanhempiensa kotimaahan.
Now if any of you besides, Bill McMullen can translate the above, you will have the words that Arja wrote on a poster at the dinner on Saturday night. Luckily she was kind enough to translate with the words below:
The historical first reunion of the Lahteenmaki families of Laimi, Liisa and Jaakko 30,7,2011 in Kurikka at Pitka-Jussi. Janet, Bill, John, Shelly, Annie and Libby on their first trip to Finland to see the homeland of their grandparents and ancestors.Sunday – July 31
Before we begin today, I must write some feelings we all are having: 1. We can’t believe we are here in Finland. 2. We think of Mom – Aune/Anne and wish she could have made this trip. We know she is here in spirit. They all are. 3. To see Laimi’s childhood home was truly amazing. The home we had seen in photographs from so many years ago. 4. We learned yesterday from ship records that some of our family members had been on the Lusitania on a prior voyage before it was sunk by the Germans – the start of World War I.
We have been told so many stories about World War II. Arja was sent to live with her grandparents to get her away from the fighting in WW II. Many children were sent to Sweden for 4 years to be cared for by strangers. Some small children would have been so attached to those people in that time. Arja said she was very lucky this didn’t happen to her. She has very fond memories of the days with her grandparents.
We were up early and I went out to take some photos of the flags in the turn-around in front of the hotel. It was very peaceful and a beautiful morning. They had first put up the Union Jack for us and then Arja explained that we were from the U. S. So there was the flag of Finland, the flag of the U. S. and the flag of Great Britain. I think maybe my dad had something to do with that mistake. So all of our ancestors were covered, except for the Irish!
We all had a wonderful breakfast but no NAMI MUNKKIS. Yes, I emailed the Hilton in Helsinki yesterday for the recipe for the “donuts” and was told that they are made by the Fazer Bakery. The Fazer Company is very well known for their candy of which I brought home A LOT but I didn’t know about the bakery, too. Oh, there are two kinds of liquorice. There is the “normal” one and that is very good……and there is a not so nice kind called salmiakki. That is the Finnish liquorice with the salty taste. I am bringing some to the reunion next year. I brought some once before and Ernie liked it. That is because he had SISU. You can go on line and look up Fazer Bakery and see a photo of the Munkkis.
About 10:00 a.m. we left the hotel and drove to the cemetery where Arja’s parents are buried. Some of our cousins joined us outside of the cemetery in the parking lot. It was another beautifully kept cemetery. Pirkko’s parents are buried there, too. There are no Hakanen graves in this cemetery and there really should be as this is the area they were from. We do know that all of Grandad and Uncle John’s brothers and sisters came to the states but there must be some cousins still there in Finland. We then went to Arja’s church and saw another cemetery for the soldiers of WWII. A very interesting story was told by Arja about Margareta Hakkola. She was Laimi’s Great Great Grandmother. That would be about 10th generation for my grandchildren. She was born in 1769 and was very much the business woman for her time. She bought up property and amassed a huge fortune. She has a very large grave marker in the church yard. She also gave a lot of money to this church. She was certainly a woman ahead of her time!
We then drove to the area where Grandad and Uncle John’s family home was. A very small home it was to be sure from the photos we have seen. There is nothing left of it now and the property is just over-grown with trees and flowers. Some very large rocks, too. Arja pointed out homes that were about the size of the cabin and it couldn’t have been big enough for 11 children and a mother and father. Probably about the size of Lincoln’s log cabin. Arja had pointed out the home that Grandad and Uncle John’s mother was raised in – it was huge- and one had to wonder why she left home to live in a cabin…..we decided it must have been “true love”.
After the tour of the area, we left for Pirrko’s sister Helka’s home for lunch. We also toured the family home on the same property that Arja and Pirrko’s grandparents lived in. We are cousins to Helka. As is Arja. Helka and her husband Yrjo are remodeling the family homestead with the help of Arja. Arja is an architect by profession and that is most evident in the many things that she has drawn up for us to help us with the family history. Also present for the luncheon was cousin Leena and her sister Sinikka’s daughter Annukka and her husband Timo. By the way, I have been spelling Peppe’s name without the double p. So from now on, Peppe is the way I will be spelling it. I have to thank Arja again for filling in all of the names and spelling. Today in the mail I received a great chart of our families and much information about Laimi’s family from Arja. This will all be shared with all of you. Back to the large farmhouse that is being remodeled-there were many outer buildings on the property. One of the most unique features of the old building/barn next to the house was the out-house. Not the kind that Aunt Mary and Uncle John had but one that you had to climb a ladder to get to and see a large open room in the barn with a 7-seater bathroom. Now that was something to see. This was a working farm for their grandparents and as a side job, their grandfather was a blacksmith and did this beside the road at the top of their long driveway. Our luncheon was wonderful with all sorts of good food and a berry cake-like dessert. As we were leaving, Helka gave us a beautiful book about Finland. We shall know everything there is to know about our homeland when we finish reading it.
And in case you want to know, of course the sauna is very much a part of life in Finland. The Hilton Hotel had one that was very large and I went to see first hand how the whole thing worked with the coals, water to toss on the coals to create the steam, and the wonderful smell of the wood in the room that the heat created. Every Finn needs a sauna. We said our good-byes to Arja and Peppe at Helka’s. They were going back to Turko to await the arrival of Peppe’s daughter and her family who live in France. We were on our way back to Helsinki around 6:00 p.m. and arrived at the hotel around 10:00p.m. and went to sleep to get up at 4:00 a.m. to start our trip by rail to Saint Petersburg, Russia.
I really aught to say something about the long days and short nights. The Finns have a very big celebration in June for the mid-summer solstice. We were about 6 weeks into their summer when we arrived. You could see daylight breaking before 4:00 a.m. and it was never dark when I went to bed around 11:00 p.m. What a wonderful day for me. I love the daylight. We all enjoyed it and you never really felt tired when it was still light. But I would not like the long gray-dark winters.
So that is our trip in Finland so far. We are off to Russia tomorrow.
August 1, 2011
We were up at 4:00 a.m. to catch the train for Saint Petersburg, Russia from Helsinki. The train left the station at 6:00 a.m. It is a very smooth riding train. The countryside is mostly rural. Lots of pine trees and farms. When we reached the Russian border, the Finnish conductors of the train got off and the Russians got on as conductors the rest of the way. The Finnish conductor was very nice to us. We did not have seat assignments on our tickets and we could have been made to move if someone else had our seats. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. He advised us to make sure on the trip back that we get seat assignments. We were told that the Finns are interested in who is bringing in liquid and cigarettes and the Russians are interested in who is bringing in drugs and guns. Well, we cleared that hurtle……it was touch and go for a while.
One thing that we noticed when we entered Russia, the train ride was not as smooth and there were fences up along the way with rolled barbed wire on the top. Made you think about the Russia that was not so long ago. Upon our approach to Saint Petersburg we had to present our passports again. We were checked on board the train by the Finnish conductor. The official from the Russian government came back and asked to see Bill’s passport and took it away! He is now eating Patty’s meal she prepared for him while traveling. I dare say he is wondering what is wrong! There were times when we thought we would lose Bill to the Russians. They did return and give him back his passport.
We arrived in Saint Petersburg at 9:30 a.m.-that is Saint Petersburg time. They are an hour behind Helsinki. We were met by our guide Anna and we went to the “W” Hotel. We were able to have one room for the time being to hold our luggage as we were checking in early.
A word about our guide: Our travel agent advised us NOT to be alone in Russia. We hired a guide and van to take us anywhere we were going with Anna at all times. Anna started our tour the first day with three words of advise. WATCH YOUR STEP. Watch your step because wherever there are tourists, there are pick-pockets and watch your step as the sidewalks and streets are very uneven for walking and you can trip very easily. Anna then started our tour of Saint Petersburg. We went to many national monuments and 2 churches the first day. Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the Church of the Spilled Blood. If you want information on these sites there is much about them on the Internet. They are filled with history of the country and people. During the Communists rule of Russia, they used these beautiful churches with granite (from Finland) pillars from floor to ceiling and gold leaf on everything and marble floors for warehouses.
The Neva River runs through the city and makes for many bridges and islands. The city looks tired and the people are trying to renovate the entire city as fast as they can. Bill noticed how primitive their tools were for working on streets and buildings. I noticed 2 men wearing clear plastic gloves smoothing the cement on the curbs of the street in front of our hotel. By the way, our hotel was beautiful. The “W” hotels are a chain but I forget who owns them. It was very modern and the greatest bed I have ever slept in! The bathrooms were luxurious with marble and mirrors and huge towels and bathrobes and slippers. Quite the royal treatment. No Munkkis for breakfast so you wanted to stay in bed! But our Anna wouldn’t have let us!
We came back to our hotel and rested for while before going to the pool. We had had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant close by so we were not hungry for a big dinner. At lunch we had different “Russian” meals. Bill ordered Borscht- famous beet soup – hot and he liked it so much that he emailed Patty to tell her about it and she was at once preparing it for his return! Of course all of the ingredients would be from their own garden. John had another hearty soup. I ordered Beef Stroganoff that was very good. Of course Anna knew the history of how it came to be with the Stroganov family. Annie had her salmon of which she had much on the trip and Libby had a beef patty that was very much like a hamburger with the bun and Shelly had scampis. We all enjoyed it very much.
For supper later we had different appetizers and a couple of the others had a light dinner. John and I had salads and a cheese platter. The cheeses were four different kinds and had assorted toppings for the cheese: honey in the cone, an olive-salty spread, a chopped cherry and some sort of liquor taste, and the last one was a spin-off of a Waldorf salad with the ingredients a concoction of apples and celery that were shredded very fine-looked like toothpicks with finely chopped walnuts but no sauce on them. Bill had a salmon dish to eat with mini pancakes the size of silver dollars. Shelly had a chicken dish and Annie and Libby had desserts that were wonderful – cheesecake with a side dish of ice cream and raspberries for Libby a long rectangle piece of chocolate that resembled a candy bar for Anne. After that we went to bed!
Just remembered another “extra” about the rooms. About 6:00 p.m. a couple of girls came in to give us bottled water to “Wet your whistle” and put linen place mats beside your bed on the floor with the words, “Why barefooted” printed on them. Everything they do, explains the “W” letter for the hotel. Later another fella came by with some more water. I explained that someone else had just brought us some and he said that they do this for special guests. On the writing table was a stand with the word WISH and laying in the stand was a kaleidoscope. The frig was complete with liquor and other beverages. A pull out drawer with candy, nuts and dried fruit. All for a charge! They did provide coffee and at no extra charge. Oh, I almost forgot. In Finland and in Russia, the bathrooms are referred to as WC- water closets. Not having been in that part of the world before, maybe that is throughout Europe. However, I don’t remember it in France and Spain. The shower head in these bathrooms were the size of a hub-cap. The tub was so deep that I thought I might have to get a stool to get in and out…..The sink was rectangle in shape. There were purple accents in the rooms as the W on the Hotel sign was also purple. When we arrived in the morning, the concierge met us at the front door along with the ladies at the front desk. Everyone was most amiable and we received 1st class service. One more little perk: we received a package of Margarett (not sure of the spelling) before going to our rooms after dinner. They were a delicious dessert-much like a sponge cake. The spa was very nice and John and his family enjoyed all of that. There were computer rooms in both of our hotels.
Observations of the city: Communism did not help this country. People are now trying to restore their city to what it must have been at one time. It is called the Venice of the North. The communists in higher positions must have lived well but their people didn’t and the cities suffered with no care. Anna has thus far limited the force of the Russians wrong-doings over the time in history. They too had slaves but ended that a few years before the U. S. did. At one point in history their ships were destroyed by Sweden without any warning and when she said, “Can you imagine that?”. I told her the same thing happened to us at Pearl Harbor. She just passed that off with “but the war had already started!” She must not have known that that was what led us to enter the war. She was probably not taught that in her history books. She is about 30 years old. She has certain phrases that she uses to gloss over certain periods of history where her country was in the wrong. She is very quick to point out the error of Communism. But she loves her country as she should so we didn’t take offense to some of the things that she said. She was very much against Communism. She loves that she can make her own choices now but she said that the change came too fast for the people to handle it. She said there are still Communists in her country but they have no power now.
August 2, 2011
This is our second day in Russia. I have no idea what time it is! Early morning – Annie, my Roomie as she calls us, is sleeping but the city is waking up and the traffic has increased in sounds below our window. Anna, our guide, is returning at 10:00 a.m. for our day of touring. Our first stop is at the church of Saint Isaac’s. We were to see that yesterday but we were just too tired to do one more thing. After all, we had been up since 4:00 a.m. that day to catch the train. This was a beautiful day for site-seeing. I will not dwell on the sites as much because you can go online and see the photos of these places and learn all about them. After Saint Isaac’s we went to see the subway. Joseph Stalin it would seem did that to his credit. Not much else according to Anna. Communism is not regarded as a good part of their history. The subway is VERY deep. The escalator was awful for me! They were so steep to look down and I just barely got on without a mishap! But then escalators have never been a good thing for me. It’s a childhood fear from the days of department stores in downtown Cleveland. Luckily I only had to deal with going down as when we reach our stop, there were MANY stairs to climb up. Stalin wanted each of the subway stations to be different. And the two that we saw were very different. The one had chandeliers and mirrors and different decor. Our next stop was dedicated to the Russian workers. It had murals of workers showing different occupations. Our driver was waiting for us at the station when we came up to the street.
We then took our van to the summer palace. The palace itself was closed for some reason that day – Anna was most annoyed- but we walked the grounds and enjoyed all of the fountains and gardens. There was a bath house that was open to see and that was the favorite spot of the czar. He loved the sea and designed this building accordingly. The bath house was right on the Gulf of Finland. He also liked the smallness of this bath house as opposed to the large palace. On our drive to the palace we passed many old summer “dacha” or homes. We also saw the small “palace” where our Presidents have stayed and Kings and Queens of the world. Peterhof was the name of the city where we saw the summer palace. After touring the grounds of the palace, we went to a very nice restaurant on the grounds. What a diverse menu! Bill and Annie had sturgeon, Libby had her steak, Shelly and I had a chicken dinner and John ordered BEAR cutlet. Some of the brave tasted John’s bear meat and found it to be stronger than venison…….yours truly did not try it!
We then came back to the hotel. On the way back, Anna asked us if we would like to see some local entertainment at a nearby theater. We said yes and Anna stopped to get us tickets for the performance later that evening. You know, when it is still daylight at 10:00 p.m. you just don’t get tired and are ready to carry on. We walked over to the theater just a little before the program was to start. It was an old building but very nice inside. I would guess that it held about 200 people or more. The program was about Russian folklore with dancing and singing. They must have changed their costumes at least 8 times or more and the dresses were beautiful. One of the men in the singing groups was from the quartet that sang at one of the churches we saw the day before. Very talented singers and dancers. Of course they did the famous Russian Cossack dance. Such stamina. Of course it helps to be in your 20’s!
By the time we got back to the hotel, we were ready for sleep. We wanted to be fresh for our tour of the Hermitage muesum tomorrow and our last stop in Saint Petersburg.
August 3, 2011 Wednesday
We all decided to pamper ourselves this morning and have breakfast in the room. We ordered last night before going to bed. Anne and I just had breakfast together and enjoyed a great menu of good food. There was one small matryoshka doll on the tray which Anne decided was to add to her set that we bought yesterday at the store. They are very famous in Russia and are also know as the Nesting Dolls.
Anna came to get us to go to the Hermitage at 10:00 am We arrived at the museum and went in the beautiful building. It is the winter palace of the Czars. We saw the some of the room of the huge palace and large portraits of the Czars. We saw the way the palace looked after the restorations over the years. We saw many beautiful paintings by many famous artists down through the centuries. Of course for me it was the Rembrandt’s that were the beSaint We also saw paintings of some of the Spanish artists that I had seen in Madrid’s Prado Museum—-Goya, El Greco and my favorite, Velasquez. We didn’t have time for the paintings of the Renaissance Period. That I am sorry to have not seen. We were in the museum for over 3 hours and saw only a small portion of what there was to see. Anna told us that if we were to see every item in the museum and spend only 1 minute looking at it, it would take 8 years to see everything there. There have been buildings added to the palace, making it 4 buildings in one.
We walked down the great hall and saw all the paintings of the Czars and when we came to Nicholas II, the last Czar of Russia, Anna gave a very quick history of Nicholas and his family and how they were killed. When I asked about Anastasia, she was very quick to say, “She is dead, too.” So much for Ingrid Bergman’s film on Anastasia. But as Anna pointed out many times in her stories about Russia and the people, “who knows.?” So I say to you, “who knows?”
From the Hermitage we went directly to the train back to Finland. When Anna took us to the train station she stayed with us to make sure we didn’t have any trouble getting our assigned seats for the trip back. However, the Russians either have a scam going on or our travel agent made a big mistake because until we paid for another set of tickets, at the cost of $600.00 (rubles) for the 6 of us, we were not going to be leaving Saint Petersburg. Needless to say we paid the ransom and boarded the train for Helsinki. We had first class seats and a box lunch—included in the price of the tickets! No incidents with Bill’s passport this time.
At this point I want to say something about Anna, our guide. She was terrific and we would all highly recommend her to anyone going to Saint Petersburg. She is from a family of guides. She told us her mother was a quide as well as her husband. It is something that she knew she wanted to do since she was 7 years old. Her love for her country comes through loud and clear and her favorite Czar was Peter the Great. She said he was rather bloody but she liked the history of that time. She was always very professional and dressed very business-like. We had a little incident at the museum with a Chinese tourist who was part of another tour group. She was pushing Annie and Libby out of the way to get a closer look at a painting and almost knocked them down. Anna just looked at her and yelled, “Where is your tour guide? People have you no self-control?” She quickly took us to another part of the museum where there weren’t as many people and continued our tour. Anna also told us a story of how one day she was speaking to her group and telling them about something or other when she looked down and in-between her legs was a Chinese person trying to take a photo of a painting. She just didn’t know what to do that time! Quite a surprise to say the leaSaint Just think about it and picture it! So if ever you find yourself going to Saint Petersburg, we have her card and know that you will have the best guide that Russia could offer. She was also a very beautiful woman….if that matters!
We were back to the Hilton strand around dinner time but chose to eat later and get settled in first The hotel had stored our luggage that we did not need for Russia. We each took a small bag for the short stay. We did the same thing when we went to Kurikka. The hotel was most accommodating for us. We had a late supper around 9:00 pm and went to bed. Arja had left a message with the desk at the hotel that she would be arriving in the morning to take me site-seeing in Helsinki. AND there would be NAMI MUNKKIS for breakfast.
AUGUST 4, 2011
Now you know what was the FIRST thing of the day…..BREAKFAST. No wonder they say that that is the most important meal of the day. Now you are all thinking Munkkis but that is not so…..there are also lots of other things to choose from as I have listed all of them before. So you can just let your mind wonder if I want for the little, round, sugar-coated Munkkis…… Bill joined me for breakfast after which we went for a walk around the hotel to a store that he had found that was much like a Target at home. But very different in structure. It was an old building in the downtown area of Helsinki. There was a grocery store on one side of the first floor and a department store on the other side. As you went on the escalator to the other 3 floors you found clothing and household items. Very much the same kind of things we have for the same prices. We then went to the bank and they would not let us use our credit card to get money because we were not one of their customers. We rarely had any trouble using our credit cards at any store or restaurant. A couple wanted euros. Bill had done a lot of food shopping at the store for late night snacks and Anne got her full of brie cheese thanks to her Uncle Bill and the breakfast buffet.
Arja met us at the hotel around 11:00 a.m. She had driven over from Turko where she lives. Peppe did not come with her this time as his daughter and grandchildren were at their home for a visit. I believe I mentioned before that his daughter lives in France. John and his family joined Arja and me for a short walk to the Helsinki Cathedral. Arja used to attend this church when she lived in Helsinki. It was just beautiful….breath-taking in structure and in the interior. At this point, John and family went shopping for the girls for school clothes. Nice to have a new outfit you can say you bought in Helsinki! Bill went on his way to do some shopping for Patty. He also took many walking tours by himself to explore the harbor of Finland and see the boats that he knows a good deal about as he has worked for the different shipping lines that work on the Great Lakes. A lot of Dad in him as he struck up lots of conversations with the people working around the harbor. Many took him for a Finn and started to talk with him in Finnish. That was short lived!
Arja and I went inside the church and I lit a candle for Mom, Mikko and Laimi. But mostly for Mom. Oh, how I wished she could have been here with us in person. But we all have felt she was with us in spirit. When we came out of the church we descended the stairs to the street—-lots of steps as the church can be seen from far away in the city. Arja bought tickets for a bus ride through the one half of Helsinki. We saw so much of the city and at one point left the bus to see a church, again Lutheran, that was made out of granite in the side of a hill. What a site to see! You can go online to look up both of these churches.
The name of the church built into the rock is Temppelinaukio. We then returned to the bus stop to catch the next bus and finish the tour. We did some walking to find a nice restaurant in the heart of the city and have lunch. We both ordered quiche lorraine and a salad with the best lemony salad dressing. After a wonderful chat about family we walked back to the hotel. It was about 3:00 p.m. when we returned and Arja left for her son’s home to stay overnight-about 30 miles away and I came in to write in my journal. It is now 17:24. I don’t think I wrote anywhere yet that the time in Finland and in Russia was all military time. That took some getting used to over the days. The rest of the day we spent relaxing and I watched Harry Potter, Part I in the room with Anne and Libby. I left a wake up call for 6:00 a.m. to begin another day……………….
Oh, just in case you can’t go to sleep without knowing if I had a nami munkki….well, lets just say I am a Finn through and through and you need all of that nourishment when you are walking all day!
AUGUST 5, 2011
Today is Shelly’s birthday. We all had another wonderful breakfast and prepared to go to Tallinn, Estonia by ship. Last night the fella at the desk took a great deal of time to help us go online to get our tickets for the boat trip. They needed to know your name and a few other questions but no passport!
We were waiting for Arja to join us this morning to go with us, but when she arrived at the hotel, she explained that she couldn’t go with us as she didn’t have her identification with her that she might need on the trip. So we said good-bye to her and she went home to Turko but we will see her tomorrow at Hanko. Her son, Mikko, will stop by the hotel in the morning and we will follow him to Hanko.
We were at the dock about 10:00 a.m. to catch the ship that would take us to Tallinn. It is just across the Gulf of Finland in Europe. We had no idea what to expect as it was Bill’s dentist who told him about the city and he said that we shouldn’t miss a chance to see it. It took about 2 hours on the boat to cross the Gulf. The boat was a very large ferry boat. Not like the ones you take to Put-In-Bay. There were places to shop, eat and even play slot machines on board. When we reach the dock, we walked to the old section of the city where the streets and buildings took you back in history to the 10th century. To quote from one of the books I bought: “Tallinn, the capital of the Republic of Estonia, is a beautiful medieval city on the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Despite the many things that have happened to the city down through the ages, it has survived as a beautiful and undamaged entity, having retained it medieval environment and structure.” We enjoyed some drinks at a sidewalk cafe, visited the many shops and people-watched as it was a very busy city. We came upon a building with a bell tower to look out at the city. John said that I would never make it to the top. Well, he didn’t know what SISU was in this Finn! I did climb all 125 steps to the top and was able to see out over the city from the windows in the bell tower. The stairway was very much like the narrow stairways in some fire houses as it circled around to the top. I must say that between using the thick hemp rope on one side and the cracks in the wall to grap onto as I climbed, it was not an easy thing to do. But the view was worth it and to prove a point, it was WELL worth it.
The streets were made of cobblestones and were narrow, but big enough for a small car to drive on. The buildings were still beautiful and the shops were full of Estonian wares and goods from other countries, too. We then went to a wonderful Beer House. Very authentic in structure and the waiters and waitresses were all in native costumes of the different periods through the ages. The food was very good. Bill ordered pizza! But it was a little different and he enjoyed it very much. John had sausage and sauerkraut. I really don’t remember now what the rest of us ordered. Nothing unusual or I would have remembered that!
Our boat left about 5:30 p.m. and we arrived back in our hotel around 8:00 p.m. We did some emailing – that is when I was able to charge my camera. We also had some more of the goodies that Bill bought from the neighborhood grocery store and watched a little American TV with Finnish sub-titles. Each night after we returned to the hotel, John and his family would go to the spa and enjoy the pool and sauna. Tomorrow will be our last full day in Finland. We will go to the seaport of Hanko where Mikko (Grandad) and Laimi left to go to America. We will meet Arja and Peppe there.
August 6, 2011
A trip to Hanko! Another wonderful breakfast with Munkkis and brie cheese and scrambled eggs like a custard! Now Frances Prangley don’t give me that look about “custard”! They were good!
Mikko arrived about 10:00 a.m. and Bill and I drove with him in his car and John and the crew followed in the van. Hanko was about 2 hours away as we followed the coast line west. Much the same scenary – lots of evergreens and birch trees. A white bark that didn’t appear to lose its bark as the birch trees in North America.
We arrived in Hanko and there were Arja and Peppe waiting for us. It’s like seeing old friends when we meet up again after a day apart! We went to the tourist center for information and walked uptown to see the hotel where Mikko and Laimi would have stayed while waiting for the ship to England. We went to the dock where the ship would have been. There were rocks -huge and slightly rounded – granite- that were called the “Dancing Rocks” where it is said the Finns danced while waiting for the ship. Can you just imagine a ship that would hold 700 people coming into the port and picking up all of the young people going to England and then on to America! These are young people who may have been as young as 16 years. Martha Makki Mattson said her mother and father were only 16 years old when they set out for America. They met in Boston, married and moved to Pennsylvania. In her father’s case it was to escape serving in the Russian army who were taking the young men in Finland at the age of 16 to fight in their army. Russia controlled Finland back then. At the turn of the century (1900) almost 400,000 Finns emigrated to American and about 250,000 of them left from Hanko. Finland needed a winter harbor and that is why they left from Hanko. The ship only came on Wednesdays.
Arja pointed out the old warehouse building that held the Finnish butter that was being exported. They make great butter and it is a little darker yellow than our’s. We then went to a nice restaurant for lunch
with granite walls and candles just setting on the walls in the little ledges in the rocks and the candle wax dripped on the rocks. In the restrooms on the one wall was a window that looked out at the granite outside the window. No one could get into the area. Just for effect!
We then went to shop for some Finnish crafts that we could take home. After some shopping we said our good-byes to Arja and Peppe. Sad good-byes but so happy to have met and shared some time together and get to know each other as cousins. So many people in a country we only knew as the birth place of our grandparents and now think of with a whole new meaning…we have a wonderful family of cousins in the country that now holds so much more for us. Mom and Aunt Helen used to write to our cousin Sulo as did Helen Esther and I and with his death some years ago, we thought that was the end of our family there in Finland. Little did we know until one wonderful day Pirkko and Arja started emailing us. Thank God!
We then headed back to Helsinki with Mikko and made one more stop at a beach that John and the girls had noticed on the way to Hanko. There was a swing in the water that they just had to try. Luckily they had brought their swim suits in case there would be swimming. They changed into their suits in little wooden white structures all along the beach—bath houses. Annie was the first with SISU to run out into the water of the Gulf of Finland and walk out to the rope swing. Then came Libby with SISU and finally John – gathering enough SISU to brave the cold water and let’s face it, what Dad will let his girls out-do him! He would never have heard the end of it! The swing was a large pole anchored in the sand out about 100 feet from shore with about 6 hemp ropes hanging from the beams coming out of the pole. It was motorized to turn the swing around. They grabbed the knotted end of the rope and held on as it turned in a circle. Much fun for all to watch. We then went back to the cars and left for Helsinki. We said our good-byes to Mikko and thanked him for going with us to Hanko for the day and came back to the rooms for a brief time and then decided to see if any stores were opened yet. It was just past 6:00 p.m. and we found all stores closed up tight! Lots of restaurants were opened and although windy and cool – many people were sitting on the sidewalks having dinner. We went INSIDE one and had a sandwich and a wonderful large cookie. I have to tell you that today was the only day of our whole trip that was not nice and warm and sunny. We were very spoiled!
Back to the car and John drove around some of Helsinki to see the town for the last time THIS TRIP.
We then came back to the hotel and packed our bags for our trip home tomorrow!
AUGUST 7, 2011
John and I are up and ready for breakfast. Bill is still showering. He had a very “hurtful” day on Saturday. We thought we must have caused some muscle damage climbing those steps in Estonia on Friday. Both Libby and I had a muscle ache in our leg. I am writing now waiting for someone to join me for breakfast. Our last one in Helsinki and more importantly the last one at the Hilton Strand.
We hope to go shopping for a brief time before we head out for the airport. Our plane leaves around 2:00 p.m. We should be flying to Chicago on American Airlines this time if nothing changes at the last minute again!
Well, finally we are ready for our breakfast. Of course one more mention of the unforgettable munkkis. Last time for the entire spread….Finnish bread and butter, bacon, sausage and broiled tomatoes…well you know the drill.
John had to get the van from the garage at the hotel so we decided to shop at a couple of stores for gifts to take home. Bill stayed at the hotel to rest his leg. It is better when he sits! We had been looking at every store we went to for something with SISU on it. I don’t know where cousin Ernie got his baseball cap.
We were back at the hotel to finish backing and check out. We really were very sad to leave the hotel – very highly recommend as a great place to stay when in Helsinki.
We arrived at the airport with time to spare. Our flight on American Airlines was on time. We cleared customs barely realizing we had been through customs. One small glitch for Anne. The random customer search came up with her name on the computer. When the lady saw she was the one for the search, she told her to take her parent along — it took just a minute or two–nothing evasive and Anne had a great story to share with her friends back home….
We boarded the plane and when we saw it was an older plane we wished we were flying Finn Air again.
No individual TV screen in front of you. Bill and I sat together this time. He played games on his new toy from Patty. I can’t remember if I told you about all the stuff he came equipped with for the trip but if you ever need to know what to pack for any trip, you would do yourself a big favor and contact Patty!
The flight was uneventful – happy to say! Because we were flying to Chicago instead of New York City, we flew further north going home. We flew over Greenland and saw many ice burgs and lots of floating pieces of ice in the ocean.
We landed in Chicago with what would have been sufficient time for our connection to Cleveland except for the long lines to go through customs. Everyone and his brother was arriving at the same time. There were lines for citizens and non-citizens. As we got closer to the custom agent we were taken to a group line and we got through much faster. We then had to go by rail to another part of the airport. Once at the gate to get our plane for Cleveland——you guessed it———-it was canceled! We were told because of bad weather. There had been a storm that had just gone through the area while we were at customs.
Well, John to the rescue again! Only this time we were in no mood for the results that happened. They didn’t have any flights out until Tuesday evening for Cleveland that had any seats for the 6 of us. They sent us to Continental Airlines as they would be able to take us at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday. When Shelly went to arrange for our seating, she was told they didn’t have any seats for tomorrow on that flight and furthermore, they said American Airlines is always doing that to them. So American Airlines gave us vouchers for a discount at some hotel that Shelly said was miles from the airport—with that bit of information we decided to rent a car and drive out of the Chicago area, spent the night at a motel along the way and finish driving home in the morning–but wait–one more glitch. We had to get our luggage. That took an hour to have every one of the bags found…except for Bill’s. We were told to wait for 2 hours to see if it showed up. Well, it never showed up and he had to fill out a report. Then we took a taxi to the car rental place outside the airport area.
Now, it is very late-midnight-Chicago time. For us it was 7:00 a.m. Monday, Finn time. We had been up for over 24 hours. John drove just into Indiana and we spent the night at a motel.
AUGUST 8, 2011 MONDAY
Well, everyone had a good night’s sleep and after a nice breakfast-minus you know what- we loaded up the car and headed for home. Now the one thing that had we arrived at home on Sunday evening, we would have been able to see my grandson Mark and Ellie, his girl friend, before they left for school at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Mark is starting Medical school and Ellie is a senior this year. So I am feeling very sad about not getting to see them. Then it occurred to me that if they hadn’t left home too early they could be close by on Route 90 going WEST as we were going EAST. So with my wonderful cell phone I called to at least say good-bye to them. When I asked where they were, Mark said about at the end of Ohio. Well, we were about at the end of Indiana. We made plans to meet at the exit for Angola, Ind. at a gas station.
We arrived first and waited for about 10 minutes when they drove up. This was for me the icing on the cake! I gave Mark his baseball cap from Finland and Ellie her spoon from Helsinki. All was right with the world. We said our good-byes and headed for home. It was late afternoon when we arrived home. Bill decided to drive back to Columbus that day instead of staying overnight.
So came the end of our 11 day trip. I have a few more things to add tomorrow.
AUGUST 23, 2011
As a postscript of sorts to our trip I wanted to add a couple of things. Arja had told us that for Laimi and Mikko to make the trip to America they would have had to go by horse from Jalasjarvi to Kurikka. They would have taken a train to Seinajoki and another one to Hyvinkaa and there they would have spent the night. The next day they would have gone by train to Hanko. There they would have to wait until a Wednesday to get the ship to Hull, England. From there they would have taken a train to South Hampton. There they would have sailed on a ship to Ellis Island – to America! It would most likely have taken 3 weeks for the whole trip. Now keep in mind that Laimi made that trip with three small children and might have been pregnant with Auntie Esther when she went home for a visit. I believe that Arja said the ship from Hanko to England held 700 people. I don’t know about the one from England to America.
While in Jalasjarvi and Kurrika I had thought it would be nice to take home some earth or water …something to take to the graves of our parents and grandparents but I didn’t do it. However, while in Hanko the thought occurred to me again to take some water from the Gulf of Finland! Mikko, Arja’s son, had an empty water bottle in his car and the girls filled it for me when they were in the water.
Last Saturday, Shelly, Anne, Libby, John and I went to Middlefield, Ohio to visit Laimi’s grave first. We phoned Martha Makki Mattson to see if she would like to go with us to the cemetery. She has always been our guide when we have gone to visit her in the past. Some of you have been to visit Martha and have gone to the cemetery and the Hakanen farm with her. So we stopped to get Martha, now 98 years old and we went to the cemetery with two glass vials of water from the Gulf of Finland–one for Laimi and the other for Martha’s parents. We took them a “taste” of home.
Afterward we drove to the farm. The Amish people are still running the farm. The man we spoke with told us how he remembered his dad buying the farm from Uncle Roy. He let us take photos of Annie and Libby by the silo where I have a photo of Mom when she was about 6 years old. After we had lunch we took Martha back to her daughter, Elaine’s home where she lives now. Martha stills enjoys telling us about the good old days. At one time there were 7 Finnish families living on the same road. She recalled how excited her 3 brothers were to have the Hakanen boys to play with and live just about a block away.
So now we have plans for taking the “taste of the Homeland” to my mom’s and Aunt Helen’s graves and Uncle Roy’s. We will then freeze the rest for the Hakanen Reunion for Mikko (Grandad), Auntie Esther, Uncle Irvin, Aunt Mary, Uncle John and Ernie. Just as a reminder of where their roots are in Finland…..
Wasn’t that a great read? They took many photos (over 300) Janet plans to share them, once she sorts through them and organizes them. I plan to add an album to the website when I receive them.
More Cousins Discovered
Arja was a great host to our cousins. However her kindness did not end there. Shortly after Janet returned to America, I sent Arja all the info I had gathered about the Kivisto family. A lot of it was in Finn, so I had given up on it sometime ago. The information was a great lead for Arja. She went through the list and found a name that she thought would have some knowledge of the ancestors. That person was Kaisu Kasari. Kaisu’s grandmother, Lempi, was our grandmother’s sister. She got Kaisu’s phone number and called her. She then sent the Kivisto information to Kaisu. Arja then organized a meeting with the newly found cousins. She met with Kaisu and her husband, Kaisu’s brothers, Markku (with his wife), and Martti, and cousin Hannu Tapani and wife. None from this group could speak English. They did give Arja another lead. That was Kaarina Kivisto, the granddaughter of grandma’s older brother Juha. Arja contacted and sent her the Kivisto information. Kaarin’s daughter, Leena, Understands English and emailed me Dec. 8, 2911. We are now sharing information. God bless Arja! She did all this while suffering through a very painful illness. I am now in touch with two relatives in Finland and learning more and more each day.
Great News, The Cousins From Finland Are Coming to the 2012 Hakanen Reunion!
Arja has done it again! She is organizing a trip to America for seven adults and two children, all cousins from Finland. They will attend the 2012 Hakanen reunion in Nanty-Glo. Here is what I have put together to explain who is coming:
Laimi (Lahteenmaki) Hakanen, Mikes wife, had an older sister Aini (Lateenmaki) Rinta-Valkam. Aini had eight children. Three of these children have children who are coming to our reunion. Aini’s third child, Ellen Maria (Rinta-Valkama) Venna’s son Penitti Venna and his wife, Ritva will be there. Aini’s fifth child, Anni (Rinta-Valkama) Leinonen’s daughter Arja will be there. Aini’s seventh child, Aarne Rinta-Vlakama’s daughter Helka (Rinta0Valkama) Koivisto and her husband Yrjo will be there. Helka is Pirkko’s sister, who made the first contact with us via the Internet. Arja is the person who hosted Janet and her family when they went to Finland this past summer. Arja is also the person who helped us find our Kivisto cousins in Finland. Their grandfather Matti, (Aini’s husband and the visiting cousins’ grandfather) came to America around the same time as Mike Hakanen. He started out with Mike in Ansonville, Clearfield County PA. (Ansonville is where Mike and Liama got married. Matti moved to Toledo Ohio and then to Quincy Mass. He stayed in America five years, sending his earnings home to Finland. He returned and built a homestead. The homestead is being renovated and Helka will make it her home. Arja, who worked as an architect, was much involved in the renovation (they kept with the original design). The Kivisto cousin we are communicating with is Leema. Maria Sofia (Kivisto) Hakanen had nine siblings. Five, including her, came to America. One that stayed in Finland was her brother Juho Kivisto. Juho had four children. His third child was Viljo. Viljo had three children. One was a daughter Karinna (Kivisto) Vesiluoma. Karinna’s daughter Leena (Vesiluoma) Lahdesmaki and her husband Veli-Matti, will be there. Leena and Veli-Matti are bringing their children, Mikko (14) and Evaliina (10).
Uncle Ernie’s memories. . .As I mentioned somewhere else on this site, Uncle Ernie and I talked a bit at one of the reunions about my dad in his younger days. He shared some memories with me and I will try to get their essence here.
One of his earliest recollections was when my dad bought him a scooter. It seems that they were raffling off a scooter somewhere in town and Ernie was really impressed with it and expressed a desire to have it. Dad showed up a few days later with the scooter. He told Ernie he went downtown and bought one ticket and won the scooter. Ernie figured he went out and bought a scooter like the one being raffled-off and made up the story to make it sound like a coincidence.
After that reunion Bill and I talked about visiting Ernie to get some info about his life as a boy growing up in Finntown. We didn’t follow-up on those plans and unfortunately as I reported elsewhere on this website, Uncle Ernie passed away this past March (2011). He was 90 years old.
Looking at his Army photo brings back memories of how we young kids viewed the war and our ‘heroes’ serving in the war. In those days all the houses had small flag-like banners hanging in their windows. The banner had a star for each person in that family serving in one of the services. The star was gold if the person was killed in the war. I remember the banner in grandma and grandpa’s window with Ernie’s star. I don’t remember where the banners for Uncles Bill Mott and Bill Salem where. The three of them where our heroes. Bill’s uncle Roy and Dave’s uncle Jay also served and I’m sure they would add them to their list of heroes. Jay was a pilot which was very impressive to us kids.
I always thought Ernie and both Bills were drafted into the army. However, just recently, Bill’s daughter,Vickie, found that uncle Ernie had enlisted. I’ve tried to follow-up, online, about their army time but haven’t had much luck. Uncle Bill Salem was wounded in Europe and received a purple heart. But I never knew any of the details. When I was 8 or 9 I drew a cartoon page about Uncle Bill Salem’s war experiences. Aunt Edith (DD) gave it to me some time back. I’ll try to share it here. It reflects the hero images in my young brain.