Stories about Finnishness
The stories that Finns tell
about their lives often have a sober feeling and yet present a "twinkle in
the eye type" humor. Some of the stories will be historical in nature and
others will be contemporary.
Herb Piilo tells
of an Unusual Sauna Experience
Several years ago, I had an unusual experience at my
summer cottage in northern Michigan. My wife and I had taken our seventh
foreign exchange student to show her our lovely summer place. Of great
interest to this Finnish girl was the fact that we had a sauna on our
premises. She had only been in the United States for a week and had
previously told us that she did not want Finnish spoken to her. She was
interested in learning English.
I was in the process of explaining to her that the
sauna was not ready for her as it needed further warming, being heated by a
wood burning stove. I left the dressing room to get additional kindling
wood. Upon my return with the wood, I did not see her where I had left her.
So, I entered the sauna room to put the kindling into the stove.
Suddenly I realized that I was not alone and that she
was already sitting in the bleachers in the buff. I hurriedly backed out and
later told her that it was not my fault but that in view of the fact that
she had insisted on English only being spoken, she had not understood fully,
my directions. If I had given the directions in Finnish she would have
Much later, this lovely, Finnish girl became a justice
in Finland's Supreme Court, providing me with the opportunity to tell the
story and to ask my listeners, “How many of you have had the privilege of
seeing a Supreme Court Justice in the nude?”
Once upon a time, I
took my principal to a Finnish sauna on the northwest side of Detroit. He
seemed to enjoy the experience immensely, a first for him. However, he came
down with a serious cold which developed into possibly, pneumonia.
Consequently, he never forgave me and told me never to tell him anything
relating to the sauna again. However, he did say it with a smile on his
In the neighborhood
where I lived, I introduced several my neighbors to the experience of sauna.
On Friday nights, we would frequently go to a sauna in Detroit.
Mattsonʼs sauna, on
DeSota, was a very popular location for Detroit Finns. On one occasion, the
streets were entirely covered with ice and Mattson decided to close the
sauna early. In as much as his home was located adjacent to the sauna, he
suddenly heard a knock on his door. When he opened the door, he heard two
people asking, “Why isn't the sauna open? He responded, “You crazy Finns,
I'm not reopening the sauna tonight. Nobody should be out on a night like
The irony of this story
is that the two individuals were neighbors of mine and had gone there by
themselves ostensibly to have a sauna, were not Finns, but were of German
and Irish descent.
Putkela’s Memories of Earlier Times in Michigan
Fritz Putkela, a Finnish
American member of the Finnish Center Association became ninety nine years
of age on Christmas Eve, 2015. He is residing at Botsford Commons in
Farmington Hills. I recently stopped by and he proceeded to tell me some
stories about his early life in Michigan. His vivid memory of his life
experiences is extraordinary. Below are some examples that show how life was
in earlier days
When Fritz lost his job
during an economic downturn in 1938, his wife was working as a maid in an
upscale neighborhood in Detroit. He would visit the home on occasion while
his wife was working. He was asked by the homeowner if he would rake up some
leaves and clean up the landscape. When he was finished he tidied up and she
asked him how much he wanted in payment. He didn’t have a clue so he told
her to give him what she thought was appropriate. She gave a lot more than
he would have asked.
He had done such a good
job that the word got around and he was asked by other neighbors to assist
with their garden chores. Soon he was busy with a new neighborhood
occupation which lasted until he was rehired, when the country began gearing
up for what became World War II. Fritz commented that had he had a truck
and a couple of employees he might have been successful in the landscape
The owner of one of the
homes where he worked owned a machine tool company. He hired Fritz who soon
rose to a position of crew leader. He was offered a course in blueprint
reading. He mastered the material presented and was given another leadership
role working with blueprints. Later, because he could read blueprints, he
was asked if he would like to move to the tool and die shop to make tools.
He was successful working with new responsibilities and eventually became a
journeyman, receiving his license through “on the job” training.
Another recollection was
of his traveling to see his grandmother in Northern Michigan when he was
nineteen. With two of his friends he hitchhiked north and when they got to
the Straits of Mackinac they sheltered in a railroad roundhouse. There they
met a “hobo” who knew “the ropes” of getting by with little cash. The
“hobo” suggested that they ride over in one of the boxcars about to be
loaded on the railroad ferry in order to cross the straits without cost. He
told them that when they get aboard they should hide in the corners on the
same side as the door so they wouldn’t be seen when the railroad agent
checked the car. That is what they did and they successfully crossed the
straits without incident.
They had little money so
they sheltered in a barn on the way to Chassel. It was extremely cold that
night and they had no blankets. The following day they hitchhiked the rest
of the way to his grandmother’s home. Fritz said his grandmother was very
glad to see them and gave them a good meal. Then they fell asleep and slept
until the afternoon of the next day.
David Sharpe FACC
Washing the car in
a shallow creek
Hearing about the girls in Spread Eagle
Visiting Champion iron mine with an uncle
Visiting a grandparent who only spoke Finnish
Driving “Up the grade”
Visiting deer camp
Driving the “Seney stretch”
Eating venison stew
Climbing the outcroppings in Champion
Swimming at Lake Michigamme
Catching a pike
Watching bears at the dump
Aunt Irene’s rhubarb pie
Uncle Waino’s wood shop
The old homestead without plumbing and electricity
Waiting for pasties to come out of the oven
Riding on the ferry across the Straits of Mackinaw
The long drive “up north” without an expressway
Eating ice cream at Van Riper Park
Seeing the first pasty shop after leaving the ferry
Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge for the first time
Do you have memories of earlier
years in the Upper Peninsula that you would be willing to share with
others? Send us your memories in bullet or story form and you might be
featured on this website. Send material to the FACC at
My dad, William Leonard Leppanen,
was born in 1894 in Rudyard, Michigan. He was the son of John Leppanen and
Maria Ahola, both born in Kivi Jarvi, Finland who had emigrated to Rudyard,
Michigan. When Dad was five years old his parents moved to Ironwood
Township, Michigan where they purchased a forty acre farm. When Dad got
married he purchased an adjoining forty acre farm where he and his wife
lived until they died.
Although he lived on the farm Dad
dreamed about getting into the logging business but he felt he did not have
enough capital to venture into this experience. He did have some experience
while working in the woods sometimes as a foreman and supervisor.
Dad was walking in downtown
Ironwood one early spring day in 1929 when Dad stopped to talk to Mr.
Heideman, owner of a farm implement dealership. The conversation went
something like the following after appropriate greetings were exchanged in
the 2' x 4' office.
Dad: “Can that truck in the
showroom window haul logs?”
Heideman: “You bet it can.
Where are you going to find logs this time of year?”
Dad: “As you know, the spring
breakup came early this year and old man Berkquist is stuck with about 1
million board feet of timber.”
Heideman: “Well, as I said,
that truck can haul logs. It’s about time somebody thought about it. If
you can convince Mr. Berkquist it can be done, take that truck and put it
Dad: “I have no money.”
Heideman: “What do you need
money for? Take the truck and put it to work. It’s not doing any good
sitting in the showroom. You can pay for it when it’s working.”
Dad: “I can’t haul logs with a
bare chassis. I would need a trailer and bunks.”
Heideman: “I’ll furnish a
trailer. Give me specifications for the bunks and we will build them for
Dad: “But I have no money.”
Heideman: “Who said anything
about money. See if you can convince Mr. Berkquist. We will have the
truck, trailer and bunks ready for you in a week.”
So, off Dad goes to see Mr.
Berkquist . . . . . .
Dad: “How much is it worth to
you if I haul those logs out this summer?”
Berkquist: “Whoever heard of
hauling logs in the summer?”
Dad: “I have a promise on a
deal for a truck that may do the job. This may require grading roads for
truck traffic and longer skidding to the loading site. I have figured that
I could haul the logs for $8.00 per 1000 board feet.”
Berkquist: “I sure would like
to get those logs to the mill as soon as possible. The early spring
breakups caught me unprepared. I have been paying $12.00 a thousand. The
$8.00 sounds attractive. Let’s hope it can be done.”
The two men shook hands and off
Dad went to see Mr. Heideman, who, true to his word, set the wheels in
motion to deliver the truck with its equipment, amounting to an investment
of approximately $3,000 which in 1929 was a large amount.
No money was paid for a down
payment. The logs started to disappear from the forest and the truck was
paid in about 6 months and another was purchased.
The operation went better than
anticipated, so much so that Mr. Berkquist arbitrarily cut the hauling fee
to $6.00 a thousand.
Eventually, after about 5 years,
Dad had 5 trucks and the hauling fee went down to $3.25 a thousand.
The trucking business,
particularly the hauling of logs, was getting too cut-throat to really
satisfy him, so, when the opportunity came to go into the logging business,
he was more than glad to join in with a partner in the new venture. He kept
the trucks he needed for this venture and sold the others to the drivers.
In about 1934 a friend named
Walter Reini and Dad got together to log out a section of timber near Lost
Lake, in Ironwood Township about 5 miles north of Airport Road. Mr. Reini
and Dad agreed on a limited partnership for about 5 years. Mr. Reini would
act as supervisor of the woods operation and Dad would act as business
manager and bookkeeper. This arrangement worked out quite well, with Mr.
Reini furnishing the operating capital and supervising the woods operation
and with Dad furnishing trucks and business operations.
It didn’t take too long to
realize that the operation wasn’t running as smoothly as anticipated. Dad
soon realized that the operation needed more equipment, particularly a
crawler type tractor to supplement the horses and enhance the skidding of
logs to the loading sites and help with the road construction. Terrain in
this area was such that the roads had to be paved with wooden planks. Mr.
Reini thought that the horses could handle the situation. Dad did not agree
with this so he decided to buy the tractor on his own, and hire it to the
company. The operation began to function quite satisfactorily. So much so
that Mr. Reini bought a truck on his own to help in the hauling.
After this area was “logged out”
Dad knew of a section of fairly good stand of timber near Black River Harbor
which was not very accessible, but he thought it could be made accessible
for logging. Mr. Reini felt that his goal had been accomplished to he
decided to retire. Dad, however, had no idea of retiring and decided to
proceed with the project after settling his affairs with Mr. Reini.
The property Dad had in mind was
across Black River, not far from its discharge into Lake Superior. He had
determined that the best location to build a bridge across the river was
above Rainbow Falls. The immediate concern was to provide temporary access
across to get the material for the bridge and start building the camp.
The best route for the loaded
trucks was determined to be on a side hill, a short way upriver from Rainbow
Falls, provided permission was received from the land owners. This received,
a cut of about 20 feet deep was required in the hillside on the south bank.
Equipment was moved across the
river during the summer low flow conditions and the bridge constructed.
Fortunately, the river bed at this point was practically solid rock so
little, if any, excavation was needed for footings. The bridge was to be
about 140 feet long and 40 feet high, constructed from timber off the
The main supports were moved into
place with a long cable stretched between two tractors, one on each side of
the river. This cable was a discarded mine hoist cable which also served to
anchor the bridge from lateral movement.
The bridge was considered safe by
an insurance company inspector from Chicago, with a suggestion that larger
side rails be added. Drivers of the logging trucks however were reluctant to
drive a full load of logs across the bridge so the bulldozer operator drove
the bulldozer across to prove it was safe.
Roads and a campsites were
constructed while the bridge was under construction. The campsite would
consist of a barracks for about 30 men, a cook camp to feed 50 to 75 men at
one sitting with sleeping quarters for the cook.
The campsite also consisted of a
horse barn for two teams of horses, a tractor shed for a bulldozer and
another tractor. The complex also included a blacksmith shop, an office and
Logging operations in the area
were getting more mechanized. It was not long when Dad realized that loading
of trucks by horse power was not very efficient and decided to look for
gasoline powered hoists. Commercial hoists were not very suitable and too
expensive. He decided to do what some other loggers were doing, that is,
mount a winch and motor on an old truck chassis with taller booms. This, of
course, interfered with the mobility, so a hoist with a fold-back boom was
proposed. Dad had an old truck chassis that would do very well but had
difficulty finding a suitable motor for the job. A mechanic at the shop
where the hoist was being built suggested that they use the truck motor both
for traveling and hoisting. This required disengaging one gear in the dual
ratio differential and installing a sprocket for a chain drive on the truck
drive shaft and the drum of the winch.
During the war years, commercial
sprockets were not available, so the high school machine shop agreed to make
the sprockets as a night school project provided they got somebody to case
harden them. The blacksmith at the shop said he would case harden them. The
building of the hoist continued with provision for a extra tall fold-back
boom, actually built at the campsite.
The logging operation continued
for several years. The bridge required 24 hour surveillance during the
spring floods to clear the debris that collected on the supports. This was
somewhat relieved when another logger came to the area and asked for
permission to use the bridge and help with the surveillance.
Timber in the area was getting
scarce so Dad decided to retire on the farm, after completing the Black
River operation in 1950.
Mother was a “pure” Finn. Both
parents were Finnish, born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She was
raised in Champion, Michigan, one child in a family of ten children. Her
father was a miner working in the Champion iron mine. He was killed when the
truck in which he was riding went into a creek. He was either crushed or
drowned. Mother was twelve and she never lost the pain she felt from his
Ruth Viola Hyry went to Suomi
College and took a business course during which she learned shorthand and
typing. She won second place in a statewide typing contest. After school
she traveled to Detroit to seek employment as a secretary.
Unable to find a business
position in the early days of the depression, she sought work as a maid. Her
first position was with a Jewish family. She described her experiences with
that family as extremely unpleasant. She was treated rudely and she soon
left. She decided to place an ad for another position, with the caveat,
She received a call from a Mrs.
Levin, asking why she would put such an ad in the newspaper. After
explaining her earlier experience, Mrs. Levin said, “You come and work for
me. I am sure you will be much happier in our family.” How true that was.
Mother said she was accepted as a part of the family, joined them at the
table for dinner, and was fully accepted into their family life. Later, when
secretarial work became available, Mother left the Levin’s and the family
expressed sorrow that she had to leave their employ.
Mother took a position with the
federal government. She accompanied federal attorneys who were traveling in
Michigan purchasing depleted farmland where Michigan white pine trees had
once stood. Later these lands were planted with trees by the Civilian
Conservation Corp. They became federal forestland in Michigan during the
Years later I asked the Levin
brothers, Carl and Sander if it were possible that Mother had worked for
their family. They checked but were unable to make a connection. It could
have happened, too late to tell.
What was your Finn experience?
From what nest did you drop from?
As you may know the Finnish
Americans around here in Michigan, many came from the Northern part of the
state, known as the Upper, so they become known as a Yooper. Well this is
all part of the Finnish American experience. We come from many directions.
So my response has been that I’m a “Finger Lakes Finn” from Up State New
York. Up State New York can cover a lot of territory so I will say it was
near the Ithaca area which is large enough area to have a spot on the state
My folks came to America from
Finland in the early twenties and first settled in the New York City and
Newark, NJ area. Gunnar had worked aboard the Maritime Ships and worked his
way from Finland to New York City. Dad worked in a Ship yard on Staten
Island in 1922 as a cabinet maker and then later was working in the
carpentry trades during the 1920’s. Work and things were going along okay.
Then, the deep depression of the 1929 hit and there were no new construction
projects in the works. By the end of 1930 all of the construction jobs had
been finalized and there were no signs of any such work in the city. Times
were tough. In those days there was no unemployment insurance, food stamps,
or make work projects by the government. He heard about a farm in the up
state area about 260 miles away from another Finn who was down in New Jersey
at the time. Dad decided to purchase a farm. He figured he could repair
the roofs and fix up the farm house and do some work of his own, on his
farm. His plan was to return to the city once the economy picked up and he
could get back to his carpentry trade. So Gunnar and Hilja and we two kids
moved to Trumansburg in December of 1933. A number of other Finlanders who
he had worked with in the city, later decided to move into this area. They
also purchased land or farms. There were many farms in this area that were
for sale and many had been empty for years as the soils in this region were
already been depleted with farming going on for over a hundred years. The
original settlers had either gone broke or had moved on to farms in the
Midwest. We need to realize this occurred before any modern agriculture
techniques came in and modern fertilizers became available.
Gunnar, did find plenty of work
on the farm and there usually is, and you do not need to look very far to
find work. (There is a difference between finding a job and finding work.
This was a good lesson that I learned in my early years.) He fixed up and
patched the roof, cleaned out the chimneys wells as wood was the heating
fuel and he did not want to have any of those chimney fires that were so
common. One of the first projects was to build a Finnish steam bath known as
the Sauna. It was built as a remote building away from the farm house and
any of the other barns and out buildings. (Having a building fire was always
a concern.) The stove and the hot rocks were in the bath side and dressing
room was on the other. A plain glass window was put into the partition wall
so that a kerosene lantern could be hung in the window to provide light to
both sides. The stove pipe could be showing a red glow when it got good and
hot from a hard wood fire. The sauna was an essential part of the farm for
bathing and doing the laundry.
There was a farm just a mile
away, known as the Egg and Apple Farm. The owner was Professor James E. Rice
Sr who was the founder of the Poultry Husbandry Department at Cornell
University. He had three sons who were going to Cornell and later they were
interested in working the poultry farm. Professor Rice had developed and
selected the Breed of chicken known as a White Leghorn Chicken. He found
that by natural selection they produced a white egg and more eggs in a year
than any other bird at that time. (A bird that would lay 230 to 235 eggs per
year.) And to top that off, the white eggs got a premium price in the New
York City egg market. The Lehigh Valley Railroad went down through the area
and this would provide a quick and easy way the ship the fresh crated eggs
to the Eastern Seaboard Market. The E and A farm had a hatchery where you
could order day old chicks and raise your own poultry flock each year.
Chicks in the spring would become layers by midsummer and were then moved
into the nesting hen house before fall.
Many of the Finns first had milk
cows and they soon added chickens. Then many converted the old barns into
hen houses, and then built more hen houses and broader coops and range
shelters. This became an industry of raising small baby chicks, into
broilers, fryers, and layers. Ultimately the last year’s layer hens went to
the soup factory. These farms were raising their own inputs of wheat and
corn, to feed the chicks and the hen layers. The output of this production
was more eggs. I can remember we ate pretty well too. Home grown chicken was
used to make chicken dinners and we had plenty of eggs or egg omelets for
breakfast. The Finnish farmers in the area even organized the Spencer
Cooperative store. It developed from a grist mill for grinding up the mash.
Then selling whole grains for livestock this became a full fledge feed
store. The coop was a center for getting farm implements and for getting
family information. It developed into a grocery store. A trucking service
was added to collect the crated eggs from the many farms and then haul them
to the market 270 miles away in New York City. The trucks advertised that
“fresh eggs were on board”.
This area of New York State in
the forties was known by the Finns as Americani Soumailaisen Kanna Farmmirii.
There is a website now available that shows a film that was made in the
1940’s about these Finn Chicken Farmers. The audio on the film is done in
Finnish language so you need to brush up on your Finn language to catch all
the numbers that are given.
The chicken business had its good
times, but it also required a lot of work. The Finns for the most part built
their own farms. Like any business, you had to adapt, convert, and change
with what is needed to make it grow. Getting thousands of baby chicks to
become good egg laying hens was going to need plenty of care. There were
tricks to be learned. Baby Chicks needed heat to keep them warm, a heated
broader house had to be provided as late January and February can be mighty
cold. Sufficient fresh water had to become available and a source of
supply had to be large enough. No ditch witch trenchers in those days. If
you were going to pipe anything underground, it was hand dug with a hand
pick and a pointed shovel. Water fountain containers were developed. Learn
how to avoid the many poultry diseases that could wipe out a flock in a few
Collecting the eggs was done
three times per day. The practice of lighting up the hen house at four
o’clock in the morning was used to get more eggs. Dad was up before 4 AM, to
carry and light up the 15 lanterns to hang up in the different hen houses.
This became a little easier after the electric power came through in 1940
and it was a lot safer than the kerosene lanterns burning in a hen house.
Once the eggs were collected and bought into the cellar we had the evening
job to wash the eggs, weigh for size, hand pack, and crate the eggs before
they could be shipped.
There was plenty of risk taking
with your money. At the first try into the chicken business it was 500 to
800 chicks for the first year. When War World II came along, eggs were a
cheap form of protein. Demand grew for more fresh eggs and then frozen eggs
to dried egg powders. The economy of scale started began to take over in the
fifties. Many farmers were into hen houses that contained 10,000 birds per
building with automatic watering, and feeding with conveyors to carry the
eggs down to the end of the building. Large producers in the Southern States
got into chickens business where the cost of producing is much lower. As it
worked out by the mid 1960’s much of the chicken business was over. Some
farmers retired of old age, some went out of business, and many had to
teardown their buildings to get out from under the local tax base.
Many of the Finnish Americans in
the area have changed to growing cash crops of corn, wheat, and beans.
Others of the next generation went on to college and then had to move away
to find work in their own field of work. Some of this next gen have retired
and have come back to area where they started.
New businesses have started up.
Now, it is growing grapes for the wine making. Many grow their own grapes
and are making wine, and selling what they make.
Life on the homestead farms still
requires changes and good choices.
In many families, remnants of
Finnish cultural history survive. For example, an iron, a maul for barn
building, and a homemade butter paddle, sit on a fireplace mantle. These
are a glimpse into the life of a Finnish family. My mother's maiden name
was Hyry. She was raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the early
years of the Twentieth Century. Mom was one of ten siblings and times were
tough after her father was killed in a mining accident. Grandmother had to
carry on without the support of her husband. It was a difficult upbringing
and everyone in the family had to pull their load. Older children had to
assist the younger as the family grew. They all survived, and although
mother has been gone for many years it is possible to connect with her,
through memory, with these treasured heirlooms of a Finnish-American past.
article by David (Hyry) Sharpe
In 1934, I ran away from
home. I went to live with my grandmother. A
forest fire broke into that swamp. A farmer was clearing land, burning
brush and the fire got away from him.
Now, I worked that Saturday and Sunday. We were carrying hose. We’d strap
a roll of canvas hose on each shoulder and run like heck to the end of the
line, connect the hose, and run back and get two more lengths of hose.
Through the woods, you know.
So, Wally Hekinen told me he sez, “ Hey, Fritz, the fire warden is down by
the pump.” There was a big trailer that had a big pump on it and they
could pump water out of the crick. There was a gasoline pump, there was no
electricity up there.
Anyways he says, “Go down and sign up.” I seen the fire warden
in his uniform so I told um, I sez, “I’d like to sign up,” He sez, “How old
are you?” I sez, “Seventeen.” “I’m sorry, son, you’ve got to be eighteen
years old before you can fight forest fires.” I sez,”Well, I’ve been
fightin this fire for two days, who’s gonna pay me?” “Go collect from the
farmer who started this fire.” I said, “That farmer ain’t got no money!”
He sez, “Do you live around here?” Yah, I’m livin with my grandmother and
grandfather. He says, “Whose boy are you? I said, “I’m George Putkela’s
son, from Detroit.” “Oh, heck,” he says. “I know you. We lived two doors
from you in Trimountain. Your mother was my baby-sitter when I was born.”
My mother worked at the hospital. He marked me down as eighteen years old.
The art of public speaking is a
value that can serve you well throughout your life. My lessons in the art
began at age 14.
When I turned 14 years old, my
father bought me a scooter. I was not old enough to get a license to drive a
car, but a scooter license was available at that age. With the new scooter
and license came the responsibility of paying for gas, maintenance and
insurance. This happened in the summer of 1957. The scene was the Copper
Country of Michigan.
My father suggested that I work
that summer for a friend of his who owned an establishment called the
Copperama. The Copperama was a combination restaurant, gift shop, and tour
of the copper mining of the region of Michigan. The owners Wino J. and his
wife Ilene J. agreed to let me work at doing odd jobs at their business. I
was to work for Mr. J. but Mrs. J. became my boss. I helped in the kitchen,
mopped floors, swept the parking lot (a very big lot), and any other job
that Mr. J. could think of. After about 2 weeks of this, I began to lose my
spirit for working.
The site of the Copperama had
been a copper stamp mill in years gone by. As part of the copper stamping
operation a large quantity of water was used. That water was stored in
several large underground tanks. Using the tanks, Mr. J. had constructed a
scale model of a copper mine (both above ground buildings and underground
shaft). He hired two retired miners to talk to the tourists about the mining
My plan to move from “go-to” boy
for Mrs. J to tour guide was simple. I asked Mr. J. if I could learn the
spiel and become one of the guides. He said that if I learned the spiel, I
could become a tour guide. With that incentive, I quickly learned all that I
could from the old miners (including many of their stories).
And that is how I learned to
speak in public at age 14.
Do you ever stop to think about
how your cultural heritage has impacted the way you live your life? What the
effect of your upbringing has been on how you proceed from day to day? Often
we do not appreciate the fact that our lives at the present time were formed
by the experiences of our youth. Many of our values, our likes and dislikes,
our choices, all were formed and influenced by the early years of our lives.
Our selection of foods, occupation, concepts of beauty, what we believe is
right or wrong, were often formed at the time we lived at home. Our ethnic
upbringing set the direction in which we travel the road of life.
What are some examples of this?
When immigrants first came to the United States they often sought areas that
resembled the countries from which they emigrated. Many Finns came to the
northern states to engage in mining and forestry. Their children followed in
their occupations unless something else intervened such as educational
improvement, moving south to find work in the big cities, or going to war.
In new settings they were exposed to a mix of new ideas, different people,
other values, etc. Through all of this they retained some of the original
essence of their ethnic upbringing.
This is something we should all
think about as we consider the early days of our lives.